DeLorme InReach

Affordably-priced 2-way texting is now available outside of the cellular area. The DeLorme InReach device (and free app) transforms your smartphone or tablet into a two-way text message global communications device and a GPS viewer.

The InReach device also offers a number of safety and navigational features. It costs about $250.

newitem1InReach allows you to compose and send text messages of up to 160 characters. You can even post to Facebook, Twitter or your own shared map. An interactive SOS feature allows mariners to describe their situation in detail to rescuers and stay in touch.

DeLorme claims GPS accuracy to within 5 meters. You can download NOAA charts and other map materials and access them even when you are outside of cellular range. You can mark and transmit your progress by leaving electronic “breadcrumbs” that show the way you came.

The InReach – which came out in summer 2012 — is compatible with both Apple and Android devices. The 7-ounce InReach device is waterproof, dustproof and it floats. It works on lithium, NiCad or alkaline batteries.

Different service levels are available ranging from $9.95 to $64.95 per month and can be purchased for the 4-month fishing season only.

“You can be on the top of Everest and you can communicate to Facebook,” said Darin Duffield Murray Pacific. “You can’t talk like on a satellite phone, but it’s a lot cheaper.”

He said the reviews from local early adopters have been good, as have been the reviews in marine and adventure magazines.

Sea Hawk Anti-Fouling Paint

Environmental regulations on anti-fouling marine paints are being stiffened in an attempt to keep dangerous metals – like copper, tin and zinc—out of the ocean. This has spurred paint manufacturers to develop a number of different lines of metal-free finishes and to reduce the amount of metal in the paints that do still rely on metals.

newitem2One of the newest iterations has been from Sea Hawk paints, sold under the “Smart Solution” brand. The company claims the metal-free paint functions better than metal-based paint and has pictures of side-by-side comparisons in the brochures and on their website.

Smart Solution forms and maintains a kind of slime along the paint surface – a slime that actually mimics fish slime. The slick film guards against hard growth, while it allows soft growth to be easily removed with washing.

If you like chemistry, the biocide used is called Econea (2-cholophenol)-3-cyano-4-bromo-5-trifluoromethyl pyrrole), (Tralopyril).

Duffield said a gallon of another popular copper-free paint brand is sold for $319, compared to $233 for a gallon of Smart Solution.

There is one unattractive downside to the new paint – one that may be especially serious to those captains who worry more about the way their boat looks in the slip than how it performs at sea. Duffield said a stationary vessel painted with Smart Solution will develop a visible fluorescent green slime along the hull. This will disappear as soon as the boat is underway.

LED Lighting 

LED lighting has come a long way since the little red indicator lights on electronic devices. LEDs built their reputation by long-life and by drawing a tiny amount of power, compared to heat-emitting incandescent bulbs. The latest improvements – involving the use of computer chips – have led to an explosion of lighting possibilities, since these new lights are much, much brighter than their predecessors.

newitem3Murray Pacific’s Duffield said the lights are expected to run for 50,000 hours and draw just 1/8 the power of incandescent bulbs. Bright LEDs are available as lighting strips, for use on the deck and in the interior. The outdoor strips offer waterproof sealed connections, and can be combined like strings of Christmas lights.

Navigation lights in red, green, warm white and cool white are available, as well as a variety of floodlights, spotlights and bigger deck lights. A floodlight too strong for this writer to look directly into burned only 24 watts of power. Lights up to 50 inches wide are available.

These lights are being used in military and police situations. They come in any voltage between 9-volt and 36-volt.

The choice is this, said Duffield, “You can pay $9 for an LED bulb versus a dollar for an incandescent bulb, but the LED will last up to seven days, burning 24/7.”

One observation made by local fishermen, Duffield said, is that the LED’s narrower light spectrum illuminates differently than an incandescent bulb, which puts out a wider spectrum of light. For this reason, some skippers don’t use LEDs for forward-facing lights.