Garmin Quatix 5 & Garmin GNT10 Review

Since beginning of this year, I own a Garmin Fitness watch. First, I purchased a Garmin Vivoactive 3 but I always glanced at the much more expensive Quatix 5 because of its longer battery life, the sailing features and namely the feature to show boat data on the watch. Apart from that, the touch screen of the Vivoactive 3 was always difficult to operate in wet conditions.

So, I sold my Vivoactive 3 on Ebay and bought a Quatix 5.

First of all, a short word on having a fitness watch: For me personally this is something that motivates me to do sports and I find it interesting to look at and analyze my fitness-related data (so does Garmin I bet but data security in this context is a different story – in the end all data is stored on Garmin servers).

The watch itself is sturdy and despite its size comfortable to wear. The long battery life-time of roughly ten days in my case is a huge relief over the battery life of the Vivoactive 3 which I had to charge roughly every fourth day. The watch has roughly the same fitness functions as the Vivoactive 3 but is missing the circuit training feature – I rather would like to use this but in the end can live without it.

This week I had a check-up at my doctors and was doing a cardio test: Heart beat frequency displayed by the watch was exactly like the rate of my heart beat displayed by the professional setup. So, this works nicely.

Now to the sailing features:

The watch has some sailing-related features that are only available to the Quatix (but I guess principally they should work on the Fenix 5 as well). These are:

  • Displays distance and burn-time to start-line (which I seldomly use but works okay)
  • Barometer with graph (which I use)
  • Compass (sometimes helpful)
  • Immediate access to MOB positioning (which I HOPEFULLY use seldomly use but I find this very nice)
  • Tracking (I use my chart plotter for this)
  • Tack assistant (have not used this yet)
  • Autopilot control (only works with a Garmin setup and I have B&G)
  • Control of the fusion audio system (which I also don’t have)

But now to the main reason for buying the watch in the first place: Displaying sensor data. In short: What a disappointment!

Longer story:
I do not have a Garmin chart plotter that connects with the watch natively but a B&G setup. So, I had to buy the Garmin GNT10 wireless interface to connect to the watch via the so-called ANT-protocol. The watch connects immediately to the interface via the installable GNT-10 app but quite some of the data is displayed not at all or wrongly. This is especially bad as this affects the True Wind Data which you obviously need for race sailing. This is what I got:

Breviation Description Works?
AWA Apparent Wind Angle Works correctly
AWS Apparent Wind Speed Works correctly
Boat SPD Boat speed Works correctly
COG Course over ground Works correctly
Depth Depth Does not show any value
Dist next Distance to next waypoint Principally correct but rounds to the nautical mile
Heading OT Heading Wrong values displayed
Sea Temp Sea temperature I don’t have such a sensor so I do not know
SOG Speed over ground Works correctly
TWA True wind angle Wrong values displayed
TWS True wind speed Wrong values displayed
XTE Cross Track Error Works correctly

Obvious to say, this makes the watch useless for ambitious regatta sailors in the current state of the software (the version I had to use was 1.30)!

Overall conclusion: I will keep the watch for its fitness features but sent back the useless interface. In principle, Garmin has a very good product in place – but why the main selling point of the watch is not supported for non-Garmin setups (and thus 80% of the market) totally escapes me. Especially, because if Garmin added a remote-autopilot feature that supports other autopilots apart from Garmin’s, this would be a killer product!

But please correct the wrongly displayed data first … this cannot be so difficult.

3D-Printing for sailing: Mast collar

I get more and more into 3D-printing things for my sailboat. The next thing I made is a collar for the mast – it is almost waterproof now.

You can download the respective files for Autodesk Fusion 360 here.

The material I used is Filamentum ASA in Traffic White – it is UV-stable and quite nice to print – with the following parameters:

  • Nozzle temperature: 250 °C
  • Bed temperature: 105 °C
  • Layer height: 0,19 mm
  • Infill: 100%

The mast collar was printed on my Zortrax M200 3D printer.

Rund Bornholm 2018

So, Artisan and us survived this year’s Rund Bornholm Race:

This was our first offshore-race and I am very glad that me managed to finish it without any larger problems or even injuries or damages. I can only recommend this:
The race is well-organized, the community is nice and obviously it is one of the few offshore-races in Germany.  For me it was a very valuable experience ranging from boat-handling over to tactics and to just living on board without touching any land for a couple of days.

Many thanks to the team who organized this!

The nice photo above showing Artisan during the start was by the way taken by Pepe Hartmann who does brilliant sailing shots. Look here for more.

 

Rain cover for B&G Vulcan 7

During the autumn trips I found that the Vulcan 7 touch display does not work really well when it is wet from rain or waves and my fingers were cold.

So, I printed a 3D rain cover and a protector with my 3D printer which works absolutely fine.

The cover is split in two parts so that I could print it. The material is Filamentum ASA with the following parameters:

  • Nozzle temperature: 250 °C
  • Bed temperature: 105 °C
  • Layer height: 0,19 mm
  • Infill: 80% (but looking back maybe 100% is better)

Please find the respective STL files here:

Rain Cover.zip

Sailing with kids…

… is definitely possible on the A35 if you  take some simple precautions like children wearing life-vests and life-belts.

Admittedly at some point one of the boys did not wear his life-vest when coming on deck  although he should know better.  We had a chat about this and hopefully repetition is indeed the mother of all learning … let’s see…

Used B&G or Simrad H3000 equipment and spare parts – for sale! Gebraucht zu verkaufen!

Beginning of this year I revised the electronics of my Archambault A35 to a B&G Vulcan and Fusion setup – more on this later. Reason was that the GFD Displays had water ingress and that I found that the spare parts being sold here were simply too expensive.

Since quite some time I have been wanting to put all this stuff on Ebay but maybe I can save myself some of the efforts and cost:
If any of you is interested in any of the items please drop me a short mail here. The equipment is located in Hamburg, Germany but I will also ship internationally.

The following parts are for sale:

B&G 20/20 HV H3000 Displays + Masthead Adaptor – Sold!!!!
Fully working!
Price: 700 €

B&G GPD H3000 Display + protective cover – Sold!!!!
For the time being the display is fully working – but I am not sure that it might not have already at least some water ingress like all my other displays: At least there are some „shadows“ under the display like you can see in the picture
Price: 250 €

B&G GFD H3000 Display
With water ingress – sometimes working – strongly corroded – frame broken – LCD display damaged – for spare parts!
Price: 50 €

B&G GFD H3000 Display
With water ingress – sometimes working – corroded – for spare parts!
Price: 50 €

B&G RRF ACP H3000 Rudder Reference Unit  –  Sold!!!!
Fully working!
Price: 130 €

B&G D800 H3000 Depth Transducer
Fully working!
Price: 80 €

B&G H3000 Speed Sensor
Fully working!
Price: 80 €

B&G RemoteVision Wireless Port Base Station H3000 – Sold!!!!
Fully working!
Price: 150 €

B&G RemoteVision H3000  Remote controller
Only sometimes working – most likely water ingress – for spare parts!
Price: 50 €

B&G H3000  CPU  – Sold!!!!
Fully working!
Price: 340 €

B&G ACP 1 H3000  Autopilot Processor –  Sold!!!!
Fully working!
Price: 340 €

B&G KVH Halcyon Gyro ACP H3000 compass  – Sold!!!!
Fully working!
Price: 340 €

We have got a new boat: Archambault A35 review

So, after quite some time the next entry in my blog: We got a new boat – an Archambault A35. In this blog post I will try to give people who are in the process of looking for a fast but family-suitable boat some background on my decision but also compare the A35 with the Django 7.70.

I was pretty much satisfied with the Django 7.70 but for two adults and now three children it started to feel too small. Given the average of boat sizes twenty years back or longer it is maybe quite spacious and would principally work with three children but somehow for us it was borderline – maybe we are already too spoiled.

Again, I (and my wife admittedly a bit less) wanted to have a boat that is faster than it is luxurious but still would be usable with a family. The following criteria were important for us:

Sailing behaviour and sailing-related equipment
  1. Fast boat that still can plane
  2. Better upwind-performance than the Django 7.70
  3. Good-naturedly and thus suitable for single-handed sailing or short-handed sailing with family
  4. Bow-sprit for using asymmetric sails
  5. Tiller steering
  6. Somehow competitive under common rating schemes
Built-quality and electronics
  1. Solid but not too heavy
  2. Good-autopilot and electronics
  3. Not a too large construction site or too much technical debt – thus most likely: Not raced too hard
Interior
  1. Enough space for two adults and three children
  2. At least one or better two cabins with a solid doorEnough storage space
  3. Friendly interior (that was extremely nice in the Django)
  4. A larger navigation table than the Django 7.70
  5. Solid door for the bathroom
  6. A toilet that is accessible without having to move around stuff – if possible with electrical flushing
  7. A sink in the bathroom
  8. A cooker with two flames
  9. A fridge
  10. Warm water when in port

The other candidates apart from the A35 I looked into were:

  • Pogo 30 and Pogo 36:
    Definitely nice boats but – even used when or better if available – not within my budget.
  • Any X-Yachts:
    Even older boats are still quite expensive and from what I heard (admittedly I never sailed one) quite some of them don’t behave too nicely if the wind picks up – it seems most of them need some weight on the rail or, obviously, really early reefing. Furthermore, I found the thought of having sandwich under the waterline quite scary.
  • Beneteau First 36.7:
    Definitely a worthy candidate – it seems to be a very fast boat especially when going upwind. No tiller steering however. And somehow I did not like the design and very traditional feeling of it. Usually they do not have a bow-sprit.
  • Elan S4:
    Good looking interior which – if you take a closer look at it – is not very practical for our purposes and offers only little storage space. Fast-looking hull but very heavy and no good ballast to weight ratio.
  • Django 9.80:
    This is a very nice boat and solidly built: If I am not mistaken it does not have foam sandwich in the outer hull but infused Soric. There is also a version with two cabins in the back. But roughly 160 k€ for a raw boat below 10m length and then sails and other stuff on top? Geez,…

So, I ended up with the Archambault A35:

It fulfilled quite some of the criteria we had (more on that later) and maybe as a result of Archambault being bankrupt they are quite reasonably priced. As Archambault built roughly 140 A35 the market for used boats is also quite liquid – at least in France and Britain where this boat is kind of a bread-and-butter racing and training boat.

Up to now in this season I did not have too much time to use the boat for job, weather and family reasons. However, here come some first thoughts on the boat.

Disclaimer: Please always take my findings with a grain of salt – I try hard but I still have to learn a lot about sailing and sailboats.

Sailing behaviour and sailing-related equipment:

In one sentence: This is a very fast, seaworthy, stiff and powerful boat. It behaves really nicely – even with only two persons on board it did not feel like necessarily reefing while going upwind until 5 Beaufort and even an occasional gust above that. The stability caused by the wide transom and the 44% ballast are also nice for the family: You simply take it a bit slower by reefing earlier and the boat sails more upright. My wife – who sometimes gets sea-sick – finds the boat much more comfortable in waves but we did not experience and heavier weather yet.

Up to now I did only use the asymmetric gennakers in lighter wind conditions and I did not even touch the symmetric spinnakers. I have to say that I am still a bit afraid of their size and the additional complexity of the spinnaker boom. But always when I went sailing this year the wind-conditions made me use the Code Zero that came with the boat quite a lot. This is really a weapon in light wind conditions.

I have the double-rudder version which is feeling really, really neutral – obviously this reduces the power consumption of the autopilot but it gives only little feedback if you trimmed the boat incorrectly. I was a bit afraid of handling the double-rudder version in the harbour but up to now that has not been a problem either. Quite often I dock the boat backwards and then it is not very affected by wind coming from the side.

I was not able to get the Django going quickly upwind on True-Wind-Angles smaller than 50° – that felt somehow like the optimal angle. With the A35 it feels the best angle (at least given my sailing skills) is around 45° or lower. This is obviously a huge difference it is really nice in sailing areas like the Baltic Sea where you just cannot follow the trade-winds but somehow have to go home at the end of your vacation.

The only down-side up to now is that as a result of the larger boat-size everything feels more complicated, more difficult and more sluggish than on the Django. But I guess that was to be expected from a boat being that much larger and heavier and I will get used to it … however, obviously still much better than on a Bavaria or anything comparable.

All in all I am very satisfied how the A35 sails.

Built quality and electronics

The built quality feels quite solid in all concerned areas. However, my A35 was on land for almost two years and thus had quite a backlog of maintenance. But it was never raced too hard.

Despite the overall good quality of the boat there are some areas of annoyance that are maybe obvious to more experienced sailor but that I learned the more or less hard way:

The boat has an inner liner with hollow stringers in longitudinal and lateral direction that contribute to the overall stability of the boat. These stringers are connected to each other and are used for the cables of the boat. That they are connected means that if you get some water between the outer and inner hull somewhere (in my case I got some water in the boat from a damaged pipe for cooling water for the motor) you suddenly end up with water in a different place (like e.g. the cupboard under the navigation table). As another A35 owner advised I managed to get rid of the water in the stringers by using a suction pump usually used to change oil in cars and a tube but it was not that simple. Obviously, I am not the only one who had the problem of having water between hull and inner liner but coming from the Django that problem never occurred to me.

Another issue that did not occur to me was the water tightness of the keel-stepped mast: Up to now I did not find a proper method of preventing water from entering via the slot of the mast. As the mast has a plug of Spartite I also cannot simply get a silicone cover over this plug … if you have any good advice please let me know. Again, I and our boat class are by far not the only ones having this problem…

A well working autopilot is in my opinion one of the most important pre-conditions for hassle-free sailing with family. My boat came with a B&G H3000 system – which is still obviously a good system in general but most of the displays had some water ingress so that the displays were not working correctly. This seems to be a very common issue with the H3000 system. There are still improved replacement displays available here but only for an unacceptable high price.So I replaced the system with a combined B&G Vulcan and Triton setup – I will do another post on this later.I had the opportunity to do the upgrade together with Holger Schulz from Ostsee Nautik (http://www.ostseenautik.de) – which I can only recommend to the highest degree. Holger did all the complicated stuff, showed me some of his tricks and answered all my questions patiently. The components I got rid off will be available for sale shortly.

Interior

In terms of the interior (and thus the main reason for switching to a larger boat) I feel that we now have sufficient space – but only barely so:

On one had we have now much more living space than on the Django. Especially, it is now possible to prepare two little children simultaneously for the night or in the morning which was an annoying process before. Also the bathroom/technical area on the starboard side is much more accessible than on the Django.

However, the storage space is quite limited at the time being. This for sure can and will be corrected by cleverly using bags on the walls or making currently non-accessible space e.g. under the front bed accessible but it requires quite some thinking and modifications.

The interior is not so nice and friendly like on the Django but still acceptable.

As far as as the (from my point of view) luxurious changes like an electric boiler, fridge or an electric toilet are concerned: We will for now see and push these investments to the next season.

All in all I feel that my wife and children like the new boat much more than the Django as a result of having additional space.

That is it for now – I will update this post as soon as I will have additional findings…