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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.

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…

Design data for interesting sailboats…

As quite some of you I am always looking into other boats despite being actually quite satisfied with my own.

Please find attached a little Excel-„database“ with design data of interesting sailboats – also including some numbers like ballast/displacement ratio, sail area number (as calculated by the German Yacht magazine) and displacement/length ratio.

I used the design data to plot the hull speed (using the load waterline lengh) vs, the „sail area number“ (some dimensionless number used by the German Yacht magazine – basicallly: (sail area with gennaker)^0.5 divided by (displacement in tons)^0.3333.

The idea is to get a rough feeling how a certain boat behaves will going up against the wind (= hull speed) vs. behavious while planing downwind (sail number under Gennaker).

Sailboat Design Data

Of course this is just a rough evaluation – let me know what you think…

Sailboat Database

Seascape 18 zu verkaufen – Boot ist verkauft!

Hallo zusammen!

Schweren Herzens verkaufe ich meine Seascape 18 GER98 „Plain Vanilla“ da ich mich bootsmässig vergrößert habe und nun auch  eine Django 7.70 besitze.

Weitere Bilder findet Ihr auf dieser Website.

Das Boot hat folgende technische Daten bzw. kommt mit der folgenden Ausrüstung:

  • Baujahr 2011 (aber nur 4 Saisons gefahren – das Boot stand das ganze Jahr 2015 sicher und trocken an Land).
  • Für Segeltouren ausgerüstet:
    • Solaranlage mit Batterie und Laderegler
    • LED-Toplicht (Anker- und Positionslicht)
    • B&G Zeus 7 Chartplotter
    • Raymarine T070 Racemaster Regattakompass
    • Raymarine T120 Windmesser
    • Raymarine Triducer T910 und Hull-Transmitter T121 für Tiefe, Fahrt durchs Wasser und Temperatur
    • Raymarine NMEA Transmitter T122 (macht, dass alle Geräte miteinander reden)
    • LED Licht im Boot
    • Ladekonsole für USB-Geräte im Boot

Die Geräte sind im Wesentlichen alle angeklebt, so dass das Boot nur minimal „bleibend“ verändert wurde. Eine Batteriefüllung reicht locker für einen Segeltag – wenn es sonnig ist, kann man die Batterie fast nicht leer fahren.

  • Mast und andere Carbonteile sind mit UV-beständigem Lack gestrichen.
  • Groß- und Vorsegel sind noch gut
  • Grüner Gennaker – noch gut für Touren und zum Üben
  • Neuer weißer Gennaker für Regatten
  • Arretierung für Ruder zum Einhandsegeln
  • Neue, stabile Edelstahlwinde für den Kiel
  • Trapezvorrichtung (darf zwar bei Regatten nicht benutzt werden, ist aber auf Touren großer Spass und bringt viel Bootsgeschwindigkeit)
  • Segeltaschen für das Großsegel
  • Halterung für einen Aussenborder
  • Zelt für das Cockpit
  • Getränkehalter
  • Zwei Paddel
  • Normale Gebrauchsspuren
  • Trailer mit TÜV bis 6/2016 und bis 100 km/h zugelassen
  • Preis 17.000€
  • Schreibt mir einfach unter sailing@thematrix.eu

Vielleicht noch wichtig zu wissen: Angucken kann man das Boot in Hamburg.

Electrifying my Seascape 18 – Part 1: Goals and description of the network

Goals

Some time ago I decided to equip my Seascape 18 „Plain Vanilla“ with a number of sensors, a chart plotter and a radio. Goals and reasons for this decision were basically:

  • I wanted to use the Seascape also on the Baltic Sea and not just on the Alster lake in Hamburg and felt that a chart plotter and a radion would significantly increase safety.
  • Especially if I somehow could receive AIS-information and display them.
  • I wanted to help increasing my sailing skills by using objective measurements concerning speed, drift and other dimensions.
  • I like toying around with technical things and thinking about and building all this was meant to be a nice, sailing-related occupation during the winter season. It is never too late to have a nice childhood I guess.
  • I wanted to do the whole setup with doing as little remaining changes or damages to my boat as possible

Picking the right components

Whoever has tried to connect different nautical instruments from different vendors for sure had to face some issues regarding incompatibilites regarding the different interface standars like NMEA 0183, NMEA 2000, Seatalk, Seatalk NG,….

I spent some considerable time on researching what kind of components would interface well while at the same time delivering on the goals mentioned above.

I came up with the following list:

B&G Zeus Touch 7
Central piece of my whole setup. Has nice sailing-related functionalities, is completely configurable and can connect NMEA 0183 as well as NMEA 2000 messages.

Raymarine Racemaster T070 Compass
I went for the Raymarine Tacktick series because most of the components are connected via a Raymarine-proprietary Wifi-protocol (thus less cables) and are also solar powered (thus also less cables and also less battery capacity required).
The racemaster gives directions, has a nice race countdown and can display not only information about the heading but also other measurements. It „coordinate“ all other Tacktick instruments.

Raymarine Wind Transducer T120
Feeds wind information into the network (which is necessary to enable all the nice sailing-related features on the Racemaster and the B&G).

Raymarine Triducer T910 and Raymarine Hull Transmitter T121
Feed in information about the speed through the water, depth and temperature. The hull transmitter is needed in order to „translate“ the information from the Triducer to the Wifi-network.

Raymarine NMEA Transmitter T122
Translates all the wireless information into NMEA 0183 messages which then can be read by the B&G. Works like a charm…

Lowrance Link-8 radio
Can obviously be used as a radio with DSC-functionality (it receives GPS-information from the B&G) but also receives AIS information from ships in the vicinity and transfers those to the B&G where they are displayed on the screen.

I guess I was lucky but the whole setup did not cause one single problem regarding compatibility and has been working ever since I installed it.

Here you find a picture that illustrates the interconnections.

Network interactions
Network interactions

In the next episode of this little series I will talk about the power supply of all this…