Thursday, 16 May 2013

Reviewing the Garmin Quatix marine sailing watch

We were invited aboard the new Clipper 70 to put the brand new Garmin Quatix marine watch through its paces.
This really is an impressive piece of kit that can’t be fully appreciated until put on the spot out on the water.

Garmin are really pushing the ‘power of simple’ and they certainly don’t disappoint with the Quatix. Though packed intensely with huge amount of features, it’s amazingly simple to use. Think Nokia 3310 simple. The navigation is via the up, down, back and select buttons, which even self confessed technophobe Sir Robin Knox-Johnston found childs play.

Greeted with a Quatix each and a bacon sandwich to go, we got suited up and headed out in the Solent. The weather was less than favourable but the large buttons allowed us to keep our winter gloves on and get stuck in.

Whilst motoring out to the Solent, our friends at Garmin were able to give us a quick run down of the Quatix’s unique features. After turning on the watch’s GPS feature, it immediately displayed course over ground, speed over ground and some nifty tidal information.

With just a few button presses, we were then streaming NMEA 2000 data via the Garmin GNT10 wireless transmitter; being able to view depth, speed through water and wind information on your wrist whilst being mobile around the boat is such a powerful feature that really puts the Quatix ahead of the rest. It will soon become indispensible for single-handers. Another feature that’ll prove invaluable for the single-handed sailor is the ability to control a Garmin autopilot from your wrist. And if that’s not quite enough, wirelessly connect with an iPad®2, iPhone® 5 or iPhone 4s for use with BlueChart® Mobile. How did we cope before?

The Quatix really started to show off with its virtual start line technology. After some impressive maneouvering under motor by our skipper, Ben, in a full flow of tide, our crew of 18 all pinged the two startline GPS waypoints to provide the watch with a virtual startline. The experienced Clipper bowman, Tom, gave the boat lengths to the startline with correlated to our watch startline distances within a foot or two which gives testament to his capabilities and showed the watch could hold its own. After crossing the startline, the watch automatically switches to tack-assist mode.

We didn’t get to put it to the test (no willing volunteers), but the MOB detection is a feature that will send an alert to the chartplotter if if a crewmember wearing a Quatix falls overboard. Once home and dry, the watch can be charged by USB, and with With HomePort™ marine planning software (sold separately), you can plan or review your adventures from your Windows® or Mac OS® computer. Create your course and download it to quatix, compare your previous races and analyse your performance.

As well as these features we chose to highlight, there are many more such as: automatically calibrating altimeter and barometer, 3-axis compass, temperature sensor, hunt and fish calendar, sun and moon information, tide tables, area calculation, base map, 16hrs battery life, waterproof to 50m, custom points of interest and up to 1000 waypoints. We’re just disappointed it won’t butter our toast.  
Many thanks to Clipper Ventures and Garmin for treating us to a fantastic day out aboard the clipper 70, a was a brilliant opportunity to get to know the brilliant Quatix. The first leg of the Clipper Around the World Race starts this August. The Garmin Quatix Marine watch is available at Force 4 now. 

Hannah Wardell & Leigh Jacobs.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

NMEA2000 Networked Instruments

Over the last year we have noticed a growing trend of customers enquiring about networked instruments. It seems that people are now exploring what is possible with a NMEA 2000 network and how it offers a relatively simple way of connecting multiple instruments, chartplotters and sensors together to share data.

Traditionally instruments were connected directly to their sensors or were supplied with NMEA0183 ports, enabling connection to another device such as a repeater. The single talker and multiple listener serial ASCII format of the NMEA 0183 protocol is fine for connecting an instrument to a repeater or linking a GPS to an autopilot but is not suitable for duplex communication and is limited by both speed and power. Also non standardisation of connectors, with most instruments offering bare wire connections, scared many off from exploring its full capabilities.

The National Marine Electronics Association (NMEA) recognised the need for a higher speed duplex network and developed NMEA 2000. The system is an implementation of the automotive CAN bus system that was developed by Bosch in the 1980s. The NMEA 2000 method of connection, in its basic form, consists of a powered backbone made up by a series of T pieces terminated at either end with termination resistors.  Instruments and sensors are connected to the backbone T pieces via drop cables.

The major instrument manufacturers adopted this system and now offer chartplotters, instruments and sensors that can connect directly to the NMEA 2000 backbone and share data. Also, the standardisation of the connection hardware has simplified networking and enables the end user to link multiple instruments and sensors together no matter which brand. Some manufacturers such as Raymarine and Simrad developed their own protocol (Seatalkng and Simnet) but offer low cost converters to enable NMEA 2000 integration.

The January 2013 edition of PBO features a very interesting article on networked instruments which compares some of the current models from the major manufacturers.  In this article the B&G Triton receives the best on test award.




Raymarine i70 (Force 4 part number 220196) To connect to a NMEA 2000 network you will need a Seatalkng to DeviceNet adaptor cable (Force 4 part number 230141)

You tube video of how to build a network

Seaman Leigh

Monday, 13 August 2012

Hamble Point take the Silver Medal with International Paints Mystery Shopper Prize

Congratulations must go out to our Hamble Point chandlery and staff this week, as they've just been awarded second place in International Paints national mystery shopper contest.
The mystery shoppers were looking for high levels of salesmanship, customer assistance, product knowledge, stock range and tidiness.  And on both occasions that they were visited the secret shoppers were left impressed.

Rumour has it Kelly's competitive streak had taken hold and staff were encouraged to take home International Paint literature to read of an evening!
Well the homework has paid off and the staff are now enjoying a prize courtesy of International Paints.

Happy Boating!

See our range of International Yacht Painting, deck paints, 2 part paints and more

Monday, 23 July 2012

Yachting Boots for Sailing

The right boot for the right job
Your choice of footwear is important when sailing; keeping your feet warm and dry, maintaining good traction on the deck, and the appropriate style of boot for the kind of sailing you'll be doing is also key.

Yachting boots come in a variety of styles, ranging from the less expensive waterproof rubber models to the pricier but high performance breathable models that are ideal for longer voyages or sailing at night. 

Types of Boots For Your Style of Sailing:
Rubber, fully waterproof light weight yachting boots are great at keeping your feet dry during day sailing and for lighter recreational kinds of activity. Look for styles with reinforced toes, grippy non-slip soles, and and consider getting a size larger than normal to accommodate an extra pair of socks for padding and in cold weather.

For night sailing or extended voyages, it is worth spending a bit more for breathable materials. Inevitably some water will get into a rubber boot on a long trip, and in this circumstance waterproofing does more to hold water in than to let it escape. A breathable boot will keep your feet drier and happier.

Regardless of the style you decide on, a comfortable fit is important for a boot you'll be standing and moving in for long periods of time.

Best Manufacturers of Yachting Boots:
  • Dubarry is perhaps the highest regarded maker of yachting boots. Their gore-tex and leather models are an excellent choice for extended sailing trips, and are also very fashionable with a classic sailing boot look.  You can view our range of Dubarry Boots by clicking here.
  • Gill makes high quality waterproof rubber boots and is a good choice for the style.  I find the broad toes leave plenty of room for my extra socks and the razor-cut soles really stick to the deck when I need them to.  You can see our range of Gill boots by clicking here.
  • Orca bay makes both waterproof and breathable style boots in a modern fashion, they are a good in between choice when you want the economy of a rubber boot but a bit more breathability.  You can see our range of Orca Bay boots by clicking here.

  • Making Your Selection: The best option if possible is to come and visit one of our chandlery stores in your area so you can try out a variety of styles and talk us through the type of boating you'll be doing. In the end you'll probably find as I did that one pair of sailing boots just isn't going to cut it for everything and you will probably end up with a couple of pairs for different activities on the water.

    Happy Boating!

    Captain Loz

    Friday, 16 March 2012

    Lets Race!

    Spring traditionally marks the start of sailing competitions up and down the country. So we here at Force 4 Chandlery have compiled a list of must have products to get both you and your boat up to speed.

    Also our head rigger is partaking in the Warsash Spring Series race, details of which can be found by clicking here.

    Important sailing racing categories and links to racing products:

    Maintenance - A well maintained boat will give you the edge on the racecourse and reduce downtime.
    Clutch & Winch Servicing - Keeping your winches and clutches fully serviced will enhance their performance.
    Blocks & Deck Hardware - Make boat handling easier and crew work more efficient by enhancing your boats hardware.
    Standing & Running Rigging - Maintaining & tuning the rig is vitally important to the safe performance.
    Safety Equipment - Be prepared for any emergency situation that may occur on board.
    Books, DVD's & Navigation - Ensure your boat is fully optimised for the race course and you're up to speed with the latest techniques to give you that extra edge.
    Sailing Racing Clothing - Look good on the racecourse with the latest in high performance technical clothing designed specifically for the racing sailor.
    Custom & Pre-Made rigging - Upgrades to key rope can improve performance of the boat and make your life a little easier on board.

    Plus remember we've got a full rigging work shop with 3 full time professional riggers who are able to set up rigs, create custom lines and offer assistance in setting up your boat to race. Check out our Rigging team by clicking here.

    Happy Boating!

    Captain Loz

    Wednesday, 25 January 2012

    Spring Offers on Antifouling paint

    Happy New Year boaters! Heres hoping it's a successful one for everybody.
    We're very excited about 2012 here at Force 4 as we've got some great products and offers lined up for the New Year.
    Our new Main Catalogue is at the printers as I write this, which is great as it really does signal the start of the boating season for a lot of people.
    Our shops have been busy filling their shelves with lots of new chandlery, the latest sailing clothing and the very popular shiny new marine electronics. All in anticipation to welcome back regular customers and greet new ones over the coming months. Of course we've seen a lot of people in the last few months but the marina's definitely start getting busier as of now.

    And we're kicking off the new season with an amazing deal on Antifouling, we're offering up to 38% OFF the MRP and we've reduced our catalogue prices by up to 18% OFF! However these deals will not be around forever, so don't delay!

    Plus if you're new to antifouling your boat, you can view our guide to antifouling by clicking here.

    Oh and don't forget to stock up on accessories! Click here to see antifouling brushes, paint suits and more.

    Happy boating in 2012!

    Captain Loz

    Monday, 5 December 2011

    On the water in winter; Windsurfing, RIBs & Great British pub grub!

    Frost on the ground and boat attached to the car, a few of us from Force 4 Mail Order headed off down to Southampton for a day on the water. Being somewhat under prepared for the temperatures, we popped into the Force4 branch in Swanwick (we could have ordered via mail order and I’m sure it would have been just as fast) and clad ourselves in Helly Hansen undergarments to keep warm (shameless advertising, I know!) – only £39.95 too! Sale of the century! We aimed to spruce ourselves up in full winter gear and spend the day windsurfing, however, on our arrival in Southampton we discovered that it was quite possibly the calmest day of the year.

    Instead, we adapted (as only employees of Force4 can!) and decided to jet over to the Isle of Wight for a trip up the Medina to the Folly inn. Music playing (at a sociable level) from the fantastic Fusion speaker system on board the rib and the Garmin Sat Nav guiding us through the waterways (we needed it!), we enjoyed a substantial & delicious lunch of Beef & Ruddles Pie before heading back towards Calshot Spit.

    Fantastic views of the Solent. Great food. Great weather. Just goes to show, Boating isn’t just for the summer. All in all, a fantastic day out.

    Admiral Radford