Tom Tripp

OceanLines Has a New Look and Focus homepage screen capture

OceanLines Home Page as of New Year 2014

If this is the first time you’ve been here in a while, you might notice our new look and our new focus.  Since its first post in 2007, OceanLines has focused on the boats we like to live and cruise on, whether for the day or for long, ocean-crossing passages.  Since the Great Recession fully landed on the boating world in 2009, the appearance and sale of new boats gradually diminished, until it almost disappeared.  There has been a small resurgence over the last year, but frankly, new boats and designs in our cruising category are still rather scarce.

One thing that remains true, and which is a field that has continued much more steadily to innovate and produce new products for boaters, is the marine electronics and boating systems industry.  Ok, those are two industries really, but together they represent what we put IN our boats and what helps us to use our boats safely and efficiently.

So here at OceanLines, we’re going to focus on covering the developments in those two industries, bringing you all the latest news on marine electronics, software, and boat systems ranging from propulsion to electrical, hydraulic and sanitary.  If you can buy it to be installed aboard or fitted to your boat, we’ll cover it.

If there are new cruising boats developed and launched, we’ll cover them too, no worries.

There’s a lot of water to cover.  Consider the following:

  • Touch screens are the wave of the present and future.  But how you implement them and how you handle them when seas are rough are the sticky points.  We’ll look into the latest offerings, such as the chartplotters from Garmin, Raymarine, the Navico brands – Simrad, Lowrance and B&G, and Furuno, and any others we can find that we think might deserve your attention.
  • Radios are not the simple units of the past.  Most you’d want to consider are GPS-equipped and include hailing and sometimes a host of other features, including wireless mics, integrated AIS receivers, even constant recording so you can replay the last received communication (now THAT would be handy).
  • Depthfinders and other sonar units are as capable as the military technology of not so long ago.  Multi-frequency transducers adapt to conditions and requirements and many units now often side-scan capabilities.
  • Radars are decidedly more capable than the units of even five years ago.  High definition units make close-in navigation much safer and use significantly less energy and pose almost no radiation risk to boaters or crewmen on deck.
  • The “glass helm” has finally arrived in recreational boating and there’s a long list of new technology and products to consider.  These systems can integrate information from your propulsion, electrical and safety systems and display as much or as little as you want.  Multiple screens can serve to expand information or provide redundancy, although the reliability of today’s displays is much improved, too.
  • Propulsion options have all gained joystick control options, something I actually predicted back in 2007 (eh, I don’t publicize the predictions I get wrong).  Whether you have pod drives, inboards or outboards, they can all be controlled (sometimes requiring a bow thruster) with a joystick via computerized controls.
  • Other boat systems have kept pace (some more so, some less so) with the revolution in marine electronics — some can now be monitored by your helm displays, for example.  Tankage monitoring continues to get ever-so-slowly better.  We have systems now to better charge and maintain our batteries, not to mention the proliferation of new battery technology.  Everything from lighting (LED) and galley appliances (high-efficiency induction) have changed our power requirements.
  • There are new services available, too.  Consider Vessel Vanguard, a company that offers boat owners a comprehensive cloud-based portal to help manage and log maintenance requirements for all of their boat’s onboard systems..  And if you aren’t already a member of the ActiveCaptain crowdsource, you’re missing out on some pretty profound resources for cruising.

So, there’s a lot to review and a lot to discuss with you.  We’d appreciate any heads-up or tips you can send us on new products — and services — that might interest your fellow boaters.  Use our contact form to send us ideas, or email us at info at OceanLines dot biz.

Copyright © 2013 by OceanLines, a publication of OceanLines, LLC.

Posted by Tom in Boat Systems, Boats, Electrical Systems, Marine Electronics, Propulsion, Technology, Website news
Writers on the Water

Writers on the Water

Okay, so it’s not quite as memorable (yet?) as “Riders on the Storm,” the 1971 hit by The Doors, but a new blog by writers Christine Kling and Mike Jastrzebski  called Write on the Water, is a place to talk about the intersection of writing and living and working on the water. I was the guest author there today and I’m thrilled and honored that they asked me to write something for them.

New Blog Write On The Water

New Blog Write On The Water

Chris is already a famous (to me at least) author of a great mystery series featuring the fictional tug captain Seychelle Sullivan. And Mike is a full-time writer living on his 36′ sailboat, Roughdraft. OceanLines’ own guest author Victoria Allman, who writes our “Sea Fare” series of recipes for the cruiser and who wrote “Sea Fare:  A Chef’s Journey Across the Ocean.”

I know from talking with readers of OceanLines that many of you are also writers. Remember, the definition of “a writer” is “someone who writes.” Don’t buy the stodgy nonsense that you have to have been published to be considered a true writer. Writers write. Period. And from what I’ve read, some of you are very good writers.

One definition of a good writer is someone who can tell a compelling story. Our community has those by the drove. People like Ken Williams, John and Maria Torelli, and others who have compiled their writings into books.  And others, like Milt Baker and John Marshall and a host of other current cruisers, tell great stories in their blogs.  Of course, there are also the classic “nautical writers” of the age of sail, like Melville, Conrad and Dana. They were all seamen before they were writers. Derek Lundy points that out in his great book “The Way of a Ship,” which is is a fantastic account of his ancestor’s passage aboard the Beara Head, an iron-hulled square-rigger, that took a load of coal around Cape Horn.

If you’ve written about your time on the water, we’d like to hear about it and share it with our other readers. Send us a link to your blog or a book you’ve written and we’ll put together a page with everyone’s links on it. I know you’re out there, typing away on some kind of keyboard. Let’s hear about it! And stop by Write On The Water when you get a chance.

Copyright © 2010 by OceanLines LLC.  All rights reserved.

Posted by Tom in Boats, Cruising Under Power, Cruising Under Sail, Industry News, Passagemaking News, People, Powerboats, Sailboats, seamanship

My Articles for Mad Mariner

Mad Mariner Logo

Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of writing for Glen Justice at Mad Mariner ( and I’ve had a chance to work with his great crew there on a number of separate pieces. 

The first piece was an overview of the engine choices available to boaters today; covering everything from outboards to the drive pods of Volvo Penta and Cummins MerCruiser Diesel.  Have a look at it here: Story link…

The article talks about how 4-stroke outboards dominate that market segment, with the notable exception of the Evinrude E-TEC line of high-pressure injected 2-strokes.  We also covered basic gas-powered inboards, dominated by computer-controlled, fuel-injected models from companies like Crusader, MerCruiser and Volvo Penta.  Diesels, too, are going electronic and the benefits are significant — better fuel economy, smoother and quieter operation, and drastically reduced smoke and emissions.  The article ends with a discussion of the next wave in marine propulsion, the steerable pod drives now in service with Volvo Penta IPS and coming from Cummins MerCruiser Diesel with the Zeus units.

If you haven’t seen Mad Mariner yet, go check it out.  Glen’s many years of experience as a New York Times reporter gives the site a major leg up over other online boating sites.  He’s got a great collection of basic reference articles and good, hard news, too.  I’m proud to be associated with him and his team.

Copyright ©  Tom Tripp 2007

Posted by Tom in Website news