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Old 02-21-2013, 02:08 PM   #21
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Because a single-use device that uses less power and is easier to operate would be far better of an option than scrolling thru pages of a chartplotter or hoping your iPhone gets accurate signal in your stateroom. Having it be on a chartplotter is killing a fly with a flame-thrower. Below is an email I just dispatched to the VP of Standard Horizon (whom I have had some interaction with in the past)

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Jason,

Thanks again for your fantastic service regarding the need for a secondary mount for my 390i. But I have to get this off my chest and you are the only person who I think will listen, so bare with me for a moment.

The industry needs a dedicated anchor alarm unit! A single-purpose anchor alarm that is easy to use during the anchoring process. So many times I have forgotten to set the alarm AT THE POINT of dropping anchor because I am so busy trying to get all the other things done that need doing during that busy time. I'm sure you know the drill. I have no time to scroll thru a bunch of menus to activate an anchor alarm on a chartplotter. Moreover, a chartplotter alarm on the flybridge is where I will never hear when asleep below in the stateroom. Also, it will significantly reduce the numbers of false alarms you get thru the night if the wind changes direction (which it only seems to do at 3am!).

I see a vision of a box with a single big red "MARK" button on it that marks the spot where you drop your anchor. Much like an MOB button. Within the software and menus, the user has already entered boat size, draft, distance the unit is from the point on the bow where the anchor is dropped, and/or if they are on a mooring ball with depth of the water. After the anchor has been set (or you're on a mooring ball), you then can enter the rode length, alarm diameter, make fine adjustments to anchor placement, or add a second anchor location. The unit should have a handheld Bluetooth remote so users can activate the "MARK" function from anywhere on the boat should user be single-handing or the Captain hands that task off to the person manning the anchor station. Multiple local and remote alarms should be available via a wired rear connection or using Bluetooth to a smartphone. You can provide optional wireless alarms that can be placed in many location around the vessel. Even the handheld remote should be able to operate as a remote alarm. GUI interface need only be a small 3"-5" screen that tracks only itself. There is no real need for a full GPS map to be onboard the unit. It's just not needed. You only need to be able to see a realtime plot of breadcrumbs dropped every few minutes (unit of time set by user) to insure current position and to be able to see if you have swung completely around your anchor.

It seems like such an easy box to make. PLEASE consider it. Deep Blue makes one and it's STARTING price is OVER $3000!!! Here is a do-it-yourself thing I saw years ago that had me thinking: Boathooked.com: Anchor Alarm

I'm telling you... Put them on the market for a few hundred bucks and you would sell a MILLION of these things!!!! Google it... there are exactly zero in the market right now.

Thanks for your time,
Tom Beaty
Cary, NC


Oh.. Forgot to add that it should have a battery backup so that in the event of a power loss during the night, the position data is not lost when power is restored. Plus, the display should show current GPS latitude and longitude. Finally, a backlight, and alarm on/off button.
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Old 02-21-2013, 02:35 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by rwidman View Post
An anchor drag alarm is something you use once a day, if that, so why not combine it with the GPS rather than duplicating this device?
While you may only SET it once a day, you use it thru the night and rely on it as a gigantic piece of insurance and piece-of-mind that your boat and your life stays safe. From where I sit, a dedicated uni task device, would be far more accurate and desirable for some than just the software based well-while-we-are-in-there-let's-make-it-do-this sub menu item it is now. There are already lots of duplicates and backups you enjoy (paper charts, iPhone navigation apps, battery combiners), why would this be any different?

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Old 02-21-2013, 02:47 PM   #23
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With all of the concerns of accurate electronic positioning/alert errors mentioned above, and including the use of fathometer alarms, alarms meant to wake you up during the night to indicate possible anchor dragging are sure to impact your circadian rhythms!

I note that after 50+ years of boating (many of which occurred before GPS), the best overall solution is to get a good spot, get a good set, and utilize that oversized anchor, rode and windlass you bought so you could sleep nights.

Of course, sometimes you get stuck with crowded anchorages and storm winds, so every now and then some sleep is invariably lost. As I look back over thousands of anchorings, I probably had some sort of alarm (GPS or fathometer) set less than 1% of the time. In 2012, we anchored around 125 times and I can only recall setting an alarm twice. Once in a crowded anchorage with other boats and fresh wind, and once in an uncrowded anchorage with 45 knots.
I'm with you. We sleep quite well at anchor with no alarms 99.999999% of the time. When the wind pipes up it wakes me and I do a visual check. We have set in hurricane conditions several times with no alarms set. Just a good set of eyes and rotating anchor watches. Chuck
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Old 02-21-2013, 03:55 PM   #24
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There are already lots of duplicates and backups you enjoy (paper charts, iPhone navigation apps, battery combiners), why would this be any different?
Good point!
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Old 02-21-2013, 04:44 PM   #25
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While you may only SET it once a day, you use it thru the night and rely on it as a gigantic piece of insurance and piece-of-mind that your boat and your life stays safe. From where I sit, a dedicated uni task device, would be far more accurate and desirable for some than just the software based well-while-we-are-in-there-let's-make-it-do-this sub menu item it is now. There are already lots of duplicates and backups you enjoy (paper charts, iPhone navigation apps, battery combiners), why would this be any different?

Tom-
You should be able to tell from the lack of any commercial device such as you are describing that the majority of folks don't feel the way you do about it.

A GPS already has everything needed for an anchor drag alarm built in. It's just a matter of providing a way to turn it on and off and set the distance. If you're having trouble getting through the menus to operate the anchor drag alarm feature you should either become more familiar with the unit you have or buy a different brand. Accuracy? The marine GPS has a s good an accuracy as any other device relying on the same technology, typically about nine feet. A dedicated alarm could be no better.

As for a cell phone, I would not use that as an anchor drag alarm because there may not be coverage where you anchor and these devices are not built to the same reliability standards as marine MFDs.
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Old 02-21-2013, 04:49 PM   #26
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The simplest, no power anchor alarm is drop a weight over the side about 10 feet from your anchor...tie the line attached to that weight to your ships bell or to a can of bolts on deck and you are now an old timer...
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Old 02-21-2013, 05:11 PM   #27
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The simplest, no power anchor alarm is drop a weight over the side about 10 feet from your anchor...tie the line attached to that weight to your ships bell or to a can of bolts on deck and you are now an old timer...
Amazing how the "old times" are actually better than the new times!!
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Old 02-21-2013, 05:27 PM   #28
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Amazing how the "old times" are actually better than the new times!!

The really old timers tied it to their big toe...I didn't suggest that knowing how many here probably sleep in "footies"....
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Old 02-21-2013, 05:35 PM   #29
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As for a cell phone, I would not use that as an anchor drag alarm because there may not be coverage where you anchor and these devices are not built to the same reliability standards as marine MFDs.
In all fairness to cell phones, to my knowledge at least the Drag Queen uses true GPS and not tower triangulation so it's pretty accurate. I tested it and the phone seems to work hard tracking and updating location and I figure it probably isn't good for the phone over time, which is why I use my laptop set so the display and drive shut off but the processor runs - consuming little power. Any beep in the night wakes me up regardless of how loud it is!

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Old 02-21-2013, 05:46 PM   #30
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You're right Dave - Drag Queen runs on GPS signals so cellular coverage is irrelevant. I've had this discussion with Jeff and I remain unconvinced that a smartphone inside a cabin can ever be as accurate as an external antenna. Other than that caveat IMHO a smartphone app deals with Tom's 2 main concerns - low power consumption and ease of operation. In light of the other positional innaccuracies I'm not sure how relevant the in-cabin error is. A smartphone running DragQueen on a car charger beside the bed is likely as quick, easy and cheap as we can expect. And despite its simplicity its likely every bit as accurate as the fancier solutions.
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Old 02-21-2013, 06:14 PM   #31
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I didn't suggest that knowing how many here probably sleep in "footies"....
I resemble that remark
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Old 02-21-2013, 08:48 PM   #32
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The primary reason we boat is to anchor out. I am a paranoid anchored. So I do two things, sometimes three.

1) I wait until the anchor is set before setting the anchor alarm on the main Furuno system, which is very easy on my system. The boat, and thereby the center of the Furuno's circle, as explained above is whatever distance from the anchor the rode geometry dictates. This gives me a fudge factor on that alarm. I set the radius according to how much room I have, and/or predicted wind and current shifts. Typically, I like to be awakened when a shift takes place even though the anchor is well set and holding. Keep the track active. If there isn't a natural clocking in the works, I can set the circle very tight.

2) I have a Furuno RD30 repeater mounted by my bedside. It will show me Lat/Lon and depth and any other NMEA sentences I car to send it from the main system..., including waypoints. The anchor alarm function on the RD 30 Is somewhat arcane, but very useful. What it measures is if you have drifted a self-defined distance from a given waypoint. So I set a waypoint to where the anchor actually is and track to that. This is very handy because I sometimes cannot hear the main anchor alarm upstairs due to being sound asleep, or door is closed or if the generator is running. Mostly I wake up every now and then and check lat/lon. I also keep a little compass by the bedside which makes it easy for the groggy captain to see that the boat is now pointing in a new direction.

3) If triple paranoid, I have my laptop by the bed and have the anchor alarm set on it too, and I don't have to go upstairs to see what happened.

You know, when this sort of thing is going on:



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Old 02-21-2013, 10:53 PM   #33
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I try to anchor by mid afternoon. I'am then going to be up & alert for enough hours to be confident that I've got a good set. Being on the river out of the channel or even a slough there is enough current to easily tell if I'am dragging. By the time we go to bed I don't have any trouble sleeping thru the night. I have woke up startled when some drift floats against the hull or thunderstorm blows thru and I'll get up & stand watch until its over. I can understand how someone anchored where they were subject to drift from a wind change or tidal current may desire a warning if their anchor drug.
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Old 02-22-2013, 07:14 AM   #34
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I just set the alarm for double my scope or a little more. If it goes off in the middle of the night, I get up and look to see if I'm dragging. If not, I just add 25' or so to the alarm and go back to bed.

So far, I've never dragged.

BTW: I added an external buzzer to my Garmin plotter.
Exactly. So does setting the alarm ensure you never drag Ron, or does a good set with a good anchor ensure that..?
Just think of all the extra uninterrupted sleeps you would have had, without the false alarms.
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Old 02-22-2013, 07:23 AM   #35
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We have Drag Queen on a 3G iPad (3G/4G iPads are the only ones with built-in, stand-alone GPS receivers). So we don't need connectivity of any kind to use it as an anchor alarm. We feed the iPad into a small battery-powered amp and speaker. So we can leave the iPad in the main cabin where GPS reception is excellent and still have an alarm that is easily audible throughout the boat.

Other than to test it we haven't had occasion to use this setup yet but will when we take our fall cruise into BC.

I agree with Peter in that an anchor alarm is a nice-to-have item but it's certainly not essential and it's far less important than a good anchoring system.
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Old 02-22-2013, 07:54 AM   #36
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... I wait until the anchor is set before setting the anchor alarm on the main Furuno system, which is very easy on my system.
Actually the track of your movement at anchor is why I mark the location as I drop the anchor. I don't back down until the anchor is on the bottom and if it doesn't catch PDQ I start over anyway. In the morning my track shows me circling generally around the middle of the anchor alarm limit and not out at the edge as yours does.

I think my biggest complaint about setting the alarm on my Furuno system is that I have to leave both GPS units on to monitor an alarm and manually turn off the displays. This is probably a factor of the installation - there is one alarm buzzer for the two processors and it is connected to the radar/nav/depth unit to sound those alarms, for the GPS processor to sound an alarm both processors must be active.

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Old 02-22-2013, 08:33 AM   #37
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Exactly. So does setting the alarm ensure you never drag Ron, or does a good set with a good anchor ensure that..?
Just think of all the extra uninterrupted sleeps you would have had, without the false alarms.
Nothing ensures that one never drags, but I've paid a lot of attention to learning how to anchor properly and I use what I've learned to get a good set. I boat in a tidal area with some pretty strong reversing currents so my boat will swing a couple times while we are sleeping.

The alarm is a backup like belt and suspenders and it makes my wife happy.

BTW: At my age, I'm up to pee a couple times a night anyway so uninterupted sleeps are a thing of the past.
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Old 02-22-2013, 08:35 AM   #38
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The simplest, no power anchor alarm is drop a weight over the side about 10 feet from your anchor...tie the line attached to that weight to your ships bell or to a can of bolts on deck and you are now an old timer...
I was going to suggest that, more as a joke than a serious suggestion. I think in a tidal area with reversing currents you would have a tangled mess by morning.
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Old 02-22-2013, 08:38 AM   #39
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In all fairness to cell phones, to my knowledge at least the Drag Queen uses true GPS and not tower triangulation so it's pretty accurate. .............
I know very little about smart phones as I don't have one. My wife and I went on a land trip once and the other guy had the bright idea of using his phone for travel information.

Once we got into the mountains, his phone lost the signal and couldn't tell us where to go. We not only got lost going there, we got lost again on the way back.

The next day I ordered a GPS for the car.
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Old 02-22-2013, 08:48 AM   #40
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I was going to suggest that, more as a joke than a serious suggestion. I think in a tidal area with reversing currents you would have a tangled mess by morning.
Nope...gotta be smarter than the equipment you use....and many generations of boaters were/are...
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