Monday, October 22, 2007


This is the amazing Porta-Bote. It is unique because it actually folds for storage to a depth of just 4 inches thick. But when assembled is extremely sea-worthy and stable. They come in a variety of sizes; 8, 10, 12, and 14 feet. I have the 10 foot model which can accomodate 3 adults with a 6hp Tohatsu motor (purchased through Porta-Bote). For $2800 with engine, it's a cost effective way to enjoy the waterways.

There are some caveats, however. Though it folds flat, it is still heavy and awkard to transport. Our model weighs 60 pounds, but it is unweildy. It's best to have 2 people to move it around. Additionally, the 3 seats and transom piece must be carried and installed prior to assembly; this takes a lot of cargo space. Assembly is also relatively simple and intuitive but is challenging for one person; you have to sort of get in to the boat and stretch out the sides. If you aren't careful, the sides can snap back and toss you over. They include an indispensible spreader bar that makes assembly easier. But having 2 people is much more preferable.

Regardless of the set up challenges, it is a true joy to boat in. It's very stable (you can move around without fear of tipping) and it has handy features such as built in cup holders. With 3 people and gear, the 6hp engine is sufficient for ~7mph top end speed. Best of all, it's an awesome way to explore the waterways. Friends and family have enjoyed truly blissful and relaxing days out on the lake. It has provided many wonderful adventures in just a few months of ownership.

The Tohatsu outboard hasn't been as satisfying; gas engine use is restricted in the SF Bay Area; many reservoirs allow only electric motors. Plus the Tohatsu is hard to start. If I could do it again, I might try to get a Torqeedo trolling motor. They use lithium-ion batteries and can provide as much as 6-hp of power.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Magellan Crossover GPS 2500T

This is my third Magellan having owned the Magellan 6000 and 2200T prior to this one. By far, the Magellan 2500T acquires and holds satellite signals much better. Living in a concrete block house, acquiring a satellite signal was impossible with the 6000 model; however, with the 2500T, I reliably can find satellites. Outside or in the car, I've never had an issue with satellite aquisition. Inputting addresses is easy by starting with either city or zip, and the graphics are good. I wish there was a way to categorize my personal addresses and search accordingly such as a "restaurant" category for all of the restaurants entries I created within my address book. I used the Crossover while traversing Southern Utah, and this GPS unit had fire roads that were far off the beaten path within its mapping software ... a very good thing when exploring back roads and trying to navigate pitch black wilderness roads at night. Text –to-speech is good, but it mangles some words or names. Battery life is excellent, and it charges quickly. I went down to LA this past weekend, and the battery made it all the way down from SF with some power remaining. I haven't tested the marine or the topo functions yet, but plan to. The display quality of the images I loaded on the SD card are ok, but it depends on the image size. Some higher resolution images appear pixelated for some reason. The car mount is very adjustable and vibration free. The firmware update two-months ago improved the graphics, and introduced a "tow truck" icon on the vehicle nav main page. I believe this is for the Magellan models that support the AAA towing service ... it's just not supported by the Crossover GPS. Instead, clicking on the icon displays the current location. I bought mine at Costco earlier this year for $350, but now you can find it for less on Amazon or Newegg.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Vector SLH100V HID Spotlight

Being a flashlight collector/addict, I have always longed for a HID flashlight, but couldn't stomach the $300+ cost for most portable HID flashlights. When I saw the spotlight in the Cabela's catalog, for $150, I was very excited. This is not a flashlight (like a Maglite), but rather a spotlight similar to the gazillion-candlepower spotlights you can buy at sporting good stores or mega-retailers.

Here are the basics of the Vector SLH100V:
  • 35W-6000 K metal halide bulb
  • 12v-7Ah sealed lead acid battery
  • 8.5 pound weight
  • 3,500-lumen brightness
  • 70-minutes run-time
  • Lens diameter: 6"
  • Nylon carrying strap
  • 13.8V DC - 750mA charger
When I received the spotlight, I quickly read the instructions and plugged in the Vector. It didn't take very long for the battery to charge. Turning it on, it took a few seconds for the bulb to reach full brightness (just like the HID systems in cars). Dang, this is one bright light !!! DO NOT stare at the beam directly. It turned my dark backyard into an illuminated Candlestick Park wherever I pointed the light. I've never owned anything brighter. While checking some speaker wires under my desk, I used the built-in stand (ratchets to various angles) on the Vector to point the spotlight under the desk. It worked perfectly pointing the beam at the bottom of the desk while I checked wires. The on/off switch is a simple rocker switch under the handle, and a nylon shoulder/carrying strap is included. Though not small or portable, this is a highly recommended light at a bargain price.

- Gary

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

What the Muck?

Yeah yeah, Crocs are cool. But have you seen Muck Boots? These were originally designed for working around horses and on farms where you need absolutely water proof and tough shoes. They are as advertised-very comfortable, easy to get on/off, and of course waterproof. Only downside is your feet get a little sweaty in them.

Available on Yahoo! Shopping.