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Gearing Up for the 2017 Boating Season

April 19, 2017

 

Well, it’s time to pull the wraps off the boats and get everything ship-shape for another boating season. For many, that also means it’s time to replace, upgrade, beautify and otherwise spend money on the holes in the water we call our boats.

 

There have been some changes in electronics worth noting and there are some new products addressing safety, also due to electronic miniaturization and advances. There’s also plenty of neat “gotta’ have” stuff that may be right down the alley of those who’ve done a year with the boat and want to change or exchange this or that.

 

I’ve arranged stuff in the following order, because there’s waaaay too much to itemize each and every product. I’ve included prices (MSRPs —manufacturers suggested retail prices; as always, shop around for the best price) and websites where you can learn more about anything that strikes your fancy. 

I’ve broken this into five categories: MFDs, Sonar, Radar, Cameras; VHF and AIS; Safety; Deckware; and Miscellaneous. Manufacturers are in alphabetical order.

 

MFDs, SONAR, RADAR, CAMERAS

FLIR. Introduced at the Miami Show in February, FLIR, the thermal imaging pioneers (and parent company of Raymarine), are trying their hardest to make thermal imaging available to more and more boaters. The new M132 and M232 are a definite step in that direction. These are full resolution, 320 x 240 thermal imagers and are the most compact pan-and-tilt cameras the company had made. They offer video-over-IP for simple integration with leading MFDs and feature a 2X continuous electronic zoom. The M132 is tilt-adjustable. The M232 is pan and tilt adjustable. When interfaced with the new Axiom MFDs from Raymarine (see below), they also feature ClearCruise IR Analytics. The cameras actively scan the water in front of the boat and the Axiom MFD will alert you, automatically, to hazards like floating debris, rocks, boats and other non-water objects. It does this day or night, even if you are not actively viewing the camera feed.

Getting back to making this tech available to more boaters, the M132 camera MSRPs for $2,499; the M232 for $3,499. FLIR Systems, 877-545-5094; www.flir.com.

 

Furuno. The DFF3D multi-beam sonar is a black-box sonar for the TZtouch and TZtouch2 displays. It will let you see three views at once: down, to the sides and 3D. It utilizes a new, compact multi-beam transducer, along with Furuno’s own advanced signal processing. The transducer and fairing block is only 14 inches long, which makes this a perfect fit for boats of all sizes and the transducer features a built-in motion sensor, which keeps the images stable, even in rough seas. Additional transducer styles, including a transom mount, are forthcoming. Perfect for serious offshore fishermen. Module and transducer MSRP around $4000. If you’re looking to upgrade your radar and space is a consideration … check out Furuno’s stand-alone Model 1815 LCD Radar. It has an 8.4-inch color display, a 19-inch 4kW dome antenna and a ton of sophisticated features. It MSRPs for $2495. For those with NavNet TZtouch/TZtouch2, Furuno’s Radar DRS4D-NXT brings solid-state electronics and Doppler estimation to show moving targets to radar. It comes with a 24-inch radome and MSRPs for $2600. Furuno, 360-834-9300; www.Furuno.com.

Garmin. The GPS/MAP 1042/1242 XSVs are 10- and 12-inch chartplotter/sonar combos with color displays, keypad interface and multifunction control knobs. They include transducers with high wide CHIRP, 250 W and CHIRP ClearVu/SideVu, 455/800, 500 W. They are also available without the transducer. If you have all-Garmin equipment, these will take input from all of it so you have a single-point display. MSRP is $2299 for the 10 inch; $2699 for the 12 inch (with ’ducer). The GPS/MAP 742/942 are similar units insofar as connectivity, et al, with seven- and 9-inch screens. MSRPs are $899 and $1199 without ’ducer. Sailors will like the SailAssist features of these MFDs (multi function displays). I guess the biggest news — if you run a newer Garmin sonar —is the Panoptix PS51-TH through-hull forward looking sonar transducer, which displays live view in front of your boat to 300 feet. MSRP is $1499. Lastly is the top-of-the-line GMR Fantom radar in 18- and 24-inch antenna configurations. These are solid-state, Doppler radars connectable to a wide range of Garmin GPS/Map products. MSRP is $1999 and $2799 respectively. Garmin, 1-800-800-1020, www.garmin.com.

 

Humminbird. For 2017 Humminbird has released a new series of 12- and 15-inch displays. The SOLIX series fishfinders. They come in two versions — one is equipped with GPS and CHIRP Digital Sonar, the other adds Humminbird’s MEGA Imaging process, their incredibly clear down and side imaging technology. Aside from being huge, these fishfinders have touch screen and keypad maneuverability, the ability to make your own charts, Bluetooth connectivity and a bunch more. MSRPs are between $2399 and $2899 for the 12, and $2999 and $3499 for the 15. Also new for this season is Humminbird’s Solid-State CHIRP Radar Module, which is designed to seamlessly connect to all networking HELIX and ONIX models. It features a 21-inch radome and — as it’s so named — multi pulse radar. MSRP is $1799. Humminbird, 800-633-1468; humminbird.com.\

 

Iris Corporation. UK-headquartered night vision innovator Iris Corporation introduced its new-for-2017 Iris NightRunner 390 Solo+ Thermal Pan/Tilt/Zoom (PTZ) Camera at this year’s Miami Show. It features a 25mm lens, 8X digital zoom, wide 24.8-degree field of view and full PTZ capabilities, seven levels of Image Contrast Enhancement (ICE) to further sharpen target detection and allows navigators to choose from six color palettes with reversible hot-to-cold polarity. The Solo+ is housed in a UV-stabilized, IP66 waterproof ABS cowling locked to a sturdy aluminum mounting base. MSRP: $5995. Iris Corporation, 954-533-9381; wwww.boat-cameras.com vessels.

 

Lowrance. Just before Christmas 2016, Lowrance introduced its High-Powered HDS MFDs, the HDS Carbon. The units are available in seven-, nine- and 12-inch models. They come with a dual-core, high-performance processor, and easily power Dual-Channel CHIRP sonar (requires a dula channel CHIRP ’ducer), Dual Network Sounder, StructureScan 3D, StructureMap and future high-powered fishfinding upgrades. They feature Lowrance’s high-/all-visibility color SolarMAX sceens for excellent viewing from increasingly wider angles. For d’ducers, there are two ports, a blue seven-pin for broadband and CHIRP sonar and a black nine-pin for use with StructureScan 3D, StructureScan HD and SpotlightScan ’ducers. MSRPs are $1249, $2049 and $3149 respectively, without transducers and $1499 to $3399 with. Lowrance, 800-324-1356; www.lowrance.com.

 

Raymarine. The highlight from Raymarine for 2017 is the Axiom family of MFDs. These will be in your favorite chandlery just about as you read this. The new rugged, all-glass, edge-to-edge touch screens are available in seven-, nine-, and 12-inch displays and come pre-installed with Raymarine’s new LightHouse 3 operating system. Combined with Axiom’s quad-core processor, the OS delivers an intuitive and powerful navigation experience through a redesigned interface that is easy to personalize. They feature life-like imagery behind Raymarine’s exclusive RealVision 3D for superior underwater fish and structure ID. RealVision provides true 3D sonar along with CHIRP DownVision, CHIRP SideVision and high CHIRP sonar together in an all-in-one transducer.  MSRP for the seven-incher is $649, while a complete package with the 12-inch Axiom (including GPS, Navionic+ charts, RealVision 3D sonar and a transducer) tops out at $3499. Raymarine, 603-324-7900; www.raymarine.com.

 

Simrad. If you’re running Simrad electronics check out the S5100 High-Performance CHIRP Sonar Module, which offers three fully-independent sonar channels to deliver high-resolution sonar across multiple depth ranges, making it a perfect fit for offshore sportfishing anglers. Additionally, users can adjust specific CHIRP frequencies from 28 to 250 kHz and ranging from 300W up to 3kW to precisely target specific depths. It’s compatible with Simrad NSS evo3 and NSS evo2 multifunction displays, NSO evo2 glass-bridge systems and the S2000 series of fishfinders. MSRP S1999. Also from Simrad, the aforementioned NSS evo3 MFDs. These feature SolarMAX HD screens, Dual Channel CHIRP sounder compatibility and an expanded keypad, and more. The series will include seven-, nine-, 12-, and 16-inch models with an updated, easy-to-use interface. MSRP from $1299 to $5499, respectively. Lastly, their HALO Pulse Compression Radar gets a Doppler upgrade with the VelocityTrack, providing nearly instant feedback to targets in motion in relation to your boat. MSRP: $4500 to $5500. PS: A new software update was announced in March or Simrad MFDs providing major sonar enhancements, new Navionics functionality and general software improvements for NSS evo2, NSO evo2, GO5 XSE and GO7. Simrad, 800-628-4487; www.simrad-yachting.com/en-US/.

 

SI-TEX. For 2017, SI-TEX has introduced two new MFD units: the 10-inch NavStar 10 and the 12-inch NavStar 12. These combine advanced radar, sonar, chartplotting and entertainment abilities and functions in a compact system. They feature touch screen and traditional controls, a speedy quad core processor, built-in Bluetooth and wireless LAN, automatic chart and software updating, video and music entertainment interface, use C-MAP cartography and are enabled for optional Skymate satellite commo. MSRP is $2,199 for the 10 inch and $2,999 for the 12. Also new-for-2017 is the Explorer NavPro Black Box Multifunction Navigation System, designed to turn any onboard VGA display or off-the-shelf PC monitor into an advanced navigation system. It features HDMI video output (versus VGA), NMEA2000 networking, a powerful processor, optional remote control, and two NMEA0183 ports. MSRP is $959 with GPS antenna, $699 without. SI-TEX’ new GPK-11 Max is a 72-channel DGPS antenna, which works with all known SatNav networks including GNSS, GLONASS, GALILEO and BEDIOU, and uses up to three different GPS networks concurrently for maximum position accuracy anywhere in the world. MSRP is $259. You’ll also want to checkout their HDK-1000 Compass/GPS, with 12 precision internal sensors to output true heading, magnetic heading, deviation, variation, roll, pitch, position, satellite information, ground speed, course over ground, time/date, air pressure and temperature in real time over NMEA2000 or NMEA0183 connections. MSRP is $849. SI-TEX Marine Electronics, 631-996-2690; www.si-tex.com.

 

VHF, AIS

Cobra Marine: The (handheld) MR HH 600 VHF radio comes with GPS and DSC and is Cobra’s first handheld that shows your GPS coordinates and automatically transmits them with DSC calls. It comes with a floating orange core so it’s easy to see in water and has a built-in flashlight and emergency strobe… and it allows boaters to place/receive phone calls through the radio. Black or white. MSRP is $229.95 available right around when you read this. Cobra Marine, 773-889-8870; www.cobra.com.

Garmin: New are the VHF 110 radio and VHF 210 AIS; the former a 25w with all the bells and whistles, the latter adding AIS to the screen. MSRPs are $279 and $599 respectively. Garmin, 1-800-800-1020, www.garmin.com.

 

ICOM. Introduced at the Miami Show in February ’17 was ICOM’s M604 fixed VHF transceiver, also offered in an AIS version. It’s waterproof, has a large color screen, 25 watts, 30-watt listen-back hailer, can use their COMMANDMICs, as well. You’ll also want to check out their M93D handheld VHF with a large LCD screen, integrated GPS, DSC and more. ICOM, 800-872-4266; www.icomamerica.com. 

SI-TEX: Still awaiting FCC approval is the SI-TEX MDA-4 VHF/DSC/AIS. No price on that yet. The nomenclature says it all. SI-TEX Marine Electronics, 631-996-2690; www.si-tex.com.

Standard Horizon: Talk about an all-in-one package! The Matrix AIS/GPS GX 2200 is a full-featured VHF/DSC unit, which also comes with a full-featured AIS, and integrated WAAS GPS antenna, a 30-watt PA/loud hailer with preprogrammed fog signals with listen-back, programmable collision alarms based on the AIS, can save up to 100 waypoints, and is RAM3+ remote capable. MSRP is around $600 but you’ll wanna’ shop around for this. Standard Horizon, 714-827-7600; www.standardhorizon.com.

 

SAFETY GEAR

Life Cell. Debuting at the Miami show … this is a ditch kit supreme. The base unit, The Trailer Boat, carries all the requisite safety items in a built-in-flotation casing. It can hold an EPIRB on the exterior, as well, and — should the boat sink — will float off its keeper to the surface. There are four models the Trailer Boat for two to four people, the Yachtsmen for four, the Trawlerman for six and the Crewman for eight. MSRP starts at $299. Life Cell Marine Safety, info@lifecellmarine.com.au; www.lifecellmarine.com.

Emerald Marine. This Washington-based outfit offers ALERT418 Man-Overboard System, a water-activated transmitter that instantly sets off a cabin or helm alarm when submerged. The transmitters runs on two CR123 lithium batteries and has six flashing LED lights. A red LED flashes when power is low. When immersed, it sends an instantaneous signal to the ALERT Man-Overboard Receiver that automatically triggers a piercing 95dB alarm and bright red flashing light on the display. It can also be wired to set a waypoint on a compatible chartplotter, activate external strobes and speakers, and/or stop engines. MSRP starts at $1,088; additional transmitters retail around $289. Emerald Marine Products; 800-426-4201; info@emeraldmarineproducts.com; www.emeraldmarineproducts.com.

PanPan. The PanPan personal beacon works with any (and all) smartphones or tablets you have onboard and is a waterproof 1.2 x 3.1-inch Bluetooth 4.0 device that can create an active MOB network aboard your boat. Basically, in the event you or your beacon get far enough away from whatever screens you have working, the Bluetooth connection will fail, and the PanPan apps loaded into each device will mark the spot, alarm the rest of the crew and help manage the victim’s retrieval. The antenna design claims a maximum range of 650 feet. PanPan’s developers are working on a further step to avoid alarms caused by Bluetooth obstructions by “meshing” a network of multiple beacons and apps so that no one beacon will be reported overboard if it can still be seen by another. A PanPan pet collar is also in the works. MSRP for one transmitter is $95. Crewwatcher.com.

 

DECKWARE

Accon. Their Cleat/Rod Holder Combo is a six-inch pull-up cleat with an integrated rod holder which comes in a choice of 0-, 15- or 30-degree retention angles. It measures just 7.57 L x 3.74 W x 8.38 D inches. MSRP is $96.42. Accon’s Pop-Up Navigation Lights recess into the deck when not needed. Made from marine-grade 316 stainless steel, the 205-M Stainless Port Light, 206-M Stainless Starboard Light and 207-M Stainless Side Lights each feature a fully retractable design that leaves the deck flush when out of use. The lights meet the 72 Colregs protocol and are NMMA type-accepted. MSRP is $166 each or $332 for a pair. Accon Marine, 727-572-9202; www.acconmarine.com.

Beckson. The most secure spot on a boat — or anywhere — is the space that a thief doesn’t know exists. Stow-Away Deck Plates with Bags from Beckson Marine provide hidden storage under a watertight deck plate. They come complete with a four-, six- or 8-inch deck plates and include a removable 12-inch nylon bag which drops inside the deck plate opening, held in place by an interior rigid ring. The six-incher can be ordered with a 24-inch-long bag. MSRPs start at $40.95. Beckson Marine, sales@beckson.com; www.beckson.com.

 

Davis Instruments. Their Quick Fist Clamps are heavy-duty rubber clamps designed to keep equipment in place. Sold as a pair, the Standard Quick Fist easily mounts with one #10 bolt or screw through the 7/8” W x 2-3/4” L base. It will hold objects from 7/8- to 2-1/4 inches in diameter, and up to 22 pounds. The Super Quick Fist will hold things from 2.5- to 7.5-inches in diameter. MSRP is $14.99 for two small ones or one large one. Davis Instruments, 510-732-9229; info@davisnet.com; www.davisnet.com. 

Mantus Scuba System. This product won a Sail Magazine Pittman Innovation Award for 2017. It’s an all-in-one scuba system with a 3000-psi, two-liter aluminum tank in place of the usual 80 cubic inch (or larger) tank. You get the tank, a regulator, a back-up regulator, pressure gauge, a harness and a backpack in which to store/carry everything. This also solves the space problem (weight is 20 pounds; size stowed is 30 x 14 x 6 inches) of carrying a full array of dive equipment. You still gotta’ take dive lessons to learn how to safely use it, but this is a smart deal for the cruising boater. MSRP is $599. Mantus Anchor, www.mantusanchors.com/mantus-scuba.

 

MISCELLANEOUS

Davis Instruments. The Snap Tool Multi-Key is a button unsnapper; zipper puller; has 5/16-, 3/8-, 7/16- and 1/2-inch hex wrench sockets; a scraper; a cutting blade; a slotted and Phillips screwdriver; a shackle tool; can opener; and deck key. It measures 2.75 W x 4.48-inches,and weighs a mere 2.8 ounces. MSRP is $12.99. Davis Instruments, 510-732-9229; info@davisnet.com; www.davisnet.com. 

Shakespeare. The antenna guys have expanded your ability to stay in touch with the world (just what I want!) with their new WebWatch all-in-one Wi-Fi hotspot and high-definition television (HDTV) antenna. Designed to be fast, reliable and tailored for long-range reception, it provides increased reception and more range than PC and mobile device wireless data connections. WebWatch provides Internet access for up to 32 users from nearby Wi-Fi or, with a data-only AT&T SIM card, a cellular network, with speeds up to 4G. It also supports T-Mobile and Cricket networks up to 3G speeds. It has a built-in HDTV antenna, receives over-the-air digital signals, allowing televisions to play even during storms. A no-HDTV model is also available. The antennas are 13-inches high with a diameter of 11.75 inches; weight is 3.85 pounds. MSRP: WebWatch WCT-1, $899.95; without HDTV, $850.95. Shakespeare Company, 803-227-1590; www.shakespeare-ce.com/marine.

 

Shurhold. Known for all the neat stuff for keeping things clean on your boat they’ve come up with a cool idea for those ubiquitous five-gallon buckets we all use for a zillion things. It’s a Bucket Seat/Lid that has its own padding. Now you can safely store stuff in the bucket and sit on it — comfortable — at the same time. MSRP is $10.98. Shurhold, 800-962-6241; www.shurhold.com.

TecNiq. This Michigan-based outfit introduced the compact M50 and M51 Water Dragon Underwater Lighting, with its M50 said to be the brightest surface-mounted LED underwater lights available. They have rugged aluminum die-cast bodies and 316 polished stainless steel covers, run on 12- or 24-volt systems, and high-quality auto-grade LEDs. The M51 is the intro version, having a plastic body, lower lumen LEDs and runs only on 12-volt systems compared to the M50. The M50 line includes three models: three LEDs with 1,500 lumens each, six LEDs with 2,700 and 12 LEDs with 5,500 lumens each. The M51 has three LEDs of 375 lumens each. They’re available in vibrant white, blue and green. The MSRP: M50 line starts at $129.49; the M51 at $49.99. TecNiq, 269-629-4440; sales@tecniqinc.com; www.tecniqinc.com.

 

 

Zipwake. Imtra is the US distributor for the Swedish invented Zipwake Dynamic Trim Control System, which Imtra calls the “world’s first economical Dynamic Trim Control System.” It incorporates a state-of-the-art series of durable, fast-acting interceptors, eliminating the well-known trim problems of planning and semi-planning boats between 20-60 feet. In other words, the system is automatic  … unlike traditional trim tabs, it automatically handles trim duties. The system is said to significantly enhance performance, fuel economy, comfort and safety when accelerating, turning or running in a seaway. Each control panel has a built-in GPS, 3D-Gyro and 3D-Accelerometer. Straight interceptors are available in four sizes (11.8-, 17.7-, 23.6- and 29.5-inches). V-shaped interceptors (29.5 inches) are available in four sizes that cover deadrise angles of 13-, 16-, 19-, and 22-degrees. MSRP is between $2000 and $2500. Imtra, 508-995-7000; www.imtra.com/zipwake.htm.

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