After a winter of (as this is written in mid-February) rather blah weather overall, it’s time again to start thinking about getting your boat in the water.
Here’s a look at some of the gear you’ll want to consider that’s hit the shelves and market since last season.
But first, some news you may have missed.
Unless you were living under a rock this winter you heard about the die-off in the bay scallop fishery. The die-off has - so far - been attributed to a coccidian parasite in a sample of bay scallops collected from Peconic Bays. This was the first reported detection of the parasite in bay scallops in New York waters. The parasite is (said to!) not be harmful to humans and doesn’t pose a public health threat, but could significantly affect the bay scallop fishery. We’ll see what next year brings. Opening day will be November 2, 2020.
On August 6, 2019, Governor Cuomo, signed Brianna’s Law, which will require all operators of powerboats to take an eight-hour safety course. The new law will have a five-year phase-in period. Under the phase-in, all motorboat operators born on or after January 1, 1993, must complete a safety course to operate a motorboat beginning in 2020. Those born after January 1, 1988, must complete a safety course beginning in 2022. Those born on or after January 1, 1983, must complete the course beginning in 2023. Those born on or after January 1, 1978, must complete it beginning in 2024. The requirement would extend to all motorboat operators beginning in 2025, regardless of age. Stop putting it off and go take a safety course.
A report released by the GAO (Government Accountability Office) about ATON (aids to navigation) found that the condition of the Coast Guard’s ATON, both fixed (lighthouses, etc.) and floating (buoys), have declined slightly while the overall costs for repairing or replacing them increased in recent years. According to Coast Guard data, its key metric for ATON condition — the Aid Availability Rate, or percentage of time that ATON are functioning correctly — declined from 98.0 to 97.1 percent during fiscal years 2014 through 2018. During this time period, the overall costs to repair and replace ATON increased from about $12 million in fiscal year 2014 to about $20 million in fiscal year 2018. According to Coast Guard data, the majority of the costs for fixed ATON were spent on repairs, whereas the majority of the costs for floating ATON were spent on replacements.
In “the future is now” department, Metal Shark (the Louisiana-based aluminum boat builder) and Sea Machines (of Boston) combined their talents to build a 29-foot patrol boat that can be operated autonomously (i.e., from a shore station! Think Predator drones!).
In other future-speak, look for another wind farm about 35-miles east of Montauk, brought to us by the folks who got the Block Island Wind Farm up. It’s called the South Fork Wind Farm, and is due to start building in 2021 and come online in 2022.
Lastly, and having nothing to do with boating, per se, though it is water-related - Norway’s DSG Technology (dsgtec.com) has developed bullets that can move through water to the tune of 200 feet! Regular bullets decelerate so quickly in water that they only make it a few feet, which is why James Bond and his ilk always dive into water when the bad guys start shooting. Using the drag-reducing abilities of supercavitation, DSG has produced projectiles that’ll hit submerged targets up to 200-feet away, making for some interesting Hollywood scenarios — and perhaps some cautious spies!
Volvo Penta’s next-generation D4/D6 engines won a “best of” award for inboard engines at last year’s IBEX: “The ability to re-engineer both the D4 and D6 propulsion systems brought out … higher horsepower, better fuel efficiency, significantly lower maintenance cost, extended service intervals and stationary positioning for stern drives,” said Alan Wendt, chair of the IBEX judging panel.
On the outboard front — again from IBEX — Evinrude impressed with their E-TEC G2 115 HO motor, which Boating Writers International member and judge, Lenny Rudow, said, “Finally, a 115-horse two-stroke outboard that can compete head-to-head against any four-stroke on the market and in some ways, maybe even beat it.” Apparently, Evinrude has packed next -gen technology such as digital shift and throttle, ITrim control system, digital instrumentation, custom color panels and optional I Steer dynamic power steering into the 115 H.O.
Yanmar launched new 6LF and 6LT common rail marine diesels at Boot Dusseldorf on January 26, 2020. Aimed at semi-planing and planing hulls with inboards, the engines (478 and 631 horsepower) are said to offer, “compact, lightweight and high-performance powerboat solutions.” They are also the first new Yanmar range to incorporate the company’s new VC20 vessel control system.
In mid-January 2020, Mercury introduced a new tiller for the 40- to 115-horse engines in their lineup. The new Merc tiller allows the boater to operate the tiller regardless of driving hand preference. This is the only tiller on the market with the capability not only to swap the shift handle to either side of the tiller, but to also reverse the throttle grip rotation to the boater’s preference. The tiller handle has side-to-side adjustments up to 18-degrees port and starboard from center. Likewise, the boater may also adjust the handle’s vertical angle through an auto-tilt lock system or down-stop angle micro adjustment knob. It’s got plenty of bells and whistles on top of that.
Cool item out of AirWave Marine for those of you tired of white VHF antennas. It’s an all-black antenna and mounts for VHF and or AM/FM reception. Prices for the AirWave Full Stealth VHF antenna start at $95; the AM/FM antenna at $99; and the Black Mount is $99. Check it out at www.airwavemarine.com.
Furuno’s NavNet TZtouch3, updates the original multi-touch MFD (multi function display) screen introduced in 2012, packing in more powerful features and functions, super-bright and responsive IPS displays, and a variety of screen sizes and interface options to suit any boating style or size of vessel. There’s now a 12-inch Hybrid Control TZT12F, the 16-inch TZT16F and 19-inch TZT19F. All models incorporate a powerful quad-core processor that takes NavNet's TimeZero technology to the next level, offering four-way split-screen displays and lightning-fast response times. Every TZtouch3 MFD includes a built-in 1kW, dual-channel TruEcho CHIRP Fish Finder. TruEcho CHIRP, designed to operate across a wide range of frequencies utilizing a broadband transducer, delivers significant advantages in signal clarity and target definition. Due to the constant sweeping of frequencies, TruEcho CHIRP is capable of gathering more and higher-quality data than traditional fishfinders. For those looking for a higher-power CHIRP fishfinder, Furuno has made it possible to pump up the power of TruEcho CHIRP by interfacing the Deep Impact DI-FFAMP to the internal Fish Finder. Deep Impact boosts your power to a 2kW or 3kW CHIRP fishfinder, ensuring that fish and bottom echoes come back sharp and clear at greater depths. There’s too much more about all these units to go into here. Check them out at www.FurunoUSA.com.
For those of you running Garmin systems, there’s the new handheld GPSMAP 86sci. It’s a water-resistant, floating design, with a sunlight-readable three-inch display and button operation provide. You can stream boat data from compatible chartplotters and instruments, comes preloaded BlueChart g3 coastal charts include the best of Garmin and Navionics data, can help you stay in touch with InReach satellite communication and two-way text messaging via the global Iridium satellite network (satellite subscription required) and more.
You’ll also want to check out Garmin’s NMEA-award winning 8616xsv chartplotter, which features a 16-inch full HD IPS touchscreen display preloaded with BlueChart g3 U.S. coastal Navionics data and Auto Guidance technology. It’s fully network-capable with NMEA 2000 connectivity and built-in support for the full suite of Garmin sonar capabilities. There’s — as usual — soooo much more. Check it out at www.garmin.com.
Right at the end of boating season last year (September ’19) FLIR announced the FLIR M300 Series, a new generation of maritime thermal cameras delivering advanced awareness-enhancing technologies, safer navigation, and seamless integration with onboard boat systems. FLIR M300 Series cameras were designed for the most demanding professional mariners and first responders who operate in the harshest marine environments.
The successor to FLIR’s industry-leading M-Series of maritime cameras, FLIR’s next generation M300 Series consists of five models featuring rugged and robust new pan and tilt housings – four models with the FLIR Boson resolution thermal camera cores, plus a visible-only, high-definition (HD) model. The series is highlighted by two dual sensor models, the M364C and M364C LR, which offer mariners greater awareness via FLIR’s patented Color Thermal VisionTM (CTV) technology. This proprietary multispectral imaging technology for the FLIR M300 Series and FLIR’s Raymarine Axiom line of navigation MFDs blends thermal and high-definition visible color video for enhanced identification of buoys, vessels, and other targets at night. The M300 Series integrates with the latest-generation marine navigation displays, including FLIR’s award-winning Raymarine Axiom family of MFDs. For more, go to www.flir.com.
Another nifty item for VHF antennas is Glomex’ new set up for installing the antenna called the Glomeasy line. Traditionally, it usually requires, fairly precise cutting, soldering, etc. With their Glomeasy line, it’s fast and easy to install—and remove—high-performance VHF, AIS, FM and DAB antennas. They feature their pre-wired FME (for mobile equipment) waterproof connectors that allow the RG-8X coax connection to rotate freely, so there’s no chance of it twisting or shearing. It also offers less signal attenuation than standard RG-58C/U cable for greater transmission and reception performance. The combination provides an unprecedented level of reliability. A video is at: bit.ly/Glomeasy. Or check it out at www.glomex.us.
Humminbird recently launched a new YouTube tutorial page dedicated to teaching anglers how to unlock the full capabilities of its popular HELIX fishfinder models. It provides step-by-step information to answer some of users’ most frequently asked questions related to fishfinders, including: rigging, troubleshooting, menu shortcuts, sonar, chart and navigation tips. The site contains more than 120 easily digestible, straightforward videos dedicated to making sure HELIX owners master every aspect of their units. For more information visit www.humminbird.com or subscribe to the channel at: bit.ly/HumminbirdHowTo.
Lowrance unveiled their new HOOK Reveal fishfinder and started shipping it in December ’19. In five-, seven and nine-inch models they include Autotuning Sonar, SideScan and DownScan Imaging, and now FishRevealTM, which makes fish easier to see by combining the benefits of Lowrance CHIRP sonar and DownScan Imaging on one screen. A feature called Genesis Live gives anglers the capability to create custom 1⁄2-foot contour maps of uncharted water – in real time – on the screen of HOOK Reveal displays. Genesis Live maps can also be created and saved on by placing a blank microSD card into the card slot. Back in September ’19, they introduced their PSI-1 Performance Sonar Interface, a sonar module (black box) that brings LiveSight Sonar capability to HDS Carbon fishfinder/chartplotters. With the PSI-1 and a LiveSight transducer installed on an HDS Carbon system, anglers will enjoy the capability to track lure and fish movements in real time with wider coverage and at greater range. For more information visit www.lowrance.com.
In February 2020. Navico, parent company to the Lowrance, Simrad, B&G and C-MAP brands announced the launch of the WM-4 Marine Satellite Receiver for SiriusXM weather and audio. Delivering vital weather and fishing information to Lowrance HDS LIVE and HDS Carbon, Simrad NSS evo3 and NSO evo3, and B&G Zeus3 and Zeus3 Glass Helm systems, the WM-4 Satellite Weather Receiver offers up-to-date, detailed weather forecasts, weather radar, lightning, storm warnings, sea surface temperature and much more. The new module requires one of four subscription packages – Inland, Coastal, Offshore or Fish Mapping. More at www.lowrance.com, www.simrad-yachting.com, pro.simrad-yachting.com, www.bandg.com and www.c-map.com.
Simrad Yachting –announced in January 2020, the launch of the new Simrad NSO evo3S Glass Bridge display, providing an unprecedented user experience for large sportfishing and power boats. The new NSO evo3S delivers: faster page changes - page loading times have been cut in half; smoother transitions - featuring the new iMX 8 integrated six-core processor, movements on the screen like chart rotation and panning are smoother, delivering a truly premium experience; and Multitasking - the increase in power means evo3S can multitask like no product before, even when splitting the screen six ways there is no drop-in performance. Available in 24-, 19- and 16-inch models, the NSO evo3S Glass Bridge can be purchased as a system pack or as a stand-alone display. System packs include a display, GPS, keypad and accessories. Go to www.simrad-yachting.com for more.
Looking for a small footprint GPS antenna? Check out veratron [sic] US’ veratron GO, a GPS/GLONASS/Galileo constellation receiver and antenna in one compact package. NMEA 2000 certified, it has easy plug-and-play installation that requires minimal setup.The radome is a mere 2.4- W x .75-inches H. Yet the device is eminently capable with 72 channel reception and a 10Hz refresh rate. It's SBAS-WAAS/EGNOS/MSAS/ GAGAN-compatible and has a time-to-first-fix rating of 30 seconds from cold start. Built for marine use, veratron GO is rated IPX7 for extreme weather conditions. Contact veratron US, Inc., at www.veratron.com.
Miscellaneous Neat Stuff
Some stuff coming out of last year’s IBEX (International Boatbuilders Exhibition and Conference) trade show was — as is always the case at IBEX — pretty cool. Strex cover fasteners bring a new way of covering your boat without braking your fingers on recalcitrant snaps. Check them out at www.strexfasteners.com.
If you’re planning on any travelling and fishing, check out Abu Garcia’s new IKE Signature Series Travel Rods. Crafted in graphite, with an easy-to-assemble four-piece design, including two separate tips with different actions, they are available in both spinning and casting models, and feature stainless steel guides with Zirconium inserts and a Fuji reel seat. Comes with a multi-rod shipping case. They’re MSRP’d at $149.95.
Coming out of the METSTRADE 2019 show (in Amsterdam; the next show is in November 2020 in Amsterdam for those looking to plan ahead!) was Ocean Safety’s new container for its Ocean ISO Liferaft, reducing weight and making the raft easier to handle, a critical factor when launching it over the side of a vessel. It has the same footprint as its predecessor but with a lower profile, so it will fit any existing Ocean ISO stowage. It’s also available with the Valise option as well as in the carbon Ultralite version, the lightest available liferaft on the market.
Ritchie Navigation, the world's largest manufacturer of magnetic compasses, has acquired the exclusive global distribution rights for Life Light Beacon. The compact, water-activated rescue strobe attaches to any PFD or liferaft and will be marketed under the Ritchie name. Maintenance-free, Life Light's bright yellow housing is virtually indestructible, completely sealed and guaranteed against leakage and corrosion. Its non-replaceable lithium-ion battery lasts five years. The safety device is easy to attach to a PFD or raft with the included lanyard and Velcro strap. Its MSRP is $24. You can’t beat the price.
Can’t vouch for this, ’cause it’s new, but — if their following in motorcycle and auto racing are any indication — it’s worth a try. Liqui Moly Marine 4T Shooter was formulated specifically for boats with four-stroke motors. Powerful cleaning agents remove deposits on injectors and carburetors, valves, plugs and combustion chambers. It leaves engines protected against wear, corrosion and gunk build-up, whether running or in between use. Because clean engines use less fuel, mileage is maximized and fewer pollutants emitted. Made in Germany, Liqui Moly Marine 4T Shooter can treat 18 gallons of gas with one 6.7-ounce can. MSRP is $10.99.
Fabric seams that leak are annoying, yet — now — so simple to fix. Iosso Products’ Seam Sealer simply sponges on to create an invisible barrier, sealing out water without altering the color or feel of the material. It’s as effective on modern solution-dyed acrylics, polyesters and coated synthetics as it is on cotton, cotton blends, canvas and other traditional materials. With the right seam construction, it even helps water repellency on vinyl and vinyl laminates and is completely transparent. This makes it ideal for boat and RV covers, awnings, tents, backpacks and other outdoor items. A four-ounce bottle of Iosso Seam Sealer covers around 50' feet and costs $8.30. More info at www.iosso.com.
Lastly — mainly because it starts with a “Z” — is something that I’ve been lusting to try, but … Anyway, it’s not new and has functioned to fairly rave reviews and — what is new — is that it’s moving to larger boats. IMTRA announced it has expanded its Zipwake Dynamic Trim Control System offerings with the new Series E line of interceptors. The Zipwake Series E is a family of large fast-acting interceptors perfectly engineered for bigger boats. The new product line evolved from the successful Series S that was designed for vessels from 20-50 feet; the Series S is for boats 40 to 100 feet. Unique 3D controls with a large LCD display provide the helmsman with unmatched, user-friendly, intuitive and precise control of running trim, heel or heading. The system is fully automatic and significantly enhances the boat’s performance, fuel economy, comfort and safety. If you don’t know what this new kind of “trim tab” does, check them out at www.imtra.com.