MaxSea Time Zero Explorer Advanced PC navigation suite

VIDEO: Active Captain Integrates with MaxSea-Furuno

ActiveCaptain Will be Integrated into MaxSea Time Zero Chart Software

ActiveCaptain Will be Integrated into MaxSea Time Zero Chart Software

Jeff Siegal of ActiveCaptain recently notified users of the fabulous online cruising database that the information from ActiveCaptain will shortly be available inside MaxSea’s Time Zero charting software. The MaxSea folks were demonstrating a beta version of the software and Jeff did a short video of the demo, which is below.

An impromptu demonstration at the Miami Boat Show showing the very latest ActiveCaptain support in MaxSea/Furuno Time Zero.

I don’t know for sure what kind of computer the MaxSea folks had in their exhibit at the Miami Boat Show, where this demo was filmed, but the chart zooming and panning are perfectly seamless.  And switching from vector to raster charts is literally just a click of a button. The best thing is that anytime the system has an Internet connection it will check, then download and cache all the updated info from ActiveCaptain.  All of this is done in the background.  Eventually, MaxSea will build in a feature so that users can simply enter their own ActiveCaptain updates right into the MaxSea software and it will be sent upstream to the database.

In this demo video from MaxSea, you can see how the software works. The video has a music soundtrack for some reason, but you get a good look at the functions. I guess it’s time to have a closer look at MaxSea’s Time Zero software, which, by the way, integrates seamlessly with the Furuno Navnet products and so would be a logical choice for a PC-based nav solution that includes black-box sensors from Furuno. Naturally, MaxSea also includes NMEA 2000 connectivity, so other brands should be usable as well.

Jeff is going to have the MaxSea software available for ActiveCaptain users (ActiveCaptain is free to use, by the way). He expects the price for the non-Navenet version to be less than $350.

If any of our readers are MaxSea users, I’d love to hear from you in the comments as we begin a review of that software. And if you’re not already an ActiveCaptain, you should be. There is no better way to find the kind of information you need to more easily enjoy your cruising, whether it’s the latest fuel prices, a marina recommendation, or info on hazards provided by the locals who know.

Update: I’ve just learned that my friend and colleague Ben Ellison of Panbo actually helped get ActiveCaptain and the MaxSea folks together. You can read more about his assessment of the new confab on Panbo.

Copyright &copy 2010 by OceanLines LLC. All rights reserved.

Posted by Tom in Cruising Under Power, Cruising Under Sail, Electronics, Industry News, Passagemaking News, Powerboats, seamanship, Technology

Fort Lauderdale 2009: First Stop – Toys for the Boat

The 50th annual Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show opened Thursday to a relatively good VIP turnout and a cautiously optimistic mood among the exhibitors.  By Monday we will know if any boat buyers showed up, but just from the first day, it seems like component and accessory suppliers might do fairly well.  I spent the day looking at new “stuff” for the boat.  Here’s a quick look at a couple; with more to come over the next several days.

MaxSea TimeZero 3D Chart View

MaxSea TimeZero 3D Chart View

TimeZero Technology for Your MaxSea Navigation Software


Furuno announced that MaxSea has incorporated the TimeZero display technology into its own navigation programs, giving PC navigators the same high-speed functionality available on NavNet 3D chartplotters.  The updated program, available in two versions, referred to as MaxSea TimeZero Navigator and MaxSea TimeZero Explorer, includes an all-new graphics engine, new tool sets and Work Spaces.  Each package includes a DVD set loaded with NOAA raster and vector charts for the entire U.S. coastline. In addition, you can load high-resolution satellite photos to further enhance the charts.

According to the company, “one of the key new features of MaxSea TimeZero is the ability to switch from a traditional 2D chart display to an incredibly realistic 3D view with a click of the mouse. MaxSea TimeZero runs in a native 3D environment, which means there is no mode or trick to make the charts look like they are in 3-dimensions. This new 3D environment offers you a true perspective and wider area of view around the vessel, which will allow you to better plan your routes and navigation.”

MaxSea TimeZero Navigator has a list price of $450, while MaxSea TimeZero Explorer has a list price of $1,250.

SeaBob Water Sled In Action

SeaBob Water Sled In Action

A SeaBob as a New Water Toy for the Boat

Cayago AG, a German company, builds a line of luxury water toys, at the center of which is the SeaBob water sled.  This is something you have to see to believe.  It’s basically a battery-powered propulsion device to enable a swimmer to race through the water at up to 22 km/hr, approximately 12 mph, which is unbelievably fast.  The devices can dive and are perfect for extending a snorkel or SCUBA trek.

SeaBob V7 in Red

SeaBob V7 in Red

There is a range of models available, varying in levels of thrust from the motor and trim and accessory complements.  A top-of-the-line model includes a sonar system for navigation through murky water.  Prices are on the company’s website, listed in Euros, and range from approximately $10K to $16K; not cheap but for the boater looking for truly unique waterborne entertainment, worth thinking about.

Copyright © 2009 OceanLines LLC

Posted by Tom in Industry News, Technology

Furuno Outfits the New Kadey-Krogen 55′ Expedition

A Furuno NavNet 3D System Installed on a 57' Riviera

A Furuno NavNet 3D System Installed on a 57' Riviera

For more than sixty years, since the commercialization of the first electric fish-finder, Furuno has been a pioneer in the development of marine electronics.  OceanLines asked Furuno USA to participate in our hypothetical outfitting of the new Kadey-Krogen 55′ Expedition trawler.  The company responded with a proposal from Matt Wood, Sales Manager for Furuno USA.  Furuno’s proposal represents a state-of-the-art suite of multifunction units, sensors and networking technology, focused around the company’s NavNet 3D product line.

Wood and his colleagues responded specifically to our hypothetical buyers’ Request For Proposal, which outlined how they plan to use the boat and the general capabilities they would like to have from their marine electronics aboard.  Kadey-Krogen does not have an exclusive arrangement with any marine electronics supplier, so its owners can examine the offerings from all suppliers. Our fictional couple intends to cruise extensively in coastal regions but may also consider a transatlantic voyage at some time in the not-too-distant future.  You can take a look at the complete Furuno package — the Response to the RFP, as well as a spreadsheet file that includes an extremely detailed list of the proposed basic and high-end electronics suite.  Here’s an overview.


Wood notes in his letter to our fictional boat-buying couple that Furuno has a long history of equipment installation on Kadey-Krogen yachts all over the world and is familiar with the requirements of cruisers in this segment.  The Furuno proposal offers a basic package, which our couple asked for, as well as a top-of-the-line outfitting package that adds capabilities, as well as redundancies.  The proposal also highlights the seamless connectivity not only of the Furuno-branded NavNet products, but, using the NMEA 2000 networking protocol, the many other systems and sensors available in the marketplace.

Furuno Recommended Equipment and Pricelist for Krogen 55' Expedition

Furuno Recommended Equipment and Pricelist for Krogen 55' Expedition

The Furuno proposal notes that its equipment was the exclusive choice for the lead vessel in the PAE/Nordhavn North Atlantic Rally in 2004, when several trawlers made a group crossing from Florida to Gibraltar.



In his letter, Wood notes that 

“Since the plotter and radar functions are so seamlessly connected in the current era, Furuno will propose the integrated NavNet3D system.  For the basic layout this will include two NavNet 3D MFD12, 12-inch LCD multifunction displays.  According to Furuno, “These full-function plotters include both raster and vector chart databases for the entire US coastline and offer true three-dimensional navigation.  The NavNet 3D (or “NN3D”) MFD series offers complete chart plotter, radar and sounder integration.  Additionally, the MFD12 and other displays offer radar ARPA, AIS, Sirius weather, weatherfax and other interfaces such as display of camera information and NMEA2000 instrumentation.

Two MFD12 units side-by-side in the main panel of your Kadey’s dash will provide one screen for plotter navigation with or without radar overlay, and an additional/redundant screen for alternate chart views, route planning, instrumentation, cameras – the options are virtually limitless.

The basic installation includes a DRS4D, 24-inch 4KW 36-mile radar antenna.  This compact and lightweight radome antenna will be perfectly adequate for the coastal navigation you propose from Alaska to Florida and beyond.  The DRS antenna series uses Ultra High-Definition signal processing to give a remarkably clear radar picture.  In fact, it’s like having two radars in one – the Navnet 3D MFD series offer true, dual-range radar capability.  One range can look far for weather and coastline, while one range can be set close in for collision avoidance.  In a fishing application, one range can be set to look for birds diving on bait, while one can be set close in for safe navigation.

All NN3D units include a built-in 30-target ARPA – Automatic Radar Plotter Aid – so it’s not a mere MARPA, or mini-ARPA.  The ARPA will use the data from radar, GPS and the autopilot’s heading sensor to generate rock-solid target lock on up to 30 targets, either manually or in auto-acquire mode.
The MFD12 unit offer both video input for external video sources (such as a camera) as well as video output.  The video output from either or both MFD12 would be used in the stateroom and salon monitors.  In this configuration, that video presentation would be “static” – or not controlled in the stateroom or salon – unless and additional MFD unit was installed in either location.  See notes on the FMD8 second-station below.”

Furuno says that in the higher-end package, they would recommend replacing the two MFD12s with a single NN3D MFDBB — “Black Box” — plotter processor.  In this option, the display chores would be handled by two 17-inch MU170C color, sunlight-bright LCD units.  Furuno refers to these as “glass bridge” monitors.  They have multiple video inputs and so can display data from several different sources, including in Picture-in-Picture (PIP) format.  Furuno says the black box processor is unique in the industry in that it can operate in an “Extended Display” mode, which uses the single processor to drive two separate displays.  While the NavNet 3D MFDs can also display video inputs, the plethora of video input operations on the black-box-driven LCDs will accommodate more separate sources.


For radar, Furuno suggests a 6kW open-array radar, using a 6-foot antenna.  “While many vessels have crossed oceans with less radar or with none, we recommend the 6kW or even 12kW radar sets for long-range cruising.  The increased power and longer antenna array give increased range and better ARPA performance — both desirable when out on the Big Blue.”

Furuno Radar Installation

Furuno Radar Installation

The company suggest for both installation options the use of a smaller, 8.4-inch MFD8 display for use at a remote station.  “Given the layout of the [Krogen 55′} we propose that the MFD8 be centrally located on the back deck for use at a remote steering station.  Visual access from the back deck will come in handy when fishing as well, as the MFD8 can be used as a network sounder display for reeling in the big one!”


Furuno proposes a suite of network sensors, operating across the integrated NavNet 3D and NMEA 2000 network.  For example, they propose to fit both a GP330B NMEA 2000 network GPS sensor as well as a GP32 stand-alone GPS/WAAS navigator.  “Both position fixes can be input to the NN3D system and the NMEA 2000 network will automatically switch GPS sources if position fix should be lost…”

 Furuno says that one of the advantages of  its DRS (digital radar) antenna units is that “multiple Furuno sensors can be installed on a MNEA 200 backbone “stub,” which then connects directly to the DRS antenna.  The DRS converts the data for use in the NN3D display — so only one cable needs to be run down the mastfor the NN3D sensor suite.”  Furuno claims rightly that the simplified installation will save significantly on labor costs for running the cable as well as the wiring and data integration.

Known for many years in the commercial fishing industry for its fishfinders, Furunoproposes to install a digital, black-box sounder module — the DFF1  — to provide depth and bottom information to the NN3D suite.  Furuno would pair the sounder module with a 1kW thru-hull transducer to ensure deep-water performance.

For realtime weather, Furuno proposes the BBWX1 satellite receiver, which provides subscription-based Sirius weather info for use in the network as well as any shipboard PC systems.  As with all marine realtime weather products, various subscription packages are available from the weather service provider, now Sirius/XM after the corporate merger.  To enhance the overall weather awareness, Furuno would also install its FAX30 dual-duty black-box unit for providing weather fax reception and storage as well as NAVTEX safety messages.


Furuno believes some form of AIS is essential for our hypothetical cruisers.  In a basic package, Furunocould provide its FA30 receive-only AIS unit.  But the company believes strongly that for both the basic and high-end installations that a true AIS transponder system be utilized.  Furuno proposes its FA50 Class B AIS, which will both transmit your own vessel information to others as well as show you the information of other AIS-equipped vessels.  Wood puts it convincingly in the proposal:  “While a receive-only AIS unit enables YOU to see THEM, in the cse of a tanker in the fog in the Straits of Juan de Fuca, don’t you want to be sure that THEY see YOU?”  Given that the price differential between simple receive-only Class A units and full duplex Class B transponders is likely to continue to diminish, it seems prudent to outfit our cruisers with the full capability.

Interestingly, and logically, Furuno proposes that our couple equip their tender with an FA50 AIS as well.  A watch stander can keep track of the tender’s whereabouts even on the vessel’s chartplotter displays.  Might not be a bad idea if the tender wanders around too many headlands.  As long as it’s still wtihin clear VHF range, the folks aboard their Krogen55′ will still see it and can guide it home.

As befits its status as one of the oldest marine electronics companies still in the marketplace, Furuno has fulll proposals for communications, autopilot and additional instrument capabilities.  Furuno’s proposal suggests two of its FM3000 Class D VHF radios, each fitted with a remote mike/speaker for use in other areas of the boat.  Furuno also has an SSB radio for long-distance communications; the FS1503EM has a modification for direct connection of a modem for e-mail.  Furuno would also install its LH3000 loudhailer for those times when a loud voice, or foghorn just has to be used.

Furuno also gets into the use of a PC aboard ship, noting that most long-distance cruisers nowadays, and not infrequently for navigation as well as the more traditional PC duties such as e-mail and home office activities.  Furuno says its MaxSea Time Zero Explorer program can be employed on a shipboard PC, and has the advantage of using the same charts as the NN3D system.  A tender-tracking module can be included in the MaxSea TZ installation.


Autopilot duties will be handled by the NavPilot 500, complemented by some state-of-the-art heading sensor technology.  The company’s new SC30 Satellite Compass is a dual-antenna GPS compass that offers “gyrocompass-equivalent heading information,” according to Furuno.  The upgraded SC50 unit offers even more precise steering information.  The satellite compasses offer pitch and roll correction, which can be used by keel stabilizers.  Heave compensation can be used to stabilize the echosounder presentation, as well.

As with most of the other equipment categories, Furuno has a plethora of additional instruments to choose from.  In particular, the company suggests at least an RD30 unit for use as a navigation information repeater, and redundant depth indicator.  The PB150 ultrasonic wind and weather sensor can connect to the RD30 and a PC.  One interesting note is that the NN3D network can easily display digital engine information, which is likely to come from newer engines over a J1939 buss.  Converters to translate that information to NMEA 2000 format are available from many suppliers.

For cruisers who want to fish seriously, or perhaps navigate tricky channels or perhaps, iceberg-studded waters, Furuno can even supply its CH250 or CH300 series searchlight sonar.


The truth is, Furuno has such an extensive line of recreational and commercial grade marine electronics, that the sky is the limit when outfitting a boat with the company’s products.  The company’s long history and reputation for reliability in the commercial segment gives it a big leg up in the recreational market.  That is not to say the recreational products are somehow inferior to the commercial units.  In fact, the NavNetvx2 series is the standard U.S. Coast Guard navigation product for all vessels under 85 feet.  Matt Wood notes in his letter to our buyers that it is even possible to integrate much more powerful radar units, such as some of the commercial grade (which usually means certified for oceangoing use) FAR radar series.

As with most of the other electronics companies, Furuno does not offer entertainment systems or satellite TV units as part of its product mix, but these are widely available and relatively easy to integrate to the extent that is necessary.

Check out the links above in the story to see the full proposal from Furuno as well as its bill of materials and price estimates.  Here at OceanLines, we would like to thank Matt Wood, Jeff Kauzlaric and all the systems specialists at Furuno USA for participating in this project. 

If you would like to talk to Furuno about their proposal for the Krogen 55′ Expedition or any of their other marine products, you can visit them at the Miami International Boat Show and Strictly Sail, at booth # 1617 at the Miami Beach Convention Center site.  If you’re going to the show, stop by and see the actual Kadey-Krogen 55′ Expedition at the Sea Isle Marina in  Miami at dock 808, slips a, b and c.

Copyright ©  2009 by OceanLines LLC

Posted by Tom in Boats, Technology