Check These Out at the 2016 Miami Boat Show

If you’re already in South Florida, or headed that way for this weekend, you probably know that The 2016 Progressive® Insurance Miami International Boat Show® has moved from the Miami Beach Convention Center to Miami Marine Stadium Park & Basin. And now that the dog days of the 2008 recession have more or less faded, there is lots of innovation to explore in recreational boating. So stop by the show and take a look at some cool new boats and gear. Some of my top pics for the show:


Navico, the world’s largest manufacturer of marine electronics, announced several new technology developments that will integrate some key industry systems monitoring capabilities into the company’s equipment.  The company announced it would partner with Naviop, an international leader in monitoring and control systems for yachts and luxury megayachts, to develop state-of-the-art solutions for displaying and managing sophisticated yacht systems. The effort will bring Naviop’s monitoring technology into the broader marketplace for production and high-volume boat building.

Naviop Monitor

Navico also announced that, in partnership with Mercury®, the full line of Simrad® GO, NSS evo2 and NSO evo2 multifunction displays will soon receive a new software upgrade that adds powerful functionality with the recently introduced Mercury VesselView® Link module, providing boaters with fully integrated Mercury engine data combined with their chartplotter, sounder or radar display. Leif Ottosson, Navico CEO, said, “Working together with Mercury, we are able to offer boaters a simplified approach to data management. Now information from radar, sonar, gauges, engine controls, and more, can all be viewed on one screen, minimizing distractions for captains and simplifying the boating experience.”

Navico’s Lowrance® brand announced the release of the Lowrance Precision-9 Compass, which delivers heading and rate-of-turn information with an enhanced level of accuracy to Lowrance Outboard Pilot™, Broadband Radar™ and navigational systems over an NMEA 2000® connection.

Lowrance Precision-9 Compass

The Precision-9 Compass incorporates a sophisticated solid-state sensor array measuring motion on nine separate axes. Data from all nine axes is used to calculate the most accurate heading and rate-of-turn information possible, avoiding common limitations of conventional fluxgate electronic compasses. Once the compass is calibrated, it delivers heading accuracy of ±2 degrees, with a pitch and roll range of ±45 degrees. Lowrance said the compass should be available this month in the U.S. and Canada at a suggested retail price of $645USD.

BRP – Rotax and Evinrude

Bombardier Recreational Products (BRP) announced that its Rotax Intelligent Shift and Throttle (iST) system was recognized by the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) with an Innovation Award in the Jet Boat category at the beginning of this year’s show. BRP says the game-changing iST option for Rotax jet propulsion systems brings electronic control to formerly mechanical functions. Now available on nearly all Scarab jet boat models and Chaparral Vortex models, iST allows boaters to optimize low-speed maneuverability in a variety of environmental conditions.

BRP’s Evinrude brand has a very high profile at this year’s show, with some eye-watering demos available with the E-TEC G2 models on several boats at the dock. BRP has also announced that they have approved the use of biobutanol fuel blends in Evinrude engines, and will be offering test rides to show the compatibility. Demonstrations will be held at the Miami International Boat Show for media and consumers at on a Key West 239 equipped with an Evinrude E-TEC G2 300HP engine, at Slip #120. Even if you don’t think you will have access to these new bio fuels in the near future, you definitely want to experience a 300HP E-TEC G2. That’s all I’m saying.


GOST® (Global Ocean Security Technologies), celebrating its 10th year as a world leader in marine security, tracking, monitoring and video surveillance systems, is highlighting its newest marine products at the Miami show this year at Booth: C368, in the C Tent. You can see the new GOST Nav-Tracker 3.0 SM, with its hardwired interface unit that allows it to be integrated with hardwired sensors you may already have aboard your boat. If you’re just getting started on the search for a serious security system, look at the GOST NT Evolution 2.0 security and tracking system. The pinnacle of marine security solutions, the NT Evolution 2.0 marine-grade, wireless security, monitoring and tracking system provides battery backed-up global arm/disarm and relay control via satellite from anywhere in the world. It is designed to defend oceangoing vessels and any other asset that requires a ruggedized, water resistant security, monitoring and tracking system. Easy to install, the wireless sensors can be monitored and the system can be controlled remotely, no matter where the vessel is located globally, with the exception of the most extreme polar latitudes.

GOST Nav Tracker

And finally, see if they’ll show you their new GOST Tracker App, which allows boat owners to link to vessel data from a corresponding Nav-Tracker device and other GOST tracking systems via a smartphone or tablet with an easy-to-use, secure interface. The intuitive application allows users to log in with the same username and password used to access their account on the GOST website. Users can remotely monitor and control Nav-Tracker devices installed on any number of vessels, while fleet managers can view multiple fleets of vessels, as their needs require.

As far as boats go, we’ll get back to you after the show with a roundup of the best of the new boats. There is some really cool stuff going on now with boat builders. While most companies got hit hard by the recession — and some did not survive — others are making a real comeback, including some names we thought might be gone for good.  I’ll mention just one here, and ironically, they don’t have their new vessel at Miami, in this case the Yachts Miami Beach 2016 show (formerly the Miami Yacht and Brokerage Show) on Collins Ave. But I know they’re at the Cocktail Barge and they’re talking about the new Bertram 35.  Yes, the Moppie is coming back! The first hulls are under construction at the Lyman-Morse Shipyard in Thomaston, Maine, and Bertram execs will be in Miami Beach to share some more details about the new boat. Check out the details at Bertram’s website.

Copyright © 2016 by OceanLines LLC. All rights reserved.

Posted by Tom in Boat Systems, Boats, Electronics, Engines, Marine Electronics
Lowrance Offering Special Deals on High-Tech Displays

Lowrance Offering Special Deals on High-Tech Displays

Lowrance said today it was offering money-saving promotions on some of its latest displays, with cash rebates and map giveaways among the highlights. The promotion includes $200 cash rebates on HDS-9 and HDS-12 Gen2 Touch displays, as well as free map giveaways with the purchase of Elite-4 and Elite-5 HDI models. These special offers will continue to be available through June 15, 2014 in the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico.


The Lowrance HDS-12 Gen2 Touch Display.  Image courtesy of Lowrance.

The Lowrance HDS-12 Gen2 Touch Display. Image courtesy of Lowrance.

There are also some great bundle deals involving the StructureScan HD.  I saw this technology demonstrated earlier this year at a special press preview at Hawk’s Cay and it’s nothing short of jaw-droppingly impressive.  Watching the high-definition sonar displays show every little details all around the boat, and having the ability to scroll back to an interesting detail, just left me speechless.  The test boat I was on had an autopilot aboard that let me simply designate a point in that sonar history and then took me right to it.  If you fish, or explore, you NEED this gear.

Copyright © 2014 by OceanLines LLC. All rights reserved.

Posted by Tom in Depthfinders, Electronics, Fishing, Marine Electronics, Navigation, Radar, Sonar, Technology
Navionics Plotter Sync Wirelessly Updates Charts on Raymarine plotters

Navionics Plotter Sync Wirelessly Updates Charts on Raymarine plotters

If you own a wirelessly enabled chartplotter from Raymarine  and you use charts from Navionics, your life is about to get MUCH simpler. An updated Navionics app on your iPhone or iPad will download daily chart updates, and then when you are within range of your wireless-enabled chartplotter from Raymarine (with the latest firmware update, likely by late April), the app will communicate with the chartplotter using an embedded technology called Plotter Sync, and update your Navionics chart cards. You really just won’t have to think about it or worry about it anymore:  you will always have the latest updates for your charts.

The Navionics Boating App is available for iOS and Android platforms.  Image courtesy of Navionics

The Navionics Boating App is available for iOS and Android platforms. Image courtesy of Navionics

Navionics Plotter Sync on Raymarine chartplotter

Navionics Plotter Sync wirelessly updates the Navionics charts on Raymarine chartplotters. Image courtesy of Navionics

According to Navionics, the Navionics Boating app gets the latest chart data from Navionics Freshest Data servers and, using Plotter Sync, automatically syncs to the chart card.  You never have to remove the card or take it back to a computer.  A bonus comes if the Raymarine user is sharing her sonar logs with Navionics.  Then, the logs will also wirelessly sync to the mobile device and then up to the cloud where they become part of Navionics crowd-sourced SonarCharts.  In the right-hand image here you can see the Navionics chart display on a Raymarine e97 chartplotter, which the image on the left shows the same chart info on an iPad, which is using the Plotter Sync technology to sync with and update the e97.

Navionics PlotterSync on an iPad synchronizing chart updates to a Raymarine e9 plotter.  Image courtesy of Navionics

Navionics PlotterSync on an iPad synchronizing chart updates to a Raymarine e9 plotter. Image courtesy of Navionics

This technology represents a significant safety enhancement.  A boater using Plotter Sync not only will have the latest charts on the Raymarine chartplotter, but also on an independent mobile device.  If you were smart enough to buy your iPad with a cellular modem, and thus with an actual gps receiver in it, then your iPad becomes a fully functional offshore navigation device.  Our resident expert on iPad navigation for boats, Christine Kling, has written extensively about iPads on boats.

Print out a up-to-date free PDF chart from the NOAA website before you leave for the dock and you’ve set yourself up for success with a triple layer of navigation redundancy.  Get the updated Navionics Boating app from the iTunes store if you want to sync your Raymarine unit via your IPad.

Plotter Sync will also soon be working with chartplotters from Navico.  The Simrad, Lowrance and B&G units equipped with GoFree wireless will be able to sync routes, tracks and logs according to current plans.  The Navionics Boating app is available also for Android devices, for use as a planning tool or for navigation.  Current Android capabilities do not include the wireless chart sync with devices on your helm. Without trying to put words in Navionics’ mouth, I can imagine that at some point in the future, we will be able to use any and all of our mobile devices to sync with our fixed-mount plotters. The technology is evolving almost on a daily basis, it seems. It’s already pretty cool and useful.  If you are using this or testing it, let us know in the comments how it’s going.

Copyright © 2014 by Oceanlines LLC. All rights reserved.

Posted by Tom in Electronics, GPS, Marine Electronics, seamanship, Technology

2014 Miami International Boat Show Opens Today


Open Doors of the 2014 Miami International Boat Show

What’s behind this door? The 2014 Miami International Boat Show

We’re in Miami for the opening of the 2014 Progressive® Miami International Boat Show and it’s clear from the exhibits on display, the boats in the water and the news already making headlines that there is a new optimism in the boating industry.

View of the show floor at the 2014 Miami International Boat Show

So much to see as you walk into the Convention Center show floor at the 2014 Miami International Boat Show

If you’re following our Tweets from the show (@OceanLines), you’ve seen some quick spy shots we got from the show floor last night while all the show employees and company folks were still putting last-minute touches on all the displays. We tweeted photos of the Lehr propane-powered outboard motors; a great solution if you have a diesel boat and don’t want to carry or mess with gasoline for your tender. Actually, it might be a great solution for anything you want to do with a smaller outboard.

We also sent a picture of the great line of Yamaha outboards on display; the cool paint jobs on the Mercury Verado outboards on Deep Impact’s boats; the rocketship-like go-fast boats from Marine Technology and some examples of the new Carver Yachts lineup.

Last night you also saw our Tweet with a photo of Boston Whaler’s innovative fold-down side gate on the 270 Dauntless. We’ll have two more news stories from Boston Whaler today, including one on a brand-new boat being developed by the company.

There is also a lot of news from the marine electronics companies this year and we’ll have all the coverage, including a roundup of the great new technology and content available from the Navico brands — Simrad, Lowrance and B&G.

So, stay tuned and be sure to follow us on Twitter for quick heads-up items and photos from the show floor and the marinas.

Copyright © 2014 by Oceanlines LLC.  All rights reserved.


Posted by Tom in Boats, Electrical Systems, Electronics, Engines, Gear & Apparel, GPS, Industry News, Marine Electronics, Performance Powerboats, Powerboats, Propulsion, Radar, Radios, Sonar, Technology

OceanLines Has a New Look and Focus homepage screen capture

OceanLines Home Page as of New Year 2014

If this is the first time you’ve been here in a while, you might notice our new look and our new focus.  Since its first post in 2007, OceanLines has focused on the boats we like to live and cruise on, whether for the day or for long, ocean-crossing passages.  Since the Great Recession fully landed on the boating world in 2009, the appearance and sale of new boats gradually diminished, until it almost disappeared.  There has been a small resurgence over the last year, but frankly, new boats and designs in our cruising category are still rather scarce.

One thing that remains true, and which is a field that has continued much more steadily to innovate and produce new products for boaters, is the marine electronics and boating systems industry.  Ok, those are two industries really, but together they represent what we put IN our boats and what helps us to use our boats safely and efficiently.

So here at OceanLines, we’re going to focus on covering the developments in those two industries, bringing you all the latest news on marine electronics, software, and boat systems ranging from propulsion to electrical, hydraulic and sanitary.  If you can buy it to be installed aboard or fitted to your boat, we’ll cover it.

If there are new cruising boats developed and launched, we’ll cover them too, no worries.

There’s a lot of water to cover.  Consider the following:

  • Touch screens are the wave of the present and future.  But how you implement them and how you handle them when seas are rough are the sticky points.  We’ll look into the latest offerings, such as the chartplotters from Garmin, Raymarine, the Navico brands – Simrad, Lowrance and B&G, and Furuno, and any others we can find that we think might deserve your attention.
  • Radios are not the simple units of the past.  Most you’d want to consider are GPS-equipped and include hailing and sometimes a host of other features, including wireless mics, integrated AIS receivers, even constant recording so you can replay the last received communication (now THAT would be handy).
  • Depthfinders and other sonar units are as capable as the military technology of not so long ago.  Multi-frequency transducers adapt to conditions and requirements and many units now often side-scan capabilities.
  • Radars are decidedly more capable than the units of even five years ago.  High definition units make close-in navigation much safer and use significantly less energy and pose almost no radiation risk to boaters or crewmen on deck.
  • The “glass helm” has finally arrived in recreational boating and there’s a long list of new technology and products to consider.  These systems can integrate information from your propulsion, electrical and safety systems and display as much or as little as you want.  Multiple screens can serve to expand information or provide redundancy, although the reliability of today’s displays is much improved, too.
  • Propulsion options have all gained joystick control options, something I actually predicted back in 2007 (eh, I don’t publicize the predictions I get wrong).  Whether you have pod drives, inboards or outboards, they can all be controlled (sometimes requiring a bow thruster) with a joystick via computerized controls.
  • Other boat systems have kept pace (some more so, some less so) with the revolution in marine electronics — some can now be monitored by your helm displays, for example.  Tankage monitoring continues to get ever-so-slowly better.  We have systems now to better charge and maintain our batteries, not to mention the proliferation of new battery technology.  Everything from lighting (LED) and galley appliances (high-efficiency induction) have changed our power requirements.
  • There are new services available, too.  Consider Vessel Vanguard, a company that offers boat owners a comprehensive cloud-based portal to help manage and log maintenance requirements for all of their boat’s onboard systems..  And if you aren’t already a member of the ActiveCaptain crowdsource, you’re missing out on some pretty profound resources for cruising.

So, there’s a lot to review and a lot to discuss with you.  We’d appreciate any heads-up or tips you can send us on new products — and services — that might interest your fellow boaters.  Use our contact form to send us ideas, or email us at info at OceanLines dot biz.

Copyright © 2013 by OceanLines, a publication of OceanLines, LLC.

Posted by Tom in Boat Systems, Boats, Electrical Systems, Marine Electronics, Propulsion, Technology, Website news
Simrad Yachting Launches New Touch-Screen MF Displays

Simrad Yachting Launches New Touch-Screen MF Displays

Simrad NSS Sport Family Displays

Simrad NSS Sport Family Displays

Simrad Yachting last week announced a new series of touch-screen multifunction displays — the NSS Sport Series.  Available in 7-inch, 8-inch, and 12-inch models, the NSS Sport units feature LED backlighting and allow the user to control the display with the touchscreen, keypad and/or the “Simrad Yachting-signature” rotary control knob.

My friend Ben Ellison at Panbo was one of a special group of marine journalists invited to the product unveiling in Palma, Spain, last week and he’s got lots of details and thoughts on the overall Navico product strategy.  I haven’t had a chance yet to test the new MFDs but when I do I’ll report here on them.  In the meantime, here are some of the details from the Simrad Yachting press release:

The Simrad NSS Sport range features high-brightness (1200 NIT) bonded LED displays in 6.4-inch (VGA), 8-inch (SVGA) and 12-inch (XGA) diagonal screen sizes. All support NMEA 2000®, SimNet and composite video input. The NSS series uses little power and is designed for use in 12 and 24V DC power systems. The system has an operating temperature range of 5 degrees to 131 degrees Fahrenheit (-15 degrees to 55 degrees Celsius); like the NSE and NSO multifunction displays, the NSS Sport is waterproof to the IPx7 standard, and protected by a two-year limited parts and labor warranty. The new Simrad NSS Sport is also covered by Simrad Yachting’s 24-hour exchange program. In the unlikely event that the device is identified as defective within the first year of warranty, Simrad Yachting will ensure shipment of a replacement device within 24 hours.

The Simrad NSS7, NSS8 and NSS12 have suggested retail prices of $1,895, $2,845 and $3,995 US, respectively, and can be purchased from authorized Simrad Yachting dealers and distributors throughout the United States and Canada. For more information on the Simrad NSS Sport touch-screen navigation system, or the entire line of Simrad Yachting professional-grade marine electronics, contact 800-628-4487 (toll-free) in the USA or visit

Copyright © 2011 by OceanLines LLC. All rights reserved.

Posted by Tom in Electronics, Technology

List of Simrad Electronics Eligible for Rebates

Simrad BR24 Broadband Radar

Simrad BR24 Broadband Radar

Simrad Yachting said customers purchasing certain new marine electronics products from authorized dealers are entitled to rebates up to $200. While the program runs til the end of June, customers who purchased eligible products beginning February 8, 2010 are also eligible for the rebates. That’s a nice touch.

Here’s a list provided by Simrad of the products included in the rebate offer:

• NSE12 12” Multifunction Display System                                           $150
• NSE8 8” Multifunction Display System                                                $100
• NX40 8” Display with Echo Sounder                                                      $50
• AP24/28 Autopilots with AC12/42 Computer                                      $100
• GS15 GPS Antenna                                                                                   $50
• BR24 Broadband Radar™                                                                     $100
• 6kW/10kW/25kW HD Digital Array Radar                                            $200
• BSM-1 Broadband Sounder™                                                                 $75
• WM-2 SIRIUS® Weather Receiver                                                          $75
• RPU80/160/300 and HLD 350/2000 Hydraulic Drives                     $100
• WR20 Remote Commander                                                                    $50
• IS20 Wind, Graphic or Combi Instruments                                           $35

Simrad is one of the Navico brands and many of these products are on the cutting edge of technology; such as the NSE multifunction displays and the BR24 Brodband Radar, which I think is a fantastic primary radar for a coastal cruiser and the perfect secondary and close-in navigation radar for long-distance passagemakers. I’ve personally tested the BR24 and the short-range performance (you will recall that most collisions take place at fairly short range…) is fantastic. You can read my review of it here.

Details of the program and rebate forms are available at the Simrad Yachting website.

Copyright © 2010 by OceanLines LLC.  All rights reserved.

Posted by Tom in Boats, Electronics, Industry News, Maintenance & DIY, Passagemaking News, Powerboats, Sailboats, Technology

Lowrance Endura Handhelds Serve Several Roles

Lowrance Endura Sierra Handheld GPS

Lowrance Endura Sierra Handheld GPS

The handheld GPS I’m looking for has to serve multiple roles because I can’t buy and manage more than one.  So, whatever I get has to be an effective backup for my hardwired navigation system on the bridge; a reasonable navigator for the dinghy in crowded harbors and anchorages, and if possible,  a good tour guide once I’m ashore.  I think  I’ve found the unit that will do all that.  It’s gonna cost me some money, but the Lowrance Endura Sierra handheld navigation unit is all these things, and more.

What do I like about it?  Well, I just finished nearly two months with an early production unit loaned by Lowrance and these are the top selling points, in my opinion.

  • It’s easy to use out of the box, and will get even easier with a recent modification to the shipping configuration that will have more of the options turned on by default.
  • It’s fantastically customizable.  I can re-order pages, customize the displays on pages and create unique pages based on how I want to use the unit.
  • It has several key boater-friendly features, including a barometric altimeter, which, for us sea-level types, can be used as a barometer.
  • It’s rugged and waterproof (IPX7).
  • It is remarkably accurate.  After a minute or two the Estimated Position Error (EPE) is usually less than 10 feet.
  • The electronic compass in it is 3-D, meaning it will show direction regardless of the orientation of the device.


Lowrance Endura Find Menu

Lowrance Endura Find Menu

The Sierra unit, the top-of-the-line in the Endura series, comes with detailed base maps that include some 3GB of data, and contour maps ashore with 100-foot intervals.  It has a list price of $499.  The next-in-line Safari, in slate grey vs. the blue of the Sierra, has 500′ contours on its base maps and lists for $349. 

Both Sierra and Safari can be upgraded to full turn-by-turn driving directions for the U.S. and Canada with a software purchase.  The base Out&Back unit (yellow) lists for $199, but lacks the altimeter and compass of the other two.  All three feature a full-color touchscreen that is easily visible in full sun.  It’s not quite as bright as a non-touch-screen, but the utility of the touch-and-drag capability more than makes up for it in my opinion.

According to Scott Roy, Navico’s Product Marketing Manager, Outdoor Business Unit, the company plans to sell a series of regional (5-6 state) upgraded detail maps for the Endura units.  These will feature more detailed contours, hill shading, more outdoor Points of Interest (POIs) and depth contours for several miles offshore, which will be sufficient for all but the most hardcore of bluewater fishermen.  They will likely cost just under $100 per region.

The units can handle microSD storage cards up to 32GB, although you’re unlikely to find anything larger than 16GB in stores today, selling for #70-$100.  That’s plenty of storage, however, for any maps you want to use, for songs (yes, the units have a built-in mp3 player) and video.  For backpackers, hikers and geo-cachers, the units integrate fabulously with Google Earth.

The units also use the same type of USB cable for connection to a computer that most cameras use, with the mini-USB on the device end and a standard USB connector on the computer end.  The unit doesn’t ship with such a cable, but if you have a digital camera you already have one.  You can use either the microSD card or the USB connector for software/firmware upgrades and for loading additional maps, music and video, and GPX trail files.

Lowrance Endura Handheld Used for Navigation

Lowrance Endura Handheld Used for Navigation

Aboard the boat, I think most users will want to have the available 12v power adaptor and some kind of mount — RAM Mounts will have one for the Endura line — at the helm.  Battery life can theoretically run as high as 10-12 hours on alkalines, with backlighting set to a 15-second delay.  I got more like 8-10 hours per pair of alkalines but I was using long backlight delays and fumbling through screens while experimenting a lot so perhaps I could have squeezed a bit more time out of it.

In the dinghy and taken ashore, you should have extra batteries in your backpack and you can use the track feature to simply follow your own breadcrumb trail back to the dinghy when you’re done exploring.

The bottom line for me is that the Endura Sierra, with an additional regional detail map, a 12V power cord and a 16GB storage card, will be all I ever want or need in a handheld GPS, both for backup and for going ashore.  I might add turn-by-turn driving software if I’m going to be renting cars in port.  All of this means I’m gonna spend some serious bucks but I know it will work and I know I can customize it so it works exactly the way I want it to work.

Copyright © 2009 by OceanLines LLC



If you’d like to get a good comparison of the three models — Sierra, Safari and Out-and-Back — download this pdf of the operator’s manual.

Posted by Tom in Industry News, Technology

Simrad-Yachting Launches New NSE Chartplotter Series

New Simrad-Yachting NSE Chartplotter Series

Simrad-Yachting, a division of Navico, yesterday announced the availability of a new series of fully integrated, networkable chartplotters — the NSE series.  Available in both 12.1-inch and 8-inch displays (NSE12 and NSE8, respectively), the units purchased in North America come fully loaded with Nautic Insight HD high-resolution vector cartography.  They are fully compatible with the new BR24 Broadband Radar, which we wrote about here, and the BSM-1 Broadband Sonar Module, as well as Sirius weather integration.

The company’s announcement yesterday said the units were designed for the ultimate ease-of-use experience, combining elments of Northstar’s legendary direct access functionality, with Simrad-Yachting’s “powerful menu access.”  There is a new menu-driven user interface that includes specific user modes designed to “maximize functionality for specific boating segments.

New Simrad-Yachting NSE12 Chartplotter

New Simrad-Yachting NSE12 Chartplotter

Simrad-Yachting said, “key features include a rotary dial with logical push-to-enter selection that provides convenient function access and cursor control, direct access keys to simplify operation and an alphanumeric keypad that makes data entry a snap.  NSE systems feature Simrad SunView™ screens that incorporate an innovative, low-power white LED backlighting technology.  SunView displays are rated at a bright 1500 nits for full sunlight viewing and have a 120-degree viewing angle.   A company official told OceanLines that some HDS models (the 7-, 8- and 10-inch displays) also include LED backlighting, but we think the incorporation of this technology is a significant step forward.  Readers will notice that the best LCD HDTVs in the consumer market feature LED backlighting because it significantly enhances the LCD’s ability to create “blacker” blacks and “whiter” whites.  In other words, LED backlighting significantly enhances the contrast ability of LCDs, which not only makes them look sharper, but improves their ability to work in sunlight.

Split-Screen Display on New Simrad-Yachting NSE12 Chartplotter

The units feature plenty of connectivity and storage, with an onboard 80 GB hard drive and SD card slot, as well as front and back USB connections and both composite video and DVI-out ports.  The DVI-out port will make connecting the display to a big-screen TV in the salon even easier than usual.  The 12.1-inch unit features XGA 1024 x 768 resolution, while the 8-inch unit has an 8– x 600 pixel display.  We asked about the possibility of larger displays in the future and the company rep said it “probably” would be offering them.  When asked about the possibility of a front bezel color option, the humorous reply was Henry Ford-esque — “yes, as long as it’s black.”

 Updates for the built-in charts will be available, but a final schedule has not yet been determined.  We’d like to see Simrad-Yachting make these available permanently, in real-time, even if they have to charge a small subscription fee.  The Nautic charts are capable of providing navigators high-resolution 2D and 3D shaded contour and satellite imagery information.  In addition, the Nautic Insight HD navigation cartography includes detailed shoreline and safety navigation data including spot sounding, navaids and obstructions.  NSE units are also compatible with Navionics® Platinum, Platinum+ and HotMaps Platinum cartography.  In addition, NSE units feature Navionics TurboView™, a new dimension in navigation that offers smooth pan and zoom plus viewing rotation, as well as 2D and 3D Platinum and Platinum+ cartography chart views with depth and elevation contour shadings.

The NSE units are designed to draw low currents on either 12- or 24-volt systems and are waterproof to the IPX7 (submersible) standard.  They have a two-year limited parts and labor warranty.  Prices for the NSE12 and NSE8 are $4,595 and $3,295, respectively.  The new line will be publically unveiled at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show and units, the company proudly proclaims, will be available only two weeks later, on November 15, which if true will represent quite an accomplishment since several high-profile new product announcemtns in the marine electronics industry in recent years have proved to be somewhat…premature.

You can download the NSE Chartplotter Brochure (USA Sales) here.

Copyright © 2009 by OceanLines LLC

Posted by Tom in Industry News, Technology

Simrad Outfits the New Kadey-Krogen 55′ Expedition

Simrad gb40-helm-landscape view

Simrad gb40-helm-landscape view

In early February here on OceanLines, we debuted a new series called “Let’s Outfit the New Kadey-Krogen 55′ Expedition“” — a series which presented proposed marine electronics proposals from several of the major manufacturers in the business.  In this latest article in the series, Simrad details how it would outfit the popular new trawler.  The Simrad proposal takes advantage of some of the latest “glass bridge” technology, as well as the company’s new BR24 Broadband Radar, which we’ve written positively about here.  The Simrad outfitting also takes advantage of some nifty networking with the Class B AIS unit and the VHF to capitalize on DSC calling.  And one other feature, for me anyway, is a deal maker — these units are compatible with the Jeppesen C-Map MAX Pro cartography, which can be auto-updated as frequently as you like, which is a critical safety enhancement (See our earlier article on auto-updating here.)

Simrad’s proposal was provided by Paul Comyns, marketing director, B&G, Northstar and Simrad brands.  Comyns thinks the Krogen 55′ Expedition is the perfect yacht for Simrad’s GB40 Glass Bridge Navigation system.  You can see a company video on the GB40 here.  Together with its big brother, the GB60, this system represents the state-of-the-art from Simrad for recreational boaters.  It is a fully networked system based on black box components and fully compatible with the NMEA2000 network communications protocol, making expansion virtually limitless.

The Recommendation

For our fictional couple’s Krogen 55′, Simrad suggests we use a single, large 19″ flat screen display in the wheelhouse.  It’s large enough to make viewing even detailed chart, radar or AIS presentations easier.  You can download the proposal and a spreadsheet with the component list.  Here are the details:

“Main navigation screen placed centrally in the wheelhouse, configurable to display chart, radar, echosounder and engine data, along with video input from an Ethernet video camera connected to the GB40. An option is available to use a network video server allowing the connection of up to four video cameras monitoring the aft deck or engine room space.

Engine data can also be displayed on the GB40 direct from the engines using the NMEA2000 onboard network.

Using the Navico Weather module SIRIUS Weather Data can be overlaid onto the chart plotter display showing user selected real-time weather information.

The recommended radar antenna for this size of vessel would be a 6kW 4ft open array radar, with a maximum range of 64NM. This radar combined with the GB40 has a 10 target MARPA function and the requested Guard Zone capability. With other vessel information from the Class B AIS (Simrad AI50) displayed as overlaid targets on the chartplotter and radar.

The GB40 is controlled by a wired remote control that can be positioned close to the operator, it also has the ability to be controlled by the Simrad WR20 Wireless Remote, this allows for very flexible control of the GB40 navigation system by the operator, even from the wheelhouse sofa.

Simrad gb40-second-station installation on different boat

Simrad gb40-second-station installation on different boat

The GB40 provides for a second, networked display and control station, suitable for a flybridge, nav station aboard a sailboat, or perhaps in the office or master stateroom. Here’s how that could work:

“The GB40 has the expansion option to add a second display (10” or 15”), for use on a flybridge or at a second navigation station or in the master stateroom. This displays all the information that is on the main unit and can be operated by a local control panel, or if required it can be just a repeater with no local control. This option is often used for a saloon monitor for guests to monitor the progress of the voyage, but not change any settings.”

Additional Sensors

Simrad’s proposal notes the details of echosounder/fish finder installation and integration and puts special emphasis on the inclusion of AIS technology. Interestingly, Comyns says, “we recommend in this instance the Simrad AI50 rather than the black box NAIS300. The AI50 allows us to enable a feature called Buddy tracking, and this combined with a Simrad AI50 installed on the tender would allow for easy tracking of the tender and displaying the information on the chartplotter and radar. The Simrad AI50 is a Class B AIS and so is also transmitting your own ships data for any vessel to see.”

Comyns also clears up an issue of confusion for some boaters related to how Class B-equipped boats are seen by commercial vessels using Class A AIS systems.

A number of questions have been raised regarding the ability of Class A AIS units not being able to “See” Class B AIS units like the Simrad AI50 and the NAIS300 Blackbox transceivers.

This issue relates to ‘Message 24’ which was a new message introduced for Class B after many Class A devices had been manufactured and installed. Message 24 contains the ‘Static Data’ (vessel related info) including: vessel name, radio call sign, length, beam, type of vessel.

• Provided that the Class B has been installed correctly and is not faulty, it is highly likely that if a receiving device that does not ‘see’ all the Class B details is an older class A device (or cheaper receiver).
• It is also possible that if the receiving vessel has a good quality AIS receiver/ transponder that is known to process all AIS messages, the chart plotter may be older or has not been updated to display all AIS messages.
• All modern chartplotters have now been updated to display the class B details & most Class A manufacturers have now issued software updates to address this issue

The most important thing to get across here is that although the name and call sign may not be received, the Position, Course and Speed information of the Class B WILL BE RECEIVED by Class A devices. This is the navigationally significant information that will help you to avoid collisions!


Simrad NX45 Chartplotter

Simrad NX45 Chartplotter

Simrad offers two options for redundancy aboard the Krogen 55′ Expedition. Our couple could choose to add a second GB40 system or go with a Simrad NX45 Navigation System. The NX45 is an integrated chartplotter unit but it fully networkable with the systems onboard. Either of these two options can be used with the company’s new BR24 Broadband radar, which, in this writer’s opinion, is a game-changing technology. OceanLines wrote extensively about this radar in an earlier article and we said then that it would make a perfect backup or dedicated short-range system for any passagemaker.

Instruments and Communications

Simrad notes that its SimNet network will allow the sharing of data throughout the network.  For our application, the company suggests the addition of Simrad IS20 displays, capable of repeating any data at any location.  The recommendation for the helm is for an analogue IS20 Rudder Angle Indicator, along with an IS20 Wind Indicator, giving both wind speed and direction.

Simrad IS20 Rudder Angle Display Instrument

Simrad IS20 Rudder Angle Display Instrument

Simrad IS20 Graphic Display Instrument

Simrad IS20 Graphic Display Instrument

For depth info, the proposal is to use an IS20 Graphic display, which can also show any other network information in graphic form.  Simrad notes that all the IS20 instruments can be placed in the main cabin and stateroom as well as the pilothouse.  Alarms can be set on the IS20 displays for change in depth, for example, ideal when at anchor and as an early indicator of slippage.  Another alarm might be set for increasing wind velocity.

Simrad gb40-bb-with-vhf-bb installations

Simrad gb40-bb-with-vhf-bb installations

Comyns notes in his proposal that Simrad’s flagship RS86/87 modular VHF system could serve as a complete-boat communications system, with loudhailers, intercom speakers and full second station options.  This is a full Class D DAS VHR radio.  Comyns notes:

“The RS86 fixed mount control unit with fist mike would be best suited at the main steering position and then the remote stations can use the RS87 full function handsets with a separate loudspeaker. Extra Intercom speakers can be used around the vessel and the loudhailer has a talk back function, ideal if some one is on the foredeck and wishes to call back into the wheelhouse, no more shouting or missed instructions. 

DSC calling, this function now really is easy linked to the Simrad AI50 Class B AIS, just identify the ship on the AI50 screen with the cursor and select DSC Call, the VHF will then automatically initiate a call direct to the ship. Ideal for calling up commercial craft that may be crossing your intended route, no more unanswered VHF hails.”

Video Surveillance

Simrad says that, using a network video server, it “is possible to have up to four cameras connected into the GB40 Navygation system for engine room or aft deck monitoring.”  The video is configurable onscreen — full-screen, for example, for docking maneuvers.  Simrad says the system includes a DVD player and a music library jukebox for entertainment.


The Simrad proposal for outfitting the new Kadey-Krogen 55′ Expedition includes some unique features, and with the GB40 you have the entry level to true glass-bridge capabilities.  The next step up in the Simrad line, the GB60 might be considered overkill for the Krogen 55′, but does offer even more display and system control opportunities.  It also allows for connection of stand-alone radars on larger yachts where type certification may require it.

A Full-Up Simrad GB40 Glass Bridge Navigation System Covers Many Bases

A Full-Up Simrad GB40 Glass Bridge Navigation System Covers Many Bases

One of the highlights, so to speak, of the Simrad proposal is the display opportunities. The flat screens currently offered with the glass bridge systems are new designs that have smaller overall dimensions and brighter screens.  So, for example, one of these new Simrad 19″ screens might fit where previously only a 16″ display from another maker might have worked. 

The other distinguishing element of this proposal is the ability to take advantage of the new BR24 Broadband radar, which we think every boater should be considering, whether as a stand-alone unit on a smaller boat, or as a short-range workhorse and overall system backup for long range yachts.  And with the ability to use the Jeppesen C-Map MAX Pro charts on these units (you really need to see the Broadband radar overlay on those charts), you have a major safety enhancement over any other cartography out there.  The Simrad Glass Bridge Systems are clearly the way of the future and with the company’s emphasis on introducing the highest levels of technology, you really should be considering getting a headstart on the future of marine helms with this approach.

Copyright © 2009 OceanLines LLC

Posted by Tom in Boats, Technology

New Radar from Navico is Game-Changer

Navico Broadband Radars for Three Brands

Navico Broadband Radars for Three Brands

I know, you hear that all the time from marketing types, but I’ve had a chance now to examine the new broadband radar from Navico — which will be on sale in Q2 under the Lowrance, Simrad and Northstar brands — and it really will change how you use radar.

These new units from Navico employ a Frequency-Modulated Continuous Wave (FMCW) transmitter that allows several major enhancements for the user.  This is the first time FMCW radar has been used for recreational marine use.  Here are a couple of highlights:

No “main bang” — the “main bang” is the clutter in the center of the screen that you typically see on the screen of a normal pulse radar.  It usually obliterates any close-in targets, often for as much as 30 meters or more from the boat outward.  When you think about it, that’s a serious detriment, since you’re not going to hit anything outside that zone. 

Navico Broadband Radar Image at 1/16th Mile

Navico Broadband Radar Image at 1/16th Mile

 The new radar from Navico virtually eliminates the main bang, distinguishing targets as close as 3meters.  Add to that the high-resolution enabled by the narrow beam and the digital signal processing and you can now safely navigate that narrow channel through the breakwater, or up the creek while seeing every piling, crab pot and bouy on the way.  Ok, maybe not every single one, but quite possibly.

Antenna of the new Navico Broadband Radars

Antenna of the new Navico Broadband Radars

Low power requirement — This FMCW radar requires much less power to operate.  The typical power draw in operation is only 17 watts, with only 1.6 watts required during standby.  That should be good news for all, but is especially good news for sailboat passagemakers on a strict electrical budget.

“Perfect” radiation safety — I say “perfect” because the certified “safe distance” from the radome while transmitting is “zero” meters.  This unit transmits the equivalent power of 1/10 of a typical cell phone.  That makes it a “huggable radar” as Navico President and CEO  Jens-Thomas Pietralla, said during a meeting here in Miami.  But it’s much more important than that.  With such an extremely low level of radiation, mounting concerns have all gone away and it is now safe to mount your radar anywhere it works for you without worrying about irradiating your crew and guests.  Not enough boaters are actually aware of this hazard with traditional radars, but they should be; and now they can take care of it.

“Plug and Play” — Since parent Navico has three prominent marine electronics brands, you will be able to plug this radar, and its single cable right into your Simrad, Lowrance or Northstar chartplotter with perfect integration.  The prices announced by Navico appear to be competitive, too.  For example, the Northstar-branded unit, compatible with the Northstar 8000i touch screen, M84 and M121 multifunction displays, has an MSRP of $1,995.00.

As a passagemaker, or coastal or offshore cruiser, you might wonder if this 18-inch radome unit will replace your bigger, high-power open array radar for your primary unit.  I wouldn’t rule it out, but I don’t think so.  While fishermen use their big open arrays to look for birds feeding on bait fish miles away, we use our high-power radar units for storm watching and long-distance surveillance and mapping.  At a rated range of 24 nautical miles, the new Navico broadband radar probably won’t fill those needs.  But as a secondary radar, and used in a primary role for close-in navigation, I think it becomes indispensable.

Copyright © 2009 OceanLines LLC

Posted by Tom in Technology