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News and New Tech

Keeping up with the constant changes in available technology is practically a full-time job. During the Miami International Boat Show, we strolled through the convention center to catch up with some companies whose innovative products are already on our must-have list.

Keeping up with the constant changes in available technology is practically a full-time job. During the Miami International Boat Show, we strolled through the convention center to catch up with some companies whose innovative products are already on our must-have list. 



When you’re hundreds, maybe thousands, of miles away from shore, having a system you know you can rely on in case of an emergency is crucial. ACR’s ResQLink is one of those systems. The ResQLink is a powerful, waterproof and FCC-approved personal locator beacon. Manufacturer ACR Electronics (part of Cobham Beacon Solutions) says ResQLink is accurate within 328 feet (100 meters) or less. Containing three levels of integrated signal technology—GPS positioning, 406-MHz signal and 121.5-MHz homing capabilities—ResQLink can quickly relay critical position information to the International Cospas-Sarsat Program’s worldwide network of rescue satellites. In Miami, we discovered that the already useful device has been redesigned with marine use in mind. The new ResQLink includes a backing that makes the device buoyant and thus frees your hands after being attached to a life vest.

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The already popular Navionics charts keep getting better. On top of the free daily updates that are available for the first year after purchase, users now also have access to up-to-the-minute changes made by user generated content (UGC). You can register with Navionics to gain the ability to report errors, wrecks, or even recommend your favorite shore-side restaurants. The Navionics server stores this information, which is sent to all users the next time they update their charts. Other users can then add to or change these comments, noting that the wreck has been cleared or a storm has moved a certain buoy or underwater danger. But Navionics isn’t just about navigation anymore. They know that actual time spent onboard your boat is only a small fraction of the year, so they’ve developed multiple ways to use their handy mobile apps to extend your love of the water landside. For example, their partnership with Raymarine includes Plotter Sync, a wireless hook-up between mobile devices with the Navionics app and the ship’s navigation system that automatically uploads pre-plotted courses. To help you plan those trips, they have integrated their NewsStand feature, which allows you to search by topic, publication, or destination for articles written by some of the world’s leading industry sources including Yachts International.

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Digital Yacht

Entertainment is a key component to life onboard, but trying to get dozens of different systems to work together can be something close to a technological nightmare, as you probably already know. Among companies working on solving this puzzle is UK-based Digital Yacht, which showed off its BOATraNET in Miami. Its device creates an onboard wireless network that gives staff and guests access to important navigation and status information, as well as the ability of streaming photos, music and videos. BOATraNET uses the normal Web browser of most mobile devices and requires special app. All you have to do is provide guests with the special login and password to the wi-fi system. But Digital Yacht does not just work with entertainment systems. Also on display in Miami was the company’s Man Overboard Alarm specifically designed to work with the newly approved AIS SART messages, which many of the current systems cannot properly translate. This transmitter has the ability to receive and translate messages before sounding an alarm that to alert the crew.

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Global Satellite

Fort Lauderdale-based Global Satellite is known for working with recognizable names such as Inmarsat and ACR, but the company also has its own line of products. The GSatMicro, for instance, is a self-contained tracking device about the size of a golf ball. This satellite-ready tracker attaches to anything from a megayacht to a Jet Ski to monitor its movements anywhere in the world using the Iridium network. Attached to the starter of a yacht, it can shut down the engine automatically if the boat moves beyond a pre-determined perimeter. Hooked up to a door, it can alert the crew via email or text message of any breach. The device can also be used to monitor speed and track the progress of a transatlantic crossing. Global Satellite has also partnered with Iridium on its new Pilot powered by the OpenPort broadband service, designed to provide reliable voice and data coverage for three independent used simultaneously. The system can be used as a backup for a faster, but not as continuous satellite broadband connection, or as the primary communication onboard.

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Side-PowerStabilizer 1

Stable underway: Side-Power

A new type of fin stabilizer promises to provide a stable platform on which to work and play. Side-Power’s fin stabilizers, which can be retrofitted on many different boats, reduces rolling motion under way (by up to 95 percent, according to the manufacturer). The compact system, which operates on a dual hydraulic cylinder setup, is easy to install on most boats 70 to 150 feet. Internal hydraulic connections are pre-fitted so there are no complex adjustments needed before the first sea trial. The stabilizer is allowed to find its own natural center position, which decreases drag and helps maintain the boat’s fuel efficiency. The fins are made as a single piece of vacuum-injected vinylester over a pre-shaped core, for strength and durability. IMTRA did the first installation in the United States on the 105-foot Sunseeker Sea Raider. “The Side-Power Stabilizer System works brilliantly and has exceeded our expectations,” said Captain Trevor Woodman. “Adding these stabilizers has changed the boat’s overall performance and how we use it. We can now go to sea in almost any condition and anchor out without worrying about guests getting sea-sick or having to endure an uncomfortable motion.”

Side-Power Stabilizer Systems range in price from $60,000 to $100,000, and are available through Imtra’s network of dealers throughout North America.

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Yacht Controller

Especially for busy crewmembers, being locked to the helm station 24-7 can be tedious or, when docking, annoying and impractical. Yacht Controller provides the option of operating the anchor, thrusters and engines from anywhere on the yacht with a simple handheld remote. The remote is operated using a few simple buttons and employs a dual-band wireless connection to ensure you’re never out of contact with the main system, something that is especially important on yachts 100 feet and larger. Also, unlike certain “home-made” remote systems, the Yacht Controller does not bypass the OEM’s safety and control systems. This ensures that all safety precautions and the warranty are in place.

This week, Yacht Controller announced a deal with Concord Marine Electronics, which has recently gained NMEA Master Dealer certification, for distribution of their product.

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