The 2020 Holiday Gadget List

Tech Talk – December 2020 – Holiday Gadget List

It is hard to believe, but we wrote our first Tech Talk column for Pacific Yachting Magazine almost ten years ago.  In that time, we have seen some incredible advancements in the technology available to recreational boaters. This year is no different. 

Let’s take a look at some new tech in 2020.  Not so long ago, we started to see video cameras on boats for security; then, manufacturers added video cameras to their MFDs as an aid to navigation.  This year, some manufacturers are integrating drones to provide more features.  Multifunction displays also continue to up their game with more and more add ons that can share information.  This year includes smart transducers and wireless radar.  Even the benefits of social media are enhancing our navigation systems.   For the past few years, we have seen apps like Garmin ActiveCaptain, Raymarine RayControl, Furuno NavNet, and Navico Link turn your smart device into an MFD, but now these apps are turning your MFD into a social media hub allowing you to share your location, photos and favourite fishing spots.

Normally, we would say that you can check out all the latest gear at the Vancouver Boat Show in the New Year, but the show has been cancelled. Every year we look forward to seeing fellow boaters in the booth and meeting new boaters, so 2021 will be different for all of us.  Another change for us is that this will be our last formal Tech Talk column in PY magazine.  It has been an honour to be part of the Pacific Yachting family all these years, and we have some great memories sharing our passion for boating. A shout out to the editors, Dale Miller and Sam Burkhart, for their guidance and support over the years.  And to the entire PY staff for their “extended” deadlines and creative support.  Pacific Yachting Magazine has been at the core of this community for many years, and we look forward to contributing in new and different ways.  

We will continue to answer your boating questions on the PYS YouTube channel or feel free to contact us directly online or in-person at the PYS Vancouver showroom.  We have enjoyed sharing our knowledge with you and always appreciated your feedback.  All the best for the holiday season, and we hope to see you on the water!

We thoroughly enjoy putting together our annual list of gadgets and must-haves.  These are the favourites for 2020:

Raymarine Axiom UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) – We have started to see more and more drones on the water, and what a great way to capture the amazing scenery we experience as boaters.  Now, LightHouse 3 for Raymarine Axiom systems offers fully integrated control of select DJI Mavic drones.  Raymarine’s UAV integration offers boaters a birds-eye view of your surroundings directly on your Axiom navigation display.  The Axiom UAV app automates many common tasks, including launch, airborne imaging, in-flight navigation, and return-to boat.

You can fly to points of interest, waypoints or chart locations.  Using GPS navigation, you can fly the drone to a precise location and watch it all on your multifunction display.  You can use the “Fish-On” feature to instantly launch the UAV, start video recording, and automatically fly the camera in orbit around your boat.  Axiom UAV is a standard part of the LightHouse 3 Operating System for Axiom, Axiom Pro and Axiom XL multifunction displays. If you’re running an older version of LightHouse 3, you can always update your system for free using your MFD’s WiFi connection to the internet.   Drones starting from $1,500  | or

Fusion Apollo WB670 Hideaway System – The Fusion Apollo WB670 hideaway system and ERX400 wired remote eliminate the need for a stereo source unit on the dash of your boat. The WB670 inherits the key audio features of the Apollo RA670, including digital signal processing. It can be mounted in various locations like behind the helm or inside a center console, simplifying dash space.

It can be controlled through a compatible Garmin multifunction display via NMEA 2000 or Ethernet, or with the ERX400 wired remote. With a 2.7-inch color display, its slim profile is ideal for spots where mounting depth is limited. The Apollo WB670 also features more source options, with Bluetooth, UPnP, Optical Audio, advanced SiriusXM features and DAB+ radio available, AM/FM radio, AUX and USB connections ready at your fingertips. Key features include Fusion’s Digital Signal Processing Technology, enhanced PartyBus™-Network* capabilities, WiFi audio streaming with Apple AirPlay®2*, over-the-air software updates* and more source options including Optical Audio for connection to TVs.  $618 for the WB670, $318 for the ERX400

If you decided this summer that you would like to maximize your time at anchor or run your generator less, it might be time to add some solar.  The SunPower SPR-E-Flex 110W Flexible Monocrystalline Solar Panel delivers the highest power output and the highest charging capacity in its product class. SunPower panels are constructed with top-grade, lightweight polymer materials, allowing for easy transport, installation and solar panel flexing up to 30 degrees on any surface. The SunPower Solar Cell is the only cell built on a solid copper foundation. Flexible panels made with SunPower cells are resistant to power loss via cracking and corrosion.

The panel can be installed with adhesives, sewn into canvas or attached with stainless steel grommets. The panels ship with standard quick connect cables and an easy-to-follow installation guide.  These panels are designed in the USA and assembled in France.  $ 438 |

Every solar panel needs a solar controller.  We recommend the Victron BlueSolar MPPT 75/15 Solar Controller to go with the SunPower SPR-E-Flex 110W panel.  These new SmartSolar controllers have Bluetooth, so you can use the free VictronConnect App to view battery voltage, solar history, load output, flexible battery charge algorithms, plus day/night timing and light dimming options. Remember, a solar controller is installed to regulate the voltage output of your solar panel array.  We recommend an efficient MPPT controller over the less expensive and less efficient PWM controller for marine applications. A good MPPT controller will charge your batteries faster and protect your batteries from over-charging.  Make sure you select a solar controller that is sized for the solar array voltage and amps. Also, choose a controller tailored to your battery chemistry and voltage (e.g. 12 or 24 VDC). $ 138 |

The new Garmin Airmar DST810 Smart Multisensor, together with Airmar’s CAST App, is the convergence of advanced hull data, matched with a simple and reliable way to calibrate accurate speed via a wireless device. This changes how boaters receive and deliver information to get greater performance from their hull. It is a simple, consistent way to calibrate speed-through-water regardless of what the display system is on board. The DST810 and Airmar CAST App deliver capabilities that were only available through expensive PC-based software until now.

Besides water temperature, depth, and newly upgraded 5 Hz (5X per second) speed-through-water output, the DST810 features an integrated attitude sensor for heel and trim data. This information makes heel-compensated speed calibration across multiple heel angles, and speed ranges both fast and intuitive and is independent of the onboard instruments. The Airmar CAST App provides a consistent and reliable way to calibrate basic and heel-compensated speed-through-water with a step-by-step guided process. CAST allows you to manually enter data for up to four heel angles and up to ten speeds for advanced speed-through-water calibration. All data configurations and calibrations are stored in the multisensor and delivered to the NMEA 2000 network. $ 478  |

Scanstrut’s latest edition is the ROKK Wireless “Edge” Waterproof Wireless Phone Charging Mount.  The Edge securely holds and wirelessly charges your phone even in the harshest outdoor conditions. You now have more choice of how and where to install your phone mount and charger combo. Crowded consoles, side-mounting, flat and vertical surfaces are all suitable.  Rotate your phone from portrait to landscape to view your favourite navigation app or fine-tune the position for the optimum viewing angle. Featuring Qi-certified wireless technology and a “Smart” LED that indicates when your phone is charging. Throw in foreign object detection and thermal cut-off, and you’re guaranteed safe, reliable charging in all environments. Charging is also possible through non-metallic, waterproof cases. $ 248  |

The Icom M85 VHF Radio is the smallest, lightest, waterproof handheld on the market. The M85 can withstand hazardous environments at sea and on land, as it is built to MIL-STD 810. The IP67 waterproof rating protects the radio, even if dropped in the water. Its AquaQuake function prevents a water-logged speaker. It also features weather channels, priority scan, and favorite channels function for quick access to often-used channels. The M85 boasts 100 programmable land mobile channels and the easy to use built-in voice scrambler for private communications.

The M85 user-friendly display includes icons and indicators like transmit power, VOX ON/OFF, battery status, scan, weather channel and more. The M85 also includes a continuous 20-position rotary selector and ON/OFF volume knob, tilted for easy access.  For emergency situations, the M85 includes the MOB Alarm, Man Down and lone worker functions. If one of these functions is activated, the radio automatically makes an emergency alarm. In addition to VHF marine channels, the M85 covers 136–174MHz land mobile frequencies. Up to 100 programmable channels are available for land mobile-use at 2W output power perfect for the cabin. $ 369  |

The Em-Trak B954 is a small, lightweight Class B AIS Class B Transceiver that offers more AIS information and targets at a maximum range.  It is a high power 5W SOTDMA AIS that has a low power draw.

The B954 combines WiFi and Bluetooth for seamless wireless connectivity and AIS data streaming to any mobile device or PC.  It also includes a high performance integrated VHF antenna splitter, enabling the transceiver to share your existing VHF radio antenna without any loss of performance and fail-safe reliability. The B924 includes built-in intelligent connectivity, an integrated next-generation GPS and a unique FLEXI-FIT® bracket system that makes installation easy.  $ 1,298  |

The Espar Airtronic D2 12V or 24V diesel heating system is a compact and economical two-outlet do-it-yourself heater system, perfect for boats in the 9-meter range. The Airtronic D2 offers optimized fuel efficiency, a variety of operation modes, unsurpassed safety standards, and works independently of the engine.  It has a power setting for fast, direct heating that is very quiet.  It can also be used for fresh air circulation or ventilation on warm days.

Espar has also introduced its new EasyStart App, which allows you to operate your heater conveniently from your smart device. The application discretely transmits all settings directly to the heater’s GSM module. Thanks to simple and intuitive navigation, you can operate your heater with increased convenience wherever you are – regardless of range. And the other control features from the innovative EasyStart product range set standards for ease of operation: backlight displays, intuitive guided user interfaces, and large buttons.  $ 1,499 Airtronic D2,  $1,100 DIY Install Kit  |

Prices in effect until December 15, 2020 - Limited availability on some items.  Call for more information 604-688-2325


About the author: Jeff Cote is the owner of Pacific Yacht Systems, a full service shop delivering marine electrical and navigation solutions for recreational boats. Visit their website and blog for info and articles on marine electrical systems, projects and more:



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