The Tech Gadget Wish List

It's that time of year again!  Whether you are putting your boat away for the season or firing up the heaters for some winter cruising, there are a lot of exciting new products that could make it onto your wish list.

Last month, IBEX announced the winners of their Innovation Awards, recognizing outstanding marine product development in the recreational boating industry.  The program is managed by the National Marine Manufacturers Association and judged by the Boating Writers International organization.  “This year’s entries were very focused on improving the boating experience,” said Alan Wendt, chair of the judging panel, IBEX. “From solving simple issues with canvas, to more complex design challenges with hardware and composites, there is ample evidence of innovation underway in a thriving industry.”

Three products from IBEX made our list along with some new products that we think are pretty cool.

IBEX Innovation Awards:

  1. Entertainment: FUSION Entertainment USA Inc. - Apollo 770 - Fusion's newest offering, the Apollo series, really takes marine audio to the next level.  The 770 has a one piece glass touchscreen, built in WiFi streaming (which offers a higher data transfer rate than Bluetooth) and Fusion's Digital Signal Processing (DSP) to play music the way musicians intended.  The built-in WiFi allows you to wirelessly connect multiple Apollo stereos without running any cables reducing installation time and complexity.  You have the option of playing each stereo individually or, using Fusion's PartyBus, play audio perfectly synced across three PartyBus enabled stereos.  As an added bonus, a boat that is side-tied can also opt-in to play the same perfectly synced music.    Apollo 770 $1,071  Remote $ $510
  2. OEM Electronics: Raymarine Inc. -- Axiom ClearCruise Augmented Reality allows boaters to overlay aids to navigation as well as AIS information on high definition video. An HD marine video camera is installed forward of the driving station to create an interactive experience on your Raymarine compatible display. Colour coded labels provide instant identification, status and risk assessment of targets on the horizon.  Major chart objects are identified for instant, heads up recognition and the software shows you visually where your saved waypoints are located.  
  3. Electrical Systems: Balmar SG200 Battery Monitor - We write about battery monitors a lot.  If you have a house bank, a battery monitor serves as a fuel gauge for your batteries.  The innovative thing about this new, shunt-based, battery monitor is that it uses proprietary self-calibration algorithms to determine how your battery has aged from its original capacity. Balmar calls it State of Health (SOH).  There is also an optional Bluetooth gateway that allows you to see information about your battery bank from anywhere on your boat. SG200 $270  Bluetooth Gateway    $ 114

Some of our favourite products this year:

  1. A new courtesy style light from Seadog, the Aurora LED Pop-Up Table Light.  A simple twist of the cap allows the light to pop up, ready to use, it's automatically switched on. Push the cap down, twist to lock, and the light disappears into the table or deck.  IP67 waterproof rating.  $ 345
  2. Garmin inReach Mini, a lightweight and compact satellite communicator which enables two-way text messaging using the 100% global Iridium network.  You can access downloadable maps, NOAA charts, aerial imagery and more with the free Garmin Earthmate App.  www. $ 449           
  3. Marinco Dual Speed Wiper Motor Controller - The intermittent wiper motor controller allows synchronization, delay, speed control and washer functionality for one and two-motor wiper systems. With easy installation using 1/4" disconnects, this intuitive wiper controller brings automotive functionality into a marine application.   $236
  4. The ACR Adventure Kit is the ultimate safety kit for your dinghy or kayak.  Packed inside a PVC dry bag is a ResQLink personal locator beacon (PLB), strobe rescue light, rescue mirror and whistle.  The PLB will send your emergency distress information along with your GPS coordinated directly to Search and Rescue within minutes of activation.  $ 300.00
  5. BlueSea Fast Charge Dual USB 4.8A charger socket mount uses intelligent device recognition allowing for rapid charging of phones, tablets, and other mobile devices.  It actually charges at the speed required by the specific device and has internal filtering for reduced electronic interference.  It comes with a protective dusk cap to keep debris and moisture out and is designed to stand up to the harsh marine environment.    $67
  6. The Ancor Automatic Wire Stripper is made of reinforced polyimide, this wire stripper automatically adjusts to different wire sizes to strip without damage or marking of conductors. It includes a slim jaw for easy access and a steel side cutter.  Strips and cuts wire from 24 - 12 AWG.  Wire stop adjusts length of strip from 9.5 - 12.7 mm (3/8" to 1/2").   $79
  7. The Caframo Taku hatch fan is an easy-to-install, suction cup mounted fan featuring push button controls and built-in LED cabin light. This versatile pivoting axis fan can be swiveled to exhaust air out of the cabin or to bring fresh air in. Operation includes 3 comfort speeds and a powerful Air Blast exchange mode for up to 500 cubic feet of fresh air per minute. The Taku™ can also be positioned into the cabin and swiveled 360° to direct a cooling breeze right where you want it. Fits on most hatches 16 3/4" across and larger.  The draw for each setting is Turbo: 4.5 Amps (with an automatic 5 minute shut off), high: 0.9 Amps, medium: 0.5 Amps, and low: 0.2 Amps    $310
  8. iNavX was voted the #1 handheld chartplotter software and is now available on Android. iNavX is the only app to give you access to all of your favourite charts from Navionics, CHS, NV, Soltenick with overlays from Theyr and GRIB file weather data.  You can plot your position in real time using your device's built-in GPS.  You can create waypoints and plan routes. It will also allow you to use your device to act as a repeater device for popular marine navigation software.  The essential toolkit includes GRIB weather forecasts, tides/currents, anchor alarm, and an AIS alarm.  The company also offers a bunch of YouTube instructional videos to help you get started.   $ 21.00 for the basic, in-app purchases for chart/AIS range from $12 - 140.00
  9. Hurricane Zephyr diesel heater with instant hot water.  This on-demand hot water system is a revolutionary upgrade to a marine heating system.  It will heat to 48 degrees Celsius at a flow rate of 4 litres per minute and has an internal mixing valve to set temperature preferences. No more pre-heating. The company that invented the system, International Thermal Research, is a local BC Company that is recognized world-wide as a premier heating specialist for high-end yachts and motorhomes. The Hurricane Zephyr is a compact all-in-one heater that provides space heating and on-demand potable hot water. It is designed for vessels up to 14 meters long and is ideal for boats with limited space. 

There are a lot of great new products on the market for boaters and with the Vancouver, Seattle and Miami boat shows just around the corner, your boat's wish list just got a bit longer.  From all of us at Pacific Yacht Systems, have a great holiday and stay safe on the water.

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: