Today’s world of marine electronics moves at mind-boggling speed, with advanced new products emerging almost every month, if not more often. One place you can catch up first-hand on all of the latest in marine electronics technology is Florida’s Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show (Oct. 30-Nov. 3). Visit the Electronics tent at the show’s Bahia Mar venue to check out some amazing new hardware and software. Here is my list of 10 must-see new items at Fort Lauderdale.
ACR OLAS Overboard Alert System
The new OLAS (Overboard Location Alert System) products from ACR Electronics includes affordable man-overboard devices worn on the wrist or lifejacket that trigger alerts if a crew member falls over the side. Utilizing the latest 5.0 Bluetooth technology, the OLAS wrist-watch-type Tag ($84.95) and attachable/buoyant Float-On ($139.95) connect with a mobile app to a smart device. The free app can detect a break in the “virtual tether” from the smart phone or tablet within eight seconds of the wearer going overboard. No cell service is necessary. The app stores the GPS position and sounds a loud alarm to alert the crew to the emergency, then aids in the recovery with directions to the stored location. Visit acrartex.com.
Garmin/SiriusXM Satellite Fish Mapping
Garmin’s GXM 54 satellite receiver is designed to support the new-generation of SiriusXM Fish Mapping for helping saltwater anglers locate fish, as well as monitor marine weather and sea conditions. The service provides data to anglers beyond cellular range about areas to find specific game fish, weed lines, sea-surface height, sea-surface temperatures and temperature front strength, sub-surface sea temperatures, plankton concentrations, and more. $799.99 for the GXM 54, $99.99 a month for Fish Mapping; garmin.com/marine or siriusxm.com/fishmapping.
FLIR M300 Series Marine Cameras
The new FLIR M300 series marine cameras consists of five models featuring robust new pan and tilt housings. All five models easily network with the latest-generation MFDs, including models in FLIR’s Raymarine Axiom series. The most affordable, the FLIR M300C, features a high-definition, color, low-light camera with 30X zoom. Others include the M332 and M364 with single payload thermal models with fixed fields of view and 320 and 640 resolution, respectively; and the dual-sensor, 640-resolution M364C and M364C LR models offer FLIR’s Color Thermal Vision technology. $6,495 to $29,495; flir.com
Furuno’s Multi-Role VHF
Furuno is calling its new FM4800 fixed VHF radio the marine electronics version of a Swiss Army Knife. The all-in-one FM4800 includes built-in Class D DSC, a GPS receiver, an AIS receiver, and simplified loudhailer with intercom. It also allows DSC calling directly from a networked Furuno TZtouch2 multi-function display by tapping on and selecting a AIS/DSC target. When MOB (Man Overboard) is activated on a TZtouch2 MFD, the FM4800 lets you initiate a distress call by simply pushing the rotary knob. $745, furunousa.com
Fusion Apollo RA670 Marine Stereo
The Apollo RA670 from Fusion delivers powerful marine audio technology in a compact head unit with an optically bonded color display. The RA670 also features Fusion’s Digital Signal Processing (DSP) technology, Fusion-Link integration and control, multi-zone control in up to three audio zones and PartyBus capabilities when connected to a Wi-Fi or Apollo network. Setting up DSP profiles is simple with the free Fusion-Link app. Boat owners can set up profileS to play customized audio for their ears and boat. The RA670 will connect via Bluetooth, Optical Audio (TV), SiriusXM, AM/FM radio, AUX, USB, and Universal Plug and Play. $449; fusionentertainment.com
Icom MR-1010 RII Marine Radar
Though better known for VHF radios, Icom America also has a new marine radar – the MR-1010RII. It features a 24-inch-diameter 4kW radome with a 36-nautical-mile range. It also features a dedicated color LCD 10.4-inch display. It will network with a AIS-capable VHF radio and, once supplied with an external bearing and position sensor, show both AIS and DSC targets and information on the radar screen. The MR-1010RII also features a simplified ARPA function that will automatically track up to five targets that enter within the set watch area and show bearing and distance, as well as closest point of approach (CPA) and time to CPA. With an optional video output unit, UX-252, the MR-1010RII can also be connected to an external display. $1,999.99, icomamerica.com
Shakespeare Marine’s Stream takes advantage of the advent of unlimited data plans from major carriers and the fact that cell signals are becoming more accessible than Wi-Fi. The compact Stream amplifies cell reception to boost weak signals while on the water. It enables boaters to use existing data plans to host a reliable wireless hotspot on their phone or cellular enabled tablets. Stream will allow boaters to have access to all their favorite apps while avoiding the need for separate devices or data plans. $799; shakespeare-ce.com/marine
Simrad’s BoatConnect is an easy-to-install, compact 12-volt DC communication hub ($99) then when combined with a $19.99 monthly subscription, will monitor your boat’s location, battery level, track trips and boat movement, and more. It will send alerts on the free BoatConnect mobile app if your boat leaves a designated area, and will tell you when your battery is low. An internal backup battery will keep the hub powered up for five days, even if the ship’s batteries go dead or are disconnected. It allows you to access live weather reports and enables you to keep track of family and friends using your boat, Optional sensors for BoatConnect let you to monitor bilge-water level, hatch/cabin door entry and onboard temperature. Visit simrad-yachting.com
Standard Horizon GX1800/1850 Explorer VHFs
Standard Horizon’s new GX1800/1850 Explorer VHF fix-mount radios feature big, bright dot-matrix displays and ultra-thin rear cases makes it easy to fit these radios into small, shallow spaces, whether flush- or bracket-mounted. The GX1850 offers NMEA-2000 networking capabilities, while the GX1850G also features a built-in GPS, as does the GX1800G. All models feature an IPX8 waterproof rating and second-station microphone compatibility when paired with the optional new SSM-70H RAM4 mic. Available in black or white. VHFs start at $249.99, SSM-70H is $199.99; standardhorizon.com
Vesper Cortex VHF System
Featuring a touch-screen handset, Cortex from Vesper Marine is like a smart phone. It combines a class B AIS transponder and remote vessel monitor with VHF. To make a DSC call, you simply touch the vessel onscreen. SmartAIS technology also monitors potentially hazardous situations, sending alerts on the handsets and Wi-Fi-connected smart phones. If you’re ashore, the system alerts a smartphone via an app. It also warns of changes in wind speed, wind direction and water depth. Starting at $1,799; vespermarine.com