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As boats are built with more and more features and systems every year, boat owners are looking for more convenient ways to operate all the equipment onboard. If you’re often using your boat single-handed or with a smaller crew, it is especially important to have convenient and mobile ways of controlling systems on board like bow and stern thrusters or anchor windlasses. Most of those systems come standard with a control that is permanently mounted in one location, like a footswitch on the foredeck to operate the windlass or a joystick at the helm to operate the thrusters, but those options leave you standing in one place while you’re operating the equipment. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could control those things from anywhere on the boat, or even from the dock?
Bow & Stern Thruster Remote Control
Sleipner (Side-Power) is the largest manufacturer of bow and stern thrusters in the world, and they offer handheld radio remotes to operate any model of their thrusters from up to 200-feet away. This allows you to operate thrusters from anywhere on the boat, whether you have a single bow thruster, or bow and stern thrusters, there’s a remote option for both. If you’re tying up at the dock and you’ve got the stern secured but the bow is starting to drift away, you can take your remote with you to the dock and use the bow thruster to quickly push the bow back towards the dock. Similarly, if you’re picking up a mooring alone on a windy day, and by the time you get from the wheel to the foredeck the bow has blown downwind and left the mooring out of reach, you can use the remote to operate the bow thruster and hold it into the wind while you make your way from the helm forward.
Sleipner’s remotes also come with a lanyard, so you can hang the remote around your neck and not lose it while you handle lines with both hands or need to hold a hand rail while walking forward. They also offer remotes with additional inputs for windlasses, so you can operate your thrusters and windlass with one remote.
Windlass Remote & Chain Counter
When deploying your anchor it’s imperative to know how much chain you’re letting out so that you can know you’ve put the right amount out relative to the depth of the water you’re anchoring in. Many boaters like to paint their chain or use colored chain-markers every 25 or 50 feet so they can see the color go by and have a rough idea of how much chain has been deployed. This of course requires you to stand on the bow and watch the chain go out of the windlass, so this method isn’t useful if you are operating your windlass from the helm or elsewhere on the boat. For that reason, chain or rode counters have become increasingly common on boats, mounted near the helm so you can see how much of your rode has been deployed without being on the foredeck.
The AutoAnchor AA710 remote & chain counter is a great way to both control the windlass and see exactly how much chain is out in a single, rugged handheld remote. With the AA710 you don’t have to choose where on the boat to control the windlass from because it can go anywhere with you. This also allows you to see the chain counter wherever onboard you are instead of just at a permanently mounted rode counter. Additionally, it saves on installation time since it uses a wireless base station that can be mounted near the windlass, and you don’t have to run a sensor cable from the windlass back to a mounted display at the helm.
Bluetooth Battery Monitoring
Knowing the charge state and power draw of the batteries on your boat is a very important thing to keep an eye on when you’re on the water, because you want to be sure you have ample power to run the essential electrical equipment onboard whenever you need it. Seeing spikes in amp-draws or rapid voltage drops can also be an early indicator of failed components onboard or worn out batteries. Almost all boats have a way of monitoring the DC electrical system onboard, but often times the display is not conveniently located due to wiring constraints or the information is lacking. Victron Energy has solved those shortcomings in battery monitoring with their VictronConnect Bluetooth remote monitoring system.
The Victron BMV Smart battery monitor has built-in Bluetooth, as do most Victron products, so wireless communication between products can simplify system installations and enhance performance. The BMV Smart Battery Monitor has the capability of being monitored on your phone or tablet with the Victron Connect App. You can also do this by using a Victron SmartShunt which has all the same capabilities without a physical display, so the app becomes the display. Monitoring your batteries from home, or anywhere, can be a great way to check that things like solar panels are working properly, or a reminder that you left something running onboard and you can go back to turn it off instead of returning to a boat with dead batteries the next time you had planned to use it.
All of these accessories are great additions to your boat to make your time on the water safer, easier and less stressful.
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