News & Events
Power catamarans have always had hardcore fans, and we could all argue for the umpteenth time about whether powercats are better than monohulls. Yawn. The truth is, there’s a relatively small but dedicated group of powercat lovers who will never agree with the monohull crowd. Trying to persuade one or the other to change their minds is akin to locking Rush Limbaugh and Rachel Maddow in a room and saying, “Go.”
A more interesting debate is about what, in any particular catamaran’s design, triggers such dedication. I say particular because one of the great judgmental errors naysayers make is lumping all multihull boats into the same category. Nobody would say all monohulls are alike, yet powercats are often painted with an exceedingly broad brush and then dismissed or embraced on the whole.
Truth be told, whether you’re considering a 40-foot center-console cat with quadruple outboards or an 80-foot cat cruiser with the elegance of a Trumpy, the ability of a designer to take advantage of the twin-hull platform is often the key to the design’s success—or lack thereof.
“The design work on a cat is far more involved than on a monohull,” says Larry Graf, who started off his design career by creating Glacier Bay powercats and, today, designs and builds Aspen Power Catamarans. “With a monohull, you design from the centerline out, then mirror it on the computer and pow—you have a full hull. A typical monohull hull can be done in three to five days. But for a cat, the best shapes are often asymmetric, so each hull has two halves that are not the same.”
And the hull is just the beginning of a cat’s story. Is it easier to design an interior that fits into one hull or into two separate hulls plus a center deck level? That cats have more complexity on the inside is a no-brainer.
However, having the two separate hulls also provides advantages. One is privacy on a level that can’t be matched in any monohull, if a cat’s designer works with the shape of the boat.
The key to harnessing this privacy advantage is the ability to separate staterooms not just with thin bulkheads but instead with entire hulls, or at the very least with head compartments and companionways. In part, this ability contributes to the popularity of powercats in the charter market.
Lex Raas—president of charter and special initiatives at MarineMax, which launched the Aquila line for charter in 2012 with the Sino Eagle Group—says the Aquila 48 illustrates how privacy can be done right on a catamaran.
“The privacy advantage specifically is that the port hull is a full owner’s cabin,” he says. “There are no shared bulkheads. And on the starboard-side, there are two absolutely equal cabins with equal heads and showers between them. You can take two couples with you, and nobody feels that they’re getting the short end of the stick.”
The elimination of shared bulkheads increases privacy quite a bit on that Aquila, but examples become even more stark as you consider larger yachts. One of Sunreef’s newest offerings, the 80 Sunreef Power, for example, can have six staterooms—all separated by full heads or companionways, with no two staterooms sharing a common bulkhead.
The ability to have more staterooms that are more private is in large part a function of beam on a cat, designers say.
“Beam is gained for the whole length of the boat, and the cross-deck provides a huge space,” says Mathias Maurios, a naval architect at VPLP Design in Paris, a firm known for designing twin-hulled yachts. “And while, yes, the individual hulls are narrower than a single monohull body, on the whole, usable space is larger than with a monohull. The width allows for more of the valuable interior and deck space.”
Maurios points to the Lagoon Seventy 8 as an example. “The staterooms are the size of the cabins in a much larger motoryacht,” he says.
The other big advantages many cats can claim relate to seakeeping, speed and efficiency. Again, no two powercats are alike, but a close look at specific models is illuminating. As we reported in Yachting’s review of the Lagoon Seventy 8, for example, at a 10-knot cruise, the boat has 4,000 nautical-mile transatlantic range—a boast that few engine-driven yachts of the same length overall can make. Smaller cats can also have extreme ranges for their size; consider that the Fountaine Pajot MY 44 can reportedly cruise more than 1,000 nautical miles between pit stops.
“Speed, stability and comfort are the prime words illustrating catamarans,” Maurios says, “and we’ve always believed that multihulls are ideal.”
When designed for speed instead of efficiency, cats enjoy a different sort of advantage. Consider the Freeman 42LR, a quad-engine, 62-knot center-console. That boat gets close to 1 nmpg when cruising at just under 50 knots. And because the vessel has a compression tunnel—air gets compressed between the hulls at high speed, creating a cushion that softens the blows when striking waves—it can maintain that pace in conditions that would make most monohulls rather uncomfortable, to say the least.
What about those disadvantages the cat haters often point to? The unusual handling characteristics, the need for wider slips to match wider beams, the nontraditional looks and higher initial cost—sure, there are trade-offs. Then again, every vessel has some level of compromise.
So, let the pundit debates rage on. But remember: Power catamarans are just as different and distinct from one to the next as monohulls are, and smart design is the key to harnessing the advantages of the form.
The Surfhunter 29 has timeless Down East-inspired lines and a rough-water-capable, deep-V hull form. Single gasoline- and diesel-engine options ranged from 310 to 375 hp. Sterndrive or V-drive setups were available. The Surfhunter 29 we got aboard cruised at 25 knots with a 375 hp Volvo Penta gasoline sterndrive.
The belowdecks layout included a galley with a microwave, a V-berth for two and a head with a faucet shower.
At press time, we found six Surfhunter 29s on the market, ranging from $168,500 to $195,500.
From the Archive
“Ray Hunt drew the lines for the original Surfhunter, the boat that prompted Dick Bertram to adopt the then-revolutionary deep-V hull on the Moppie. The early Surfhunters were designed to handle the fickle (some might say dreaded) waters of shallow Buzzards Bay. Though the present-day Hunt firm has tweaked the original design, the V-hull still has a 21-degree [transom] deadrise, fine entry and spray-knocking rails.” —Yachting, October 2007
It’s hard to argue with the way the Fairline F-Line 33 looks. The Alberto Mancini- designed dayboat packs a sports car’s muscularity into her 32-foot-9-inch frame, not only by way of optional twin 430 hp Volvo Penta or Mercruiser V-8s that reportedly push her to a top-end speed of 47 knots but also with her sure-handed performance. I recently got aboard the F-Line 33 off Monaco in 5-foot swells that kept most smaller boats in the harbor, and her deep-V hull form swallowed the Mediterranean whole, particularly once she crested the 30-knot mark and got out over the top of the waves.
Whom It’s For: This is a boat for any yachtsman who likes to go fast and get home safely.
Picture This: Unexpected storm clouds ambush your picnic on the hook just outside the harbor in Newport, Rhode Island. Angry whitecaps shake their fists, blocking the way between your party and the dock. But that’s no problem when this Fairline belongs to you. Just tap the throttle down. You’ll scoot home in peace and be warm and dry in just a few minutes.
Take the next step: fairline.com
Forli, italy-based Cantiere del Pardo, known since the early ’70s for its Grand Soleil range of sailing cruisers, made its first foray into the walkaround-cruiser segment with the Pardo 43 in 2017. A year later came the Pardo 50. Now, we have the smallest sibling, the Pardo 38.
Outwardly, all three models look virtually identical in profile and on deck—think daddy bear, mommy bear and baby bear in terms of scale. They all have a distinctive reverse bow, pop-out anchor cradles, high bulwarks capped with teak, carbon-fiber center consoles and T-tops, cockpit galleys, sun pads fore and aft, and aft-deck tables. The 38 just shrinks these elements into an entry-level package. And while I don’t usually like reverse-bow designs, I have to say that I like these.
Propulsion choices include twin sterndrives, or twin or triple outboards, providing top-end speeds from the mid-30s to the low-50-knot range. Standard power is twin gasoline Volvo Penta V6-280s/DPS.
The Pardo 38 I got aboard had the bigger Volvo Penta D6-380s maxing out just shy of 40 knots in relatively flat seas with seven people aboard, and with fuel and water tanks a quarter and two-thirds full, respectively. At a 30-knot cruise, the diesels were spinning at 3,000 rpm and consuming around 26 gallons of fuel per hour, which means the boat had 10 hours, or 300 nautical miles, of run time. Twin D6-440s can push the top-end speed to the mid-40s, according to the builder. And for those preferring outboards, twin Mercury Verado 300s or 350s, or triple 300s, are available.
The Pardo 38 has a modified-V hull form with spray rails and a 20.5-degree deadrise aft. The ride is precise, a credit to designer Maurizio Zuccheri and Pardo’s in-house team.
For weekends aboard, the decor is contemporary cool with white laminates and light-oak veneers. There is a double berth forward, and a head compartment with a shower is amidships. Owners can add two optional, undercockpit berths. Space above those berths is limited, but there’s almost 6 feet of headroom between them, which makes dressing easier.
This boat may be the little sister of the line, but the Pardo 38 possesses all of the performance, style and charisma of her bigger siblings.
Take the next step: pardoyachts.com
The boats will be the stars at this year’s Miami International Boat Show and Miami Yacht Show, which are slated to run concurrently February 13-17. Yes, there will be new exhibits, food vendors and VIP experiences at both shows, but boatbuilders are splashing so many new models, showgoers will need shoes with serious soles to get to them all. (We have some ideas for those shoes in the following pages.)
Here’s a look at just some of the designs that have us psyched to hit the docks. These boats are big and small alike, built for all different kinds of cruising, and have aesthetic characteristics that make them stand out amid this year’s crop of new entries.
Bertram Yachts is planning to unveil the hardtop version of its Bertram 50 at the Miami International Boat Show. With a 178-square-foot cockpit and a stylish interior, she is built to handle serious fishing with friends as well as relaxation with the family. Her draft is 4 feet, 2 inches, making her Bahamas-ready for angling tournaments and more, while her more than 1,200-gallon fuel tank should allow most cruisers all the capacity they need for a long weekend of exploring. Twin 1,150 hp Caterpillar C18 Acerts are standard, and a Seakeeper 9 should stop all but the slightest rocking and rolling. Displacement is 62,000 pounds, giving the boat a heft that should help with stability too.
Palm Beach GT60
In 2018, Palm Beach Motor Yachts launched its GT Series with the goal of building the world’s fastest and most fuel-efficient luxury yachts. Following in the wake of the Palm Beach GT50, the GT60 is scheduled to premiere at the Miami Yacht Show. Her cruising speed is reportedly 40 knots, with a range of 400 nautical miles at that speed. The speed comes from her Volvo Penta IPS1350s, combined with lightweight construction of the deck and structure in carbon fiber. “To achieve speeds of this nature with so little horsepower is truly remarkable,” Palm Beach CEO Mark Richards stated in a press release. “To be able to cruise long distance at these speeds, using minimum fuel, opens up a whole new set of destinations for the adventurous boater.”
Westport Yachts is working on its new flagship model, the W172. It joins the Westport 112, 125, 130 and 164 in the lineup. The W172 will be certified by the American Bureau of Shipping and compliant with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, which means she’ll be charter ready—something the shipyard knows a lot about, given that its 112 and 130 are some of the most popular models in the global charter fleet. Twin 3,386 hp Caterpillar 3516E engines are projected to allow a cruising speed of 20 knots. Westport says top speed will be 21.5 knots, with a range of 5,000 nautical miles at 10 knots. Onboard features will include a master stateroom with a balcony to starboard and an elevator that services four decks.
MCY 70 Skylounge
There’s a new Skylounge Collection from Monte Carlo Yachts, with lengths overall from 65 to 105 feet. The first model to premiere will be the MCY 70 Skylounge, which is expected to make her world debut at the Miami Yacht Show. Italian design firm Nuvolari Lenard worked with the builder to create the design, which has a customizable flybridge offering 360-degree views of the great outdoors. All four staterooms, including the amidships master, are belowdecks, with the master’s head providing a sound-and-vibration buffer between the accommodations and the engine room. There’s a day-head aft on the main deck, making it convenient to the salon and aft deck, which has outdoor dining space.
Sirena Yachts is adding a Coupé version of its 58 Flybridge model. Three hulls of the new edition were sold before the first one even went into build. The builder says the new version is designed for reduced air draft to benefit coastal cruisers in areas with bridges—a request that, apparently, a lot of US boaters have been making. And when those people want to go cruising, range is reportedly more than 850 nautical miles at 10 knots. The top hop? 26 knots. Sirena is promoting the yacht as having two master staterooms on the lower deck, with three-stateroom layouts as an option. And for yacht owners who like to cook, the galley spans the full beam aft on the main deck. The 4-foot-1-inch draft is ready for shallow-water itineraries.
CL Yachts CLB88
Designer Jozeph Forakis, with offices in New York and Milan, worked with CL Yachts to pen the interior and exterior of the CLB88. The goal was to include one of the largest flybridge spaces in the yacht’s class, along with a hardtop that allows shade as well as wide-ranging views. Inside, the furniture is modular, so owners can customize the space to their needs, and CL Yachts is introducing a new helm-station design that includes advanced ergonomics and carbon-fiber touches. Maximum speed is projected to be 25 knots, driven by twin 1,600 hp Caterpillar C32 Acert engines. Guest staterooms accommodate eight people, and there are quarters on board to cruise with four crew.
Benetti Yachts in Italy has launched the first hull of its Diamond 145, which is expected to have a range of 3,600 nautical miles at a cruising speed of 11 knots.
“Diamond 145 springs from a project with a mission to improve life on board not only for owners and guests, but for all the crew too,” designer Giorgio M. Cassetta stated in a press release. “The sheer size of the yacht has made it possible to adopt an impressively ergonomic approach that ensures a majestic stance, while embracing ultra-modern details combined with a style that reflects the concept of a timeless yacht.”
Accommodations are for 10 guests in four belowdecks staterooms. The captain’s cabin is on the upper deck, near the helm.
Have any Diamond 145 hulls been sold? Yes. Benetti says two have been sold ahead of the first hull’s public debut.
For more information, visit: benettiyachts.it
The Australian builder Riviera has always occupied an interesting niche in the world of yachting. The company epitomizes the Australian ethos of building rugged, do-it-yourself vessels that can handle most any sea—yet it’s also a legitimate luxury brand, brandishing its bona fides in the fleet’s stitching, woodwork, and overall fit and finish.
Which is to say, Riviera doesn’t have many soft spots. That is why it’s exciting to see the builder challenge itself even further in creating the Platinum edition of its Sport Yachts series, including a 4800, a 5400 and the flagship of the line, the 6000.
I stepped aboard the hydraulic swim platform under blue-gray skies on a typically low-lit winter’s day on Sydney Harbour, and proceeded forward via the portside staircase leading to the cockpit (there’s a mirroring staircase to starboard that nicely aids with feng shui). The steps are on both sides of a tender garage with a Muir winch and LED lighting that can fit a RIB up to 10 feet, 5 inches.
The cockpit itself is wholly devoted to entertaining. A transom barbecue with twin griddles, refrigerated compartments and a stainless-steel backsplash handles the alfresco cooking duties and serves an L-shaped dining settee to port. That settee has an adjustable teak table that allows it to convert to a sun pad once lunch has been served. There’s also a lounge opposite the settee. An electric sunshade overhead protects guests from ultraviolet rays as well as from sun-showers on days when there’s just enough drizzle to be annoying. Joystick control stations on both sides of the cockpit are a boon when docking—a touch not often seen on yachts of this size and class.
A glass bulkhead separates the cockpit and salon, though “separates” is perhaps not exactly the right word because the two areas are melded by a sliding glass door and a flip-up window above the aft galley (all framed in mirror 316 stainless steel). The aft-galley setup makes the space more informal and open to conviviality, and can serve the salon and cockpit equally.
The salon has standard high-gloss walnut that really shines when it comes to joinery, pun not intended. Riviera builds its boats in Coomera, Queensland, where it runs an apprenticeship program for boatbuilders. The program helps ensure its employees have a high degree of construction knowledge and craftsmanship.
A formal dining settee to port is forward, across from the helm, and there is a sofa to starboard at amidships. All the seats in the salon are at a height that allows good sightlines out the windows, so everyone can enjoy the view no matter where they are sitting.
The twin Recaro helm seats also enjoy excellent sightlines, something that was extremely helpful as I wheeled the nimble boat through a busy Sydney Harbour and out to the rolling Pacific 3s and 4s. There, the Riviera’s hand-laid, vinylester-resin hull proved sturdy and quiet, not to mention soft-riding as she rose and fell with the well-spaced-out swells. With twin 725 hp Volvo Penta IPS950s churning below our feet, we saw a 28-knot top speed and cruised at 21 knots. Range at the latter speed is 370 nautical miles, or about the distance from Miami to Jacksonville, Florida.
If you did decide to cruise that far, you could overnight in one of three layouts belowdecks. The Classic setup has an amidships master and forepeak VIP, as well as mirroring guest staterooms between them. An optional Lounge version replaces the portside guest stateroom with a lounge and TV, which is great if you’re traveling with kids because it gives them their own area to hang. Last, the Presidential option converts the portside guest stateroom into an en suite head for the master, which opens up the stateroom’s main living space, making it full beam.
As I stepped off the 6000 and watched her pull away, I admired her sleek appearance, accentuated by the Platinum Edition signature black-and-silver color scheme. Her oh-so-recognizable Riviera lines were apparent at a glance, yet the hot new paint job really made her dance. It was just another detail that shows how much Riviera Yachts understands that offering safety and performance is good, but putting it together in style is great.
Riviera’s Platinum series has two other modes: the 4800 Sport Yacht Series II and the 5400 Sport Yacht. The 4800 has twin
600 hp Volvo Penta IPS800s that give it a reported top hop of 35 knots and a 28-knot cruise. The 5400 has 725 hp Volvo Penta IPS950s the builder says provide a 34.5-knot top speed and 28-knot cruise. Both boats have the black-and-silver Platinum-series styling.
Steady as She Goes
The 6000’s side decks allow plenty of room to maneuver; I could put my heels on the superstructure and still had space for my size 12s. There are also nearly 3-foot-high, stainless-steel handrails going to the foredeck’s twin sun pads. Also up front is a Muir stainless-steel anchoring
system. The attention to crew safety and comfort—and the less glamorous aspects of yachting, like docking—is evident throughout the yacht’s design.
Take the next step: rivieraaustralia.com
This story originally published in the February 2020 issue of Yachting Magazine
Delicately speaking, few pieces of mission-critical marine electronics equipment sport clunkier user interfaces than VHF radios. While there’s no question that they work exceptionally well, most VHFs still employ chunky analog knobs and push-buttons as their user interfaces, rather than -intuitive, app-based software and touchscreens.
This all changed with the arrival of Vesper Marine’s Cortex, a forward-thinking safety and communications platform that’s poised to revolutionize marine communications, alarms, and collision avoidance, both on and off the yacht.
If this sounds like a marinized iPhone, you’re on the right track, because Cortex delivers integrated, marine-specific communications in a similarly intuitive, software-driven device.
Also, like the iPhone, Cortex uses highly parallel multichannel architecture and a graphically rich, pinch-to-zoom touchscreen interface that declutters fidgety knobs, buttons, disparate screens, and proprietary operating systems. However, while outwardly simple, Cortex employs multiple pieces of hardware and software to accomplish its heady goal.
Hardware wise, Cortex is comprised of an IPX7-rated, black-box M1 processor and one or more optional-but-recommended H1 handsets, plus two smartphone apps. The M1, which is mounted to a belowdecks bulkhead, features a built-in AIS B/SO transponder, an embedded SIM card for cloud connectivity, and an integrated VHF splitter. It also has dual audio ports, a nine-axis sensor, a battery-voltage sensor, bilge-pump-sensor input, NMEA 0183/2000 connectivity, and two remotely commanded control outputs. All this comes in an industrial design with all-plastic construction.
Aesthetically, H1 handsets loosely resemble later-generation Apple iPods, with generously sized and optically bonded Gorilla Glass touchscreens and six hard buttons (menu, back, VHF, call, Channel 16 and man overboard) that flank a rotary wheel with a central selector; a dedicated DSC emergency button resides under a protective hood. The handsets are IPX7-rated, support one-handed operations (even with wet, salty gloves), and feature a rubberized treatment that absorbs impacts and delivers grip. (Note that while H1s can be wireless, each yacht’s first [and primary] H1 uses a hard‑wired power supply).
Wireless H1 handsets are optional and designed to remain aboard, so the system comes with two Android- and iOS-friendly apps. Cortex Onboard transforms a smartphone into a closely mirrored handset that delivers most of an H1’s functionality (except for VHF operations; users need an H1 handset to leverage Cortex’s VHF capabilities), while Cortex Monitor listens for activated onboard alarms while ashore.
Once networked with the yacht’s multifunction display (and/or NMEA backbone), GPS, VHF antenna and DC power (users can add cellular and Wi-Fi antennas), Cortex shares all communications passing through its M1 hub with its paired H1 handsets and Cortex Onboard, which render this information as easy-to-understand graphical depictions. Users can cycle between four operating views including VHF, directory (stored DSC contacts and favorites), instruments (NMEA data), and plotter; and the system includes three prioritized “situation views” for managing AIS targets, anchor-watch alarms, and man-overboard emergencies.
Unlike VHF and DSC-enabled VHF, Cortex handsets and the Cortex Onboard app allow users to directly call other AIS-equipped boats by simply tapping their onscreen icons. Likewise, users can easily hail their DSC contacts by tapping names in the directory.
“We tried to hide as many knobs and settings as possible,” Vesper Marine CEO Jeff Robbins says of Cortex’s approach to VHF operations.
Vesper ensured that updating Cortex’s software is a similarly streamlined process, thanks to Cortex’s paired connection with a user’s mobile device, which automatically serves as a data bridge.
Given that Vesper Marine earned its name as an AIS company, it’s not surprising that Cortex offers a further-developed version of the firm’s “smartAIS” concept, which uses smart-alarm logic to prioritize AIS targets and provide anchor-drag and MOB alarms. While smartAIS has been available for onboard use for years, Cortex smartly draws on its apps and its optional cloud-monitoring service to offer this same functionality onboard and ashore (or even from abroad). It also allows users to check their real-time shore power, battery levels, high-water, motion, and temperature information via the Cortex Monitor app. (Be aware that Cortex can be used without a subscription—however, such users are restricted to twice-a-day data updates.)
Should an alarm trip while users are aboard, and provided Cortex has been networked to an external speaker(s), the system delivers a series of intensifying audio alerts. Conveniently and much like Cortex’s situation views, the system’s voice guides users to their most-pressing concern(s), such as “MOB!”
While most yachtsmen aren’t satisfied using the same sounders or radars their fathers employed, thanks to Cortex, there’s also little reason to use communications interfaces that have largely existed since the dawn of the Clinton administration. So, if you’re ready to modernize your onboard communications and safety equipment, Cortex stands ready to help you communicate. •
Today’s marine technology provides yachtsmen with a depth of information that was unthinkable just a few years ago. Over the years, ever-evolving marine electronics have helped me navigate challenging conditions, assist vessels in distress and turn a slow day of fishing into one of the most memorable trips of all time.
Radar: Something in the Mist
I don’t like fog.
It was late spring, and I was slated to run a 40-foot convertible from Manhattan, New York’s Chelsea Piers to the eastern south shore of Long Island. Easy enough. However, rising air temperatures and cool water temperatures in the northeast can make for can’t‑see-the-bow fog.
The visibility heading down the Hudson River was okay. I could see the ferry traffic and kept my radar tight, but once I got the boat to where the river collides with the Atlantic Ocean, I was met with the thickest blanket of fog I’d ever seen. The 13,700-foot-long Verrazzano Narrows Bridge, just 50 yards away, was completely hidden. Then came the deep, resonating fog horn of a substantial ship heading upriver. The target on my radar took up the entire space between the channel markers. Time to move.
I slid off to the side, putting a safe distance between my vessel and this hulking, moving mass. I heard the ship’s hull sliding through the water as it passed by. I could barely make out the rusting red hull, and I never saw the top of the ship.
My radar, plotter and depth sounder took the place of my eyes. I listened for other vessels as we crawled along the coast. Occasionally, I would hear motors approaching and double check the bearing, adjusting course as needed.
After reaching my destination inlet, I turned the boat north and passed beyond the breakwater. The fog disappeared instantly, and a bright sun led the way to the marina.
The knots in my shoulders relaxed; after tying up, I found a cold beverage in the galley. When I opened the fridge, a small cloud of fog exited the appliance. I decided that kind of fog was fine with me.
VHF Radio: Rescue Times Two
It was a full-on tempest with heavy rain, howling wind and frequent lightning strikes. Our crew huddled in the bridge deck waiting it out, 80 miles from nowhere, along with a 400-boat fleet competing in a marlin tournament off the US Mid‑Atlantic coast. We heard a crackling voice on the tournament channel.
One of the teams, on a brand‑new 35-foot convertible, was struck by lightning. The engines were dead. The electronics were down. Their only source of communication was a handheld VHF radio.
We were close enough to pick up the transmission, albeit faintly. As our crew worked out the stricken crew’s position, another tournament boat reported over the radio that they had located the stranded team and were heading over to tow them back to port.
Two years later, a handheld VHF radio saved the day again. This time we were the rescue team.
Once again, our team was competing in a tournament offshore when we heard a faint voice requesting assistance. This time the weather was gray, but calm, however, a mid-20-foot center-console had lost all power. The boat and its two-man crew were drifting offshore.
We got a fix on the stricken vessel and made our way to the crew—who were cold, but happy to see us. We bridled their boat behind ours and headed toward shore while setting up a rendezvous point with an outbound tow boat. Within a few hours, the boat and crew were transferred safely and everyone got home in one piece. A couple weeks later, our captain received a bottle of Dom Perignon from the grateful crew.
Fish Finder: Tuna Frenzy
It was a late-summer afternoon as our crew arrived 100 miles offshore for an overnight trip to the Northeast canyons for yellowfin tuna. The sea was table-top flat. During the afternoon troll, we couldn’t buy a bite.
As the sun set, we drove around the edges of the canyon looking for some signs of life. The surface was still. No bait. No birds. No fish.
It appeared we were in for a long night of nothing, until the boat’s fish finder showed a brick-red line stretching down from about 100 to 140 feet. Because the seafloor was more than 1,000 feet down, we guessed it was bait. A lot of it. Our best guess was squid. And where there’s bait, there’s fish.
A couple of our crew dropped down squid jigs. In short order, a squid came over the gunwale. The ink-shooting cephalopod went right back down on a hook. Boom. Fish on.
We all switched to a sabiki rig—a bait-catching rig with multiple hooks—so we could harvest more than one squid at a time. We filled the livewell with the tuna candy. The sounder showed the ocean was thick with squid; so much that we could feel the weight of our rig bump and stop when it hit the school.
From sunset until sunrise, we always had at least one fish on; most of the time we had two or three hooked up. Our crew limited out on yellowfin tuna from 50 to 80 pounds and released dozens more. When all was said and done, we’d hooked up more than 60 fish and left them biting. If we hadn’t had that fish finder, we’d never have seen that school of bait and experienced that epic night of angling.
Piloting a new car is easy, so why should stepping behind a new helm feel any different? This was Navico’s thinking when the manufacturer of the B&G, Lowrance and Simrad brands released its Information Display system, which gives boatbuilders a new way of integrating, monitoring and controlling all of a yacht’s instrumentation, switching and onboard systems.
Navico’s ID system includes a bonded, helm-mounted display (or multiple displays) and a centralized, belowdecks Integration Hub that allows the ID to talk to almost any onboard system or compatible onboard instrumentation using Ethernet, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, sonar, USB, CAN or NMEA 2000 connectivity. Also, while the ID is agnostic in terms of its ability to communicate with different onboard systems, it must be paired with a digital switching system to deliver full, systemwide integration.
The ID was designed for boatbuilders, not aftermarket customers. Because of this, the system’s display is available in a variety of semicustomizable form factors that allow boatbuilders to eliminate cluttered, mixed-brand helms in favor of an automotive-like interface that offers at-a-glance access to navigational and systems information. Each ID ships with the boatbuilder’s choice of B&G, Lowrance or Simrad software, and each ID features predefined operating modes (systems checks, anchoring, cruising and watersports) that offer self-populating contextual information based on a boater’s current activity.
“I don’t like it—I love it,” Augusto Aday says of his Information Display. “I can run three screens at once, and it gives me a touchscreen and control buttons.”
Once installed, users are presented with an intuitive interface and extensive real-time situational and operational information. And, provided that the system has internet connectivity—such as Navico’s new BoatConnect system—IDs can cloud-report instrument and systems data while allowing owners to monitor, track and control onboard systems from afar via an app.
The advent of relatively inexpensive recreational unmanned aerial vehicles in 2014 effectively marked the dawn of a post-privacy world for yachts that cruise near shore or frequent popular anchorages. Fortunately, Martek’s Anti-Drone System allows properly equipped owners to electronically reclaim their privacy using CE-approved technologies.
Most recreational drones communicate with their wireless controllers using two radio frequency bands. These typically include the 5.8 GHz frequency band, which is commonly used to transmit the UAV’s real-time video feed, and the 2.4 GHz band, which is typically used to transmit flight-control signals and maintain constant RF communications between the UAV and its wireless control device.
Critically, most consumer drones are designed to land or “return home” if RF contact with their controllers is lost. Technically speaking, this means that these 2.4 GHz and 5.8 GHz transmissions—which can be discovered, identified, tracked, and electronically exploited using RF detectors and antennas from long distances—represent a key electronic vulnerability for UAVs.
M.A.D.S. (call for pricing) is the world’s first marine-specific anti-drone system, and it is comprised of two 70-by-75-centimeter, IP67-rated radomes, a PC and software interface.
The detection dome passively discovers, identifies and tracks any drones (and their users) operating on all 2.4 GHz and 5.8 GHz signals, while the defeat dome electronically neutralizes a UAV’s ability to send and receive its 2.4 GHz control signals or transmit its 5.8 GHz video stream.
Both domes provide 360- by-180-degree coverage around and above the yacht—and M.A.D.S. can detect, identify and track multiple drones from distances exceeding 3 miles, and electronically defeat them at a range of roughly 3,280 feet. Best yet, M.A.D.S. automatically enforces an electronic exclusion zone around the yacht, or it can prompt the owner to press a red, drone-defeating button.
World-class boat shows such as the annual Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show are visual feasts. But as stunning as the daytime optics might be when the docks are populated with billions of dollars’ worth of floating aluminum, fiberglass and carbon fiber, it’s even more visually arresting after the sun sets, both above and below their waterlines. And while there’s no question that proper LED lighting makes otherwise-dark salons and swimming waters significantly more inviting, creating and maintaining these warm and welcoming lumens takes effort.
Now, thanks to Lumishore’s Command Center, creating the right above- or below-water ambiance is about as taxing as tapping a touchscreen display.
While LED lighting has satisfied onboard illumination needs since the mid-2000s, these low-draw installations are typically independent and controlled at the individual light via a dedicated switch at the yacht’s electrical panel (or, depending on the vessel, its digital-switching system), where each grouping (e.g., “running lights”) usually resides on its own breaker.
Although effective, these switches typically don’t allow users to customize a light’s displayed colors without swapping out bulbs. Lumishore’s intuitive Command Center is a game-changing solution for controlling all compatible onboard and underwater lights—including tuning colors and initiating effects such as strobes, sweeps and Lumishore’s proprietary “Sound-to-Light” mode—using smart devices and either a compatible multi-function display and/or Lumishore’s dedicated touchscreen display.
At the core of Lumishore’s digital controls is the Lumi-Link Command Center, which is a black-box module that delivers a browser-based Application Programming Interface for controlling Lumishore’s EOS underwater lights and the company’s new above-the-waterline Lux Lighting Collection systems. An Ethernet port is fitted to one end of the rectangular Command Center, allowing the device to be networked to an MFD and/or Lumishore display, while its other end has three hard-wired connections that go to the networked lights, or—configuration depending—downstream hubs (e.g., waterproof junction boxes), drivers or networking modules. Each Lumi-Link Command Center ($880) also features an SD card slot that enables future software upgrades.
The Command Center also houses a powerful processor and the API that controls all onboard and below-water lighting. “The Command Center is the brains of the operations,” says Chris Myers, Lumishore’s sales director for the Americas. “It’s got the processing power of a large computer.”
Networked MFDs and dedicated Lumishore displays access and control the API via their hard-wired Ethernet connections, and thanks to these latter devices’ built-in Wi-Fi capabilities, in turn, wirelessly share this control with networked smart devices that connect directly with the API via a web browser.
As mentioned, the Command Center can either be networked to a compatible MFD (see Lumishore’s website for details) and/or to a dedicated Lumishore EOS STV 2204-i display ($400). This sleek-looking glass‑bridge display features a rotary dial and a 3.5-inch color touchscreen that runs the same Lumishore-built graphical user interface that users would otherwise access on their networked MFDs or smart devices.
The display’s interface lets users choose their favorite color palettes (this requires Lumishore’s full-color lights), create color presets, set user preferences and select preprogrammed lighting modes; however, it doesn’t deliver any additional functionality over an MFD or wireless device. “It acts, looks and works the same,” Myers says of the Command Center’s intentionally mirrored cross-platform GUI, adding that while “it can sometimes be tricky to [run the GUI] on a little [smartphone] screen, it’s easy to run it on a 24-inch Garmin MFD.”
Lumishore makes three types of underwater lights, including single-color lights that can be controlled using a standard switch; dual-color lights that typically use a hub and a Lumishore switch and can be controlled from an MFD, which requires an additional Lumi-Link Bridge Module; and full-color lights that require a Lumishore Command Center, an EOS STV 2204-i display and/or a compatible MFD.
These luminescent offerings are available in a variety of through-hull and surface-mounted configurations, and—for the superyacht crowd—welded-in housings.
“To have a successful lighting system, you need really good hardware and software,” Myers explains, adding that “one can’t outshine the other and be successful.”
This also holds true for above-water lighting, and Lumishore’s new Lux Lighting solutions deliver the company’s same LED solutions to courtesy-, down- and strip-lighting applications.
Aside from building complimentary software and hardware, other factors such as beam angles also play significant roles in determining success, especially below the waterline. Myers explains that beam angles are a bit like placing one’s thumb over a garden hose.
“If you go with a wider angle, you won’t get as far a spread for the same water flow,” he says, adding that after much (ongoing) R&D, Lumishore chose 60-, 90-, and 110-degree beam angles. “We tried to find the best effects that we could.”
As for differentiating one’s yacht in a target-rich environment such as the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, it isn’t easy—given some of the skylines and waterlines involved. However, Lumishore’s Sound-to-Light feature, which displays colors based on music’s unique highs and lows, could deliver the right edge. Provided, of course, that one’s musical tastes are up to snuff.
There was a time when sailors had to consult the clouds before hoisting sail. Fortunately, contemporary weather-routing solutions deliver faster, more comfortable rides. Better still, some of these offerings play nicely with low-cost satcom solutions, giving all sailors access to high-quality information.
While weather-routing calculations involve more than just back-of-the-napkin math, the process relies on two basic pieces of information: accurate Gridded Binary weather forecasts and the vessel’s performance characteristics (called polars).
Private weather-forecasting and weather-routing services use the raw data in GRIB files that are typically produced by government organizations such as NOAA, which builds its free Global Forecast System files every six hours, or the European Union’s European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts which releases its paid GRIBs twice daily. Once released, these third-party companies can manipulate GRIB data to create forecasts using proprietary algorithms.
There are two basic ways to get onboard weather routing. The first relies on an onboard PC that’s running a weather-routing program such as Adrena or Timezero. Users download GRIB files and import them, along with their port-A-to-port-B itineraries and any waypoints, into the software, which uses this information, along with their boats’ polars, to generate routing options. A similar scheme exists for app-based weather-routing solutions.
In the second scenario, users subscribe to a cloud-based weather-routing service, where they create accounts that include their vessels’ polars. Once created, users can access their accounts via their service providers’ websites or via a lower-bandwidth option. Websites typically allow users to graphically preflight their routes, while lower-bandwidth options typically rely on small files, sent as email, that effectively list a series of waypoints, which are entered into the nav system, as well as the forecasted weather at the time of arrival at each waypoint.
Sailors cruising under the information-rich domes of cellular connectivity or long-range Wi-Fi can easily access GRIB files, but this, of course, is a much harder task offshore. Traditionally, cruisers have used single-sideband radios to download GRIBs, but recent years have seen the cost of satcom equipment and airtime rates plunge.
For example, cruisers can leverage Garmin’s inReach satellite communicators for text-only weather reports and Mazu’s mSeries system for GRIB files. Alternatively, cruisers seeking more bandwidth can consider a satcom option such as Iridium’s GO! or RedPort’s Optimizer, while cruisers seeking a global option should consider Lars Thrane’s new LT-3100S terminal, which operates on Iridium’s Short Burst Data messaging service. Impressively, this (relatively) low-cost equipment gives cruisers access to fresher information than professional navigators contesting the Volvo Ocean Race could get just a decade ago.
“On a passage from New Zealand to Fiji, we avoided the worst of a storm using PredictWind routing,” said Peter Smith of New Zealand. “Two other boats doing the same route at the same time experienced significant injury to crew and [vessel] damage.”
So while the weather will always be a wild card, modern navigators of all budgets can leverage weather-routing services to ensure faster, more comfortable rides.
If the itinerary involves the high latitudes or the South Pacific, there’s no question that satellite connectivity is key for safety communications, weather routing and staying in touch. The dilemma, however, is what kind of satcom system to buy. This, of course, is largely dictated by one’s data habits, and anyone with insatiable streaming needs should opt for a radome-enclosed VSAT system. But, for anyone who just wants to (patiently) download GRIB files, send and receive low-bandwidth data, and make emergency and non-emergency phone calls, Lars Thrane’s new LT-3100S terminal, which operates on Iridium’s new Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) network, presents a cost-effective way of staying globally connected.
Some back story: GMDSS was established by the International Maritime Organization in 1979 to facilitate two-way emergency voice calls between stricken mariners and land-based Rescue Coordination Centers. Until recently, Inmarsat was the only GMDSS-network satellite-service provider the IMO recognized.
However this changed when the IMO added Iridium as a second official service provider. For cruising sailors, this recognition is poised to open the door to GMDSS innovations such as new hardware (terminals) and competitive rates for nonemergency calls. (See Iridium’s website for pricing.)
The LT-3100S is the first terminal designed to operate on Iridium’s GMDSS network, and it’s projected to become commercially available sometime this year, pending GMDSS certifications that were underway at the time of this writing.
“GMDSS [hardware] is highly regulated by the IMO and is well-defined,” says Wouter Deknopper, Iridium’s vice president and general manager of maritime. “Regardless of the [network] provider, GMDSS combines three important capabilities: distress alerts, maritime safety information and safety voice.”
Unlike higher-bandwidth satcom options such as VSAT and FleetBroadband services, the LT-3100S operates on L-Band (1-2 GHz) frequencies and provides fully global communications—but at significantly slower data-transfer speeds. The system uses Iridium’s Short Burst Data service to transmit small, low-bandwidth data packets (read: SMS, email, GRIB weather files and official maritime safety information)—not complete files—and it leverages Iridium’s GMDSS network to deliver a dedicated voice channel for making emergency and nonemergency voice calls. Also unlike VSAT or FBB systems, GMDSS prioritizes emergency communications over nonemergency transmissions
“The Iridium network has a ‘priority-and-preemption’ [scheme] where everyday calls get demoted by more important safety-of-life calls,” Deknopper explains, adding that while emergency calls are always free, users need an airtime subscription to send or receive data or make nonemergency voice calls.
Physically, the LT-3100S consists of a handset, a soda‑can-size antenna and a Bluetooth-enabled control head with an embedded Global Navigation Satellite System receiver. Critically, it’s the first GMDSS terminal to offer full GMDSS capabilities, plus built-in voice (N.B., Inmarsat terminals require a separate module for voice communications), all in a sailboat-friendly form factor.
Should calamity strike, users press the terminal’s red emergency button, and the system immediately pings the closest RCC with an electronic satellite distress signal (including the vessel’s name and its germane navigational details) before automatically calling the RCC. In turn, the RCC notifies the proper rescuing authorities and all nearby GMDSS-equipped vessels.
“It’s a huge advantage to have emergency voice, as you can give the RCC your full details,” says Peter Thrane, Lars Thrane’s CEO, adding that an LT-3100S also allows users to receive emergency communications about other distressed vessels so that they can provide assistance.
Conveniently, the system is Bluetooth-enabled, allowing cruisers to use their familiar wireless devices for nonemergency GMDSS communications.
As previously mentioned, the LT-3100S operates on Iridium’s SBD service, meaning that uplink and downlink speeds will feel pedestrian compared with VSAT; however it’s important to remember that SMS, email, and voice calls merely sip bandwidth, while high-resolution images, video, software/firmware updates and vector-cartography downloads are the bandwidth gluttons.
“It’s primarily about safety,” Thrane says, adding that the terminal can send and receive data at 2.4 kilobits per second; with back-end compression, this rate can increase to 10 Kbps. For comparison, a 1-meter VSAT terminal can—dependent on network and contract—deliver uplink speeds of 512 Kbps and downlink speeds of 1 megabit per second; however, a radome of this size would be a tricky task to fit aboard anything shy of a 60-footer.
“You can make [nonemergency] calls at affordable prices, and it’s good enough for downloading email and GRIB files, but I wouldn’t surf the internet at these speeds,” Deknopper says, noting that dependable, fully global communications—not speed and bandwidth—are Iridium’s GMDSS strengths.
“It’s more about [obviating] latency,” he says, adding that Iridium users will enjoy the same voice quality, latency and data-transfer speeds globally.
Careful readers will remember that the LT-3100S sends and receives data as small packets, not complete files. Should communications be interrupted during download or upload by GMDSS’ priority-and-preemption scheme, the system economically resumes business where things went dark, rather than redownloading or resending the entire file.
So, while the LT-3100S (and Iridium’s GMDSS) won’t impress data-hungry grandkids with their speeds, the terminal’s ease-of-use and global reach make it a no-brainer alternative to single-sideband radios, and its pricing and safety features makes it a tempting alternative to satellite phones for sailors with still-respectable data habits.
Homing in on Washington state with just 150 miles remaining to cap off a 16-year circumnavigation and 70,000 miles of safe ocean sailing, Joy and Jim Carey, aboard their cherished 45-foot yacht, Kelaerin, were about a day away from popping the Champagne to celebrate their accomplishment. Then, in the dead of night, in rising breeze, with the finish line so near, they encountered a wave unlike any other.When Jim and Joy Carey set out to cross the Atlantic Ocean from Florida in 2002, they had no intention of voyaging around the planet. The Careys had sailed their Taiwan-built Omega 45, Kelaerin, from their home in Washington state to the Sunshine State a decade earlier, and had been back and forth to the Pacific Northwest in the intervening years as Jim wrapped up his career as a professional mariner. Following his retirement, the couple planned on taking a year to complete an Atlantic circle, but something unexpected happened once they reached Gibraltar.They kept on going. And going. And going.
By May 26, 2018, when they set out from the Hawaiian island of Oahu on the final leg of their journey to Bellingham, Washington, the Careys had seen the world. Their travels aboard their beloved Kelaerin, which they'd purchased in 1991, had been extensive, meandering and deeply satisfying. The Careys were never in any hurry; they thought nothing of lingering for a year or more in places they loved, or even retracing their route to again enjoy a favorite cruising ground. The Mediterranean. The Middle East. The Black Sea. The Red Sea. Indonesia. Southeast Asia. The Philippines. The vast Pacific. Tens of thousands of miles under sail. Planet Earth was their oyster, and they'd slurped it all up.
“It was cool,” Joy said.
So, when they left Hawaii in late spring, there were no more boxes to tick. On the other end of their last passage awaited their daughters, Erin and Kelly, with bottles of bubbly and packages of M&M’s, a family tradition since they’d started sailing with the girls all those years before when they were still little kids. Joy planned on hoisting the courtesy flags of the 50 countries they’d visited as they approached the docks. She’d already planned it all out in her mind’s eye.
It wasn’t to be.
Instead, what happened to the Careys — the inconceivable loss of their boat and a dramatic rescue at sea, both about a day away from completing their long and fulfilling circumnavigation — is both heartbreaking and almost incomprehensible. The following account has been derived from a Facebook post written by Joy shortly after the incident and from interviews I conducted with the couple in early July. Over the years, I’ve written a lot of stories about a lot of sailors. This, I’m afraid, is probably the cruelest, strangest and most unfair.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a cruising sailor and skipper more experienced and accomplished than Jim Carey. His whole life has been about boats and the water, starting as a Sea Scout; onward to stints in the U.S. Navy and the Merchant Marine; and culminating in many years logging hard miles in the Bering Sea, the Aleutian Islands and elsewhere aboard oceangoing tugboats and barges, first as an engineer and then as a captain. All this before rounding the globe on his own yacht. It’s no exaggeration to say that when it comes to the high seas, Jim has pretty much seen it all.
And, as he kept a weather eye on the offshore Pacific forecasts and GRIB files while exploring the Hawaiian Islands in advance of Kelaerin's trip last May, he basically liked what he saw: "As the delineation of the sun progressed northward, we could see the high starting to build in and the lows that come from Siberia and northern Japan be pushed a little farther north into Alaska. By the end of May, it looked pretty good, so we took off."
Kelaerin held a course almost due north from the islands until reaching 38 degrees north. Jim said, "Then we took a hard right, and at that point, we were on the tip of the high, on its northern edge, and headed more or less toward the West Coast. At about 137 degrees west or thereabouts, we started on a direct line for Cape Flattery (at the mouth of the Strait of Juan de Fuca)."
It was a bouncy ride, but with the westerly flow from the high, Kelaerin was knocking off the miles, averaging a steady 5 knots, on an ideal heading … straight for the barn. The distance to go grew shorter and shorter. Jim continued to download twice-daily GRIB files, and the forecast remained good. In fact, from about 150 miles out to sea right to the coast, the winds appeared to go very light — under 5 knots — and from the southwest. Jim allowed himself to think they might roll the final miles into the cape under spinnaker, and wouldn't that be a fine way to wrap up the proceedings? And if the breeze crapped out altogether, since they'd been under sail exclusively since leaving Hawaii, at the very least there'd be plenty of fuel to motor on home.
Then, with fewer than 200 miles to sail, suddenly, and ominously, things changed.
The first inkling of brewing trouble was a GRIB file Jim downloaded on the evening of June 15. The forecast now called for north or northwest winds of up to 26 knots, which meant higher gusts: not terrible, but not pleasant either. “It looked like a squash zone,” Jim said, referring to the tighter bands of breeze. As predicted, on the 16th, it filled in and continued strengthening, all day long. But the odd part was the seaway, which began to take on a persona of its own.
Then the sun went down.
“The seas got more nervous,” Jim said. “They were confused to begin with. They were getting jittery. The boat was just jerking around. Every now and then it would fall into a hole. It just wasn’t plain sailing.”
The changing conditions, and the new northerly, necessitated a course change. Jim kept falling farther off the wind to keep it abaft the beam. The straight-line shot to Cape Flattery was a fleeting, distant memory.
“By midnight, we were sailing downwind under bare poles with pretty good seas, but the boat was handling it great,” he said. “The Aries windvane was steering like a champ. We were doing about 4.5 knots, which was a good speed for the Aries. There was plenty of power for it to steer, and it was very sensitive. So it was doing a good job.” There wasn’t much to do but maintain a sharp lookout and hang on. Around 0230 on June 17, Joy disappeared below to catch a short catnap. In all their time cruising, she’d never seen such seas. Jim remained in the cockpit. Forget 26 knots. It was gusting into the 40s. So much for the cakewalk home.
An hour passed. The boat surged on a wave. White water streamed down both sides of Kelaerin. The boat slowed down. The wave dissipated. This was nothing especially new. Jim, sitting to starboard and watching the compass, never saw the next wave, the one that came steaming in from port and caught Kelaerin broadside. But he felt it. It was unlike any wave in the steady train that preceded it. Had this long and getting longer day been a barroom brawl, this was the flat-out, knock-down sucker punch.
“The boat just picked up on that wave and the wave slammed it down,” he said. “It was pretty much upside down.” Later, Jim tried to calculate the physics of the crash. The masthead VHF antenna washed away during it, meaning the spar was seriously dunked. “I don’t think we did a 360-degree turn, but we went [to] at least 220 [degrees],” he said. “It was definitely not the wave we surged on. I guess it was a rogue wave. Once we righted, we didn’t have any more waves like that. We had that one wave.”
It didn't matter. For all intents and purposes, it was Kelaerin's last one.
Down below in the aft cabin, Joy also withstood the impact. “It was so hard it literally felt as though we had been hit by a train while sitting on the tracks,” she wrote. Then … water. Everywhere. She was entombed by it. For a moment, she wondered if she’d ever take a breath of air again. First, she was on the ceiling, then back in her berth, then her feet were on the floor. They were underwater.
She gathered her wits and couldn't believe her eyes (it was chaos) or her ears (the noise was deafening). To enter the main cabin, she had to clear the companionway ladder from the doorway, where it was wedged with a scuba tank that had been dislodged from its holder. The saloon looked like a bomb had gone off. Lockers were torn asunder, their doors broken or missing, their contents sloshing in water covering the cabin sole. The floorboards had vanished, the tanks exposed to view. For the 27 years the Careys had owned her, Kelaerin was lovingly, painstakingly maintained. She was a member of the family. Now she was broken and brutalized. What in God's name had happened?
Back topside, though blood was streaming down his face from a deep gash over his left eye, Jim also took stock of the situation. He’d survived the wallop from his perch in the center cockpit with a death grip on the Edson steering pedestal, the base of which was now broken, though amazingly enough, they still had steering. He’d watched the dodger and Bimini blow away “like newspaper in the wind.” The dinghy, which had been lashed down to handrails on the forward deck, was missing. Neither the stainless rack for the life raft, secured to the deck with a dozen bolts, nor the raft itself were still there.
Forward of that, the massive Lewmar Ocean Series hatch, which had been down and dogged for the entire trip, was popped open and standing straight up. Had it acted like a scoop for the literally tons of water now washing through the boat? It was the only explanation that seemed to make any sense.
Joy came on deck to find Jim standing at the wheel, driving Kelaerin down the face of a wave. She looked around, stunned by what she did and didn't see: no raft, no dinghy, no dodger, broken bits of cockpit coaming and other detritus, her husband bloodied but unbowed. He asked her to put out a mayday call on the VHF, which went unanswered. Then they swapped positions so Jim could go below and assess the situation.
It was a grim sight. “With the boat pitching and rolling, the water on the cabin sole was like a little tidal wave going from bow to stern and back,” he said. The SSB radio was out, as was at least one of their two VHF radios. But the batteries remained secure and operational, and the wind generator was still intact and whirring like a banshee: They had power. Jim switched on all four electric bilge pumps, including the 4,000-gallon-an-hour submersible in the engine room, the one with the 1½-inch discharge “like a fire hose.” For about 20 minutes, they ran fine and took the water level down several inches, but then the paperback books floating in the murk and turning to mush — “like oatmeal” — clogged the pumps. Though it was hard to see while blinking blood out of his eyes, Jim managed to unsnap the main pump from its base and clear the screen, which he did countless times during the next several hours. But it became a losing, futile proposition. It would run a few minutes and just clog again.
At about 0530, two hours after the smashup, the Careys were in nearly as bad a shape as Kelaerin. They were both shivering. Joy's lips were turning blue. Jim's hands were locking up. Joy had a fleeting thought: She couldn't remember if she'd told their daughters where they'd stashed their assets, "their little inheritance." It's amazing, she later thought, what exactly goes through your mind. "I looked at Jim and said, 'Should we set the EPIRB off?' and he said, 'Yeah, we better set it off.'" He retrieved it from its holder and pushed the button.
The idea of abandoning the boat had not set in. What Jim was really after was a stronger pump. He wasn’t ready to concede anything.
Jim's contacts on Kelaerin's EPIRB registration were a pair of old tugboat pals whom he spoke to daily via ham radio. When the Coast Guard reached them, they were able to confirm the Careys' position from the previous evening's call; their course and destination; and that they'd reported encountering rough weather. The Coast Guard responded by immediately dispatching a helicopter from its base in Warrenton, Oregon.
Several hours later, the second, still operable VHF radio on Kelaerin crackled to life. It was the Coast Guard chopper, about 20 minutes out. Amazingly, the chart plotter was still functioning, and Joy was able to relay an exact position. The airmen continued calling and asking Joy to count down numbers so they could pinpoint the boat via their radio-direction-finding equipment. Soon enough, the helicopter was hovering overhead. A swimmer was dropped off to starboard. Jim was still steering, Kelaerin still surging at over 4 knots under bare poles. The swimmer reached the steering vane and the boarding ladder Jim had dropped, and clambered aboard, his fins still on. Jim was astonished. Man, he thought, that guy is in good shape. It was 0933, almost exactly six hours after the rollover.
The two men discussed the options. Jim reiterated that he needed a better pump. The guardsman said, “Well, our pump isn’t going to pump that slop either. You need to make a decision. We’ll give you a pump, or you’re going to have to get off.”
Jim’s teeth were chattering, but despite everything, he was still a sailor and a skipper in full command of his faculties. Here’s what he thought:
On the one hand, the mainsail had been ripped out of the stack pack and was toast, but the yankee was still furled up and the staysail was still hanked on to the forestay. Two good sails. Maybe they could continue running downwind until the seas laid down and then set sail and bring her home.
On the other hand, there were no comms other than a short-range VHF. The engine was swamped. The crankcase was probably full of water. The water tanks were below the sole, and the freshwater supply was likely contaminated by seawater. The stove had been ripped off its gimbals; there was no way to even make a hot cup of tea, never mind a meal. It was surely only a matter of time before something sloshing inside the boat jammed the steering cables or the quadrant, leaving them adrift. If they were rolled again — a likely scenario if they lost steering — there was no life raft or dinghy in which to retreat. They were both on the verge of hypothermia. It might not be long at all before they succumbed to exposure. The only way to bail the boat was by hand, something neither had the strength to do for very long.
As a prudent and experienced seaman, Jim understood there really was no choice in the matter. “OK,” he told the swimmer. “We’ll get off.”
"Then everything went at hyper speed," Joy said. "The Coast Guard swimmer said I had only a minute to gather my things." Perhaps surprisingly, the decision to leave Kelaerin still caught her by surprise. She'd collected some items and stashed them in a dry bag and a small cooler earlier, when they'd first fired off the EPIRB, not really thinking she'd be leaping into the water with them. Now that such a scenario was imminent, she realized their passports, wallets, cash, good camera and other valuables were either missing or unreachable. Too late.
In the frantic moments that followed, neither the cooler nor the computer she'd grabbed at the last moment ever made it off Kelaerin. Like almost everything else they cherished from their years of cruising, all the hard drives, pictures, logs and mementos, they stayed on the boat, forever gone. "It's an unimaginable loss," Joy would later write.
As they made their way to the stern, Jim and Joy were still wearing the inflatable vests they’d donned throughout the entire ordeal. “Inflate your vests,” said the swimmer. “Jump.” Joy hesitated; a rolling wave was approaching. “Go now!” he commanded. All of a sudden, they were all in the drink.
The rescue was nothing shy of heroic. It turned out the helicopter was at the extreme limit of its range when the Careys were winched aboard in baskets. It diverted from Warrenton on its return 180-mile flight, and set down in nearby Astoria. When it landed, Jim heard the pilot tell ground control they were down to one minute of fuel. One minute.
The Coast Guard crew took good care of Jim and Joy on the way in, wrapping them in covers, giving them water — they'd never had so much as a sip the whole time they tried to save Kelaerin. An ambulance arrived and whisked the couple off to the hospital. Jim was put on a saline drip and received seven stitches; they were given T-shirts and paper pants.
Jim has no regrets about calling in the coasties. Given the circumstances, it was the sound, seamanlike thing to do. If Joy could change one thing, she'd have put the important stuff in a ditch bag. They did have one prepared, but it was full of things for a life raft, not for the unimaginable circumstance of plunging into the sea. In any case, that disappeared when Kelaerin flipped.
The Careys didn't leave a transponder on Kelaerin. They were well out of the shipping lanes, and Jim believed the boat sunk almost immediately.
But in mid-July, Joy sent me the following email: "A ray of hope. Our life raft was found and reported to the Coast Guard. We are currently looking at weather, currents, to see if there is any way we could still find Kelaerin. It's been a month, but I have heard of strange discoveries of yachts that were abandoned. You see a whole bunch of them in American Samoa, for instance. We have fishermen friends of a friend who are 'looking' out for it. … We may head down to Oregon soon and camp out near one of the active fishing harbors and see what happens."
You never know, right? Finding Kelaerin might be as unimaginable as what happened to Joy and Jim, as experienced and capable as any cruisers could be, a long day away from putting the exclamation point on the trip of a lifetime. You just never know.
UPDATE: The Boat That Was Lost … And Found!
Shortly after going to press with the previous story on Kelaerin, on July 22, a miracle came true. On a routine patrol, the Coast Guard cutter Barracuda found Kelaerin and took her under tow. She was 440-miles south-southeast from the position she was last seen, over a month earlier. Eventually, as they closed on the coast, the crew of Barracuda transferred the tow to a smaller vessel, and Kelaerin was safely brought to a dock in Fort Bragg, California.
Before driving to Fort Bragg to reunite with Kelaerin, Joy and Jim Carey emailed Cruising World. Clearly overjoyed, they wrote, "Think we'll have a project going for quite a while!" Remarkably, in the photos released by the Coast Guard, Kelaerin seemed to be floating on her lines, though the extensive damage topside was clearly visible.
Not all the news is great these days, and the loss of Kelaerin was a terribly sad tale, given how close the Careys were to fulfilling their dream. It just seemed too unfair. But it's now a story with a happy ending. And we couldn't be more pleased for these deserving cruisers.
Herb McCormick is CW’s executive editor.
As my buddy and I listened to a football game on the boat stereo last fall, it occurred to us that we might find a way to watch the game on my 12-inch multifunction display. The next day, I researched the details and discovered it’s pretty simple to stream video to your MFD from a mobile phone.
A key is having an HDMI input port on your MFD — the same port found on the back of today’s televisions and monitors. You’ll find such ports on advanced displays from Garmin, Lowrance and Simrad. Furuno offers an HDMI input port on the black-box module for its TZTouch displays.
I was able to plug a 4-foot male-to-male HDMI cable into a Lowrance HDS-12 Live. But in order to connect the other end of the cable to my iPhone, I needed a special interface — a Lightning digital AV adapter ($12.89, walmart.com).
This plugs into the little Lightning charging port at the bottom of the iPhone. The female HDMI port connects to the end of the HDMI cable. The adapter also has a spare Lightning port so you can charge your iPhone while watching video. For Android devices, you can connect using a micro-USB male-to-HDMI female adapter ($9.98, walmart.com).
The next step is to select the video window on the MFD (you might have to choose the HDMI input in the menu), then watch streaming video from your phone via apps such as YouTube. For live sports, you will need an app such as Fox Sports Go, and you might have to input your username and password for your TV provider to access the programming.
In my case, I stream the audio via Bluetooth through the boat’s multispeaker stereo, but MFDs connected to the onboard sound systems can stream the audio without using the Bluetooth function.
All of this assumes you have stable cell service. Otherwise, you might have to access a satellite TV service, but that’s another story.
More often than not, I cast off in darkness, sometimes bound for offshore grounds, other times to ply coastal waters when nighttime tides prove favorable. No matter the reason, and despite decades of night-boating experience, it still puts me on edge. Nothing at night appears as it does in the reassuring light of day. Familiar objects fade to ghostly silhouettes, if you can see them at all, and distances become difficult to gauge.
Today, advances in radar, thermal imaging and light-amplification technologies render night boating much safer than in the past. Night boating still requires prudent seamanship and alertness, but the latest electronics improve your level of situational awareness.
Let’s look at products that help guide the way in the dark of night.
Doppler Effect With a scanning antenna that broadcasts radio signals and then displays the returning signals to identify potential hazards, marine radar has helped anglers navigate safely for nearly 50 years. Yet the incorporation of Doppler technology elevates recreational radar to a new level of practicality.
Now available on solid-state models from Furuno, Garmin, Raymarine and Simrad, Doppler technology recognizes targets moving toward you, changing the color of the return on the display to make collision risks instantly recognizable.
Furuno was among the first to offer a Doppler feature — which it calls Target Analyzer — in its DRS4D-NXT 24-inch dome radar ($2,600) that debuted in 2016. The series has since expanded to include DRS6D-NXT, which includes 3.5-, 4- and 6-foot open-array antennas. All network with a Furuno NavNet TZtouch or TZtouch2 multifunction display.
With Target Analyzer, returns that are stationary or moving away from your vessel are green, while targets moving toward you turn red. The Doppler systems in Garmin’s Fantom GMR, Raymarine’s Quantum 2 and Simrad’s Halo radars function in the same manner. Combining a Doppler-capable marine radar with chart plotting and an AIS transceiver further enhances safety at night.
Thermal Activity Marine thermal-imaging systems from companies such as FLIR and Iris detect the heat signatures of objects (infrared radiation that's invisible to the human eye) to see, even in the total absence of light. I have found this helpful when I want to eyeball the waters ahead for hazards, particularly low-lying obstacles such as floating timber or crab-pot buoys that radar simply cannot pick up.
Marine thermal-imaging systems are available in a range of products and prices, from handheld scopes such as the FLIR Ocean Scout TK ($599) and Iris 240 ($2,750) to the FLIR M400 gyrostabilized multisensor camera (up to $70,000). The level of definition varies from model to model, but the images on all systems are monochromatic.
Fixed-mount cameras display their thermal images on a networked touch-screen MFD. The FLIR M232 ($3,499) allows you to pan, tilt and zoom so you can search for and identify hazards.
FLIR’s sister brand, Raymarine, takes the utility of the M232 a step further with a feature known as ClearCruise intelligent thermal analytics. Combine the M232 with a Raymarine Axiom MFD and the ClearCruise feature to get both audible and visual alerts when objects such as boats, buoys and other obstacles appear.
Based on my experience with thermal-imaging systems, non-stabilized fixed-mount models such as the M232 work well on calm waters, but as the boat pitches and rolls in choppy seas, the image can be difficult to decipher due to the excessive motion. A gyrostabilized fixed-mount camera such as the FLIR M324S ($8,995) solves this.
A handheld thermal-imaging scope, the least expensive option, is often more practical than a non-stabilized fixed-mount model. The user, somewhat isolated from the boat motion, can apply a steady hand to scan the darkness. Some handheld models such as the FLIR Ocean Scout 320 ($2,499.99) also network with MFDs for viewing by more than one person.
Blinded by the Light Sometimes, it's not darkness so much as it is the blinding backscattering of coastal lights that obscures objects, especially in busy ports. Raymarine's ClearCruise AR (augmented reality) dramatically helps with the identification of navigation aids under these circumstances, says Jim McGowan, marketing manager for FLIR/Raymarine.
This system integrates an Axiom MFD with a Raymarine CAM210 HD marine video camera ($699.99) to detect objects on the water and then, using the new Raymarine AR200 video stabilization module ($499.99), overlays symbols for those objects on the chart plotter. Even though the AR system does not use thermal imaging, it offers real benefits at night.
“The navigation-aids layer on augmented reality will put up the identification flags on the horizon, pointing out where they should be among the other lights,” McGowan explains.
Seeing Is Believing Low-light-amplification technology represents another way to pierce the darkness. Like thermal imaging, these night-vision systems were born in military and law-enforcement applications, but emerged in recreational products by the late 1990s.
Unlike thermal imaging, night vision requires some level of ambient light — as little as a few stars in the night sky — which it electronically amplifies. Night-vision technology exists largely in handheld scopes.
Early night-vision systems produced images with an eerie monochromatic green glow, and some scopes were subject to severe damage if exposed to bright light. However, the latest generation from SiOnyx takes light-amplification technology to a level that includes higher definition and full color.
SiOnyx describes its Aurora handheld scope ($799) as a day/night action camera utilizing “ultra-low-light technology.” This enables color images and video during the day and twilight, combined with high-resolution viewing in near-total darkness, according to SiOnyx. Bright light will not damage the photo receptors.
I had an opportunity to use the Aurora on the water at night and can attest to its characteristics. The natural field of view is a cinch to interpret.
The Aurora includes a GPS, an accelerometer, a compass and a clock to accurately guide your way, day or night. The GPS will geotag and time-stamp images and video.
Thanks to advances in radar, thermal imaging and low-light amplification, you can venture out at night with more confidence, less trepidation and greater safety than ever before.c-map.com" height="700" src="https://www.yachtingmagazine.com/resizer/RN_xLMdy2YSpfZ21ekYTiUvwlDc=/arc-anglerfish-arc2-prod-bonnier.s3.amazonaws.com/public/ZEEZRAL6TS576M7BX6JXTKZPGU.jpg" width="980"/>
In fact, 69 percent of boat sinkings occur while the boat is unattended at the dock, according to BoatU.S.
Boats kept on trailers and in dry storage are vulnerable as well. Land-based thieves can hook up and haul away your entire boat and trailer. Or they might strip it of valuables.
Outboard thefts have trended upward over the past year, especially in coastal states of the Southeast and mid-Atlantic, where thieves prey on boat-storage yards and dealerships, according to a number of marine insurance companies.
“There has been a rash of organized thefts of multiple outboards throughout Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Virginia,” says Mark Yearn of Norman-Spencer Agency Inc., an insurance provider specializing in coverage for boat dealers and marinas nationwide.
Outboards aren’t registered with state departments of motor vehicles, and so are particularly hard to trace, Yearn points out, making them ideal fodder for the black market. All of this lends greater impetus to the need for ramped-up vessel security, and an electronic monitoring system might be the answer.
Rise of the App
While security systems such as Yamaha’s Y-COP (which disables the outboard engines to prevent theft) and the portable Spot Trace (which tracks a stolen boat) have been on the market for several years, a growing number of systems rely on installed hardware and mobile apps to keep you posted on the welfare of your pride and joy.
Costing as little as $600 (plus a service fee), app-based systems from brands such as GOST, Nautic-On, Siren Marine and GoFree Track (designed to network with Lowrance and Simrad hardware) effectively monitor a variety of threats to your vessel.
Some systems offer sensors that detect vibration, motion, hatch openings and even the unsnapping of a boat cover, as well as monitor battery voltage, heat, high bilge water, bilge pump activity and more. When a sensor is triggered, an alert goes out via an app. You can also network some hubs with a video camera to see what’s going on aboard your boat from afar, using your mobile phone, tablet or computer screen.
Built-in GPS is a universal component, allowing you to monitor boat location. With a geofence enabled, the system alerts you as soon as the boat is moved outside the established perimeter. It also tracks the boat’s movement with the app.
Compact and Flexible
Many of these boat security systems are surprisingly compact. The hub for the Siren MTC ($599) measures just 61⁄2 inches by 41⁄2 inches by 11⁄2 inches. The GoFree Track hub ($999 for the cellular version) measures about 33⁄4 inches by 7 inches by 13⁄4 inches deep.
Some units receive GPS and send and receive cellular signals through fiberglass. This, combined with a small footprint, allows you to mount the main module in an out-of-the-way space where thieves are unlikely to see it.
Many of the sensors are even smaller, and some communicate wirelessly with the hub. Most systems let you choose the number and types of sensors, and you can expand your selection at any time. For example, Siren Marine currently offers 10 different sensors for its GPS- and cellular-equipped MTC hub. The system can be upgraded with additional sensors whenever you want.
Some systems network with your propulsion and other onboard systems for a remote overview of your boat’s vital signs. In case of trouble, the Nautic-On system, for instance, lets you relay information directly to a marine mechanic to get the problem solved as quickly as possible.
Another cool feature is the ability to control onboard systems from afar. With Track, you can remotely activate up to three systems such as air conditioning, refrigerator or lights.
The communication format used by app-based security systems varies. Siren Marine’s service plan connects using 3G cellular (as low as $19.97 per month). This works fine, as long as you and your boat are within cell range. Siren plans to offer a satellite service plan for global connectivity in the future.
In the meantime, Track offers three service plans. The options include Wi-Fi connectivity (free for the standard Wi-Fi system) for boats within close proximity, cellular (as low as $9 per month) for wider-ranging communication, and satellite (as low as $20 per month) for worldwide coverage.
Although most hubs typically draw power from the onboard batteries, many also have a built-in backup battery should the boat batteries go dead or thieves cut the power wires to the hub.
Read Next: Electronic Boat Security
Prevention is Key
When a boat or marine equipment is stolen, the chances of recovery are slim, according to insurance experts. Even recovered boats are often found in disrepair, stripped of equipment. So, prevention is the key to minimizing loss and heartbreak.
Your boat, motors, electronics and other equipment represent your ticket to great saltwater fishing adventures. You can help keep it that way with an affordable app-based security system — a virtual security guard for your boat.
In August 1995, Jim Bertken, 37, outdoor editor for the Los Angeles Daily News, was on assignment on an overnight tuna trip off the rugged, wind-swept central coast of California. No one truly knows the precise chain of events that night, but the Coast Guard report concluded that Bertken had likely fallen into the chilly waters of the Pacific Ocean sometime between 2:30 and 3:30 a.m. while suffering from seasickness.
He was not missed until a good two hours later and, despite an extensive search, Bertken was never found.
He left behind a wife and two young sons, as well as many good friends—myself included—who always pondered if that tragedy at sea could have somehow been averted.McMurdo's SmartFind S20 uses AIS to help rescuers quickly locate a crewmember who falls overboard." height="901" src="https://www.yachtingmagazine.com/resizer/AkxF-m3R27LRBbs3wc_yL9ddXpg=/arc-anglerfish-arc2-prod-bonnier.s3.amazonaws.com/public/23LIGFUFKZ23RQACHFONIWIZEU.jpg" width="1280"/>
Avoiding Calamity Prudent seamanship and vigilance play vital roles in preventing and responding to man-overboard (MOB) situations. Today, there are also marine electronic products and systems from brands such as ACR Electronics, McMurdo and Ocean Signal that augment precautions, speed rescues, and help avoid tragic consequences.
Some devices emit alerts in case no one sees or hears a crewmember fall overboard. Many systems also help you locate the victim and/or automatically enlist the help of rescue agencies and nearby boaters in the search. Other MOB devices can also shut down the engine if the helmsman accidentally goes into the water, a potentially life-saving feature for anglers who boat by themselves.
All of these systems include the use of compact, wearable devices. Some look like wristwatches, key fobs and flashlights. Many are designed to attach to a life jacket or article of clothing. Some are manual, and others have automatic triggers that include water immersion, increased boat distance, and inflatable-life-jacket activation. Of course, their effectiveness hinges on skippers and crews wearing them religiously, day or night, in calm or rough seas.
App Alert One of the newest MOB safety systems available to boating anglers is also one of the simplest to use and least expensive. The Overboard Location Alert System (OLAS) from ACR Electronics includes man-overboard devices to wear on the wrist, life jacket, article of clothing or around the neck. It triggers alarms and alerts on your mobile device if a crewmember falls over the side. Utilizing the latest 5.0 Bluetooth technology, the OLAS wristwatch-type Tag ($84.95) and wearable, buoyant Float-On ($139.95) connect wirelessly to your smartphone or tablet with a mobile app. Once matched with and set to track one or more of the OLAS devices, the app will detect a break in the virtual tether—a distance of about 50 to 75 feet—from the mobile device within eight seconds. The Float-On is also water-activated. Cell service is not required for the free app to work.
In case of an MOB, the app sounds a loud, sirenlike alarm on the mobile device and sets off the phone’s flashlight strobes to alert the crew to the emergency. It also stores the GPS position and aids in the recovery with directions to the stored location. The Float-On includes an LED flashlight/strobe to help with recovery at night.
AIS AIS (automatic identification system) serves as the basis for a number of MOB systems, such as the SmartFind S20 ($249) from McMurdo. It has been designed to help locate and rescue a missing crewmember quickly.
Featuring a built-in GPS, the SmartFind S20 transmits the victim’s position continuously for a minimum of 24 hours, which can be read on an AIS-enabled chart plotter or AIS-equipped VHF radio. It also features a flashing LED indicator light to aid detection in the dark.
The SmartFind S20 can be carried in its own belt pouch or mounted on an inflatable life jacket using the supplied clips. When it is installed on the life jacket, the orange safety tab is released, which arms the S20. To activate, first inflate the life jacket, then pull the orange tab downward to pull the red cap off. This deploys the antenna and automatically switches on the S20.
DSC and AIS A few MOB systems combine AIS with DSC (digital selective calling). The AISLink ($279.95) from ACR, for example, features integrated DSC to alert you and others if a crewmember goes overboard.
A DSC VHF radio alarm is activated immediately, sending an emergency alert to first responders and nearby vessels with DSC-equipped radios. AISLink also transmits the victim’s position information, which will appear on any AIS receiver, such as an AIS-equipped VHF radio or chart plotter within about 4 miles.
This device is designed to be installed inside the fabric cover of an inflatable life jacket. When the jacket inflates, the expanding vest bladder pulls a ripcord that activates the AISLink DSC and AIS tracking functions, and deploys a 12-inch broadcast antenna.
Wireless Kill Switches Many of these MOB systems are designed for multiperson crews. But what if you're fishing solo and go overboard while the boat is underway? Engine builders include a safety-stop lanyard (aka kill switch) at the helm, intended to shut down the engine in the event the helmsman is thrown from the boat. Yet these lanyards limit the angler's mobility. As a result of such inconvenience, most skippers don't wear them much of time, even when fishing solo. However, wireless kill-switch technology from companies such as Autotether, Fell Marine and, in the near future, ACR combine mobility with MOB safety.
The Fell MOB+ system ($199.99 for the base pack), for instance, includes a compact 12-volt DC-powered xHUB that installs in a standard 2-inch instrument hole near the helm. This pairs wirelessly with a Fell xFOB, which can be worn around the neck with a lanyard, placed inside a wristband, or attached to clothing or a life jacket.
Read Next: Safety Beacons for Anglers
If an xFOB wearer goes in the water or drifts more than 50 feet from the xHUB, the engine shuts down. The xHUB pairs with up to four xFOBs, allowing it to serve as a general-purpose MOB safety system, as well as a kill switch for solo skippers. The Fell system re-enables the engine to start in six seconds.Crewmembers may fall overboard while fishing, but the latest MOB safety systems dramatically improve the chances of swift and safe rescues.garmin.com/marine" height="1295" src="https://www.yachtingmagazine.com/resizer/2IYn-oLXt4hRdlS4Hqf1DFRJXSI=/arc-anglerfish-arc2-prod-bonnier.s3.amazonaws.com/public/WNQMCHKKE4N6WPFDMPDUXXG6YI.jpg" width="2000"/>
Today, a growing number of automobiles with parking- assistance technology are sliding into parking spots on streets around the world. Such systems, usually offered as optional, help drivers put cars into tight spaces with little or no input to the steering wheel, and no scrapes or dents. The technology has become so common that U.S. News & World Report published a list of the 20 best self-parking cars last year.
Now, similar technology is finding its way into power boats. One has emerged in a prototype system developed between FLIR/Raymarine and Mercury Marine aboard a Boston Whaler 330 Outrage with twin Mercury 300 Verado outboards. FLIR/Raymarine has also developed an inboard prototype in conjunction with Prestige Yachts. The system aboard the Prestige 460 works with twin diesel engines and pod drives.
At the same time, Volvo Penta is evaluating a proprietary self-docking system in a 68-foot yacht, powered by twin Volvo Penta diesel inboards with IPS pod drives.
All of these systems tie into the boats’ joystick controls, and all promise to automate the task of parking a boat in a tight spot without suffering drama, dings or dock rash.
Autonomous Approach Volvo Penta is pioneering true self-docking capabilities. Its automated system uses an onboard, electronic vessel-control system, which computes steering and drive calculations in relation to the boat's actual position, and four sensors sited on the intended berth, according to Volvo. That means it works only at docks fitted with those sensors.
As the boat nears its berth, the system recognizes that it has entered a “catch zone” and sends out a signal to the helmsman that it’s ready to dock. Once the captain activates the self-docking function on the joystick control, the boat automatically moves into a “docking ready” position. Then the helmsman initiates the final self-docking stage, allowing the system to use a combination of GPS and sensors (on board and at the berth) to dock the boat without contacting docks, pilings, seawalls or other boats, Volvo says.
If needed, the helmsman can pause the docking sequence, and the system will hold the boat stationary in the water, even in the face of wind and current. Volvo Penta has not yet announced when the system will be available or how much it will cost.
Docking Assistance FLIR/Raymarine calls its assisted-docking system DockSense. It employs artificial intelligence to recognize hazards, and then augments a joystick low-speed control system to prevent the boat from banging into docks, seawalls and adjacent vessels.
Unlike the Volvo self-docking system, DockSense does not completely take over, and it doesn’t require sensors at the berth. “It uses onboard cameras and sensors that interface with the boat’s joystick system to ensure that the vessel enters the dock safely,” says Jim McGowan, marketing manager for FLIR/Raymarine. DockSense assists the captain by automatically applying steering corrections and directional engine thrust when it senses a rate of closure that might lead to contact, McGowan explains.
The technology behind DockSense relies on a network of FLIR machine-vision cameras. Each is equipped with two lenses that lend it three-dimensional depth perception and the ability to measure distances up to 66 feet.
On a typical setup, such as the one on the Boston Whaler 330 Outrage that I tested, there are five onboard cameras: one each on the port and starboard bow areas, one each on the port and starboard hardtop areas, and one up high amidships facing aft.
In addition, the machine cameras are equipped with attitude- and heading-reference-system (AHRS) sensors, and they can communicate among themselves. Each camera can tell the others how it’s moving, McGowan says. The system also relies on GPS for speed sensing.
“All of the views overlap slightly, and the images are stitched together in a model for a 360-degree virtual view around the boat,” he explains. That view can be shown only on a Raymarine Axiom multifunction display.
Virtual Bumpers Data is fed via Ethernet cables into the DockSense central processor, and then networked with the joystick-control system and Axiom MFD. Most important, DockSense allows you to set what Raymarine calls "virtual bumper" zones that generate an invisible collar around the boat. This lets you maintain a distance between the boat and hard targets of up to 10 feet.
“If the system detects a rate of closure that might lead to contact with an object, it adjusts to hold at the distance set for the virtual bumper,” McGowan explains. “It is not reactive, but rather very proactive in sensing trends.”
As configured aboard the 330 Outrage, DockSense returns the boat to neutral if you let go of the joystick. The system then maintains boat position and heading. All other joystick rules apply. If the joystick requires that the engines are trimmed down, for example, that would also be the case with DockSense. You can also turn it off.
Firsthand Experience I had the chance to experience the DockSense system aboard the 330 Outrage during the 2019 Miami International Boat Show in February. In this specific setup, we turned on DockSense using a separate keypad. This function might be integrated into the joystick control in future versions.
Each of the four bumper zones can be set for a different distance. Arrows on the keypad light up green when the boat is outside the bumper zone, but will flash red as you get near a zone and stay red once you have reached it. Neither you nor wind nor current can move the boat past the bumper zone when the feature is activated.
The view of surrounding objects on the Axiom display (using the special DockSense app) looks very much like radar, with the boat image in the center. By keeping you posted on the boat’s relationship to the dock and other hazards, this engenders situational awareness and confidence.
As the system sensed pending contact and applied corrections, I did not experience any last-minute application of violent thrust or sudden steering changes. The automatic corrections seemed subtle and gentle. To dock the boat, you can disengage DockSense and nudge the joystick for the final few feet.
FLIR/Raymarine hopes to make DockSense available later this year but has not yet put a firm date on its introduction or set pricing.
Whenever such systems reach boating customers, they will most certainly represent a major step closer to the development of a self-driving boat. Indeed, sources tell me that Mercury Marine is currently in pursuit of this goal. The age of autonomous boats might arrive sooner than you think.
For more than a decade, FLIR Systems has built thermal cameras for the marine market. What was once considered luxury technology best-suited for the biggest oceangoing vessels and sport-fishers now finds purpose on boats of all sizes.
To be sure, thermal-imaging technology mainly assists with safety and navigation—at night and during the day. But it also helps find fish. To explore all of the ways this visual aid works for anglers, I spoke to FLIR/Raymarine marketing manager Jim McGowan. Here are his tips for when and how to best use thermal.
In Transit Anglers leaving early from any East Coast port head directly into the rising sun as they run offshore. "The low sun reflecting off the water can create some very serious glare issues that make seeing objects ahead of the boat extremely difficult," McGowan notes. "Since the infrared camera doesn't see in the visible light part of the spectrum, it is immune to blinding solar glare."
Keeping a thermal camera pointed ahead can help identify glare-obscured objects. However, running in rough sea conditions at even moderate speeds can reduce the effectiveness of thermal or visible-light cameras. Stabilized versions, such as the FLIR M625CS or M324S, employ a sensor that corrects for pitch, roll and yaw, and start at $8,995. (Stabilization also enhances digital- or optical-zoom capabilities, when available.)
Nonstabilized fixed-mount cameras, in particular, display bouncy scenes in rough seas. Using a handheld thermal camera (such as FLIR’s brand-new Scion Outdoor Thermal Monocular camera, starting at $3,295, or its existing Ocean Scout, starting at about $500) can help minimize this motion because it moves with the user. But with any visual aid—even binoculars—anglers can opt to slow down to take a quick look when necessary.
McGowan suggests that anglers also adjust their thermal cameras so the image is divided into ¼ sky and ¾ water. That helps in all circumstances regardless of sea conditions. “The reason for this [division] is the camera must auto-adjust to scale its available levels of color [or gray] across the range of temperatures in the scene,” he says. “The camera looks at the entire field of view—what’s coldest and what’s hottest—and it has so many colors to apply to the palette. If we can narrow the number of colors, we can apply more attention to what matters most.”
In many locations, anglers must negotiate an inshore mine field of lobster- and crab-pot buoys to gain access to offshore waters. Whether day or night, thermal cameras can help spot these potential hazards.
At night, a bright cityscape backdrop can destroy an angler’s night vision. “A low-to-the-water object such as a boat or jetty can blend in and become part of a sea of lights” that confuses the eye, he says. When FLIR looks over the scene, it doesn’t see the lighting, just the heat. “It will see the outlines of the buildings, but it doesn’t see traffic and city lights.”
Finding Fish Thermal cameras can register a temperature anomaly as small as a tenth of a degree. That difference becomes more pronounced offshore when the camera's field of view fills with mostly water and sky. "This allows the camera to potentially see weed lines on the surface, as well as upwellings of warm or cold water," McGowan says, also noting that the standard thermal-camera definition of 320-by-480 pixels allows about a quarter-mile to a half-mile of visibility (gauged in reference to seeing a human head above water), depending on the mounting height of the unit and on sea conditions.
Anglers can further improve what they see by using the camera’s high-contrast scene mode. This mode helps anglers looking for objects that are fairly close in temperature to the water itself.
FLIR also offers a daytime scene mode that’s helpful when the sun heats up everything, loading it with infrared energy. “The day palette has some preset parameters in it that help to regulate the image so it’s not overly rich with hot targets,” he says. “Another trick during daytime is to reverse the polarity of the image so it’s black-hot rather than white-hot. When using the grayscale palettes, this tends to make the image look more like a black-and-white visible-camera image, which is easier to interpret against the visible scene in front of your eyes.”
At night, however, McGowan recommends white-hot mode to pick out targets because virtually anything you want to know about is hotter than the water.
Extra Aids McGowan listed several other thermal-camera advantages for navigating and fishing:
Slew to cue: FLIR marine thermal cameras work with multifunction displays from all of the big players such as Raymarine (owned by FLIR), Furuno, Garmin and Simrad. In many cases, these MFDs support advanced features that allow anglers to touch the chart or radar screen, prompting the camera to turn and look at the area touched. Slew to cue can visually identify AIS and radar contacts coming over the horizon, or lock the camera onto an object or a man overboard.
Augmented reality: Raymarine Axiom displays integrated with FLIR M132 and M232 cameras now support augmented-reality overlays. For example: If you look at a ship on the horizon, you can turn on AIS target tags and see that vessel's name and other details. You can also see AR tags calling out buoys and markers in the camera's field of view. AR waypoint overlay shows the bearing and distance to waypoints saved in your chart plotter that are in the camera's field of view.
Read Next: FLIR ClearCruise AR
ClearCruise: Another Raymarine exclusive is ClearCruise Infrared Video Analytics. FLIR's M132 and M232 cameras, when integrated with Axiom, can actively scan the camera's field of view, looking for objects. ClearCruise analytics highlight with yellow brackets (and an optional audible beep) any detected hazards, including lobster pots, mooring balls, floating debris, rocks and even surfacing manatees. The system can also estimate the range to the target and show it alongside the bracket.
As costs continue to drop, thermal cameras could become as ubiquitous as VHFs and other common onboard gear. It’s also a good bet that anglers will continue to find new uses for this burgeoning marine technology.
Fish finders might be the superheroes of the marine-electronics world, but transducers are the always important, though seldom appreciated, sidekicks. Without the right transducer mounted in just the right place, that fish finder can’t provide accurate, clear sonar imagery, and you’ll be fishing blind (unless you have superpowers yourself).
Choosing which transducer to buy should be equally as important as picking a display. Do you need chirp? Side-scan? Down-scan? 3D or multibeam? Real-time? To answer those questions, transducer makers boil down the selection to three factors:
- what kind of fish finder you own or are purchasing;
- how you fish;
- what size and type of hull you run.
Matching Brains The easiest of the variables to resolve is fish-finder compatibility. "Most multifunction-display models today [which incorporate fish finders] can use 1 kW transducers," says Craig Cushman, director of marketing for Airmar Technology, a primary source for today's recreational and professional marine transducers. "It's when we get into the 3 kW transducers that you need to make sure the MFD can output that power."
Few anglers need to see to depths that would require a 3 kW transducer, which are capable of reading bottom to 10,000 feet. Similarly, few boats could really accommodate these higher-power transducers because of their size; some weigh 30 pounds or more.
Offshore anglers generally gravitate toward 1 kW or 2 kW transducers (offering 2,500 to 6,000 feet of depth capability), depending on whether those anglers fish more recreationally or compete in tournaments. Inshore anglers can easily manage with 600-watt units and transducers (capable of reading depths up to about 1,000 feet).
To use side- or down-scan, 3D or real-time sonar transducers, your fish-finder, MFD—or networked sonar module—must come programmed to interpret those kinds of sonar signals. Online product descriptions spell out a unit’s capability, and MFD manufacturers usually recommend transducer options for each of their units.
Fishing Styles Once you recognize the need to match a transducer to its computer brain in an MFD, you face the second round of choices—based on how you fish. Many anglers today buy boats that can run inshore and offshore, so their needs vary on any given fishing day. They also might target multiple species by trolling, drifting, anchoring or casting.
For instance, I might troll for kingfish on a calm summer day, but in spring, I’ll sightcast to cruising tripletail or in winter, float a cork for seatrout.
Decide which types of fishing you’ll do most often (those that are most important to your fishing enjoyment). Gear your electronics primarily to those goals.
“We want to know where you spend the majority of your fishing time, at what depth,” Cushman says. “Based on that, we can talk about power, for one, and then the second question is: What are you trying to do? Pinpoint fish in structure or wrecks? Are you fishing for pelagics and want wide coverage to locate schools of fish?”
Airmar sells traditional and chirp transducers through its distributor to dealers. It also provides MFD manufacturers with transducers to package with units, and it works with those manufacturers to build brand-specific transducers for scanning and other uses.
On its website, Airmar provides a variety of helpful resources including a bottom calculator to help anglers understand how wide an area they’ll see beneath the boat at different depths. In most cases, offshore anglers want to see as much of the water column as possible, so they gravitate toward ultrawide chirp transducers, which incorporate two frequency bandwidths such as low (for greater depths), medium or high (for shallower depths and more detail).
A PM411, for instance, features an ultrawide low-frequency sonar beam and a medium-frequency beam. At a depth of 4,000 feet, the wide low beam can cover a circle at the bottom that is 2,912 feet in diameter (more than half a mile).
That’s extreme, of course, but a wide transducer beam can show an angler a very wide swath of the water column below and to the sides of the boat.
Scanning or imaging sonars—such as side- and down-scan, Furuno’s DFF3D multibeam and Garmin’s Panoptix Livescope—give anglers detailed returns that can be photolike. They really shine for locating structure, but they can be limited with regard to the depths they can reach.
Fish targets tend to be less defined with scanning sonar because the beams are thin fore and aft. Offshore anglers use scanning sonar to see bait schools to either side of the boat or to see what’s under weed lines.
To combine the best of both worlds, Furuno recently launched combo transducers that incorporate multibeam elements (for the company’s DFF3D sonar) with chirp elements such as those from Airmar’s B275 wide, high-frequency transducer. That gives offshore anglers elongated fish targets as well as the ability to see fish to either side of the boat, Furuno says.
Furuno’s multibeam unit differs from other scanning/imaging sonar in that it employs a lower frequency of 165 kHz compared with the 455 kHz, 800 kHz, 1.2 mHz and higher frequencies used by other companies. That gives Furuno’s product greater depth capability.
“Our RealVision 3D and HyperVision sonar transducers are a great choice for anglers looking for precise information about where the fish are holding in relation to the boat,” says Jim McGowan, Raymarine marketing manager. “Like others, we can display accurate distances to fish and objects both vertically as well as horizontally. We can also combine those sets with additional data into a 3D model to enhance spatial awareness.”
Boat Type Your boat's size and hull shape play a major role in choosing a transducer. As with real estate, the prime consideration is location, location, location.
“Mounting options can make or break the whole experience,” says David Dunn, Garmin director of sales and marketing. “A poorly mounted transducer will not perform well. Transom mounts are really good now, if they’re mounted properly. But anytime you can use a through-hull, you’ll get better results.”
A transducer works best when it’s covered by clean, clear water without bubbles that can flow from scuppers, livewell pickups, hull steps and other hindrances. Dunn says transom-mounted transducers remain the most popular and cost-effective solution for many boaters.
However, larger boats with deeper V’s or steps often employ through-hull transducers, mounted using a fiberglass fairing block, or tilted-element transducers that can compensate for the sloping hull of an offshore vessel.
Once you walk through the three variables for choosing a transducer, you should arrive at a much narrower list of options. If you’re buying a new boat, the builder and dealer can help. If you’re installing newer electronics on an existing hull, consult a National Marine Electronics Association certified installer and check manufacturers’ websites for a wealth of assistance.
And remember: Respect the sidekick.
From the moment I learned about small, remotely operated drones, I imagined how these unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) might help me catch more fish.
I dreamed about aerial scouting for weed lines, rips, and flocks of feeding seabirds. I envisioned spotting fish such as cobia, mahi, redfish and tuna. I even thought about dropping baits from above to fish that were well beyond casting distance.
I’m not alone. The same thoughts have struck many anglers. Now pioneering fishermen are converting their drone-fishing dreams into reality.
In many respects, the technology had to catch up with the vision. When the flying pieces of electronics first appeared about eight years ago, they proved difficult to operate, and many were quickly crashed by novice pilots.
However, today’s UAVs offer a host of features that make them easier to use. One of the most important is built-in GPS that allows the drone to automatically hover in place, fly predetermined patterns, and return to the takeoff point. Drones still require experienced and focused operators, but advancing technology is easing the task.
From a fishing point of view, development of waterproof drones played a pivotal role. There are now a number of waterproof drones, including the Goolsky Q353 Triphibian ($104), Ideafly Poseidon-480 ($800) and the QuadH2O ($850).
Yet arguably the most advanced and practical UAV for anglers is the SplashDrone 3 Fishing Edition from SwellPro ($1,958 with a camera and payload release).
Fishing with drones is still in its infancy, but here are some of the current uses.
Aerial Recon Drones equipped with stabilized video cameras now offer more vivid images than ever before.
The optional ultra HD 4K waterproof camera for the SplashDrone 3, for example, offers a three-axis gimbal with stabilizing motors to ensure shake-free footage. The optimized field of view provides a more natural-looking perspective than a super-wide fisheye lens. High-quality image sensors capture more detail and true colors on the remote control’s 5-inch screen.
Sending the drone up to 300 feet and then setting it on an auto-circle with a 150-foot radius around the boat helps locate fish-holding flotsam, flocks of feeding birds and, depending on water clarity, schools of fish. Drone scouting works particularly well when fishing clear shallows and flats, allowing you to spot bonefish, redfish, tarpon and other game.
But aerial scouting with a drone is not as simple as you might think, says Capt. Barry Brightenburg, who has experimented with drones while bluewater fishing off Southern California, and has served as a videographer for the television show Inside Sportfishing.
First, you need a good pilot with the skills to fly a drone, and then he must dedicate himself to operating the UAV and focus on the remote display for signs of fish, says Brightenburg. “Having such a dedicated crewmember is a tall order on any boat.”
You also need lots of batteries, Brightenburg says. Most UAVs have flying times of about 15 minutes, though some can fly for as long as 25 minutes. Atmospheric haze also hampers aerial scouting. “It hurts visibility and cuts down on the contrast you need to spot weeds and fish,” Brightenburg says. On days when haze is thick, drones don’t work out.
Brightenburg admits that aerial scouting with a drone is more feasible now than in the early days of UAV development. “With drones that are waterproof and can fly themselves, scouting is a lot easier than it used to be,” he explains. “But it still requires a good pilot and the video feed does not always show the detail you need. Some days, it’s just better to have a guy in the tower with a pair of stabilized binoculars.”
Looking Underwater The SplashDrone 3 Fishing Edition also sees underwater. Say you fly over a shallow reef and want to take a closer look. Sit the UAV down on the water and then use the standard camera with a wide field of view and low-light capability to peer below the surface.
This camera is on a fixed angle, so you cannot pan and tilt as with the optional ultra HD 4K waterproof camera, and it’s for live views only (no video recording). But you can pre-adjust the angle for underwater viewing. In clear water, you can identify species and determine how they are relating to the structure. Once you’re done, it takes off from the surface.
Baiting Fish Capt. Pete Grossbeck, who skippers Controlled Chaos, a 66-foot Viking based in San Diego, has been using drones to target spooky Pacific bluefin tuna for the past three years. He uses the SplashDrone 3, which comes with a payload release. You attach your line and the UAV operator can deliver the bait or lure wherever you want. It can carry up to 2.2 pounds more than three quarters of a mile.
Grossbeck turns to drones when schools of big bluefin are “breezing” near the surface. “These fish are spooky and on the move, and you can’t get close to them, so we use a drone to skip a live mackerel over them, like you would with a kite,” Grossbeck explains.
Wind Worries One of the major impediments to drone usage is wind. UAVs are difficult to control in winds over 10 knots, even in the hands of a skilled pilot. Unfortunately, wind is a fact of life on the water. And so, for now, the best time to use drones — for scouting, baiting fish or videography of angling action — is when the winds are calm.
Shooting video of fishing action is a big part of the modern experience and is required in some tournaments. Raymarine Axiom and Axiom Pro MFDs simplify this process, freeing the crew to focus on fish. Raymarine lets you connect a UAV to the MFD, then launch and view images directly from the display, a first in marine electronics. The patent-pending technology is currently compatible with the DJI Mavic Pro ($999) and DJI Mavic Pro Platinum ($1,099) video drones. As soon as you hook a fish, you press the Hook-Up button. The drone instantly launches, acquires and tracks the boat, and starts recording the action. You can also view the action live on the Axiom display to see, for instance, if any mahi are following the one you just hooked. In split-screen mode, the MFD displays the drone location, the direction the camera is pointed, the direction the drone is headed and the course back to the boat. The other side shows a live feed from the UAV’s video camera with data overlays that include the drone’s distance from the boat, and its speed and altitude.
A friend and fellow angler here in small-town Brunswick, Georgia, where I live, told me a while back that he took his bay boat to the dealership for outboard maintenance. While the vessel was on the lot, thieves stole my friend’s electronics.
Boat thieves. Brunswick, Georgia.
But Brunswick is located off Interstate 95, which apparently screams “easy getaway” to those who would steal electronics, and also outboards and boats. That popular north-south highway ends in Miami, Florida, where some sources say near-epidemic marine theft occurs, although no agency or company can provide statistics. The problem plagues both boat owners and, in the case of electronics, product distributors.
That’s why everyone from individual boaters on Facebook watch groups to the largest electronics companies in the industry want to combat the issue. As an initial step, the National Marine Electronics Association hosted a conference call on January 10 among its member dealers, distributors, manufacturers and a few media. The NMEA followed up with a sit-down conversation at February’s Miami International Boat Show.
Solutions will take time and more discussion, but the group theorized a few options and suggested initial steps, including beefing up installation specs, starting an awareness campaign, and encouraging boaters to register their units, install security systems and insure their boats.
The Scope "The way we're hearing about it is through companies that have or sell security systems. They know when a break-in happens," says Mark Reedenauer, NMEA executive director, citing sources such as GOST and Siren Marine with regard to consumer thefts. "We're hearing it on a grass-roots level. Over the past nine months, we've really started to see it coming to the front."
The NMEA hears from its own industry members when commercial thefts occur. In most cases, that level of crime is organized, Reedenauer says. Law-enforcement sources believe large quantities of electronics flow illegally to South America.
“This is a hot topic everywhere, and we are actively looking for a solution,” says David Dunn, Garmin’s director of sales and marketing. “This is not an easy problem to solve. If we can build a solution, someone out there will figure out how to bypass it.”
Even BoatUS, which insures thousands of boating anglers across the country, can’t put a finger on the extent of the problem. In fact, BoatUS says, only 50 to 60 percent of recreational-boat owners even have a boat-insurance policy.
Multifunction displays have become the most common targets for theft. These units cost anywhere from about $1,000 to $10,000 or more. With some boats sporting multiple displays, losses mount quickly.
The Options Among consumers, South Florida attorney Bruce Marx has adopted the mantle of champion for the anti-electronics-theft cause. Marx has started two Facebook groups — South Florida Marina & Boat Watch Group and Stop the GPS Thefts! — so victims and interested boaters can help each other. He also opened discussions in December with the Miami City Commission and the police department, hoping to establish a regional marine-theft task force.
For Marx, the cause became personal this past April, when thieves vandalized his boat and stole his electronics. Marx says he has since purchased a vessel-security system, but he’s hoping the electronics industry will investigate either a tracking solution — so a stolen GPS can be monitored and found within the first 48 hours of a theft — or a passcode or unlock-code solution.
Both topics came up in the recent NMEA discussions, and while each is fraught with its own drawbacks — including costs to consumers as well as technology issues — industry leaders remain committed to pursuing a resolution.
Read Next: How to Keep Your Boat Engine Secure
“We want the customer to have a good user experience,” Dunn says. “If there is a passcode, what happens when the customer forgets it? This would amass large amounts of support calls and could oftentimes happen when customer support is not available.”
Boaters can’t yet reset a passcode through their displays, even those units with Wi-Fi capability, because firewalls prevent access to all but a few select Web destinations for downloading updated charts and software.
To track a display, the unit would have to incorporate some form of battery, because once thieves unplug the electronics, power is lost. In addition, the tracking option would have to include some form of subscription service.
“I could go on and on about scenarios,” Dunn says. “We are serious about looking at it and coming up with an acceptable solution. It is just not something that will happen overnight.”
The Follow-Through Industry sources told me they hope NMEA members will continue to work together to create a specification for device anti-theft that every manufacturer — even those that make audio equipment and other removable onboard systems — can adopt. Any U.S. solution also has to take into account the European Union's new General Data Protection Regulation because products made in America sell into overseas markets.
NMEA’s Reedenauer says the January conference call produced an initial request to include a training-and-installation standard for through-bolting displays and using security screws. “We [at NMEA] are trying to facilitate communication among members,” he says. “We can’t mandate anything or tell any member company how to run their business. We’re not a regulatory agency.”
BoatUS recommends that boaters practice vigilance when scoping out a new marina — Is it lit at night? Can the public access it? — and ask their dealer where he will keep the boat when it’s in for service. Dealers often post signs that they’re not responsible for damage or theft.
Other tips include engraving a name or phone number on the electronics to make yours less appealing than others, keeping an accurate inventory of products and serial numbers, and photographing or videoing everything aboard.
If you can remove your electronics, take them home. If your display is flush-mounted, through-bolt it or use security screws. “At the end of the day, you’ve got to protect yourself,” says Rich Carroll, of BoatUS’s special investigations unit. “If you’re going to hope a third party will protect and indemnify you, that’s not going to happen.”
If you could drain the ocean and look at the seafloor without water, you’d see every reef, rock, ledge and wreck. You’d find uncharted, overlooked outcroppings, holes, and shards of structure that attract gobs of fish. The smallest of spots — often the most productive — would become readily apparent. While we can’t actually drain the ocean, a new generation of electronic high-resolution shaded-relief bathymetric cartography provides the next best thing.
Companies such as C-Map, CMOR Mapping, Garmin and others are rolling out this charting feature that, combining color and shadow, offers astoundingly detailed views of the ocean floor that can guide you to the mother lode.
“The best fishing spots are the ones that don’t show up on conventional charts,” says Erik Anderson, owner and CEO of CMOR Mapping. Shaded-relief electronic bathymetry, however, reveals the forgotten wrecks, isolated reefs, and ledges between the contour lines of conventional charts, Anderson explains.
Nod to NOAA Shaded-relief bathymetry is derived largely from data gathered over many years of hydrographic surveys by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration and its sub agencies using sonar technology, like side-scan and multibeam soundings, cross-referenced with GPS and processed to create detailed maps of the ocean floor. Other data might be tapped in the creation of the shaded-relief electronic cartography emerging now, but NOAA represents the primary source.
This bathymetry data has been available for years. So, why are electronic charting entities just now adding this feature? “It’s not easy to process NOAA data for use in electronic charts,” says CMOR’s Anderson, a certified hydrographer with a master’s in marine science. His company, which started three years ago, has developed special software and algorithms to process the data-rich files for use in chart plotters. “It still takes time and many subjective interpretations of the data,” Anderson says. “But we are creating products that did not previously exist, and anglers love them. So, ultimately, sport fishermen are driving the market for high-resolution shaded-relief bathymetry.”
Newest Players The ramped-up consumer demand for this new genre of charting has not gone unnoticed by the heavy hitters in the marine electronics industry. At the 2019 Miami International Boat Show in February, two of the biggest names — Garmin and Navico — announced the addition of shaded-relief bathymetry features to their products. Garmin will make a high-res relief-shading feature available in its BlueChart g3 Vision accessory cards and downloads (compatible with Garmin products). Navico — parent company of Lowrance, Simrad and C-Map — will integrate a shaded-relief feature called SeaFloor into the new C-Map Max-N+ local chart cards (compatible with Navico products).
Navionics, owned by Garmin, is expected to offer some relief shading via its Platinum+ Marine electronic charts and Navionics subscriptions this year. And C-Map will roll out the SeaFloor feature in its 4D charts sometime in the future.
Timing Is Right Angler demand may be lending impetus to the development of shaded-relief charts today, yet this trend might not have been possible without the immense processing power of today's multifunction displays.
“The processors and memories in MFDs have grown far more powerful than they were years ago, and so they can now easily manage a greater amount of data,” says Ken Cirillo, Garmin’s lead product manager for marine cartography and content. “Many older machines could not handle it.” That means that high-resolution shaded-relief cartography might not have operated very smoothly in the machines of yesteryear. “We’ve been talking about developing shaded-relief charting for years,” says Michael Kaste, program manager of charting for Navico. “But the demand from anglers for this kind of product has certainly accelerated development.”
Kaste echoes Cirillo’s opinion about processing data-rich charts. “About five years ago, the power in Lowrance and Simrad MFDs grew to the point where they could easily process charts with loads of data,” he reveals. “SeaFloor should not tax the processors.”
Expanding Coverage As companies work to develop and refine shaded-relief charts, much of the initial effort is focused on the most popular saltwater fishing regions — Florida, the upper Gulf of Mexico, and the Northeast. "CMOR already has much of Florida, the Gulf and Northeast done, and we're finishing up the mid-Atlantic before moving on to the West Coast," Anderson says. "We will do Southern California first, and then Alaska."
C-Map and Garmin appear to be moving fast. The BlueChart g3 Vision accessory cards were scheduled to be available for all United States coastal waters by the first quarter of 2019. However, compatible Garmin MFDs will require a software upgrade in order to read the high-resolution relief shading.
The Max-N+ local charts from C-Map with the SeaFloor feature are scheduled to be available for 11 coastal areas, including regions in the Northeast, mid-Atlantic, Florida, the Bahamas, upper Gulf, mainland West Coast and Alaska. But as with CMOR, C-Map is starting with the key areas of Florida, the Gulf and the Eastern Seaboard, Kaste says.
Even once all the coastal areas are covered with high-resolution relief shading, enhancements to relief shading will continue, Cirillo says. “We plan to augment the data continuously with future updates,” he explains. One thing that shaded-relief bathymetry cannot show is bottom composition. “As the name implies, it is a virtual three-dimensional relief map, so it only depicts the changes in elevation of the ocean floor, albeit in remarkable detail,” Kaste says. It won’t tell you if the bottom is hard limestone or soft mud, but relief patterns can lead to inferences. For example, an abrupt, isolated high spot is likely composed of a hard substance such as rock or coral — structure that will certainly attract fish.
DockSense from FLIR/Raymarine uses artificial intelligence to recognize hazards when docking, and augments joystick control systems to prevent contact. DockSense employs five FLIR machine-vision cameras that sense distance as well as GPS to ensure a boat enters the dock without drama. FLIR/Raymarine is currently working with Mercury to introduce the system but has not yet announced pricing or availability. raymarine.com
The Carryout G3 portable automatic satellite antenna from Winegard Co. enables boaters to easily enjoy their favorite TV programming through DISH Network (standard and HD) and DirecTV (standard) while relaxing in a marina or overnighting at anchor. Carryout G3 allows viewing a pair of TVs. The compact antenna weighs 7 pounds, making it easy to deploy and stow. $579 (excluding TV receiver); winegard.com
The ZigBoat security system from Glomex supplies vessel information when the boat is unattended. It delivers notifications without fees, subscriptions, registrations or privacy-policy agreements. The compact Gateway core module uses wireless sensors and accommodates an unlimited number, including motion, geofencing, and GPS tracking. ZigBoat standard package retails for $999, $1,399 for the pro kit; glomex.us
We had fished all day, and spirits were high. Tuna filled the fish lockers. But as the sun sank, dense fog swept across the water.
Now it was dark and foggy, and we could not see beyond the bowsprit. Forty miles of ocean lay between us the closest port.
Thankfully, we had two vital pieces of electronics working in our favor: radar and autopilot. Most anglers recognize the importance of marine radar at night or in fog, but autopilot becomes indispensable when visibility is obliterated.
It would have been impossible for any helmsman to maintain a course under such conditions, particularly at the slower speed deemed prudent during limited visibility. So, I put the boat on a slow cruise and let the autopilot stay the heading while I kept an eye on the radar and chart plotter and listened for the sound of other vessels, aids to navigation and breaking water. It took longer than usual, but we made it home safely.
Autopilot is a crucial component for offshore fishing, and not just because it can steer a preset course. Autopilots alleviate human fatigue on long offshore runs and increase fuel efficiency by steering the straightest course possible.
For fishing, advanced models execute a variety of complex trolling patterns.
An autopilot also takes over the steering duties while, for example, the captain assists the crew with deploying trolling lines, though keeping a sharp lookout at all times while underway remains critical.
Read Next: Benefits of Trolling-Motor Autopilots
“Boaters who have not used autopilot don’t think they will use it much,” says Scott Heffernan of The GPS Store, a North Carolina-based online retailer that offers a wide range of autopilot systems. “But once a captain gets used to having an autopilot, he will never want to skipper a boat without it.”
But how do you select the best autopilot for your boat? It starts with asking some key questions, says Heffernan. The GPS Store website includes an online help center, through which store advisors guide boaters through the selection process. It starts with asking the right questions.
Who's the Installer?
Will this be a do-it-yourself project or will a professional rigger be handling the installation? While an autopilot installation falls within the realm of competent DIYers, Heffernan recommends a qualified local installer to undertake the job.
Autopilot systems have a number of components, including a central processing unit, display, controller, drive unit, hydraulic fittings, wiring, heading sensor and more. The autopilot must also be carefully tied into the boat’s steering system, Heffernan points out. “It’s a complicated installation, and a professional installer ensures it gets done right.”
Read Next: Autopilot System Choices
Boat and Motors
Boat size and type of propulsion represent two key considerations, Heffernan says. Nearly all outboard-powered center-console fishing boats feature hydraulic steering. The bigger the boat and the more outboards, the more hydraulic fluid required for the steering system. This in turn determines the proper autopilot pump capacity.
Single-outboard boats get away with a system such as the Lowrance Outboard Pilot (about $1,000), which has a pump that handles steering-cylinder displacements up to 14 cubic inches and boats up to 30 feet in length.
Larger center-consoles with multiple outboards require higher-capacity systems such as the Simrad AP-44 VRF (about $3,300), which handles boats over 50 feet in length with pump displacements up to 24 cubic inches.
Another question to ask: What will you expect of an autopilot? All autopilots will steer a preset course, and most will also take you to a waypoint when interfaced with a GPS/chart plotter. Most autopilots also have virtual rudder feedback systems, dispensing with the quirky old-school mechanical rudder feedback systems.
More-advanced autopilots offer expanded features. Raymarine’s Evolution EV200 autopilot (about $2,900) offers the ability to steer the boat in predetermined patterns such as wide circles and figure eights. These prove helpful when you find a productive offshore zone and want to thoroughly cover the area while trolling. “Less expensive systems might not offer these capabilities,” Heffernan says.
Many anglers like to slow-troll using live bait or downriggers. If you’re one of them — and you want to use an autopilot at the same time — make sure the system remains engaged at dead-slow speeds. Some economically priced systems tend to disengage at low speeds, rendering them ineffective for slow-trolling, says Heffernan.
Advanced autopilots such as the Garmin GHP Reactor 40 autopilot (about $4,100) remain engaged and active at slow speeds. Thanks to Garmin’s sophisticated heading sensor and Intelligent Rudder Rate Technology, this autopilot keeps the boat on course better than the best helmsman when slow-trolling.
Next question: What brand of autopilot is right for you? “We like to steer customers in the direction of the brand of electronics that are already on the boat,” Heffernan says. In other words, if you already have a Furuno NavNet TZtouch display, then go with a Furuno autopilot such as the NavPilot 711C, he explains. “Networking the components becomes simpler when you match brands,” he says.
With the Lowrance Outboard Pilot, you almost have to match the brand. This autopilot system does not include a stand-alone display/controller. Instead, it uses a panel on a Lowrance multifunction display such as an HDS Carbon series to control the autopilot functions.
The final question: Do I have everything I need to complete this installation?
“The answer is usually no,” Heffernan says. You will almost always need a fitting, cable or electrical connection to finish up, and that might require a trip to the chandlery during the installation to pick up a part or two that you did not anticipate.
“So don’t plan to fish on Saturday if you are installing the system on Friday,” he adds. “Give yourself time to get the job done right.”
One of the most critical steps is properly bleeding the hydraulic system after you install the autopilot. In order for the pilot to operate effectively, it must be completely free of air, Heffernan points out. “That means you will need to add one or two quarts of hydraulic fluid to the parts list, if you choose to install the system yourself.”fusionentertainment.com" height="600" src="https://www.yachtingmagazine.com/resizer/tyixg5sRlZQfnf1NO7JmBStViAs=/arc-anglerfish-arc2-prod-bonnier.s3.amazonaws.com/public/XGFUZ6KPUCK7A25AHMO4FNWSDM.jpg" width="840"/>
The Azimut Yachts Verve 47—the builder’s second and largest yacht in the series—is debuting at the Miami Yacht Show.
Power is quad 450 hp Mercury 450R gasoline outboards and the yacht has a stepped, planing hull form. The Verve 47 has a projected top-end speed of 50 knots. Cruise speed is expected to be around 36 knots, which should be ample oomph for most performance enthusiasts. Fuel capacity is 660 gallons and freshwater capacity is 79 gallons.
There are three helm seats on centerline and a U-shaped foredeck lounge is accessed from the portside deck. There is also a foredeck sun pad for three or more guests. The cockpit has U-shaped seating with table to starboard. To port, a door folds out, creating a swim platform.
The yacht’s exterior and interior design is from Francesco Struglia Design. A raked windshield and hardtop work with the yacht’s porpoise-like profile to create a sense of movement in the yacht. Hullside glass flows aft from just abaft the bow, sweeping back and then turning up amidships, visually lowering the profile and lengthening the yacht’s lines, creating a lean, muscular look.
For cruising enthusiasts, the yacht has two staterooms and one head. The forepeak stateroom has a step-up berth and all the way aft is a guest stateroom with twin berths. Between these spaces is a single head with shower to starboard, just forward of the twin-berth stateroom. There is a galley forward of the head and to port is an L-shaped lounge and table.
For more information, visit: azimutyachts.com
Prior to departing from the dock in Plymouth, England, the captain of our Princess Yachts R35 called out: “If at any time you feel sick during the ride, let me know.”
Forty-five knots later, our R35 and five-person crew were streaking across a rain-spattered Plymouth Sound. The boat’s twin 430 hp Volvo Penta gasoline sterndrives sang with all the power of a tenor and all the range of a soprano. (The builder says speeds up to 50 knots are possible.) Our captain put the wheel hard over, and the hull gripped the ocean with purpose. The boat stayed level in the turn. No lean. No heel.
I felt like an astronaut taking a G-force-tolerance test, laughing the whole time. In fact, everyone on board was laughing so hard, it sounded like a boat full of kids, in spite of the abundance of gray hair. Our helmsman kept the wheel pinned over, and just when we thought the boat couldn’t turn a tighter circle than one boat length, it cut that down by several feet. We made a third pass, turning even tighter. The boat seemed to be doing a pirouette on the props. When the wheel came straight, the R35 was back up to that mid-40-knot speed almost instantly. The experience seemed more like flying through the air than riding on the water.
This boat’s performance comes, in part, from under the water in the form of foils. Not the foils most people think of, where the boat is raised above the sea, sitting on blades that look like skis. Instead, the R35 has what’s called the Princess Active Foil System. Picture two T-shaped wings tucked into the hull, forward of the sterndrives. When the foils are deployed, they don’t lift the boat up, but instead constantly adjust the R35 for heel and running attitude, ensuring stability. Princess says the foils also reduce hydrodynamic drag by up to 30 percent, increasing overall performance and that slick feeling underway.
The foils operate independently. Princess developed them in cooperation with BAR Technologies, the group behind Britain’s last America’s Cup vessel. Additionally, computer software running the foils calculates their position around 100 times per second. That’s a lot of math happening at warp speed. Based on my time on board the R35, it all works.
Our R35 was operating in what Princess calls comfort mode. For owners looking for an even more thrilling ride, there’s a second mode dubbed “sport.” Sport mode essentially allows the R35 to lean into those turns. We didn’t run the boat in sport mode, but given my comfort-mode experience, I imagine it would feel something akin to shooting down a mountain in a super-G, heeled over and attacking slalom gates like Lindsey Vonn.
While the foils enhance performance under the water, the R35’s aerodynamic exterior design assists above it. Princess used 3D modeling and computational fluid dynamics to create the R35’s shape, one that, in profile, resembles a knife blade. The sheer line transitions from a fine point at the bow, creating a seemingly straight line down the side that resolves at sweeping wing stations aft. It’s a clever bit of blending of linear and curved lines, creating an aggressive lean-forward look with all the sleekness of a sports car. It makes sense when you consider that auto-design firm Pininfarina (think Ferrari) helped create the R35’s exterior look.
Form follows function as the design allows air to flow over, around and through the vessel unimpeded. Less air drag—like less hydrodynamic drag—means better performance. A raked windscreen directs air over the helmsman and guests, keeping everyone’s hair (mostly) on their heads and reducing noise in the cockpit at speed.
The last bit of the R35’s performance puzzle is its build. It’s made entirely of carbon fiber via resin-film infusion. Resin-film infusion is different from traditional resin infusion used in fiberglass builds. With typical resin infusion, the builder says, the resin flows through the fiberglass cloth. In resin-film infusion, the resin is “already contained within the fabric as layer.” The builder says the carbon fiber is hand-laid up in layers, via dedicated craftsmen, and it is vacuum-bagged and baked in an oven at 80 degrees Fahrenheit for around 12 hours. The essential benefit is that, while resin infusion helps reduce weight by about 15 to 20 percent compared with traditional fiberglass layups, resin-film infusion reduces weight by up to 25 percent. And every pounds counts.
Resin-film infusion also means there is no gelcoat. The benefit, according to Princess, is additional weight savings of about 660 pounds and the elimination of potential print-though issues when the boat is painted.
While mostly known for its yachts and express cruisers, Princess Yachts has shown with the R35 that it has the skills and wherewithal to produce a high-performing sports boat that pushes the boundaries of technology across the board, from the stabilizing foil system to the carbon-fiber build. Will the lessons learned from the R35 see use in the builder’s larger models in the future? It’s possible. But for now, if you get the chance to run the Princess Yachts R35, just go. The fun this boat offers is infectious, and it will leave you laughing long after you go home.
Take the next step: princessyachtsamerica.com
This story originally published in the February 2020 issue of Yachting Magazine
We are used to symmetry, from our bodies to reflections on the sea, but the essence of the Sanlorenzo SL102 Asymmetric is that it is a “half-wide-body” design, with a full-width salon to port and a side deck only on the starboard-side of the main deck. The design is so neatly executed that you would have to look hard, ideally with a pair of SL102s side by side, to see the asymmetry.
There is function behind this form, to be sure. The result is a yacht that is considerably larger both in the salon—Sanlorenzo claims an added 110 square feet of space there alone—and in the on-deck master stateroom forward. As you’d expect on a 102-footer, there is a salon entertainment area with facing couches as well as a formal dining area for eight. But on the SL102, these setups are side by side, rather than fore and aft, as with conventional layouts.
Sanlorenzo also brought the outdoors into the salon with 8-foot-4-inch sliding doors to the starboard-side deck, and with a fold-down terrace that creates an aerie for a pair of chairs and a table above the sea. To further enhance the open feeling, the builder engineered electrically operated sliding panels in the bulwark to port, resulting in an unobstructed 6-by-7-foot picture window next to the 8-foot-long dining table.
But does that mean the crew only has one side deck to work the yacht while anchoring or docking? Al contrario, because Sanlorenzo’s design team created a crew walkway to port that departs the cockpit via stairs and goes up one level, passes the bridge and then comes down on the foredeck. Aside from requiring the crew to ascend and descend, the design’s only change for operating the yacht is the need for longer fender lines to port.
That cockpit stairway, in a corner of the salon, is enclosed in glass as a stylish feature, and its teak steps extend through the glass into the salon with the ends also functioning as shelves.
Forward, the lack of a side deck means the master stateroom has complete privacy to port, while a pantograph door leads to the starboard-side deck and a lounge area forward. The space can be made private with a door to close off the forward deck.
And the master, reached via a companionway that includes the door to the day-head, continues the theme of airiness with a glass-enclosed 36-by-42-inch shower that’s open to the stateroom. Windows on each side of the stateroom add to the breezy feel. The extra width of the SL102’s house allowed room not only for a vanity/desk in the master but also for a pair of Minotti wicker chairs with a cocktail table. They complement detailing such as leather-faced drawers, an inlaid-leather writing pad and fine joinery.
The symmetry of design returns with the accommodations belowdecks, where four guest staterooms mirror one another with athwartships queen berths and en suite heads. One option is to move the master stateroom below, creating a full-beam space plus two VIP staterooms; in that layout, the main-deck space forward becomes a country-kitchen-style galley. Both layouts have two crew cabins and one captain’s cabin, all en suite, with a crew lounge area. The galley can be closed off from the salon with a pocket door and has a pantograph door to the side deck for service fore or aft.
Steps from the galley lead to the raised pilothouse, which has four monitors as well as a pilot berth above and abaft a settee.
An asymmetric feel is also on the flybridge, which covers the side deck below. Two decks lead forward from bridge level, with the port side for crew to transit from the cockpit to the bow via forward stairs. The starboard deck leads to the sun pad covering the forward house. The SL102 I got aboard had an optional slatted hardtop, with louvers that rotate electrically to allow in sun and breeze when desired. A dining table for eight was tucked under the hardtop, with an L-shaped bar with a grill and two fixed stools aft.
The remainder of the bridge is left to an owner’s devices. Aboard this 102, there was a mix of Minotti couches, chaise lounges and chairs.
Power for the SL102 is either twin 2,216 hp MTU 16V 2000 M86s or twin 2,434 hp M96 16V 2000 diesels. The latter were on this SL102, and she ran just shy of 27 knots with a full load of fuel, water and crew. The yacht settled into a comfortable 20-knot cruise speed at an engine-saving 2,000 rpm while consuming 158 gph total, creating a 400-nautical-mile range.
The fly-by-wire electronic steering created some hilarity aboard, as I could one-finger spin the wheel easily from lock to lock. We each took turns slaloming this 102-footer with wide grins on our faces.
Sanlorenzo has created a yacht that is innovative and creative in the face of yachting tradition. More than a dozen of the SL102s have reportedly been sold.
Sometimes, being off-center can be right on target.
Former BMW chief auto designer Chris Bangle joined Zuccon International Project to break the “rules” of yacht design with what has been called the first asymmetric yacht: the Sanlorenzo SL102. It may be the first production-built asymmetric yacht, but Paolo Caliari actually designed a trio of “half-wide-body” custom yachts for Proteksan starting in 2003 with Camaleon B at 139 feet, followed by two 173-footers.
In nautical etiquette, the starboard-side of a yacht belongs to the owner and guests. They board from it, the owner’s flag flies from the starboard spreader, and tenders with arriving guests properly approach from the starboard-side. The crew boards to port, as do service teams arriving for one-off jobs or daywork.
Sanlorenzo SpA is planning to list on the Milan Stock Exchange by year’s end, with chairman and majority stockholder Massimo Perotti using 35 percent of his stake for the offering. He bought the company from stakes owned by Italian and Chinese companies, and continues to retain a 60 percent stake—with 5 percent held by his management team. Perotti says he expects to close 2019 at about $507 million in sales and 55 yachts built.
Take the next step: sanlorenzoyacht.com
I knew things had soured in the Sunshine State when I read the bit in our local paper. The Grim Reaper of foul forecasts—the Weather Channel’s Jim Cantore—was spotted in town doing a live feed. “Twenty-four hours ago, this was ground zero,” Cantore said. Not good.
I’d already begun preparations for the blow, but I had no idea that Hurricane Dorian would mark such a horrible milestone in hurricane history. I’d run from—and suffered the aftermath of—lesser storms, however, having seen the devastation of a Category 5 storm firsthand had changed me. I will never forget Hurricane Andrew.
Our home rests on a 9-foot mound of marl alongside the St. Lucie River, just 2 miles from the Atlantic Ocean. So when we found ourselves in Andrew’s cone of confusion, we took action. My wife, Nelia, loaded the kids and dogs into the car and headed for higher ground. I boarded up the house, loaded the boat and headed north.
I should have hauled the boat and joined my family, but my favorite excuse for investing in a larger boat was that it could serve as a Federal Emergency Management Agency shelter. By the time I left our dock, a tangle of computer models suggested a curve north. But when? It would have been wise to cross the state to give Andrew time to make up its mind, but singlehanding the locks from the flybridge was not a desirable option.
I figured if Andrew chased me up the East Coast, I’d duck into the St. Johns River in Jacksonville and ride it out. The perfect addendum to a dumb plan. I ran out of steam in Titusville, noshed on canned tuna and cold beer, and hoped for the best. By morning, I realized I had lucked out. Southern Dade County, not so much.
I was headed home when Yachting hailed me and asked if I would continue south to provide an account from the water for the readers. I made a brief stop to collect supplies, and I shanghaied a crew with the promise of cheap rum. The lights were out when we arrived in Fort Lauderdale at night.
Read More from Jay Coyle: Tell Tales
Andrew’s impact became clear the next morning as we entered Biscayne Bay. Its usually clear turquoise waters were a milky mess cluttered with debris. Marinas were tangled webs of broken docks and boats. Daymarkers were missing as we threaded our way south to North Key Largo. I’ll never forget the sheer power and randomness of Andrew. I saw a carefully secured motoryacht resting on the bottom, alongside one still afloat that had been left for dead. It was dumb luck.
Only black-and-white images of the 1935 Labor Day hurricane that tore through the Florida Keys compared to my faded Kodachrome images following Andrew. Until Dorian.
Hurricane Dorian dwarfed Andrew in strength and tenacity. Our neighbors in the Abaco Islands and Grand Bahama need our help. If you are able and have not yet offered your support, please do so—and please be generous. Another 80 miles, and it would have been us. Dumb luck.