Part 3: A Reliable, Proactive Approach
By Capt. Patrick Sciacca — March 2002
Prices start at about $1,795 for the cell system and $3,595 for the deluxe with cell and satellite. Service costs run from $39 to $70 a month, depending on how often the system reports.
Laser Plot, which has been in the monitoring game a long time, connects you to your boat through the Internet with the help of satellites, namely GPS and Inmarsat-D+. There is no black box.
Having had the opportunity to actually use its Marine Track system for a brief time last summer, I can say it was accurate with regards to positioning. My boat’s location was updated every 15 minutes while underway, and when I returned home I was able to log on to the password-protected Web site and recall my day’s journey as well as earlier voyages. One morning I even got a call from Laser Plot asking me how the fishing was, as the rep recited my location from the day before. (And I thought I was alone that day.) When the boat was stationary, a little red blinking light displayed her location on a chart displayed on the Web site.
Although I utilized Laser Plot’s Marine Track only for positioning, the company says the system can currently monitor one parameter such as high bilge water with a serial port tie into the Inmarsat-D+. In the event that the sensor is triggered, the message is sent via transceiver to Laser Plot, which then informs the owner. Laser Plot says it plans to add a black-box system with an embedded GPS chip (like the other systems listed here) in the near future. The system will work similarly to the Watchman and Sea Trac, gathering information from an array of sensors. The black box will also allow boat owners to log on to the Marine Track Web site and remotely make adjustments to onboard systems such as air conditioning, refrigeration, engine stop, and lights.
The Marine Track system retails for about $1,995; service fees start at $25 a month and can run to $100 a month depending on how many position fixes you want and what systems you wish to monitor.
There’s always a chance that your boat could take on water, be stolen, catch fire, or be damaged by a storm, and if you’re not there to take care of it, you could potentially lose all that you’ve invested in her. Remote monitoring technology provides a reliable, proactive approach to keeping tabs on your boat, which gives you peace of mind that generations of boaters never dreamed of. Chances are you’ll never receive an alarm call from your boat, but even if you don’t it’s nice to know you can always log on and say hi.
GEOSat Solutions Phone: (954) 922-9585. Fax: (954) 925-1033. www.geosatsolutions.com.
Laser Plot Phone: (508) 757-2831. Fax: (508) 757-1424. www.laserplot.com.
Wireless Watchman Phone: (305) 597-5000. Fax: (305) 597-5005. www.wireless-watchman.com.
This article originally appeared in the February 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.