Game Changer?

Twin Disc challenges pod drives with a smooth, quick joystick system for shaft-drive boats.

Most likely, it was the eyebrow that got me. I was winding up a pleasant dinner with a boatbuilding friend at the recent Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show and gabbing about one of my favorite topics—the super-sophistication of

Sea-Me Dual Band

Sea-Me, the popular RTE (Radar Target Enhancer) or “active radar reflector” has been dramatically improved. The new Sea-Me Dual Band does exactly what its name suggests: it responds to both of the frequencies that are used by ships’ radars.

Until now, commercially available RTEs responded only to X-band radar transmissions. This meant


ACR Electronics has introduced what it describes as the newest generation of Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs) in the shape of the AquaLink PLB. Although less than six inches long and thus truly pocket-size, the newly approved AquaLink features an integral 66-channel GPS. Once the unit is triggered, the lat and lon provided by its GPS should guide rescuers to

When To Go Manual

Most of the time fishfinders work great on auto mode. But not always.

Fishfinders don’t just find fish; they also find the places fish are likely to be, like reefs, wrecks, and drop-offs where baitfish and predators gather. But sometimes they need a little help to do their job.

Fishfinders produce short pulses of high-frequency sound that

Make A Call, Save Some Cash

Onboard satcom is now cheaper than cellphone service.

Did you know that it is now cheaper to phone home from the Bahamas or the Virgin Islands through a shipboard satellite terminal than it is through a cellphone?

Verizon, for instance, charges $1.99 per minute for calls from the Caribbean to the United

Night Eyes

Eat all the carrots you want. Your eyes still can’t match the power of thermal imaging.

Need proof of how well FLIR’s infrared technology works? Compare the views of the same bridge abutment (above): on the left as viewed with the naked eye, on the right using infrared technology.

We’ve all brought a flashlight up on

Avoiding Disaster

True Motion displays like this one have come down from the big-ship world. For collision avoidance, switch to the unit’s relative-motion mode.

One foggy May morning, a few years ago, a 900-foot container ship heading westwards at 25 knots collided with a 40-foot yacht called Wahkuna, which until a few minutes before the collision,

DeLorme Handheld Charting

DeLorme launched its first handheld unit less than two years ago, but has already followed up with two more.The most recent is the midrange Earthmate PN-30.

Like last year's range-topping PN40, the new model has a 32-channel GPS chipset for quick and reliable lock-on,and a dual-core processor to minimize the time it takes to redraw charts or aerial

Electronic Sentinel

Ever get the offshore heebie-jeebieies? I used to, back when I was running oceangoing tugs. The malady typically started with an imaginary change in engine pitch while we were underway after dark. Then a series of equally imaginary doomsday scenarios would ensue, usually featuring collisions (resulting from burnt-out running lights), oil spills (caused by pump problems), and sinkings (due to

KVH Tracphone FB150

KVH has joined the growing list of suppliers that are offering phone and Internet services through Inmarsat's new Fleet Broadband 150. With a dome that is just 13.5" in diameter and that weighs a little over 11 pounds, the Tracphone FB150 is the smallest and lightest of KVH's family of Inmarsat satellite broadband systems.

Described by the company as

Upgrade or Download?

It’s always nice to buy presents for the one you love—even if it is difficult, sometimes, to persuade your wife that the boat needs a new plotter more than she needs that designer purse.

But maybe you figure that now isn’t the best time to be spending big money on electronics upgrades. Well, the good news is that you can often significantly improve your

Apollo II HD and Standard Horizon’s Plotter/Fishfinders

Apollo II HD

OceanView Technologies has added a new dual-sensor camera to its line-up of night-vision systems.

As the name suggests, the Apollo II HD is a high-definition version of the company’s popular Apollo II. Like the Apollo II, the HD combines a thermal-imaging camera with a highly sensitive low-light camera that is capable of

Iridium Openport

After conducting extensive beta-testing that included sending five terminals around the world in boats competing in the Vendee Globe single-handed sailboat race, Iridium has launched the world’s only global broadband service.

Called OpenPort, the new service provides three independent phone lines and an Internet connection at anything up to 128 kilobytes

GPS Ailing and Failing?

Garmin Colorado 400C still better than a sextant even if the GPS is getting old ($599.99 MSRP; www.garmin.com)

There is growing concern that GPS performance may soon start to degrade, as the Air Force struggles to keep its constellation of aging satellites in operation.

It’s been more than 30 years since

A Fatal Error

The ill-fated fishing vessel Lady Mary, docked at her home port of Cape May, New Jersey, before the incident.

EPIRB manufacturers around the world are urging owners to make sure their distress beacons are properly registered. The warning follows the loss of the scallop dredger

Sunny Days

In this enviro-conscious age, everybody’s aware that the sun is a great source of free, clean energy. Which is why there are scads of handy chargers out there, from small multi-purpose versions to laptop-friendly models, that let you power your personal electronics using only solar rays. Rather not fire up the genset? Then why not embrace the end of outlet dependency?


The latest addition to Icom’s lineup of handheld VHFs is the IC-M36, a waterproof, floating radio with a couple of extra features specifically intended to minimize the effect of background noise. One is a noise-cancellation system similar to those found on headphones from Sony and Bose. A second microphone on the back of the radio picks up background noise, which

Hazardous to Your Health?

Garmin pulsed radar

The microwaves that reheat your coffee are very much the same as those transmitted by marine radars, so it isn’t too far-fetched to believe that they could “cook” anyone who gets in their way. And we all know that some types of radiation can produce deformities in unborn children or trigger the


Ask anyone who’s ever dropped their cellphone in the drink: Water and electronics do not mix. But before you’re forced to replace yet another waterlogged gizmo, take a gander at these splash-proof personal electronics. From a wireless MP3 player that works when totally submerged to a protective pack that’ll help keep your iPhone safe, we’ve got the goods on the newest waterproof technology. Why

Garmin VHFs

Long known for its navigational electronics, Garmin is now about to enter the VHF market with two fixed-mount radios. Pre-release information describes the VHF100 as an entry-level radio, but at $250, it’s definitely full-featured. It’s waterproof, has a large 3.2-inch screen and straightforward controls, and can handle NOAA weather alerts as well as the usual

The End of the GPS Monopoly?

Russian technicians fit a cluster of three Glonass satellites to a booster rocket.

Sometime in the last few years of the 20th century, a new term was added to the everyday vocabulary of ordinary Americans: GPS moved from James Bond movies to the dashboards of cars and trucks, the handlebars of motorcycles, and the backpacks of

Search and Rescue

In January, thieves ran PWCs up to a 35-foot Fountain that was docked in Fort Lauderdale, cut her lines, and quickly towed her away. Within seconds, the boat’s owner received a text message on his cellphone alerting him to the fact that the vessel was on the move and providing her exact positioning, speed, and heading. Armed with this information, he contacted

Customizable Monitoring

Nauticomp glass-bridge displays give a great aesthetic to this yacht’s bridge.

Few will argue that the iPhone doesn’t represent a giant leap in digital technology. Its LCD touchscreen with myriad applications allows owners to download an entire album, listen to it while checking the tide tables, and even have songs automatically

Automatic Autopilot

John Redmond of Redmond Marine Electronics in Destin, Florida, does some pre-assembly in Betty Jane’s saloon.

Hand-steering my 1988 Grand Banks 32 Betty Jane for hundreds of miles down the eastern seaboard some years back qualifies me for a profound appreciation of autopilots. Certainly, the trip was physically onerous,

Radio Days

Everyone understands the importance of a VHF radio. A fixed-mount unit provides a key communications link to other boaters, the Coast Guard, and local police. If you travel offshore, a VHF may be your only means of requesting assistance. On the other hand, if disaster strikes or your boat loses power, a portable handheld VHF could make the difference between inconvenience and calamity.