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Vol 49 | WINTER ISSUE | Jan 1, 2024

2023 Year in Review Chum Lines Ship to Shore The Galley Issue Photos
Ship to Shore

Article by Capt. Steve Katz

2023 Season Summary and 2024 Thoughts

This Mid-Atlantic season started with full marinas and a lot of new or recently added used boats in the Ocean City area. Seems there were many boats bought and sold locally, keeping their local hailing ports. Both of our local custom sportfish builders, Duffie Boatworks and Titan Custom Yachts launched new builds this season. Hopefully you got a chance to see these beautiful boats at Sunset Marina. Thankfully, this spring and early summer season did not have the supply chain shortages as we have experienced in the past. The local boatyards remained busy with service projects through the season. Besides some engine part shortages, it did not seem like any boats were excessively delayed getting ready for the Mid-Atlantic fishing season. When it comes to the marine electronics industry, most of the manufactures have caught up on the supply chain, and even the most popular products and accessories were in-stock. Some of the major manufactures, such as Furuno and Garmin have introduced new products that are readily available.
We still have a shortage of skilled labor in the marine trade and other industries around the world. Those who planned winter and spring projects well in advance were the ones most likely to be finished on schedule.

One manufacturer expanding their marine offering is Dometic, who has slowly been buying other manufacturers, including products in the following sectors: Air Conditioners, Blinds, Soft Furnishing, Refrigerators, Galley, Toilets, Holding Tanks & Pumps, Engine Control and Steering Systems. The Dometic air conditioning and steering systems are the most popular products and have seen upgrades and new models introduced. They recently introduced a new air conditioner product line - the Voyager. It is a variable capacity, self-contained air-conditioner allowing you to quickly cool or warm with superb efficiency. Once the temperature has reached the desired set point, the compressor will run at a reduced speed. This results in quiet operation, energy savings, improved dehumidification, and a constant temperature for ultimate comfort.

When it comes to the helm, Both Garmin and Furuno have recently introduced larger multifunction displays. Furuno introduced 22” and 24” (TZT22X and TZT24X) displays in their NavNet TZtouch3 product line. Garmin now offers the industry’s largest multifunction display a 27”, one of the new GPSMAP 9000 series product line.

Finally, this fall we saw availability return for the most popular omni style sonars from Furuno and Simrad. Both the Furuno CSH8LMK2 unit and the Simrad SY50 are currently available for purchase. By the looks of east coast boatyards, there is a steady stream of 8” sonar tubes being installed for omni sonars.

SpaceX launched its first batch of Starlink internet service satellites in 2019. Adoption of the service has ballooned since then. The company indicates they currently have more than 2 million active customers and service is available on all seven continents in over 60 countries. For those who are not familiar with Starlink, the company offers broadband internet service beamed to earth from orbiting satellites to a terminal (antenna) on your boat, home, office, or airplane. There were some early marine adopters using land-based hardware and subscriptions with good success until terms and conditions changed. Since then, Starlink has continuously changed hardware and subscription offerings, but changes have recently settled down and the current maritime offerings have remained the same for a few months. While everyone seems to have a different need and budget for internet connections, the maritime antenna and 50GB metered plan seem to be the most popular for offshore sportfish boats. The coverage is only getting better as Starlink expands by adding satellites on a regular basis, each Falcon 9 rocket launch typically carries 23 Starlink satellites into low earth orbit.

When it comes to saltwater trolling motors, Minn Kota and Rhodan have cornered the market for years and not surprisingly Garmin introduced their Force® Kraken this summer, indicating that it is the most powerful trolling motor the recreational fishing market has ever seen. Coupled with Garmin’s most precise anchor lock technology, Kraken is designed with longer shaft lengths and a pivot-style mount for easy installation on boats where bow space is limited, like skiffs, bay boats and center consoles boats. Available in 63”, 75” and 90” shaft lengths with dual voltage (24v/36v) brushless motor generating up to 100 lbs. of thrust.

Seakeeper, the leader in gyroscopic stabilization, introduced a few new models this year, the 4, 4.5 and 40. The Seakeeper 4, for boats ~38-44 ft., and the Seakeeper 4.5, for boats ~40-46 ft., were designed to maximize angular momentum or gyroscopic power, per cubic inch. In terms of physical footprint, the new models are 7% smaller and can fit into the same space as the Seakeeper 3, making the Seakeeper 4 a viable trade-in and upgrade option. The Seakeeper 4.5 fills the gap in the current model lineup for boats with generators, offering an option that’s 30% smaller than the current Seakeeper 5 and Seakeeper 6 models. These two new models operate on the same platform but incorporate different motors, drives, and electronics to allow the Seakeeper 4 to operate on DC power and the Seakeeper 4.5 to run on AC power, giving boaters options based on whether their specific vessel has a generator onboard.

Seakeeper also introduced a new product line this year, the Ride system, a first-of-its-kind Vessel Attitude Control System (VACS). While these may seem like just another interceptor style trim tab, the Ride system is designed to be installed in the same location as traditional trim tabs but operates completely differently than other products. The features of the Ride far outperform traditional trim tabs and other similar self-leveling systems on the market. Traditional trim tab systems simply do not have the speed, technology or sensors required to constantly maintain a stable ride. Often, wave motions occur too quickly for trim tab adjustments. Utilizing Seakeeper Ride’s proprietary software and hardware, the Ride rapid-deployment rotary blades make 100 adjustments every second to combat wave motions, resulting in a smooth level ride calibrated to your boat and desired running attitude. A demo ride this summer in Ocean City quickly showed how effortlessly the boat jumped onto a plane and immediately leveled out, drastically different from running the same boat without the system activated. Even with people moving side to side while underway, the boat always remained level.

Sounder heave compensation - have you noticed your sounder produces a jagged bottom return in rough seas or high swells? Garmin now offers heave compensation (as Furuno and Simrad have for a while) with some of their product combinations. In wavy conditions, the image of the sea floor on the sounder screen may rise and lower with the vessel as it is affected by waves. You can activate the heave compensation feature to adjust for the sea condition and provide a steady sounder image. To use the heave compensation feature a compatible transducer, chartplotter and satellite compass is required to process the bottom return to compensate for the heave action of the boat.

Have you heard about SIONYX? They introduced their first consumer marine product last fall, the Nightwave marine low light camera for enhanced vision at night. SIONYX, has been around for a while, it spun out of a Harvard laboratory in 2006 when they discovered black silicon to improve the sensitivity of silicon-based photodetectors and image sensors in low-light and night-vision applications. Most of their previous work has been with US military applications and now consumer products. The Nightwave is not a thermal camera, it uses a unique optical sensor (CMOS) that can provide a color picture in extreme darkness. The camera gathers available ambient light such as the moon and stars in conjunction with local man-made waterfront light, to provide an impressive view that can be displayed on a multifunction helm display. Another notable feature is that this compact camera is priced below other similar “night vision” cameras.

When it comes to marine electronics, as past Chairman of the Board of the National Marine Electronics Association, I would be remiss if I did not mention the annual NMEA product of excellence award winners announced at the NMEA fall 2023 conference. If you have any of these products on your boat, you have made an excellent choice, and if you are shopping, be sure to consider the listed award winners. NMEA members cast votes for their choice of the best in each category, this year’s winners are:

2023 Product of Excellence Awards
- Marine VHF—Icom M510 Class D DSC
- Satellite TV Antenna—KVH TracVision UHD7
- Radar—Furuno DRS4DNXT
- Fishfinder—Furuno DFF3D Multi-Beam Sonar
- Satellite Comm. Antenna—KVH TracNet H60
- Marine Camera—Teledyne FLIR M364C
- Multi-Function Display—Garmin GPSMAP 8616xsv
- AIS—Vesper Marine Cortex M1 smartAIS
- Multimedia Entertainment—Fusion Apollo MS-RA770
- Autopilot—Garmin Reactor 40 with SmartPump
- NMEA 2000 Sensor—Furuno SCX20 Satellite Compass
- Remote Monitoring—GOST GNT-Evolution
- Marine PC Software—Nobeltec TimeZero Pro
- Safety Device—Garmin GPSMAP 86sci Handheld
- Wi-Fi/Cellular Device—Wave Wi-Fi Tidal Wave
- Commercial—Furuno FAR2228BB IMO Radar
- Marine Specialty—Furuno CSH8LMK2 Omni Sonar
Manufacturer of the Year Awards
- Actisense won Manufacturer Level 1&2 (small to midsize company)
- Garmin won the Manufacturer Level 3 award for large Manufacturer
- Best New Product Award - Furuno’s FCV800 fishfinder.
NMEA Technology Award - Sensar Marine’s Boat Monitor

What is ahead in 2024?

The newest Garmin GPSMAP 9000 series will certainly gain traction, introduced this fall, it is an all-new series with 4K resolution displays up to 27” and incorporating gigabit ethernet, called Garmin BlueNet™, similar to the NMEA OneNet. Other new Garmin BlueNet™ compatible products are now available, such as sounders, radar, and networking devices. Unfortunately, this also means that some existing products are being discontinued. If you have an older Garmin system and want to expand, be sure to check compatibility and integration requirements when mixing and matching different vintage products.
Most manufacturers typically introduce new products during the winter/spring boat show season and when it comes to chartplotters/multifunction displays – the heart of the boat’s helm, I would expect other manufacturers to introduce new products now that Garmin has a new product line.

Multifunction display software updates are still a terrific way to breed new life into your existing hardware. As an example, Garmin has issued new marine software 3 times since July 2023, and while it is not imperative to update immediately, often new useful features become available.

Plan ahead in 2024 to keep your boat up to date with maintenance, technology and of course, fishing gear. Whether safety, maintenance or just a desired upgrade, there are numerous modern technologies and products that will help keep your boat in good condition and help to provide owners, captains and anglers a safe and productive fishing trip. §

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