Here’s a look at some of the latest products likely to change the way we boat and fish.
Recent advancements in materials, product designs, marine electronics, wireless communication/networking and outboard engineering have been pushing the paradigm for how we fish and run our boats. This month we will take a closer look at a handful of new, breakthrough products that will radically change the way we approach one of our favorite pursuits.
Navico Information Display
Navico, the parent company to the Lowrance, Simrad, B&G and C-MAP brands, recently announced the launch of a brand new category of marine technology — the information display (ID). Ushering in a new dawn of integration for boaters and marking a significant evolution of the multifunctional display (MFD), IDs combine a sleek design with a configurable interface that simplifies monitoring and control of onboard systems, all with a look and feel that is as unique as the vessel itself.
A new, advanced, configurable graphic user interface acts as the heart of the information display. Presenting the information boaters need, when they need it, the experience-based software features pre-defined contextual modes that display all relevant data for the current boating situation. Pre-defined modes include System Checks, Cruising, Anchoring and Water Sports. Custom modes can also be easily configured to buildspecifications to best accentuate the utility of an individual vessel or to complement any boater’s passion (e.g. sport fishing, cruising, tournament fishing and more). Consisting of a bonded-glass display and a powerful integration hub, information displays will be available with a choice of Lowrance, Simrad or B&G electronics. Each solution consists of one or multiple displays bridged together to function as one integrated system. The centralized hub uses Ethernet, WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity along with Sonar, USB, CAN and NMEA 2000 ports to connect to all onboard systems. Long-life display technology and an easy-to-upgrade hub installation simplify the change-out process for upgrades, which can be more challenging with off-the-shelf marine electronics products. This also ensures display compatibility across several model years for boat builders, with an upgrade path for owners. Lowrance, Simrad and B&G information displays will debut in 2019 with models from notable builders around the globe. For more information and OEM details, visit www.navico.com
Yamaha 425 XTO Offshore V8 Outboard
The new XTO Offshore is the result of years of Yamaha’s OEM collaboration with top boat manufacturers and has been built from the ground up to provide the ultimate in power and efficiency offshore. Available in three different shaft lengths (25, 30, 35inches), plus two stock colors (dark gray and pearlescent white), it offers the ultimate in installation flexibility when mounted on large 30-plus-foot sport fishing boats in pairs, triples or quad applications.
As the first four-stroke powerhead in the outboard industry to use direct injection, the V8 XTO Offshore sprays fuel at high pressure directly into the combustion chamber, rather than using an intake track/intake valve setup. This improves atomization and increases the effectiveness of the fuel burn for maximum power and efficiency. The direct injection system features five fuel pumps and injection pressure up to 2900 PSI to ensure proper fuel flow, even at high engine RPM. Yamaha’s V8 XTO Offshore also boasts the highest compression ratio in an outboard at 12.2:1.
In addition to an oversized gearcase, hardened gears, a robust, offshore bracket and motor mounts, the Yamaha 425 V8 XTO Offshore outboard also features proven plasma fusion technology for durability and lighter weight, eliminating the usual steel cylinder sleeves. This outboard also has a two-stage water pump and dual chamber oil pump, each designed to respond to heavy loads and high RPM operation. Dual overhead camshafts on each cylinder bank are connected via a self-tensioning chain immersed in an oil bath for accurate valve timing and long life. The V8 XTO Offshore has an integrated electric steering system with no hydraulic lines or linkages, responding more quickly than conventional systems to steering inputs. In addition, integrated electric steering means reduced power consumption, clean rigging and a very orderly bilge area. The new V8 XTO Offshore outboard also features an integral electronic steering control unit that receives signals from the steering cylinder position sensor to carry out joystick and steering operation with an optional Helm Master. This beast is fueled by 89-octane gasoline, backed by a five-year limited warranty for pleasure use. For more information, visit www.yamahaoutboards.com
McMurdo SmartFind G8 EPIRB with AIS
The McMurdo SmartFind G8 AIS EPIRB is a great safety addition to your bluewater sport fishing vessel. The G8-AIS EPIRB has a built-in 72 channel GNSS (GPS) receiver along with the world’s first Quadrotech EPIRB technology, which allows this device to operate on four different search and rescue frequencies, thus enhancing the alert, locate, track and recover aspect of a rescue situation. It’s the first EPIRB to offer standard 406MHz, 121MHz, internal GPS and AIS. When combined with GNSS/GPS coordinates, the G8 will receive a broad range of satellite constellations helping rescue teams to home in on your location more efficiently. Adding AIS to the mix allows local search and rescue teams to accelerate alert detections and ensure faster rescue times.
This G8-AIS CAT II EPIRB device is manually activated by removing the device from its SmartTransfer bracket and activated, but can also be automatically deployed and activated when removed from its bracket and the unit makes contact with water. The G8-AIS offers a SmartTransfer manual bracket that allows the G8 to be transported without activating the water switch. Staying in compliance with the US Coast Guard, the G8-AIS offers a SmartCarry, hands-free easy carry strap for transporting the device safely. Other notable features include 10-year battery life, multiple self-tests, 72 Channel multi-constellation receivers and an international rescue frequency. Once your unit is registered, it’s backed by a five-year warranty. For more information, visit www.mcmurdogroup.com.
Garmin has upped its game with a next-gen version of their popular Panoptix platform, the PanoptixLiveScope. PanoptixLiveScope is a real-time, live-scanning sonar that gives anglers higher resolution and easier-to-interpret images of structure, bait and fish swimming below and around the boat than ever before. Garmin’s revolutionary Panoptix all-seeing sonar technology was the first to deliver live sonar images in real time: forwards, backwards, sideways and below the boat, even while stationary. Now, thanks to the active scanning capabilities of PanoptixLiveScope, anglers can see images and movement so clear and precise that it’s even possible to distinguish between species of fish.
Like other Garmin Panoptix transducers, LiveScope features two modes in one transducer, LiveScope Down and LiveScope Forward, and can be installed on a trolling motor or the transom (recommended only for LiveScope Forward). Depending on the angler’s fishing preferences and techniques, LiveScope can easily be adjusted to change views. Simply point the LiveScope transducer down to see directly below the boat, or forward to see around the boat. Either view provides incredibly sharp, real-time scanning sonar images up to 200 feet down or away from the boat, even when the boat is stationary.
The PanoptixLiveScope scanning sonar system includes a compact GLS 10 sonar black box with an LVS32 transducer and a simple plug-and-play Garmin Marine Network connector for easy installation and integration with a compatible Garmin chartplotter. A trolling motor barrel and shaft mounting kit and a transom mounting kit are also included. PanoptixLiveScope is compatible with Garmin’s ECHOMAP Plus 7Xcv/7Xsv/9Xsv chartplotter/sonar combo series, as well as the GPSMAP 8400/8600 multifunction displays, GPSMAP 7400/7600, GPSMAP 10X2/12X2, GPSMAP 12X2xsv Touch and GPSMAP 7X2/9X2 series chartplotters. For more information, videos and images, visit www.garmin.com/panoptix.
Founded in 2003 by a naval architect/entrepreneur, Seakeeper is a global leader in marine stabilization. Seakeeper’s innovative gyroscopic stabilization technology changes the boating experience by eliminating up to 95 percent of all boat roll, the rocking motion that causes seasickness, fatigue and anxiety. The big news for 2018 is that Seakeeper introduced the downsized Seakeeper 2 at the Miami Boat Show this past February. This newest and smallest Seakeeper is designed to eliminate up to 95 percent of boat roll on 27-to32-foot vessels. The Seakeeper 2 is 25% lighter (414 pounds) with a 22% smaller footprint (24.8” L x 25.5” W x 20” H) than their previously smallest model. The Seakeeper 2 will run exclusively on 12-volt DC power with a price of $22,700. The unit’s relatively small size allows it to be installed virtually anywhere, with many center console fishermen opting for a leaning post replacement, which can be done with no major structural modifications.
Seakeeper works by producing a counteracting force that helps eliminate the effect of wind and waves on your boat. Inside a vacuum encapsulation, a flywheel spins at speeds of up to 9,700 rpm. When the boat rolls, the gyro tilts fore and aft, producing a powerful gyroscopic torque to port and starboard that counteracts the boat’s roll. Seakeeper’s patented cooling system allows the flywheel to spin at an extremely high rate of speed, providing ultimate performance in the smallest and lightest package possible. The critical components (flywheel, bearings, and motor) are sealed in a vacuum chamber and are isolated from the marine environment for long life and durability. A newly-designed touch screen control panel, with an intuitive user interface, allows users to capture real time performance information to make adjustments. I sea-trialed the Seakeeper aboard the Grady-White Canyon 456 Center Console at the Miami Boat Show and with 15 people standing on one side of the vessel, the Seakeeper counter-balanced the roll impetus and worked as advertised. For more information, visit www.seakeeper.com.
Furuno Fish Finders with RezBoost Technology
Furuno has incorporated a fantastic boost in clarity to its basic echo sounder units like the FCV628 and FCV588 with RezBoost technology.RezBoost is a revolutionary new signal processing technology developed by Furuno that improves resolution and target separation when using conventional narrowband transducers. This allows anglers the ability to spot individual gamefish surrounding bait balls, as well as fish holding close to the seabed floor. With the dual-frequency (50/200 kHZ) RezBoost technology, not only can users experience higher resolution and crisper visuals on their color display, but also improvements in the ACCU-FISH function.
With RezBoost the capabilities of conventional narrowband transducers can be dramatically improved. Compared to conventional FDF signal processing techniques, a RezBoost sounder produces an image that is up to eight times clearer. A TruEcho CHIRP Fish Finder requires a special transducer and produces an image that is up to 10 times clearer when compared with FDF. However, RezBoost works its magic using a standard conventional (50/200kHZ) narrowband transducer, just like the one you probably have installed on your vessel. Of course, the picture you actually get will be dependent on the quality of your transducer installation, the depth of water, the depth range selected on your machine, the frequency selected and the speed of your boat. RezBoost technology is currently offered on the FCV628 and FCV588 Furuno fish finders, as well as on the recently introduced GP1871F and 1971F combo Chartplotter/Fish Finders. For more information, visit www.furunousa.com.
Mercury V-6/V-8 Four-Stroke Outboards
Mercury Marine has introduced a comprehensive line of multiple 3.4L V-6 and 4.6L V-8 outboard engine models, specifically the 175, 200 and 225hp V-6s and 250 and 300hp V-8s in five configurations (FourStroke, Pro XS, Verado, Racing and SeaPro commercial). These next-generation outboard engines were five years in the making and are part of the largest single new product development program Mercury has undertaken in its nearly 80-year history, prompting a major investment in expanding its manufacturing footprint. Along with the 3.4L V-6 family released in Miami, the new 4.6L V-8 engines offer boaters a variety of options from 175to300 horsepower. All of the new engines are made in the USA at Merc’s Wisconsin manufacturing facility. These newbies are naturally aspirated and feature large displacement powerheads that have been designed to save weight and are incredibly lightweight, with the XL versions of each engine weighing only 485 pounds (V-6) and 539 pounds (V-8), so they should prove to be an excellent choice for boaters retrofitting older tired two-strokes.
The V-8 and V-6 models offer class-leading displacement and a performance-inspired dual overhead cam design that delivers instant throttle response and immediate power. A single throttle body and long, performance-tuned intake runners pack more air into the cylinders to boost torque. These new outboard motors also feature Transient Spark Technology, which optimizes spark timing to produce more torque during hole shots. Advanced Range Optimization improves cruise-speed fuel efficiency by automatically adjusting fuel delivery so seamlessly the operator won’t feel or hear it. Patented closed-loop fuel control uses a wide-range oxygen sensor to optimize the air-to-fuel ratio during all operating conditions.
With Adaptive Speed Control these new Merc V-6 and V-8 outboards maintain a desired rpm regardless of changes in load or condition (such as rough conditions, tight turns, lower planning speeds, etc.) without needing frequent adjustments to the throttle lever position, which is a first for the outboard industry. A convenient top cowl service door, another industry-exclusive, simplifies routine maintenance with easy oil checks and oil fills without removing the cowl, and also houses the latch release and a carrying handle. And there’s more good news, unlike some competitor’s high output four-strokes that require premium fuel to operate, the new Mercury V-6 and V-8 outboards deliver peak performance and reliability on less expensive 87-octane fuel. I plan on upgrading my MarCeeJay with one of these new Mercs for next season, so stay tuned. For more information, visit www.mercurymarine.com.
Humminbird SOLIX 15 Chirp Mega SI GPS
With a massive 15.4-inch display and leading technologies like Chirp Digital Sonar, AutoChart Live, Bluetooth networking, Cross Touch and the new HumminbirdBasemap, the SOLIX 15 Chirp Mega SI GPS model is a mouthful, but brings new capabilities to coastal anglers.
Mega Side Imaging and Down Imaging offers unprecedented under water clarity of coverage out to 125feet on either side or directly under your boat. You’ll unlock new details with up to three times more output than standard Side Imaging or Down Imaging Sonar. Humminbird’s Chirp Digital Sonar is engineered to help you see individual fish, clearly identify bait and structure and reach greater depths and range. The SwitchFire Sonar feature allows users to take command of how the sonar returns appear. With two display modes, you can add or remove detail, account for water depth, temperature and turbulence, even watch lure presentations, all at the push of a button.
The Solix 15 Mega’s Dual Beam PLUS Sonar combines two beams for great detail and a generous coverage area, helping you identify fish, structure and contours. Operators can use the narrow beam for high-accuracy returns of fish, structure, detail and the bottom profile, while the wide beam covers a larger search area. You can view the beams separately, side-by-side or blended together for the complete picture. The coverage area will be equal to the current depth.
The Cross Touch Interface gives fishermen the choice of controlling the fish finder using either the touchscreen or the keypad. Any menu navigation you can do on the touchscreen can also be done on the keypad and vice versa. Humminbird’s enhanced standard basemap provides a clear view of underwater terrain and surrounding points of interest, so you can fish and navigate with total confidence. It includes charts of more than 10,000 lakes, plus coastal coverage for the U.S. The AutoChart Live feature creates real-time maps of your fishing spots, with access to patented HumminbirdLakeMaster features. Anglers can map depth contours, bottom hardness and vegetation driving between fishing spots, with eight hours of built-in recording time. A high-speed Ethernet allows operators to build a powerful, professional-grade fishing system to connect multiple fish finders, or upgrade to add-on technologies like Minn Kota i-Pilot Link, Minn Kota Talon, 360 Imaging and Chirp Radar. Bluetooth networking will display notifications on the Solix 15 Mega’s big screen. For more information, visit www.humminbird.com.