BOAT TECH

Black Box Style Electronics

black box new leadBlack box boat electronics give you big-boat electronics with a small-boat footprint. You would need a helm station several feet across to fit all the stand-alone units that one small black box system can put on the helm station of a small fishing boat with maybe as little as 1.5 feet of space.

There is a profound functional advantage to a black box system and companion multi-use, programmable display. Instead of scanning a multitude of stand-alone screens, as is necessary with all such units, a black box system integrates displays into one large and manageable multi-purpose display screen. This technology makes your boat feel like a million bucks while helping you assimilate the various vital pieces of information quickly and easily as you simultaneously try to navigate, monitor engine and other systems performance and find fish.

“A black box system gives the flexibility to use virtually any size display,” says Jeff Kauzlaric, Advertising & Communications manager at Furuno. “In some instances, you can plug in two displays, allowing you to clone the display in another area, like the salon, deck or fly bridge. Another advantage that usually comes with a black box is expandability. The black box gives more room for network hubs, allowing you to connect more sensors. Finally, in some cases, the processor inside a black box may actually be faster and more powerful than a stand-alone Multi-Function Display (MFD) with a built-in screen.”

BlackBox #2I put this to Kauzlaric: “I’m trying not to leave out possibilities. Stuff that can be connected to and displayed/controlled by a black box system include: transducer, radar, GPS, engine monitoring, cameras, music systems, auto-pilot and probably a few others. What is the newest gadgetry that can be connected and what am I leaving out?”

His response: “How about tablets and smartphones? Some other items are AIS, Weatherfax, satellite compasses, Sirius/XM Weather Receiver.”

He provided this good link to learn more: http://www.navnet.com/network/index.html.

Marine electronics have become much better marinized in recent years, thanks to better performing materials, so exposure to saltwater spray and air is not the death sentence that it once was. Even so, there is something comforting about mounting that black box computer behind bulkheads and down out of the way of wet air and salt spray. Aesthetics are important because we do enjoy an uncluttered, elegant-looking fishing machine. A black box system allows cables and leads and wiring to pass from sensors to the black box below decks. On the helm station is only a large screen with a cable harness coming from the black box. It just looks great!

Cockpit Organization

When the fishing gets fast and furious during a WFO bite, there is a time when nothing is more important than the organization of a boat’s cockpit. Thoughtful preparation can make or break a bite. It can aid anglers in being effective and help crew be efficient. When not done right, the results are lost fish, stumbling people, tools (gaffs, nets, etc.) where they can’t be quickly accessed and possibly even injury to people and crew.

Blackbox #3The best way to organize a cockpit is to stand and stare at it while in your mind’s eye you envision an all-out hot, wild bite with multiple hookups and people scrambling to control their fish and get as many as possible aboard the boat. Then think about what people and crew members need to do: move freely and quickly around in the cockpit, untangle or cut lines, net or gaff fish, mark and stow the fish, bait up anglers and keep everyone fishing, all the while doling out just enough chum to keep the fish feeding around the boat.

Cockpit organization is all about managing chaos. The nature of the chaos is very different from one targeted fish to another, so rearrange your cockpit each time you go after another species of fish. Salmon fishing requires different tackle and tools than albacore fishing or halibut fishing or white seabass fishing or lingcod and rockfish. Your boat will be far too messy and inefficient if you leave out all gear needed for all the types of fishing you do throughout the year.

Here are a few important tips for organizing the cockpit:

1) Consider reorganizing your rod holders and rocket launchers. Gunnel-mounted rod holders should be mounted at angles to support the types of fishing you do with your boat. If you mostly troll, angle your rod holders to increase your trolling spread. You can buy outrodders to change the angle of individual rod holders for those times when you mooch or sit at anchor and soak baits. Put your rocket launchers where you can get to them, but at angles that keep those stored rod tips out of the way of the action. Rocket launchers mounted at angles that put rod tips back over the fighting cockpit spell nothing but trouble.

2) Remove anything and everything that will not be needed for the type of fishing being done today. Just doing that tends to clear the cockpit and allow some degree of organization to the chaos of a great bite. Only keep what you will need today in the cockpit. Never have spare rods leaning on rails, just in case they are needed. Stow them out of the way, in rocket launchers or in the cabin (when there is a cabin).

Black Box #43) Clear the deck for action! During a good bite, everyone’s focus is outside of the boat; on the rail they have to maneuver along to stay in front of their fish, or at what is coming over the rail. No one is looking at their feet, so any tackle or other stuff that is sitting on the deck will become stumbling blocks. Stow everything safely out of the way of the action. Make people go get the hooks, lures, weights, etc., that they need, out of their boxes which are placed well out of the way of the action. Doing so will save injuries and lost fish.

Here is something that ranks right up there with clearing the deck for action: Keeping the deck clean. When fish start coming over the rail, or bait/chum is dropped on the decks, they get really slippery. It is most often people who are hooked up to fish who move the quickest and slip on the slimy deck. Keep a bucket of seawater at the ready and take a moment to sluice the deck.

 

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Boat Tech

FLIR AX8 Thermal: Engine Room Monitoring

Boaters can gain an entirely new view of their vessel’s mechanical systems with the FLIR AX8 marine thermal monitoring system. Combining thermal and visible cameras in a small, affordable package, the AX8 integrates with Raymarine MFDs to keep a watchful eye on such critical equipment as engines, exhaust manifolds and shaft bearings.

AX8 enables captains to spot problems before they lead to breakdowns and potentially costly repairs. For added safety, the AX8 features programmable alarms for detecting temperature anomalies that can indicate potential fire, water leaks or damaged hoses. The AX8 also features FLIR’s exclusive MSX technology, which adds edges, text and other details of visible imagery to the thermal imagery, allowing boaters to easily interpret what they are looking at. lead

With the growth of AIS target tracking, keeping track of multiple AIS targets in crowded waterways can be a challenge even for the most experienced captains. With LightHouse Collision Avoidance tools, both expert and novice captains can now monitor potential dangerous crossing situations with easy-to-interpret, on-screen graphics, called target interception zones. These zones can also help commercial and first responder vessels track and rendezvous with designated AIS targets. In addition, the latest LightHouse II version brings improved AIS target icons and user interface improvements.

Boaters can now upgrade Raymarine LightHouse II MFDs and connected peripherals by downloading the latest upgrades directly from Raymarine using Wi-Fi. LightHouse II also can deliver software updates to Raymarine autopilots, sonars, instruments and radars, making it easier than ever to keep up-to-date with the latest FLIR and Raymarine technology.

LightHouse II Release 15 is available in the form of a free download on raymarine.com. To learn more about Raymarine LightHouse II visit www.flir.com/marine.

Offered at $1,199 MSRP, the AX8 Marine Thermal Monitoring System was made available in September.

Simrad NSO/NSS EVO2 Multifunction Navigators

Compatible with C-MAP MAX-N+

Global electronic chart provider C-MAP by Jeppesen has announced an available software update for Simrad Evo2 Multifunction Displays (MFDs), making them compatible with C-MAP MAX-N+ 2015 cartography. This update brings an exciting new charting option to users of the highly popular NSO/NSS EVO2 MFDs. The update is now available at no cost to owners of these advanced navigation systems.

The new compatibility with C-MAP MAX-N+ 2015 cartography brings a range of proven C-MAP 4D chart content and advanced features to these navigation systems. For example, avid saltwater anglers running compatible Simrad systems will benefit from Jeppesen’s leading library of High-Resolution Bathymetric (HRB) bottom contour data, now included with MAX-N+ 2015 Local and Wide charts. These detailed contour charts help fishermen effectively target underwater pinnacles, ledges, depressions and other “structure” widely known to concentrate baitfish and predatory gamefish. An added feature allows users to select Custom Shaded Depths making it easy for boaters to distinguish different water areas, whether traveling or fishing.

In addition, Jeppesen’s exclusive Sport Fishing Data provides anglers with a wealth of useful information on wrecks and reefs, including composition, depth/orientation and other details. The Sport Fishing Data in MAX-N+ 2015 also features color Fish ID photos, localized sportfishing rules and regulations and state angling records, putting important, regional knowledge at every angler’s fingertips.

photo 1C-MAP MAX-N+ 2015 provides Simrad users with a wealth of important features developed for safe, efficient navigation, including a world-leading database of high-resolution satellite imagery for coastal areas. Jeppesen’s Harbor and Approach Details, worldwide database of Marina/Port Plans and detailed aerial photos of harbor entrances, channels and inlets provide important local knowledge and enhanced situational awareness for cruisers and fishermen.

MAX-N+ 2015’s Dynamic Raster Charts are another important feature for cruisers and all boaters who prefer the look of traditional paper nautical charts. Included with each MAX-N+ 2015 title, these charts combine a traditional appearance with the unique ability to “open up” and view information on a variety of important chart objects, such as NavAids or hazards.

In addition, Jeppesen’s leading coverage of Bahamian waters—including special charts developed using trusted Bahamas Explorer and Wavey Line data—make C-MAP MAX-N+ 2015 a powerful cartography choice for the legions of sailors, cruisers and fishermen who visit this popular region.

Another key MAX-N+ 2015 feature, Dynamic Tides & Currents, has important applications for both boating and fishing. This information helps anglers time their fishing trips to take advantage of the best tidal currents over shoals, rips and points. This feature is also very important to cruisers to navigate safely through tidal channels or when entering tricky inlets or crossing dangerous bars.

C-MAP MAX-N+ 2015 Local or Wide charts can be purchased through Jeppesen dealers worldwide on pre-programmed micro SD cards, or online through the Navico GoFree website at www.gofreemarine.com.

MAX-N+ 2015 Wide charts provide extensive coverage areas and retail for $299. MAX-N+ 2015 Local charts provide large coverage for most fishing and boating applications for only $199.

To use new C-MAP MAX-N+ 2015 cartography, owners of Simrad NSO EVO2 MFDs must first update to Software Version 4.0. Fishermen and boaters who want to run C-MAP MAX-N+ 2015 charts in their Simrad NSS EVO2 MFDs need to obtain a free online update to Software Version 3.0 for their systems. Both are available through the Simrad website at www.simrad-yachting.com.

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Towers and Rocket Launchers

Boat Tech May 14 LeadPart of the joy and part of the pain of outfitting a new boat is figuring out how to best organize everything you’re going to need to navigate, communicate, find fish, operate the fishing gear, handle fish, process and store fish as well as stow food, drinks, jackets, tackle boxes and lots of other stuff. Planning it all out is a big project, which I usually begin by standing quietly and staring at the boat for a very long time.

In my mind, I’m working through all the scenarios, thinking about what helpful products are available and what will work best to make this particular boat a wildly successful fishing machine. But you have to start somewhere, so let’s look at towers and rocket launchers for now.

A tower—built atop of a boat—places someone up at a height where it is much more effective to scan for surface activity, temperature breaks and far-off bird activity. That, right there, is sufficient justification for the cost of a good tower because you can measure the benefit in fish. That, my friend, is the coin of our realm!

But there is more. A tower also provides numerous places to mount other things that help organize your gear and help streamline your processes, including fishing. For one, the underside of the standing platform of the tower is a good place to mount VHF or single sideband radios and perhaps display screens or standalone marine electronics units such as radar, navigation and fishfinder. Doing so saves valuable real estate on the dashboard, which can become awfully crowded with equipment.

May 2014 #2That dash will still be busy with engine instrumentation, perhaps an autopilot and, of course, the most important piece of navigation equipment aboard: the compass. It is wise not to crowd your compass with electronic devices which can cause compass deviation, which puts you off course.

Other things that can be mounted on the tower and aid in rapid deployment are gaffs and nets. I’ve even seen tackle tray holders mounted in spaces between tower supports. One of the most important things you can attach to your tower is a row or rows of rocket launchers (rod holders). These handy devices really help get rods out of the way, yet readily accessible when the fishing action starts.

One important piece of advice I offer as a seasoned charter captain: Keep those rocket launchers aimed upright, rather than raked back toward the stern. They look really nice angled aft and it is indeed easier to grab the rods they hold at that angle, but it puts those sensitive rod tips right smack in the way of casting.

May 2014 #3One last and very important thing before you strike a deal with a tower builder and sign a contract: Make certain that your boat can handle the change in center of gravity of the combined weight of the tower plus the gear you attach to it and the person you put up there while at sea. In boat-building terms, this issue is called the “righting moment” and can be expressed mathematically. The basic concept is making sure the boat can right itself in heavy seas, even with more weight up high. You may need to talk with your boat’s manufacturer to get an idea of how much weight your tower, all attached gear and personnel should be limited to.

How GPS Helps

Catch More Fish

Ohhh, this topic makes me feel old! Heck, I was fishing from skiffs when all we had was a compass and dead reckoning. Back then, fisherfolk had to put in their time (and lots of it) to find productive spots. It was important to find good visual lineups (such as a certain telephone pole lined up with a break in a rooftop behind it) to find that same spots again. We kept notes … on pen and paper, no less. Hey, at least I was beyond quill, bottle of ink and parchment!

May 2014 #4When conditions limited visibility and we couldn’t see our lineups, we were reduced to compass course and speed/distance/time calculations. Those were flawed because we were really guessing at our speed. Veering off course and coming back to course threw off the calculation enough to miss a smaller reef or wreck. Finding a hotspot again was not taken for granted and successfully doing so was a source of pride.

Back then, I could not even conceive of the electronic advantages of the advanced marine electronics we have today. I began to understand when LORAN C became available to the public. The term “repeatability” became important because we could find a small hotspot again with reasonably good (but far from great) repeatability. In other words, the device would put us within 30 yards or so from a saved spot.

GPS (global positioning system) works relative miracles, especially when combined with scanning sonar and with radar interface that allows us to save a GPS waypoint at a location we spot on the radar. With GPS, repeatability means putting you back right smack atop a small pinnacle sticking up off the bottom and loaded with “lingasaur,” vermilion and copper rockfish. Time to break out the Lingslayer and go to work!

Integrated, networked and “black box” systems allow us to set up routes to navigate treacherous waters more safely than ever before. It allows us to set up a trolling pattern which the boat happily follows for as long as we allow it or until we’ve caught our limits or filled the fish box.

There is always room for improvements in technology and I just have to believe that what the future of electronics holds will be just as mind-blowing as GPS systems were to those of us who fished the old school way. Here is something on my wish list for improvement: GPS chartplotter manufacturers will cozy up to online sea-floor mapping resources (Google Earth is one example and there may be far better ones) so that we can look for topographical anomalies with sea-floor maps and then mark them for our GPS units to do a much better job of taking us to exactly that spot.

Hey, it’s a thought.

 

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Interview with Daniel Spencer on the new 62′

April Lead PhotoThe Miami Boat Show is the best in the world. There are literally miles of the finest sportfishing machines ever built. Imagine a row of 50 yachts all lined up–boats that just scream blue marlin fishing! Then cross over to the next dock and see another row of 50 in the same class or even better.

Mix in Miami weather, South Beach night life, and a healthy stock of sailfish and swordfish within 15 miles of your hotel, and you have the makings of an Atlantic paradise.

#2While Bertram, Viking and Hatteras shine in the production yacht category, my favorites are the Carolina customs that dominate the tournament circuits in that part of the world. These customs are in a class of their own, and one who has turned his family’s fishing passion into a custom yacht building business is Paul Spencer of Spencer Yachts.

Captain Spencer grew up fishing the waters off the Atlantic and started working as a mate at just 12 years of age. At 19, he got his captain’s license and earned a living in the charter business and competing in local tournaments where he quickly became one of the top captains in competition.

In 1996, Spencer decided to try his hand at boat building. Drawing on his years of charter-boat experience, he combined both performance and function into elegant “Carolina Style” craftsmanship. The Spencer Yachts style also draws influence from other areas and has evolved into something unique.

The result of his efforts has been a series of progressively innovative, masterfully crafted sportsfishing yachts that Spencer Yachts is known for today. Paul is happily married to his high school sweetheart, Shelly, for 39 years and they have five children and 12 grandchildren.

#3During this hectic Miami Boat Show schedule, I managed to track down Paul’s son Daniel Spencer for some feedback on their new Spencer 62. Captain Daniel is also a skilled captain and mate and has won numerous tournaments throughout his ongoing fishing career.

He has worked in the family business since graduation from high school and enjoys the building process of each boat. Daniel is the “go-to” man representing Spencer Yachts in tournaments. He has two children with his wife, Rebecca.

Here is the text

of that interview:

Daniel, tell us about the Volvo IPS 1200’s on the 62-footer

“These Volvo IPS power systems are new to the sport fishing industry. We did our first hull with Volvo IPS six years ago, which was a 43. I ran the 43 for a guy for several months prior to us selling it and it took some time to get used to the joy sticks–especially when backing down on a fish. I was used to working the throttles and steadying the wheel some. With the IPS pulling more from the center of the boat you learn to steer the boat with the joy stick.”

How does the wake look on the Spencer hulls with the Volvo IPS power?

“I think they are actually a little bit cleaner. The props are smaller in diameter and they are also closer to the hull’s center line which gives it cleaner lanes where the flat lines are supposed to be–especially when we’re bait fishing. We also have the low speed by-pass which you can turn on to get rid of the exhaust bubbles and have them run out above the water line. Other times when you are steaming or booze cruising and you don’t want the smell of diesel fume exhaust around the boat, you can turn the bypass on so the exhaust fumes are underwater and out behind the wake.”

#4The 62’ has a center mounted fighting chair for tackle up to 130-pound class. It also has a cockpit bench seat for crews to watch the trolling spread. What other sportfishing features were built into this hull?

“Depending on what you are doing, this cockpit was designed to handle the heavy tackle 130’s from the chair and there is also plenty of room for stand-up style fishing. Depending on customer preference, when building these boats we design everything about the boat to meet their style of fishing.”

The bridge is designed with the ladder on port side. Tell us about this design feature.

“Depending on your ladder application, many are built with the latch type that will take away space for a helm chair. Our boats tend to get a little bit narrower on the bridge as you get up top–I like the way it looks; the sleekness of the boat–versus many custom boats that do a ‘shoe box’ look on the bridge.

Our boats do the opposite and get narrower on the bridge. We don’t have as big a bridge when compared to a production boat like a 61-foot Viking or a Hatteras.”

#5Thanks Daniel, for your time. I can hear engine in the background, so I know you are literally pushing off the docks for a sea trial.

“Thank you. One last thing on the Volvo IPS power systems, one of the biggest advantages is the amount of room we save in the engine room. The IPS are literally tucked under the mezzanine. On the 57’, check out the virtual tour, where there once was an engine room is now another stateroom. Everybody wants more room out of their boat today, so we switched the fuel tanks and moved them up forward and moved the engines back.The pod is 33 percent more efficient. That Honda (Spencer 62’) at 40 knots burns only 88 GPH at wide open throttle. You’ve got the capability to be cruising in the 31 to 34 knot range and burning from 50-60 GPH in a 60-foot, four-stateroom boat. So there really are a lot of different pluses in that power system. We can build these boats with a lot more range and a very fast cruise. If your weather window is short, you don’t have to carry extra bladders or anything like that and can steam out at 30 knots the whole way there and you are burning less fuel, which everybody loves in this day and time.”

After reading about the epic blue marlin fishing a couple hundred miles offshore Costa Rica last season, this is the boat I would want to live that dream. Having seen first-hand Spencer’s fish raising ability, speed and overall sleek “Carolina” classic lines, Paul Spencer and family know how to build custom sport fishers for any gamefish in any ocean.

Learn more about Spencer Yachts at spenceryachtsinc.com.

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