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Brian Hartz

Navionics celebrates 30 years in business this year, but instead of resting on its laurels, the company has taken steps to incorporate bold new innovations into its navigation technology. Gone are the days of navigating via paper charts, and if mapping companies like Navionics have their way, soon we’ll navigate using smartphones and tablets, which will not only sync with plotters but also transmit updated chart data continuously in real time to make boating safer for everyone.

At the Miami International Boat Show in February, Navionics founder and president Giuseppe Carnevali discussed its crowd-sourcing initiative that seeks to improve ICW chart data from Maine to Florida. The ICW’s bottom contours can shift as a result of hurricane seasons, strong tidal fluctuations, changing currents, and other acts of nature, as well as manmade changes such as construction and dredging. To address inaccuracies, Navionics conducts its own surveys with privately funded teams, and leverages its customers with a combination of two technologies: SonarCharts and Community Edits.

Navionics SonarCharts allow mariners to record and share their sonar logs while cruising, fishing or just motoring around. Collected data is uploaded to a massive repository of charting data where complex algorithms select the most reliable soundings and scrub them against other data collected in the area, producing an up-to-date chart. In addition, Navionics’ app allows users to contribute improvements using Community Edits. Stumble upon a wreck, a spill or some other hazard not currently available on your chart, and with a few taps you can add a marker and notes to instantly share it with the entire Navionics community. These edits also become part of the overall data collection effort, which should result in enhanced content and peace of mind for recreational boat owners, the company claims.

“We have a community of customers numbering around 3 million,” says Carnevali. “About 100,000 of them are actively contributing to Community Edits. That’s a lot, especially if you consider that Wikipedia, for example, has something like 0.01 percent of users contributing to the content. Our participation is orders of magnitude higher.”

Thanks to the input of this community, Navionics’ ICW charts will feature up-to-date commanding depths, vertical and horizontal bridge clearances, accurate speed limits, vertical overhead cable clearance, updated coastlines, and improved shoal presentation, plus daily improvements to bottom contours, suggested routes and the Magenta line. And with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) ceasing to produce paper charts as of April 2014, Navionics hopes to lead a mapping revolution both for and by the boat owner.

In some countries electronic charts are already considered legal replacements for paper charts, and apps are eclipsing the web in terms of mobile data usage, so bringing the two technologies together makes a lot of sense. Using the company’s GoFree Wireless protocol, the revamped Navionics Boating app interfaces wirelessly with Raymarine and Navico-brand chartplotters (Simrad, Lowrance, B&G) and can download new charts that blend with the user’s existing chart collection, thereby ensuring all chart data is as current as possible. It’s useful off the water as well—routes, tracks and waypoints remain available on the user’s mobile device even after being downloaded to the plotter.

According to Carnevali, in 2013 Navionics’ app was accessed about 40 million times. This high level of usage led Navionics to believe that mobile apps represent the latest “disruptive technology” that stands to revolutionize the way boating enthusiasts enjoy their time on and off the water. But Carnevali stresses that the medium cannot be the message—that content must evolve to take full advantage of modern devices, and not merely be repackaged.

Giuseppe Carnevali.

Navionics founder and president Giuseppe Carnevali.

“When a new technology becomes available—a disruptive technology—people tend to do, for some time, the same old thing but on the new technology,” he explains. “When TV first came out, it was basically radio plus an image. It wasn’t really TV the way we know it now. When smartphones first came out they did things the same way it was being done on the web. Now with apps, [smartphones] are evolving into something very different. The same has been happening with nautical charts. From paper to raster to vector to mobile. The world is changing. It makes me happy that we initiated that.”

Download Navionics’ new app for free to view the worldwide chart coverage available for purchase from the iTunes App Store and Google Play for Apple and Android mobile devices. Boat owners who already own the previous version, Marine & Lakes, will get all the new features of Navionics Boating for free the next time they update their app. navionics.com

By Brian Hartz, Southern Boating May 2014

New powercat reaches for the sky

By Brian Hartz

Horizon Yachts’ powercat lineup leapt to the forefront at February’s Miami International Boat Show, showcasing two versions of its impressive PC60 model. Founded in Taiwan in 1987, Horizon has been known for some time as one of the Asia-Pacific region’s leading custom boat builders, turning out an impressive array of both mono- and multi-hulled yachts, with a bevy of awards to back up its reputation.

The latest PC60, dubbed the Skylounge version, boasts a fully enclosed flybridge that will appeal to buyers looking for a spacious, highly stable option for coastal cruising or, depending on engine selection, long-range passage-making. It’s well suited to island cruising with wide, uncluttered decks; a bridle to minimize swinging at anchor; and ample stowage fore and aft for copious amounts of water toys, and diving and fishing gear.

“The power catamaran market is expanding,” says Stuart Hegerstrom, founder/director of the Powercat Company, which represents the Horizon line of powercats designed in collaboration with Lavranos Marine Design and JC Espinosa Yacht Design. “We’re seeing people trading up from sailing cats and down from larger monohulls,” he explains. Horizon has sold nine PC60s so far and took two more orders at the Miami International Boat Show in February 2014. Hegerstrom says the appeal lies in the boat’s maneuverability, use of space, sleek profile, stability, efficiency, quality of build, and customization options. “The fit and finish are fully customizable,” he says. “You’re limited only by the structural bulkheads and your imagination.”

Painstaking is the word he used to describe the process of designing the boat’s profile. “I did not want it to look like another boxy catamaran. Someone who’s spent this kind of money wants to feel that at least they’ve bought something that looks good.”

Southern Boating joined Hegerstrom aboard the PC60 Skylounge for the return trip from Miami to Fort Lauderdale, where the boat would dock until its next public appearance at the Palm Beach International Boat Show. This four-cabin, three-head layout includes guest staterooms to port and starboard, a master stateroom amidships on the main deck level, and a smaller aft cabin sized for children in the starboard hull, which could also be outfitted as a utility room. The starboard guest stateroom has a queen bed while its port counterpart is outfitted with twin beds that can also be converted into a queen. Settees in the saloon and Skylounge convert to double beds, providing a versatile range of accommodations for owners fond of entertaining. There’s a version of the PC60 Skylounge on the drawing board that features four queen staterooms—each with its own ensuite head. “That layout has the galley forward, a nice big saloon to starboard, and dinette to port,” Hegerstrom says. “And you cut away part of the main bulkhead, so visually, when you walk into the boat, you see all the way forward to the front windscreen. That would be the preferred charter version.”

Because catamarans can make use of their entire beam for living space by the very nature of their hull form, the volume of accommodations found on the PC60 rivals that of a much larger vessel. Hegerstrom says it measures up well against an 80-foot monohull in terms of living space, and its aft deck is comparable to single-hulled vessels in the 100-foot range. At 60′ 9″ LOA, it’s aimed squarely at a particular subset of owner-operators, says Hegerstrom. “The boat’s appeal and what we feel is an opportunity in the marketplace is the owner who previously owned an 85- or maybe 90-footer, and is tired of having four to five crew and the cost of running the boat, but isn’t prepared to give up the amenities and space—and could have it all in one package for a fraction of the cost.”

Room for provisions won’t be a problem as the PC60’s aft starboard galley is equipped with a top-notch Subzero refrigerator plus two freezer drawers, four-burner GE stove, a convection/microwave oven, and dishwasher, nine drawers, and four large cabinets. Just forward of the galley and down a short set of steps is an Ariston washer and dryer firmly ensconced in the starboard aft bulkhead.

The master stateroom—accessed via a starboard companionway—offers a panoramic view out the forward windscreen. The cabin itself is stuffed with thoughtful touches, including spacious cedar-lined closets, plentiful under-bed storage, and a split head to port with shower and full vanity forward (with swivel seat for shaving, hairdressing, etc.) and a toilet aft.

Ascending a starboard spiral staircase in the saloon leads to the yacht’s Skylounge, a highly livable space protected from the elements. With a full L-shaped settee and dinette table, 37-inch flat-screen TV, mini-fridge, and day head, there’s no need to scurry below when foul weather hits. The Skylounge’s aft sliding door has a built-in safety catch that stops it halfway—keeping it from slamming shut on a child or anyone else caught in transition between indoor and outdoor spaces. The sliding door on the boat’s main level that separates the saloon from the aft deck is similarly constructed; however, it needed to be completely locked while under way to keep it from sliding open. This very minor flaw has since been corrected, Hegerstrom says.

The helm station impresses with its elevated Stidd command chair and full suite of Garmin electronics. In an era in which helm seating sometimes resembles a couch, it’s nice to see a helm with a single seat that’s solely dedicated to the helmsman and the vital task of driving the boat, though Hegerstrom says an additional helm chair can be installed upon request. To port of the helm is a chart table with fully adjustable LED reading light—another welcome nod to the tried-and-true art of seamanship.

Though not protected from the elements, the flybridge’s aft deck is no afterthought. It sports a two-burner Gaggenau grill, plenty of storage and an ES1000 Steelhead marine davit. And it’s more than spacious enough for several deck chairs plus a table for alfresco dining.

It took several hours to get out into open water as we had to inch our way—along with dozens of other vessels—along Indian Creek to depart the boat show, but the go-slow time was a chance to put the PC60’s twin 715-hp Caterpillar engines and Side-Power bow thruster to good use. As we fell into line, the boat could be steered without even touching the helm. Just push one throttle forward while leaving the other in neutral to turn, then correct any over-steering with a tap of the thrusters. Easy.

After making the turn out into the Atlantic and getting clear of the chop stirred up by the boats around us, we settled into cruising speed, engaged the autopilot and sat back as the engines burned about 24 gallons of diesel per hour. Of course, we made the run as a light ship with fuel tanks half full, minimal crew and very little in the way of provisions, but still, the performance and fuel efficiency were impressive. “There’s far less resistance on two skinny hulls than one big hull,” explains Hegerstrom. “You’re pushing less water, so for a similar displacement it requires less horsepower to move the boat forward and get up to speed.” The ride was ultra-smooth: no spray kicked up onto the forward windscreen, and there was no need to walk around the edges of the cabin holding onto something for balance—even at 20 knots.

With the PC60 Skylounge, Horizon has managed to package the luxuries and amenities of a much larger yacht into a hull that two people can easily handle—no small achievement. For potential buyers open to options outside of the box of classic monohull yachts, Hegerstrom says it’s a no-brainer. We concur.

Specifications

LOA/LWL: 60′ 9″/52′ 6″
Beam: 24′ 6″
Draft: 4′ 9″
Weight (Displ.): 74,200 lbs.
Fuel/Water: 1,000/300 U.S. gals.
Power: Twin CAT C12A 715HP
Cruise/Top Speed: 18/23 knots
Range: 400NM @ 18 knots/900NM @ 9 knots
MSRP: $2.65 million

Contact:

info@horizonpowercatamarans.com

horizonpowercatamarans.com

 

 

Southern Boating April 2014

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