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The Internet of Boats

internet of boats will impact all boaters

The Internet of Things (IoT): By now, you’ve probably heard of it and know it’s a thing. This concept of hyper-interconnectivity and information sharing between everyday items such as washing machines, refrigerators, lamps, wearable items, engines, roads, bridges, and more is looming on the horizon. What it means is still a mystery, but one thing’s for sure: It will impact our lives in subtle and not-so-subtle ways, and that includes boating connectivity.

Always stretching the boundaries, marine electronics’ firms are developing a specific subset of the concept that could be called the Internet of Boats, and it’s all coming together in your multifunction display (MFD).

The cost of connectivity is decreasing as broadband Internet becomes widely available. Today, most devices are integrated with multiple data-gathering sensors and WiFi capabilities so they can capture and share information. It’s more than just about connecting people to people; it’s connecting things to things. Anything with an on/off switch and an Internet connection can become a part of the IoT, so think what that means on your boat. Lights, pumps, engines, security and navigation equipment can communicate with each other and also with entities off the boat. Sounds like the Internet of Boats.

Data sharing means engine and boat builders, accessory suppliers, dealers, service providers, and cruisers can have access to more information. Therefore boats, engines, and equipment can be built with less complexity so more cost effectively, and everything has the possibility of becoming more efficient, secure, social, and definitely user-friendly. For the cruiser, this may translate to increased confidence that your engines are healthy, that you have the latest navigation software and that the response time to fix problems will be shorter. That means you have a more supported adventure every time you untie the dock lines.

Yamaha partnered with Garmin to power its CL7TM multi-touch display.
Yamaha partnered with Garmin to power its CL7TM multi-touch display.

Your boat can talk to you as well as to a dealer or a search-and-rescue provider. You can set geofencing boundaries so you know where your vessel is at all times. Your engines can remind you of scheduled maintenance or warn of impending problems. Digital switching systems like CZone can send reports on bilge pump cycles and battery levels. You can unlock enhanced features like Doppler radar on existing MFDs with remote software access keys without your boat needing to go in the shop or you having to purchase additional expensive hardware.

None of this is really new, but what is different is the recognition of the power of the sum and the importance it’s bringing to the MFD. The MFD is evolving as the single point of convergence and problem solving aboard. Engines, radar, charting, and digital switching for onboard accessories are now brought into the MFD for both control and diagnostics. You can turn on your lights and stereo, check the weather, view remote cameras, review alarms, get engine diagnostics, and navigate—all from the MFD. This wealth of information hasn’t gone unnoticed by electronics manufacturers like Navico (makers of Simrad, B&G, Lowrance), Garmin, Furuno, and Raymarine, who understand that he who owns the “glass” owns the data and thereby basically controls not only the boat but also the value chain and the ultimate cruiser experience.

Challenges remain. First, boating is a relatively small industry with few consumer dollars at stake, so it won’t lead the IoT revolution. But to not take notice of it would be a mistake, even in our application. Second, data is great but unless someone can monetize it, nobody will have the incentive to pursue its development. Simrad is working to share information with engine manufacturers who in turn, can build engines better and faster so they’re willing to pay Simrad for it. Charter companies are in on both sides since they can gather more data to share because of the volume of users. They can also benefit from the distilled data coming back to better predict maintenance requirements so that their boats are always ready to go out and produce revenue.

Third, onboard sensors can generate vast amounts of data, but that won’t make boating better unless someone figures out how to turn it into real information to build stronger, cheaper, cleaner, friendlier, and more efficient products. Marine electronics firms get this. Finally, although much of this happens behind the scenes, an intuitive user interface is critical so that cruisers want to get involved and enable the process. You already see MFDs mimicking the functionality of personal electronics like smartphones and tablets with pinch-to-zoom touchscreens and swipe commands. Expect to see more app-driven functionality to pop up on your chart plotter soon.

If you think all this will make boating efficient, fun and more like the rest of our lives, you’re probably right. If you think future boating will become more complex, interdependent and possibly invasive, you’re probably right. Either way, it’s all most likely to happen right on your MFD, so upgrading electronics in the future will get you more than just new charts. The waters are still murky, but whatever it means, it’s coming. Boating will not be the same, and neither will your MFD.

— By Zuzana Prochazka, Southern Boating Magazine April 2017

Jeanneau Leader 46

Jeanneau Leader 46

Solid performance, thoughtful layout, and maximum livability define the Jeanneau Leader 46 express cruiser.

We idled out of the long, straight channel leading north from Kent Island Narrows into the Chester River on the eastern side of the Chesapeake Bay. I pass the No Wake signs, push the throttles forward smoothly, and the boat seems to lift up onto plane with very little bow rise as though it was elevated from the hull’s center of effort. I wasn’t surprised considering that the hull form on the Jeanneau Leader 46 is a collaborative effort between brothers Japec and Jernej Jakopin of J&J Design in Slovenia and the naval architects of Jeanneau Design. Three pairs of lifting strakes flank a wave-cleaving, sharply raked stem with deep-V forward sections, a significant chine that widens aft to provide additional lift on acceleration, and a modified-V planing surface beginning well aft of amidships. Additionally, there’s a distinct spray rail that begins at the stem and extends to the transom for a very dry ride on plane.

“It may seem surprising that a global boat manufacturer like Jeanneau collaborates with outside companies like J&J,” said Nicolas Harvey, president of Jeanneau America. “But the reason is sound. Ten years ago, when Jeanneau produced a 45-foot cruiser, the fully loaded boat weighed 10 tons. Today’s fully loaded luxury 45-footer weighs 15 tons, so we asked J&J to design and engineer a hull of approximately the same size that can carry more weight without increasing the weight of the platform.”

The throttles were synched to a pair of Volvo IPS 600 diesel drives—the most powerful engine option among the two stern drives and two IPS drives offered—producing a total of 870 horsepower at wide-open throttle. The Chester River was beautifully smooth that day, and the boat topped out at 30 knots in just moments. I eased the throttles back until we settled in at a cruising speed of 20 knots and began a series of turns to create a boatload of messy wakes for crisscrossing at speed. As I expected, the sharp entry slashed through the mess with ease as is normal with a high-performance hull shape.

If you’ve read about or driven an IPS-powered boat, you know that the steering is smooth and continuous. The angles of the individually azimuthing drives serve as rudders to create optimal performance and control. As a result, the Leader 46 handles flawlessly at speeds right up to wide open throttle, banks beautifully into turns all across the upper and middle power bands, and settles into straight and true tracking with precision.

This model was loaded with numerous options, not the least of which was an alternate seating arrangement on the aft deck; its standard configuration is a fixed sunpad flanked by twin boarding stairs leading up from a fixed swim platform. This boat was equipped with an optional hydraulic swim platform, an outdoor galley on top of the standard garage for a small RIB, and facing bench seats in place of the sunpad.

With extra cushions and a convertible table, the aft deck seating transforms into a second outdoor sunpad supplementing the pad forward. The foredeck sunpad is equipped with handholds, drink holders and two adjustable seatback sections for leisurely lounging. Teak decking is standard on the swim platform, the steps and the aft deck, and our test boat had optional teak side decks for good looks and comfortable footing.

It is thought-provoking that the European builder provides dedicated life-raft storage on the aft deck, a CE safety requirement for those going more than six miles offshore. Most American cruising families never consider a life raft as necessary and instead, they opt to use the RIB dinghy as a safety platform. That’s okay if you can launch the RIB and get into it across a broad range of weather conditions.

The nicest option, in my opinion, was a glass aft bulkhead with a large central panel that swung upward using a hidden, electrically-powered mechanism—a nice bit of design work that transforms the usual sundeck on an express cruiser to an upper salon. Locked in place and with the starboard side door opened and latched inward, the aft bulkhead virtually disappears and serves to bring the outdoor and indoor spaces together. An optional canvas piece extends sun protection for the entire aft deck seating area.

Stepping into the upper salon, a large, beautifully upholstered, contemporary-styled, C-shaped seating and dining area is to port, and an outdoor galley is to starboard. It is noteworthy that this area is on one level continuous with the aft deck stretching all the way to the cabin entrance. To ensure that guests seated here have great views all around, the seating is slightly raised up. The same concept applies to the copilot and helm seating areas for longer, clearer views forward—albeit they are raised somewhat higher. The forward half of the upper salon can be bathed in sunlight and fresh air with an optional electrically actuated sunroof. Two sliding windows also promote cross breezes.

The copilot seating area is cleverly arranged for multiple uses and offers an aft-facing lounge-style seat outboard and a forward-facing, two-person bench. Pull the spare cushion from its dedicated storage slot below and drop it into place, and the seating transforms into an inside sunpad, shaded or lit according to the position of the sunroof and also well protected by the windshield.

The helm of the Leader 46 is well designed, with a twin bench that is actually two separate adjustable seats with flip-up bolsters. There’s plenty of standing room for better views all around the boat. A thoughtfully placed, stainless-steel hand-rail makes getting in and out of the helm seating more secure and offers some protection for the system switches ahead of it. The factory-installed Raymarine-based electronics package is anchored by a 12-inch multifunction device (MFD) screen to port of the adjustable-tilt steering wheel. It also had the necessary add-ons like a VHF, autopilot and radar. The throttles and an IPS joystick are outboard of the wheel for ease of maneuvering, along with a full range of engine performance gauges. A compass on top of the dash ahead of the wheel completes the total command and control effort.

Companionway stairs with stainless steel hand rails lead down to the true salon of the Leader 46, with another seating and dining lounge to port and a well-equipped L-shaped galley to starboard. The guest stateroom is in the bow; a nifty double berth can be reconfigured as a V-berth when not needed for a couple. It is served by an enclosed head to starboard. The master stateroom is aft, making the Leader 46 just right for a family with two children or for a couple and occasional overnight guests. Of interest to those who have a larger family, Jeanneau Leader 46 offers the option of replacing the lounge seating to port with an enclosed third cabin complete with over and under berths.

The large double berth in the master stateroom is set to starboard slightly, making room for a port-side head that cleverly separates the head from the enclosed shower on either end of the sink with storage in the center. Frosted glass doors for the separate compartments swing outward to form a glass partition—a clever design solution.

Jeanneau has a long-standing relationship with the Italian design and engineering firm Garoni Design that developed the sleek-looking profile of the Leader 46. Sporty exterior lines and practical in-hull windows illuminating enclosed cabin spaces below achieve a contemporary look overall. All of that is quite an accomplishment given the wider beams and higher topsides most family cruisers have today.

If you’re considering a new express cruiser, the Jeanneau Leader 46 is worth exploring. As the flagship of a line that ranges down to a new 30-footer, it has the performance and livability most cruising families seek.

— By John Wooldridge, Southern Boating Magazine April 2017

Living Large On Largo

Playa Largo Resort & Spa

Called the “pearl of the Florida Keys”, Playa Largo Resort & Spa radiates with luxury. 

In 1948, Hollywood legends Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall and Edward G. Robinson starred in a movie directed by John Huston that was speculated would trigger a land boom in the area for which the film was named, Key Largo. But the island had never been officially established as a municipality and was more commonly referred to as Rock Harbor, the name of the bay on the south or oceanside of the island. The movie’s release motivated the area’s residents to relocate the post office to mile marker 100, and the area was formally named Key Largo in 1952. That little-known historical gem—as well as dozens of others spanning more than 400 years—is the inspiration behind the newest waterfront and boating-accessible destination resort in Key Largo, Florida.

Opened in 2016, Playa Largo Resort & Spa is the 100th property in the Marriott Autograph Collection of more than 400 boutique hotels and resorts. Playa Largo is also the exclusive brand’s first new build and the first new building in Key Largo in more than 23 years. The Autograph Collection’s tagline, “Exactly like nothing else” is more than fitting. It’s literal. Each property is designed with its own unique story crafted from its environment, indigenous makeup and historical background. Mark Calibo, Director of Sales & Marketing, was tasked with developing a creative vision with the objective of building the “perfect” Autograph.

“If we were in colonial Williamsburg, there would be Revolutionary time period influence in the build, theme and décor,” explains Calibo, who grew up in the Florida Keys. His extensive research went back to the 1600s since the first written notation of “Cayo Largo” was on a Spanish navigation map from that time period. Consequently, the Spanish influence of explorers such as Juan Ponce de Leon and Columbus played a large part of the resort’s creative design in dining and landscaping.

The décor especially reflects the Spanish mariner life. Their ships were built with false interior walls to use for attaching bed frames for officers, and the resort uses contemporary versions in the accommodation’s rooms behind headboards and mirrors, like nautical artwork. In the lobby, hanging chairs are vertical reminders of the horizontal hammocks sailors would sleep on so that they’d move with the ships’ rocking. A compass rose on the marble floor surrounds the fountain, and nautical-themed accouterments are everywhere you look: ship-style lanterns, frosted glass bottles, wooden oars, crab pots, and other curious treasures. “In the 1600s, the Spanish had established their path, already pillaged much of South America, hit the Pacific coast, made their way back, and the trade routes brought them to the Florida Keys. They had the gems and riches but did not have the most important commodity, water, which was more valuable to get them back to Spain,” Calibo details. Their voyage brought them to an island they named Islamorada (“isle of purple”) for its colorful bougainvillea, which is found throughout the resort. Contrary to the pillaging nature of the Spanish explorers, the resort’s construction took great care to protect the existing natural landscape, birds, insects, and other critters.

“Hammocks are mini-ecosystems. Gumbo limbo trees were counted and could be moved but not destroyed. They’re part of the Keys and have been there longer than the people,” says Senior Sales Manager David Cohen during our tour. To illustrate his point, we duck underneath the large branch of a sea grape tree that hangs over and shades the walking path. Instead of moving the tree for convenience, they chose to incorporate it into the landscape design. For guests, this innocuous and seemingly inconsequential detail lends to an atmosphere of peaceful co-existence, as if the path and the sea grape tree somehow cooperate with each other. A little further, a path of coarse sand and small pebbles detours off the pavement and leads through the trees. It, too, feels organic to the property, especially with the small tree that’s smack dab in the middle. The path runs along the entire perimeter and serves as a small nature hike; ultimately the trees will be marked as to their species, many of which were in existence at the time of the Spaniards’ arrival.

The Spanish influence is also evident in Playa Largo’s dining options. During their travels to South America, Spanish explorers learned the Peruvian method of preserving fish to sustain them and added spices for flavoring. The popular fish dish is now known as ceviche and, along with sushi, is the menu focus for one of the resort’s three signature restaurants. Las Olas (“the waves”) is off the lobby and Sunset Terrace, and it’s a popular meeting place for healthy, light meals and drinks. La Marea (“the tides”) is the newest fine dining restaurant in the Florida Keys and a true steakhouse. Sol (“sun”) by the Sea offers open-air casual dining with a spectacular view of the water and marina. (Boats should draft less than 4 feet, but call ahead for dock availability.) Under the restaurant, Caribbean Watersports operates all non-motorized watersports—pedal boards, paddle boards, kayaks, Hobie cat sailboats—as well as sunset cruises, parasailing and eco-tours of the Everglades. The concierge can make arrangements for world-famous snorkeling at John Pennekamp State Park and dive trips to see the bronze statue Christ of the Abyss in the Natural Underwater Sanctuary—the country’s first underwater National Park—as well as to Molasses Reef and other notable spots.

The restaurants’ menus—and some of the specialty treatments in the Ocean Spa—also take their cues from another mariner, Captain Ben Baker, who lived in the Keys in the mid to late 1800s. Captain Baker was a true seafarer and also a salvager who made his living from taking valuables from shipwrecks. In the Florida Keys, it was a profitable business until anti-piracy laws drastically affected his revenue stream. The entrepreneur imported pineapples from his contacts in Cuba intending to distribute throughout the U.S., but he didn’t anticipate how quickly the tropical fruit spoils. He learned from his Cuban shippers how to cultivate new plants using the tops of the pineapples and bought 160 acres of land around mile marker 97. Captain Baker became not only a farmer and plantation owner but also one of the top pineapple barons of his time. At Playa Largo and with a nod to Captain Baker, a glass jar of fresh pineapple mojitos are always in the lobby—there’s also a non-alcoholic option—to welcome arriving guests. Restaurant menu items include pineapple salsa with plantain chips, Mahi filets grilled on pineapple planks (compared with salmon grilled on a cedar plank) and drinks served in classy pineapple-shaped copper mugs.

In the early 1900s, Henry Flagler’s vision for an overseas highway brought his class and culture to Florida, including Key Largo, which was established as Camp #1 for the workers. Flagler’s circle of friends—J.P. Morgan, the Vanderbilts, Julia Tuttle—were the upper crust of society and looked the part in dress and tradition, some of which continues at Playa Largo. Staff at many of the Keys’ resorts dress in very casual attire, but at Playa Largo, male staff typically dress in sharp, pressed, Guayabera shirts. The deluxe accommodations—10 bungalows plus a larger beach house with private pool—are separated from the hotel towers, and a fulltime concierge looks after their every need. Even the daily tradition at sunset is different than what occurs at Mallory Square in Key West, with its vaudeville-type performers and hawkers. Instead, a polished silver bell located between the pool and the beach is rung exactly 30 minutes prior to sunset, then again when the sun disappears below the horizon. Immediately afterward, the fire pits are lit. Guests bring s’more kits they bought in the gift shop and roast marshmallows over the fire, while others watch Key Largo on a 25-foot drop-down screen over the pool. Playa Largo’s daily sunset tradition celebrates the cosmic event that’s occurred every 24 hours since the beginning of time in a manner that is civilized, refined, and yet casual Keys.

If you’re one of the fortunate to be invited to a wedding, business function or other special event held at Playa Largo, the enjoyment of your relaxing day at the beach, snorkeling the reef or diving adventure continues into the evening in the Tavernier Ballroom. The carpet brings to mind azure water washing over the sand, and the chandeliers resemble bubbles rising up, like you’re still under the water on the reef. Just outside, the grassy lawn hosts receptions for sunset weddings held in the gazebo, dinners for upscale business meetings and, in October, the 2nd Annual Humphrey Bogart Film Festival. Bogie would be pleased. You will be, too.

INFO: playalargoresort.com

Soundproofing Your Boat

Soundproofing Soundproofing your boat for quieter cruising

How to install soundproofing for quieter cruising

For most, boats are a way to escape the rat race of terrestrial life and an opportunity to enjoy time with family and friends on the water. Relaxing can be difficult, however, when you have to scream over engine or generator noise during conversations or while lying awake at night, listening to the melodious hum of an air conditioning unit. Installation of soundproofing can make a huge difference in onboard noise reduction. Here’s how to transform the hullabaloo of your boat into the peace and tranquility of a floating Zen garden.

The best way to combat noise is by containing it at the source—within an engine compartment, for example. Installation of a good-quality foam soundproofing barrier can reduce engine noise by 10-35 decibels (about 65 percent). Soundproofing material is available in a wide variety of forms, from sprays and paints to foil-backed foam panels. Foam panels are a popular choice and one that’s very effective against airborne noise pollution.

Self-adhesive panels are easy to install (just peel and stick), but you have to plan and position them exactly where you want them the first try, as once they’re in place, you typically can’t reposition them without damaging the foam. Non-adhesive backed panels require spray or brush-on contact adhesives. Most allow a bit of last-minute repositioning, making them easier to work with in tight spaces. Regardless of the adhesives used, panels also require the use of mechanical fasteners (such as screws and fender washers) particularly for overhead horizontal installations. (To prevent gripping and tearing of the foam, wax the screws by running them into a candle prior to use.)

Soft sound shields, such as this one from GSi, provide both installation flexibility and significant noise reduction.
Soft sound shields, such as this one from GSi, provide both installation flexibility and significant noise reduction.

Soundproofing panels can be cut to shape with a box cutter or razor knife but a serrated knife blade will provide a cleaner cut of the foam material itself. Thin sheets of soundproofing material can also be cut with a pair of quality scissors. To ensure the best fit (and avoid cutting snafus), make cardboard templates first to check fit and for use as a cutting guide. Be sure to dry-fit everything prior to applying adhesives or peeling self-adhesive panels.

When planning your installation, remember that sound flows like water meaning you’ll want to use special seal or joining tape that’s provided by the manufacturer to prevent “leaks” at panel joints, etc.

Cables and hoses penetrating the material should be sealed using tight-fitting rubber grommets, while any access hatches should close snugly with a good, tight seal. That being said, any soundproofing installation must provide adequate ventilation for the engine. Required vents and air holes can be quieted using air baffles.

It’s not realistic to expect all noise to be eliminated once soundproofing is installed, but when done correctly you should be able to carry on a conversation at normal volume levels and you’ll notice your cruising becomes much more serene. After all, who wants to yell when trying to relax? Namaste!

Installation tips:

• Read all instructions (soundproofing, adhesives, etc) before starting your project.

• Make templates to check fit prior to cutting panels. Be sure to allow for material thickness at corners.

• Ensure your installation provides adequate ventilation and keeps insulation material above bilge water levels. (Avoid exposure to any wet areas.)

• Provide a minimum clearance of six inches between soundproofing and engine or generator exhaust manifolds.

• Use sharp tools when cutting sound proofing in order to produce clean cuts and also to avoid tearing of reflective foil. The foil or silver facing side should face upward when cutting.

• Handle soundproofing material carefully and avoid folding the material back on itself, which can cause creasing.

• Seal all exposed edges with seam tape to prevent water or other contaminates (fumes, oil, etc.) from entering and degrading sound proofing material.

• Don’t rely on adhesives alone. Use fasteners where appropriate (all overhead and vertical surfaces) to ensure backup in the event of adhesive failure.

• Apply adhesive for and install one panel at a time. Install the top panel first, which lets adjacent vertical panels provide support to the outer edges of the top panel.

• Use seam tape to seal exposed joints and corners. Seam tape can also be used to provide chafe protection at wear points.

— By Frank Lanier, Southern Boating Magazine April 2017

Amp it Up!

marine stereo
Amp it Up. Photo: JLambertPhotos.com

A quality marine stereo installation can bring your boating experience to a whole new level.

When it comes to boating as recreation, music on the water is a crucial component of the lifestyle. The quality and product offerings of marine sound systems have greatly improved in recent decades, and with so many options it can be hard to pin down what qualities a great marine audio system should have. Just like audio in cars, it hasn’t taken long for cruisers to become exceptionally particular about sound quality, value and durability. Luckily, today’s marine products are compact, aesthetically pleasing, efficient, and offer numerous configurations for a high-powered boat installation.

What are some of the qualities you should look for in marine audio products? Each piece of equipment needs to be rugged enough to withstand the sun, salt and spray that will corrode normal electrical components. Install a system with subpar construction, and the system won’t last a year due to the harsh outdoor environment. Each part of the audio system will have a different classification of environmental readiness. Most speaker cones and receiver faceplates should be UV-resistant, while circuit boards should be corrosion resistant.

When it comes to perfect placement, boats differ from other home and car audio systems in that there is no single installation option that is consistently best. For example, a smaller bay boat might find that its tinier cockpit comes with its own challenges for powerful sound, while a larger center console can struggle to distribute sound evenly throughout the boat. Furthermore, a system that works perfectly on a sailboat might not be the best selection for a motoryacht. Different equipment options have alternating space and power requirements, so figuring out the limitations of your own vessel can help determine what kind of system you should install.

If you’re upgrading a system, consider using the same mounting and wiring locations of the first system. However, if you’re starting a new installation from scratch, some paneling may need to be cut and new wiring run to ensure each component receives enough power. Marine receivers typically connect to a standard 12-volt marine battery.

Each marine audio system comes with a few basic components. First, you’ll need to acquire a marine receiver. It should have a water-resistant faceplate, although a weatherproof cover can be an invaluable add-on accessory. Next, consider what kind of speakers work for your setup, both aesthetically and technically. Speakers come in many sizes, and while a 8.8-inch diameter system will radiate powerful audio quality, it might be more prudent to pursue the 6.5-inch diameter model. Marine audio equipment manufacturers such as JL Audio, for example, offer a variety of equipment geared toward different performance levels. The M-Series speakers offer exceptional sound quality and can be paired with a marine subwoofer or even stand alone.

jlaudio.com

If you value the feel of good bass, consider installing a subwoofer. This component of any good marine audio system is becoming crucial since a running powerboat will create a large quantity of low-frequency sound. It’s difficult for a standard small speaker installation to overcome outside noise interference. A subwoofer alleviates the stress on the system by keeping the sound of the main speakers clean and clear. Due to the prevalence of challenging mounting options in boats, an enclosed subwoofer is a good option to ensure optimal sound quality. Not only will a subwoofer add a complexity to your sound system, it can also add the right design touch.

Fusion Entertainment sells a 10-inch marine subwoofer with LED lighting options. It’s easy to pull together a lighting scheme that will impress and provide quality sound at the same time. A great location for a subwoofer and other amplifiers is under the seats or bow, where they’ll be able to perform their best. “Our new Signature Series undoubtedly provides the finest sound quality available,” said Chris Baird, managing director of FUSION Entertainment in a recent press release. “Just because a marine audio system has to withstand the rigors of the environment doesn’t mean audio quality should be sacrificed. Our customers should accept no compromise in performance and, at FUSION, neither do we.” fusionentertainment.com

Other components to consider are speaker wires and cables. Each part should be tinned because bare copper will easily corrode when exposed to saltwater. Furthermore, consider adding satellite radio to your audio installation. This component is quickly becoming a must-have for any high-quality system. Satellite reception extends up to 200 miles off shore, making satellite radio a great option for offshore cruising. Since many marine receivers are already built satellite-ready, it’s easy to mount an external tuner out of site. However, make sure that your system includes a marine-rated satellite radio antenna to provide protection from the elements.

Some final considerations you should make while looking for a high-quality marine audio installation include looking for the components with the best specs. Better specifications equate to better sound quality. When it comes to marine receivers, be on the lookout for a high CD signal-to-noise ratio and a large amount of RMS power. Speaker installations should fit nicely into cabin panels and be UV-resistant to ensure continued performance. Furthermore, since each system must project sound into an open environment, you’ll need plenty of power to get the cleanest sound. Finally, if you enjoy particularly loud music consider adding an external amp to the system, which will help to drown out the typical background noises that occur while on the water.

— By Susanna Botkin, Southern Boating Magazine February 2017

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