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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

Nor-Tech 450 Sport

Nor-Tech 450 Sport CC

The Nor-Tech 450 Sport reveals the company’s unlimited enthusiasm for the art of the boat.

The word passion is often thrown around when it comes to the creative process. Sometimes its casual usage occurs more flippantly than others, rendering the term almost meaningless. This can be particularly applicable when it comes to the art of boat building. It seems obvious—of course everyone has passion. But what happens when passion truly manifests in a craft? You get a result driven by unlimited enthusiasm, which is what Nor-Tech has accomplished with the Nor-Tech 450 Sport Center Console.

When Nor-Tech was established in 1990 by Trond Schou and Nils Johnsen, it soon became clear that the pair had a vision. This vision was embodied by the early creation of a 50-foot V-hull. And while the original model didn’t become an overnight sensation after the company moved to its current location in Fort Myers, Florida, it did mark the beginning of a legacy. It’s this legacy that led to the conception of Nor-Tech’s current lineup of high-performance powerboats.

Nor-Tech’s 45,000-square-foot facility assists the company in the production of a wide range of models. This lineup ranges from the next generation of the 5000V (currently the 527) to turbine-powered offshore catamarans. However, Nor-Tech’s most popular models consist of their outboard-powered center consoles, which have come to dominate the company’s current production.

Fortunately, I was able to take a look at the Nor-Tech 450 and see passion in person. You might have already seen the boat if you’ve ventured to a major boat show within the past year. And honestly, that first glimpse is an unforgettable experience and one which inspires a sort of reverence. At its debut during the 2016 Miami International Boat Show, it was obvious that this center console could seamlessly blend elegance and performance in a market where everyone claims passion.

“Most boat builders start small with their lineup,” said Bob Crow, president of South Florida Performance Boats, as he explained the driving force behind the 450’s creation and Nor-Tech’s history. “But Nor-Tech has been building high-performance machines from the beginning. After all, their original model stretched over 50 feet.”

The 450 spans an impressive 45 feet in length and flaunts a 12-foot beam. It’s impressive from a distance, but up close the vessel exudes both capability and fluidity. The sweeping T-top seems almost futuristic with a clean design that minimizes obstruction at the helm. This is a center console that signals a dedication to performance and meticulous attention to detail at first glance.

A Nor-Tech 450 in Action

This 450 Sport is powered by five new Mercury Racing Verado 400R outboards installed on the transom that pump the vessel with a combined 2,000 horsepower and nearly head-snapping acceleration. And while several power options are available, this package is right on target and achieves a top speed in the mid-80s. If you have an inner predilection for speed, it doesn’t get much better than this.

Although it has an impressive power package, Nor-Tech doesn’t rest on those laurels. Instead, it boasts a variety of other design concepts ranging from a solid hull bottom construction of hand-laid fiberglass to true Kevlar/carbon fiber. Streamlined construction with lightweight materials removes unnecessary weight from the frame and body of the boat and allows it to easily open up with the touch of the throttle.

While few would accuse Nor-Tech of minimalism, there is a surprisingly simple approach to the Nor-Tech 450 Sport interior and exterior design. Although the boat maintains a sporty construction, there are no unnecessary frills or excess components. Instead, each and every single implement in the design serves a particular function and some in more ways than one. The stern features premium bench seating with every detail carefully selected down to the custom stitching. A simple flip of the seats reveals ample stowage offering a stylish design that provides more interior space than you’d typically expect.

As a result of the 12-foot beam, Nor-Tech was able to construct a console that is perfectly suited for accommodating three people comfortably. The spacious, flat panel on the helm accommodates two chart plotters, and an optional third chart plotter can be installed. The console is the control center for the entire boat, and its arrangement of instrumentation allows for easy operation and accessibility. Carbon fiber details only add to the sense of luxury and comfort evoked by the 450’s design.

Crow’s enthusiasm for the vessel was obvious as he showed me each feature from stern to bow. In front of the console, luxurious seating arrangements (complete with a large sunpad) provide comfort, safety and stability, as well as a spacious gathering area for passengers. This boat particularly shines while entertaining, whether cruising with family or friends.

This particular 450 is Nor-Tech’s test model and the company strives for continual improvement with each hull sold. Additional features are added with a touch of ingenuity that goes beyond the basic requirements. For example, side wings block wind from passengers reclining behind the console. But instead of a canvas or plastic construction, the side wings are made of premium carbon fiber and mold back into the side of the console while not in use.

One of the most unexpected features of the vessel is its versatility. Since every 450 is custom-built to owner requirements and specifications, there is a nearly endless list of possibilities and options. For example, the boat can be fully rigged for sport fishing, complete with multiple livewells and ample rod storage. Or, it can be outfitted for family cruising, with expanded seating options and room to lounge.

A hatch in the helm console provides access to the cabin and head area. The cabin is surprisingly roomy and well lit; spacious windows allow a flood of natural light. A large berth with additional seated headroom would allow a couple to sleep comfortably overnight. Customization options also continue with the cabin; it can be outfitted as an interior galley to provide catering options for everyone on board.

On the water, the 450 remains remarkably solid and stable, even in sloppy conditions with considerable chop or cornering through a wake; it doesn’t budge and requires minimal steering or trim correction of the outboards. This is how a boat should ride, and Nor-Tech does it remarkably.

At the end of the day, real passion lives on in the form of  the Nor-Tech 450 Sport. There isn’t any praise I could give the boat that it doesn’t deserve. It does virtually everything right, without surprises and without pretense. Purpose points this center console in the right direction, but passion is what propels it.

Nor-Tech 450 Sport CC SPECIFICATIONS
LOA: 45′
Beam: 12′
Draft: 30″
Weight: 20,000 lbs. (dry)
Fuel: 500 U.S. gals.
MSRP: Inquire

CONTACT
nor-techboats.com; sofloperformanceboats.com 

— By Susanna Botkin / Photography by John Lambert / Southern Boating Magazine April 2017

Kayaking through Cuba

The unspoiled Cuba

South of Havana and the visiting hordes of Americans, Cuba offers a wilderness that even a half century of revolution left unspoiled.

I spot the flamingos as I paddle my sea kayak around a corner in the coffee-colored lagoon. There are about a hundred birds along the mangrove shore, and it’s so quiet and I’m so close that I can hear their gurgled chuckling as they high-step through the shallow water. I remember what a taxi driver told me when I first arrived in Cuba and asked how far you had to go from Havana to really get out into Cuba. He laughed. “You don’t have to go very far in Cuba to go very far in Cuba.”

I’m on a weeklong sea kayak expedition with ROW Adventures (cubaunbound.com) along the southern coast of Cuba. They’ve promised me a chance to get off the tourist-packed streets of Havana and experience the island beyond frozen mojitos and joyrides in vintage Chevys. And now, halfway through our journey, Havana feels as far away as Miami. It’s just me, the muddy labyrinth of mangrove channels, the gorgeously delicate birds, and the misty blue mountains of the Sierra Escambray rising beyond.

Soon the spell is broken by the hollow thump-thump of paddles against plastic kayak hulls and the happy conversations of my fellow paddlers. The shy flamingos launch into a low, lazy flight and blur past me in a peach-sherbet smear. They climb, circle our boats once and vanish beyond the next bend somewhere deeper in the swamp. I lift my paddle and dig into the water. I’m only a half-mile into today’s five-mile paddle, but already my face hurts from smiling so hard.

Cuba travel restrictions for Americans relaxed a few years ago under the Obama administration, though rules on traveling there by boat were slower in coming. Now, cruisers (and kayakers) have fewer restrictions but are wise to consult with an experienced agency for the requirements to visit this North Korea of the Caribbean by boat. (See the resource list at the end.) It’s safe to say there is a mad rush to Cuba going on right now. In 2016, the island saw over 3.5 million tourists, with over a million visitors in first four months. “We have a joke here,” a taxi driver tells me. “All the Americans are rushing to see Cuba… before all the Americans rush to Cuba.”

After an obligatory tour of the capital and Hemingway watering holes, our group hops a brand-new Chinese tour bus and heads two hours south to Playa Larga, a small fishing village on the Zapata Peninsula. It’s a quiet town barely two streets deep from the beach with just a few rows of red-roofed pink shacks. Horse-drawn carts drop students off after school, and men mend fishing nets in the shade of coconut palms. There aren’t any hotels in town yet, so we’re split up into private homes. Shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union, Cuba descended into an economic crisis, and Castro allowed individuals to rent out rooms in their homes as “casa particulares,” quasi bed-and-breakfast establishments. Mine, the Casa Tiki, is clean, the bedroom kept polar by an air conditioner and rotating fan; my private bathroom is shiny and smells of bleach.

Later that afternoon, Lerdo, our local kayak guide, leads us out of the bay. Miles of mangrove swamp line the scooped coast, broken here and there by the white flash of beaches. “Back in the 1700s, these forests were full of wild boars,” he says. “So the French sailors started a trade. They shot the pigs and cured the bacon on wooden racks called boucans. But the traders refused to pay tax to Havana and were considered outlaws. They were called boucaneros.” Lerdo waits hopefully for one of us to make the connection. “Pirates!” He finally says. “You’re in the bay where the word buccaneer was born!”

It’s a fun bit of trivia, but the rest of the world knows the bay for another reason. On April 16, 1961, more than 1,400 mercenaries trained by the CIA landed here in the Bay of Pigs and tried to lead an uprising. Lerdo ticks off the beaches as we pass them: Blue Beach, Green Beach, Red Beach. As the surf picks up, we tuck in closer to shore. A small resort fronts one of the landing zones. A couple of guys are trying to get a surfing kite airborne, while a Swiss couple snorkels out to say hello and ask if we’re Americans. Children splash in the waves.

The invasion failed, Lerdo says, sticking close to the official account of a heroic resistance and a united people. The invaders who weren’t killed were taken prisoner, and eventually swapped in a political exchange. The only reminder left of the invasion today are the miles of ragged coastline, still as wild as they were back then.

Playa Giron is poised to become famous again—not for an unsuccessful imperial invasion but as the gateway to the Caribbean’s last truly unspoiled wilderness. The next morning we drive down a sandy arrow-straight road deep into the heart of the Zapata Peninsula, Cuba’s largest national park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was declared a national park back in 1936.

We spend all day paddling a glorious sky-blue lagoon so bright it hurts my eyes even with sunglasses. We paddle past islands of palmettos and tangles of mangroves. Rosette spoonbills step daintily among the shallows and white egrets probe the mud for crabs. Large schools of bonefish stir up the milky water. The sea is shallow, rarely more than a meter deep, and often my keel scrapes the sandy bottom. We’re the only ones in this vast wilderness today, maybe the only ones here this week. I learn later that more people summit Mount Everest every year than kayak the Zapata Swamp.

Over the week, we make our way ever eastward through the Zapata Swamp, through the lagoons around Cienfuegos and along the rugged cliffs off Trinidad. Near the end of the week, we reach our terminus at Cayo Blanco, a small crescent island. We can’t reach it by kayak since it’s nine miles off shore and the waves are too steep. So we take one of the rare motorized boats available from a marina outside the colonial town of Trinidad. Our Cuban escort can’t join us. Why not, I ask. He shrugs. “Cubans need a special permit to ride in a motorized boat. And I don’t have a special permit.”

The open sea is choppy and people are seasick. When our captain spots a fleet of wooden sailboats fishing a nearby bank, we detour out. There’s a shouted exchange as the fishermen sling three red snappers aboard and the captain tosses back two liters of cola.

We land on the island. Anywhere else in the Caribbean this sugar-sand beachfront would be lined with high-rise resorts and studded with candy-cane beach umbrellas. But here there’s only a small government-run café powered by about 40 car batteries hidden behind the kitchen. Sunburned Brits line up at the bar for rum over crushed ice, while large Russians stall out the buffet line as they carefully pick all the lobster bits out of the soggy, communal paella.

I’ve gone as far as I’ll go on this journey through Cuba. On our homeward journey, I climb to the bow. The emerald water rushes beneath my bare feet. Far ahead the mangroves guard the shore. Beyond them climb the Sierra Maestra. The horizon to port and starboard is empty, just endless green waves heaving under a blue sky. A tern drops in and keeps pace with the boat. And for the moment at least, while the rest of the paddlers nap in the shade of the bridge, the Cuba all around me is wide and open and unbound.

— Story and photos by Jad Davenport, Southern Boating Magazine February 2017

cruising to Cuba resources
Cuba Seas
cubaseas.com

International SeaKeepers Society
seakeepers.org/cuba  

Explore More with the Marlow 66E

Marlow 66E

A motoryacht equipped with an enclosed flybridge can redefine your idea of cruise control. 

If you’ve ever wondered whether an enclosed bridge motoryacht like the Marlow Explorer 66E is right for you, take a few moments to consider notable weather you’ve encountered while boating. For me, the list includes a three-day motoryacht delivery from Lake Michigan to Lake Erie in 20- to 30-knot late-fall squalls while operating from the open, Bimini- and hardtop-less flybridge. Another trip involved shivering on deck and peering through a portable night vision scope at dark Atlantic waters on a fast-moving sedan yacht returning to Miami from Key West in the winter trying not to collide with anything floating in our unlit path. Then there was the mid-July run from Cape May, New Jersey, to New York Harbor in a large center console and feeling the heat like a Bessemer blast furnace roaring off the land ahead of an approaching front.

When I consider how those experiences might have been improved had the yacht in question been the Marlow Explorer 66E, those scenarios all change to comfort for my crew and guests with better command and control from my helm perspective.

 

“I think the enclosed bridge market is growing for those who want to cruise in climate-controlled comfort,” says David Marlow, founder and CEO of Marlow Marine. “An enclosed bridge also creates multiple areas of conviviality, not only at the helm, but also on the main deck where a country kitchen and galley forward can replace the lower helm. Everyone tends to congregate there at mealtimes, and the open plan of our yachts means that they are not cut off from those in the saloon.”

Marlow’s “Command Bridge” designation is more than appropriate equipped as it is with a helm console nearly as wide as the bridge structure and all controls on the centerline, including a large handcrafted teak wheel. Two custom helm chairs offer flawless views of the waters all around. Aft and to starboard, the builder has provided a large settee and custom table for family and friends not participating in the yacht’s operation but wanting to enjoy the views nonetheless.

As befits a yacht of this caliber, there is more than enough room for three large displays ahead of the wheel (just a quick glance below the lower edge of the windshield), plus a large flat area beneath them for engine displays, binnacle, joysticks, and data repeaters. Communications and systems monitoring equipment is found in the overhead panel although there is an abundance of space in an extension of the console to port to house other navigation and communications equipment.

Two weathertight doors flanking the helm console and a single door on the aft bulkhead—all of which provide natural ventilation combined with overhead hatches when desired—create quick and easy access to the upper aft deck. Another settee and table are here for those guests who want to enjoy the open air or be entertained alfresco. A gas grill and outdoor kitchen are nearby, as is a desirable dayhead hidden away to port. Here you’ll find a crane and storage for the RIB dinghy plus enough space for a folding lounge chair when sunbathing is the daily plan.

A built-in stairwell leads from the upper aft deck down to the lower aft deck, but my guess is that most of those aboard will transit to the main deck via the interior stairs leading down along the port side of the bridge. Leather-covered stainless steel rails—like the ones overhead on the bridge—are inset with plenty of clearance and placed judiciously for effective handholds when using the stairs in a seaway.

The stairwell leads directly to the country kitchen and galley area forward on the main deck. The U-shaped galley is directly ahead with a marvelous view forward and to both sides for the chef, as well as a raised dinette aft that shares those views. Polished granite counters are large enough for multi-course meal preparation and service as well as simple meals when underway. Storage overhead and below the counters is plentiful, and the equipment—SubZero fridge and freezer drawers, five-burner gas Dacor cooktop, and under-counter Franke sinks, to name a few—is everything a well-equipped chef needs.

Two watertight doors provide quick access to side decks that are protected by the raised bulwarks of a Portuguese bridge for those who want to safely access the foredeck for anchoring or line-handling duties. The bulwark-and-handrail-equipped side decks lead aft and two steps down to the covered aft deck. Twin built-in settees with tables flank the centerline stairway leading down to the swim platform.

One of the stairs is a hatch that opens to a large storage room where the genset (among other equipment) is mounted. A watertight door on the forward bulkhead leads to crew quarters for those who may occasionally want the services of professional mariners to operate or deliver the yacht. Another watertight door leads forward into the engine room. Twin 1,000-hp CAT C18 ACERT diesels take up most of the engine room but leave plenty of space for service.

Back on the aft deck, twin doors open wide to reveal a spacious main salon with a bar and storage flanking the opening. A pair of loose lounge chairs to port and a large, comfortable couch to starboard provide abundant sitting space with an elegant custom wooden table in between. Two lockers provide small item storage along with a built-in writing desk forward. The storage hutch partially separating the salon from the galley and country kitchen has more storage and a locker hiding the large-screen TV. If you haven’t inspected a Marlow, the fit and finish of the interior is flawless—the epitome of the cabinetmaker’s and boat builder’s joiner work. Most lockers have impressive louvered doors for excellent ventilation.

Three steps with more of those stout handrails lead up to the country kitchen and down the starboard side stairway to the foyer serving the accommodations deck. A single bed in the laundry room serves double duty for folding clothes or napping grandkids. To port, the guest cabin has twin berths and an ensuite head with separate shower. Forward is the VIP stateroom, with an easily accessed island queen on the centerline, two hanging lockers and another ensuite head with separate shower.

The full-beam king master stateroom is positioned amidships for optimal stability and comfort and is notable for massive built-in storage on both sides of the room, which is kept low to allow good views out double portlights on both sides. And as an unexpected luxury, the builder has provided not one but two marble and frameless glass ensuite heads with separate shower compartments for the owners.

Since 2000, Marlow Marine has been building its Explorer line of yachts ranging from 49 to 97 feet in length in a Marlow-dedicated, award-winning “green” facility in Xiamen, China. David Marlow is committed to using only the best vinylester and epoxy resins in a trademark resin-infusion technology to make the lightest, strongest yachts. He is fond of saying that they have worked hard to get excess weight out of the company’s yachts while engineering them for efficiency, long service life and comfortable lifestyles afloat.

In my opinion, the Marlow Explorer 66E is true to David Marlow’s goal of building world-class yachts capable of comfortable, long-distance cruising. And if you like the idea of exploring in a climate-controlled atmosphere, you only need to step aboard and examine one closely for yourself.

SPECIFICATIONS
LOA: 76′ 9″
Beam: 19′ 6″
Draft: 4′ 10″
Weight: 84,000 lbs. (approx.)
Fuel/Water: 3,000/500 U.S. gals.
Power: 2x 1,000-hp CAT C18 ACERT diesels (opt.)
Cruise/Top Speed: 20 knots/25 knots
Range: 3,000 nm @ 8 knots
MSRP (base): Price on Request

CONTACT
Marlow Yachts
(800) 362-2657
marlowyachts.com

By John Wooldridge  |  Photography by John Lambert, Southern Boating Magazine February 2017

Steady On Sportfishing

New technology aids sportfish captains

New technology can keep your outboard-powered boat stationary with safety and angling benefits.

Sportfishing is a hit-or-miss proposition—you drop a bait over a specific spot and either hook up or move along because you have determined no fish are biting. Because wind and current conspire to move you off that spot in literally seconds, doing it right means dropping the anchor, and that takes time.

SeaStar Solutions’ new SeaStation GPS Anchoring System offers a tech-driven way for your outboard-powered boat to stay on top of that spot without dropping anchor. You can explore a spot, and if there are no fish, you are quickly on to the next spot without having the hassle of anchoring. It’s a new feature of joystick-control, and it’s one that any multi-engine outboard boat can use. That’s because the SeaStar Optimus 360 system can be added as a retrofit to most twin, triple and quad outboard-powered boats—although one exception is Mercury Verado engines. Once you have the Optimus 360 system and joystick control installed on your boat, the SeaStation feature can be added on with the addition of a dedicated SeaStation GPS antenna and software program.

Heading and Position Hold

SeaStar Solutions showed off its new SeaStation feature at the 2017 Miami International Boat Show in February to the public during demo rides on Biscayne Bay. The results are impressive, as the system can hold the boat on a spot within three meters. “When you’re after baitfish, you can move the boat right up to the bait ball and hold your position with SeaStation,” said Scott Allgood, Seastar Solutions Optimus Sales Specialist. “That allows you to get the baitfish faster and move on to fishing. Or if you are fishing a weed line, you can hold your boat’s bow orientation in a set direction while you drift down the weed line.”

SeaStation offers three primary modes:

  1. Heading hold: Hold heading regardless of position. Practical applications include kite fishing/drift fishing, and it allows easier setup to maximize fishing time. It keeps the boat from rotating so lines won’t get tangled.
  2. Position hold: Hold position regardless of heading. Practical applications include bait fishing and wreck/reef fishing. The system will find the best natural heading for the boat, taking into account the current and wind to hold the boat most efficiently. As a result, it holds the position with less shifting and movement of the engines.
  3. Heading and position hold: Here the system allows the boat to stay in position and hold its heading. Practical applications include waiting for a bridge to open, waiting for a spot at the dock to become available and bait fishing near a structure. Regarding safety, SeaStation is not to be used when people are in the water, or when the boat is too close to structures. Someone should always be at the helm.

View a demonstration of SeaStation

SeaStar Solutions has applied the same smart algorithms to SeaStation that the Optimus 360 joystick control utilizes to reduce unnecessary shifting and jockeying of the engines. It provides superior position and heading functions for a large selection of engine platforms. “The feedback we received from users and fishing captains was to reduce the jarring from the engines shifting and unnecessary movement,” Allgood said. “The engines obviously do shift, but as little as possible because it can affect the fishing. We took this input seriously and we are confident SeaStation will be a fishing enabler.”

The winds and swirling currents of Biscayne Bay created a challenge during the Miami Boat Show during our demonstration, but the unit easily held the boat’s position. In addition, having joystick control in low-speed situations is extremely helpful for expert and novice drivers alike.

For example, for the novice cruiser the ability to run the boat at under 1200 rpm and move forward, sideways, backward or diagonally with the twist of the wrist is a boon to confidence around the docks. For the expert, backing down on a kingfish by simply using the joystick, and moving in reverse at the max speed of six mph, makes life much easier. No steering wheel, throttles and shifters to worry about.

“Optimus 360 now brings boat owners with multiple-outboard setups the ability to have joystick control, and now SeaStation anchoring,” Allgood said. “The cost for a twin-engine setup is about $14,500, plus what the dealer charges for the install. Until May 31st, if you purchase a new Optimus 360 system the SeaStation Anchoring is provided for free. After that, the charge is $3,800 for the antenna and software.”

The components that make up Optimus 360 are proven, including the pumps and cylinders,” Allgood said. “Once you have a system of proven components, now in a new configuration like Optimus, then it’s about the software.”

For customers who are interested in having Optimus 360 and SeaStation added to their boats, there are 180 dealers in the continental U.S. or Alaska that can install and service the Optimus System, as well as a large number of boat builders that offer it as a factory option.

For more information: seastarsolutions.com

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