By Andy Adams

There has been a real change in the focus and direction we’ve seen in marine electronics in recent years. Gone are the standalone equipment pieces, replaced by multifunction devices capable of “talking” to the other electronic devices on board your boat.

To get first-hand information on what is really happening in the field, we traveled to CMC Electronics Esterline and spent the morning with Lead Technical Service Representative, Lorne Spence.

He began by saying that simply incredible advances in capability have resulted from the interconnection of your navigation system components.

In turn, simply incredible advances in technology are behind these changes and the piece of equipment that used to have a dedicated circuit board of components somewhere inside, has evolved into an actual computer that in many cases, is running an Intel chipset the same as your home computer has.

There’s another very important similarity between the new marine electronics and your home computing devices. Whether you have a PC, iMac computer, notebook, tablet…you regularly receive software updates via the Internet.

You are used to this with your computer. But, the industry is discovering that many people have not yet begun to apply the same thinking to their marine electronics.  If you had a notebook computer that you were using in your business and it was let’s say, five years old, I’m betting that you would be planning to replace it any day. It would be an old computer and out of date.

Modern chart plotters are essentially marinized computers.  The same as we get computer operating system updates from Windows and Mac, we now get software updates on marine plotters and other equipment.

Originally, the purpose of updates was to correct software ‘bugs’ and to ensure compatibilities between products.  Now more and more, we're starting to see manufacturers adding new features through software updates.

Lorne Spence emphasized that in most cases, these software updates are free.  So, the equipment you bought a couple of years ago can now stay current through free software updates and actually perform better now than the equipment did when it was new.

Marine equipment software updates are done by downloading the software from the manufacturer’s website.  If you register your product with Raymarine for example, they will email you when a software update for your product comes available.  Once you have the software on your notebook, you copy the files onto a blank memory card, be it Compact Flash or Micro SD; whatever your marine equipment can read.  The new Raymarine plotters have a fully automated update process and it's very easy for even a novice to do.

Also, owners will often add new equipment to their navigation system over time, ending up with different pieces from different ‘generations’ of systems.  Ensuring you have the latest software can often fix problems you may encounter in connecting “new” with “old” equipment. If you were to call the help desk or customer service line,  the first question technical support will usually ask is, "Does your plotter have the latest software version in it?"

For an example of just how fast and frequent these software updates can be, look at the most recent Raymarine ‘C’ and ‘E’ series plotter software updates and the list of features that have been added:

Version 5.27 - Jan 2013  (current version as of this writing)
•Solution for internal sonar module to be directly connected to a 1KW transducer (600w Output Only).

Version 5.24 - Dec 2012
•Fuel Management
•Expanded Engine Data and Alarms
•Document and Photo viewer (view your product manuals on your MFD)
•Thermal Camera Slew-to-cue integration
•IP Camera Support
•On Screen Zoom keys added to Sirius Weather App (North America only)
•Ability to view NMEA 0183/SeaTalkNG data statistics and buffer as well as save to mSD card
 
Version 4.27 - Fall 2012
•Addition of four on-screen touchscreen controls, an ACCEPT touch screen button added to Limitations of Use welcome page  and improved Power Key shortcuts to Brightness and Capture Screen image options

Version 3.15 - April 2012
•A huge list of more than a dozen enhancements including added support for Raymarine CP450C CHIRP Sonar Module, support for AIS features, limited support for Sirius Marine Weather Module and several more including a Standby / PowerSave Mode and enhanced home screen customize option permitting 9 and 12 inch MFDs to view up to 4 applications on a single page and so on.
 
v2.10 - Spring 2012
- Cartography redraw performance has been improved when sharing over the display network, added support to display fuel flow rate and three more valuable features including the ability to manually change the aspect ratio in the video application.

 Many of these update features have been driven by customer feedback from individuals just like you, using their equipment out in the real world. Another big driver for change are the technologies coming from other manufacturers.

A great example is the fact that Raymarine was quick to update their software to operate with both iPads and android devices. The benefits and additional capabilities available by connecting your regular mobile device into your marine navigation system was well documented in the “iPad Onboard” article by Mark Bunzel in the March 2013 issue of Canadian Yachting, starting on page 34.
 
Another huge advance in marine technology, in safety and in end-user convenience has been the introduction of thermal imaging cameras from companies like FLIR. Some of the new software updates enable you to control your FLIR thermal imaging camera using your iPad with its many quick and convenient touch and zoom controls.

An advance that we think is wonderful is the recently added ability to view a PDF on the various screens on board your boat. More and more manufacturers [Ray Marine is one] are putting detailed user manuals into digital PDF form so when you need information to do an unfamiliar task, you can put a write up on your multifunction display, digitally move from the index to the article and find out what you need to know without having a printed manual on board.

We expect that video capabilities will also be coming soon to a helm station near you!

All of this is impressive and yet the software update process is simple. As we said earlier, if you’ve registered your equipment on the manufacturer’s website you can usually get these updates for free on the Internet when you’re at home. From there, you can copy them to something as tiny as a micro-SDR.

With the Ray Marine equipment, you simply plug that card into your chop larder chart plotter and its plug-and-play–the software will self install in a matter of minutes. Follow the screen prompts, click except when you’re asked and your system will be updated.

When talking to Lorne Spence at CMC Electronics Esterline, the exclusive Raymarine distributor in Canada, he emphasized that even if you let your systems get out of date, there’s a good chance you can go straight to the latest update. You can skip the interim steps and still have the latest and greatest.

If a consumer isn’t comfortable doing software updates themselves, many retailers and installers are happy to do the update for a nominal fee. We know of several good chandlery’s who can handle this for you and of course any qualified marine electronics installer can handle the task as well.

Understandably, Lorne was focused on the product lines that CMC Electronics distributes but he wanted to emphasize the importance of keeping your software up-to-date no matter whose equipment you own. Introducing great new capabilities and embracing advances in user convenience and safety is an industry-wide thrust.

Destinations

  • Prev
NW Explorations, a Bellingham, Washington-based yacht charter, brokerage, and marine services ...
If you haven’t cruised the Rideau Canal before, you have missed a special treat and even if you ...
At the 2019 Vancouver International Boat Show I had the pleasure of meeting up with Allyson and ...
Following the harsh impact of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, The British Virgin Islands is making an ...
For the adventurous boater Bunsby Marine Provincial Park is a special place, situated due south of ...
There is good anchoring in Cowichan Bay and nearby, and salt water enough to make any boater happy. ...
We’re gliding through green-blue waters, colours so vivid and bright they hurt your eyes. We’re set ...
The Halifax waterfront has been attracting more and more large yachts in recent years. However, a ...
Ah Canadian simplicity at its finest; small town, big marina. Little Hilton Beach (population ...
Vancouver-based Big Blue Yacht Charters Worldwide owner Emma Murdoch explains that luxury crewed ...


Port of OrilliaTake your boat and a beautiful waterfront setting, pair that with a fantastic musical lineup of over 100 Canadian and international performers, spice it up with an awesome food truck alley, add in an artistically diverse artisan’s marketplace and finish it with a Folkplay area dedicated to children’s fun and you have the successful recipe for the Mariposa Folk Festival.

Each July this longstanding musical tradition kicks off the summer at Tudhope Park in Orillia on the picturesque shores of Lake Couchiching and you can get there by boat. This year’s festival runs July 5-7 and is celebrating 20 years back in the city where it all began 59 years ago.

Read more about the Mariposa.....

 

Lifestyle

  • Prev
John Booth, who passed away just a few weeks ago was one of the most amazingly gifted and ...
We left Vero Beach on Saturday morning with Alicia, a boat from Sweden, following close behind. The ...
At the end of last month, Canadian sailors gathered on the Palma Beach in Palma de Mallorca, Spain ...
In 2019, C-TOW celebrates its 35th anniversary of providing 24/7 “Peace of Mind Boating” for ...
West Vancouver Yacht Club reports that following an independent certification process the Georgia ...
It has been hot in the Abacos this winter. Whoever said this area was cool this time of year must ...
Unfortunately this is not a picture from a boat but was taken on the evening of February 27, 2019 ...
On March 1, Tom Ramshaw of Stoney Lake Yacht Club was honoured with the most prestigious National ...
Vero Beach, aka Velcro Beach, lived up to its reputation again. Our original plan was to be there ...
My husband and I were visiting the Bra d'Or Lake from Newfoundland in our 39 foot Sea Ray ...

Boat Reviews

  • Prev
ILCA is seeking new builders to complement its existing network of manufacturers, the International ...
Nelson Gilbert (1854-1921) began building canoes in Brockville in the 1890s, a time when the sport ...
I have heard a lot of talk lately about trends in yacht clubs where senior membership is getting ...
To get you in the mood for cruising the Boat Show then launching in spring, here’s a boat that ...
Quite simply, the styles of boats have changed. Where in past years a buyer might have been looking ...
At the boat shows, the Ranger Tugs’ classic tugboat lines always grab the crowds, with the wives ...
Sometimes a great idea requires an encore, and French yacht builder Jeanneau got that with the ...
Tactical Custom Boats announces the sale to a North American client of a custom Tactical 77’ – Fast ...
Bruce Elliott is an inventor. And when he sold the technology he developed to build utility poles ...
One often asks of a winning achievement or a fabulous design, could it have possibly been done ...

Grand Banks 60 SkyloungeThe Canadian market has always been a tough nut for yacht designers to figure out. Summer days get really hot; other days are downright cold. There is always the chance things could change in the blink of an eye and let’s be honest, who among us hasn’t stepped off the boat wearing shorts, flip flops and a warm jacket? Canadian yachting has always been a world of contradictions, which is why designing cruising yachts for this market has never been easy. It’s not like Florida or the Med, where weather is dependable throughout the year.

 

 

Read more about the Grand Banks 60 Skylounge............

 

ILCA DinghyAustin, Texas, USA (25 April 2019) – In the wake of last month’s termination of its contract with its European builder, the International Laser Class Association (ILCA) announced today that, from 25 April 2019, all new, class-approved boats will be sold and raced under the “ILCA Dinghy” name. This change will have no impact on existing ILCA-authorized boats and equipment, which will be able to race alongside ILCA Dinghies in all class sanctioned events.


“It’s a big change for a racing class that hasn’t seen anything like this in our almost 50- year history,” said Class President Tracy Usher.

Read More about the ILCA Dinghy............

Marine Products

  • Prev
Finding a car brand that you enjoy while it does what you need can be tough, as they can be ...
Yikes! No boat refrigeration? You’ve Got to be Kidding me!! But then again, true campers don’t use ...
The Walker Bay Venture 14 claims to be the world’s first luxury Explorer Sport Tender. It is ...
Mercury Marine is pleased to announce the launch of the new MerCruiser V8 6.2L 370hp Jet Ready ...
My history with the Cayenne goes back many years, as I was at the launch of the original vehicle ...
Last month, Mercury Marine has announced the launch of the 400hp Verado outboard engine, the ...
Featuring advanced, intuitive 3D controls, Zipwake Dynamic Trim Control Systems deliver a more ...
Gina de Vere approached me at the Canadian Yachting booth at this year’s Vancouver International ...
A revolutionary “assisted docking” system that provides a glimpse into the future of boating ...
After developing the Figaro Beneteau 3, the first production foiling sailing yacht, Groupe Beneteau ...