By Craig Ritchie

Watch for a tsunami of innovative new boating products in the chandlery this year, as accessory manufacturers battle for your attention and dollars.

This past decade has been a real up-and-down ride for the companies who make boating equipment. When the recession hit in 2008/2009, new product development for most manufacturers ground to a sharp halt as they focused on more pressing issues, like simply keeping the lights on. It took a few years for the economy to stabilize and for the first handful of new items to begin slowly trickling out to market. For guys like me who make a living writing about new boating gear, those were pretty lean years, let me tell you.

But with each passing season that tentative trickle picked up steam and today, with the world’s economies back on solid footing again in spite of tariffs and other trade threats, the floodgates have been thrown open and the new product drought has turned into a full-on deluge. The proof can be seen in the vast range of awesome new boating gear nominated for innovation awards at industry trade shows like the International Boatbuilders’ Exhibition and Conference (IBEX) and the Marine Equipment Trade Show (METS). Canadian Yachting was there, of course, traveling to Tampa in October for IBEX and to the Netherlands a few weeks later for METS, the largest boat gear trade show in the world.

And? Oh my. Get ready to be impressed when you visit this winter’s boat shows or pop by the local chandlery. Here’s just a small taste of what waits in store.

 

Garmin Virb 360Photo, Please
Wouldn’t it be nice to take a photo any time you like, without having to go fish out a camera? Garmin’s rugged, waterproof Virb 360 camera will do just that with a simple voice command – just tell it to take a picture and it does the rest. Once mounted in the boat, the compact device captures fully-spherical 360-degree video in up to 5.7K resolution with 360-degree audio, responding to voice commands of “take a picture” or “shoot a video”. Even better, those 360-degree videos and photos are automatically stitched together in the camera so you don’t have to sit there and edit afterwards. Share them with friends or stream it all live over the internet with the free, easy-to-use VIRB Mobile app. The VIRB 360 offers up to 15-megapixel resolution for high-quality still photos and can stream its 360-degree video to a compatible chartplotter, so you can monitor things from the helm. About $1,100 Cdn.

 

Lumitech PocoLight Up Your Life
The Poco digital lighting control from Lumitec provides advanced control of your vessel’s lighting through a multi-functional device (MFD) or a connected smart device. Want to turn on the lights as you get out of the car? Done. Forgot to turn a light off, or want to change the hue from warm white to cool blue? Presto. Poco is easy to install, easy to set up and costs less than traditional distributed power management systems. Price is around US$220.

 

Weego 66 NewA Pocket-Sized Power Pack
The little Weego 66 is a tiny power pack that can jump-start your boat if the battery runs down, yet takes up no more storage space than a decent book. It can also recharge phones, tablets, and other portable devices, or illuminate bilges and other dark spots with its built-in 600-lumen flashlight. About $280 Cdn.

Caframo Scirocco Elite II FanThe Quiet Type
Banish hot, stuffy air from your boat’s cabin with Caframo’s Sirocco II Elite cabin fan. This unique fan uses a 360-degree mounting base to direct airflow anywhere it’s needed, while folding flat against the wall or ceiling when not in use. Its powerful, brushless motor offers four speed settings, while its safety blade design stops should an errant finger get in the way. The Canadian-made fan works with both 12-volt and 24-volt systems, and provides up to 30 percent more air flow than previous models. Available in white or black, retail is about $240 Cdn.

 

Siren Connected Boat SystemWatch My Back
Siren Marine’s Connected Boat system is a compact anti-theft and remote monitoring kit that uses advanced, marine-specific software, a full network of proprietary wireless/wired sensors, reliable cellular connectivity and GPS tracking so that you can always know exactly where your boat is. It operates on a companion app that makes the system easy to install, simple to set up, and practical to use. About US$600.

 

ANGLR Hero Shot HRThe Proof is in the Data
The anglers in the crowd will appreciate the Bluetooth-enabled ANGLR Bullseye, which records data related to a day on the water. The tiny button attaches to the boat or to the anglers themselves, and pairs with a nearby smartphone to record fish catches, weather data, waypoints, and more. A connected tracking app then presents the collected data so anglers can spot trends and patterns for better results in the future. About $35 Cdn.

 

Power Ray Underwater DroneFor Your Eyes Only
The PowerRay Wizard is a unique underwater drone (ROV) that can dive as deep as 98 feet. Use it to check your hull for fouling or damage, to identify potential hazards when gunkholing, or just to see what’s down there on a summer’s afternoon. The PowerRay works with Zeiss VR One goggles for optimal viewing, using its internal Wi-Fi system to transmit images and data over distances of up to 262 feet. Talk about the ultimate fish finder! About US$1,500.

 

Fusion Panel StereoStereo Anywhere
Fusion’s all-in-one panel stereo offers exceptional audio quality in a compact and thin casing that can be mounted anywhere. Digital signal processing, class D amplification, dual three-inch speakers, and a passive bass radiator all fit within the speaker’s compact footprint. Offering AM/FM, USB, AUX, and Bluetooth streaming source options, the stereo can be controlled by buttons on its face or remotely with a smartphone running the Fusion app - or even a Garmin watch. Minimal depth allows the Fusion Panel Speaker to be installed directly onto any flat surface with no mounting cut-out required. They also offer a weatherproof version for mounting outdoors in the cockpit. About US$350.

 

Sail SenseSensible Sailing
Sail Sense, made by Spinlock, is a tiny, multi-function sensor you attach directly to a sail where it tracks and records all sorts of useful data. Connecting to a companion app on a smartphone or tablet, Sail Sense measures things like UV exposure, hours of use, G-Force, and flogging. Creating a ‘passport’ for sails, Sail Sense delivers critical analytical and performance data while identifying make, model, dimensions, materials, and other factors. Price to be announced.

 

Mustang Arc 2 Piece SuitCanada Dry
Mustang Survival turned a lot of heads at the trade shows with their new ARC two-piece dry suit. The bib pants and Anorak bomber top are constructed of MarineSpec BP with neck and wrist seals and full dry socks for wading. The pant and top seal together in use, and feature a fly seal for full body dry suit protection. Extend your season while looking awfully good in the process. Anorak is about $770 and the bib pants are about $500 Cdn.

 

Mustang PackCome Hell or High Water
Also new from Mustang is its 22L Highwater day pack. Light in weight and 100 percent waterproof, the day pack is made from a 70 Denier PVC-free ripstop outer nylon shell, with external lash points to carry a fishing rod with ease. Three quick-access exterior drop-in mesh pockets provide secure storage for frequently accessed items, while a single, large-volume pocket with a key-clip on the front handles bulkier gear. A roll-top enclosure on the main compartment ensures gear stays dry. Retail is about $125 Cdn.

 

Martek Anti Drone SystemPrivacy, Please
Love hanging out on the yacht but worried the local paparazzi could be taking compromising photos of you for the tabloids? Then you need the Martek Marine Anti-Drone System, or M.A.D.S. It looks like a simple radome, but in fact the M.A.D.S is a sophisticated drone detection system that can pinpoint airborne drones up to five kilometres away. Further, it can provide real-time data on the drone’s speed and heading, and even reveal the precise GPS location of the drone’s operator so Bugsy and the Boys can go have a chat with them. Once a real drone threat has been established, the system enables a 500 square metre electronic ‘exclusion zone’ to be created around the yacht, blocking the drone’s communication channels and forcing it to either land or return to its operator. Price to be announced.

 

PedestalPodPut on a Pedestal
The new PedestalPod from Navpod is fully-contained housing that provides secure, weatherproof housing for expensive MFDs mounted on the raised bow deck of a fishing boat. Displaying the screen 12 inches above the deck and at a 70-degree angle for optimal clarity, it uses a black powder-coated aluminum pedestal base that’s designed for larger 12- and 16-inch displays. The PedestalPod is designed to resist impacts, vibration, and moisture ingress. About $450 Cdn.

 

Spinlock Deckvest VitoBuilt for the Best
The Vito is a development of Spinlock’s custom lifejacket harness for the Volvo Ocean Race. Said to be the first inflatable lifejacket to include a harness quick release system, it features a Hammar hydrostatic automatic inflator for immediate deployment should you go overboard, and includes a Lume-On bladder illumination light so you’re easy to spot in the dark. Its structured fit allows the jacket to be worn or removed easily, while fine-tune fit adjustment allows easy corrections to accommodate putting on or taking off layered clothing. About $450 Cdn.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SwagsurfSurf’s Up
Surfing is fun. Stand-up paddleboards (SUPs) are fun. But what if you put a small engine in a stand-up paddleboard, so you can surf at any time? That’s the idea behind the Swagsurf Electric Jetboard, an inflatable SUP board that can reach speeds of up to 12.5 mph. A brushless DC jet motor driven by a 48-volt battery and controlled by a waterproof floating Bluetooth remote power the board for about 45 minutes between battery charges. If you have an extra battery, simply pop out the exhausted cell to be put on charge, and continue the fun. The company doesn’t currently have a Canadian distributor, but sells boards and spare batteries online at swagtron.com. About US$3,000.

 


Blue Guard BG OneWater, Not Oil
The BG One from Blue Guard Innovations is the world’s first smart bilge pump switch. It uses an integrated oil and fuel detector to eliminate the risk of your automatic bilge pump accidentally discharging any spilled oil or fuel discharge that winds up in the vessel’s bilge. The device activates the bilge pump when water is detected but can turn it off immediately if it senses any fuel or oil floating on the water’s surface. There is also an integrated Bluetooth capability that allows users to configure its operation with a smartphone app, allowing users to adjust run times, oil sensitivity levels, and manage other settings. About $240 Cdn.

 

Dock Edge LightOne Bright Idea
A new dock-post motion-sensor light from Dock Edge + uses a powerful integral solar panel to keep its internal battery fully charged, while a built-in motion sensor turns the light on just when you need it – such as when returning to the dock after a twilight cruise. Its white LED lights generate up to 40 lumens of even, white light for safety after dark, covering an area up to three metres in size. Its 90-degree horizontal and vertical detection angle is sensitive to even smaller boats, while its handsome stainless steel housing offers supreme durability and great looks on any dock or boat house. About $65 Cdn.

 

Glomex Zigboat

 

 

 

Dude, Where’s My Boat?
The ZigBoat from Glomex is an innovative wireless system for monitoring and interacting with your boat, either remotely or while onboard. The system consists of a core module that works with a series of sensors that monitor things like battery voltage, bilge levels, shore power shortages, excess heat, smoke, and even intrusion by bad guys or curious racoons. Set up alarms to alert you remotely by SMS and enjoy full remote monitoring with no monthly fee or subscription required. The system uses wireless technology, so installation is a snap. You can even rig up a camera and keep watch over your pride and joy from the other side of the world. About US$1,000.

 

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