The race to simplify marine navigation operations with new and beautiful technology and elegant software accelerated rapidly over the past five years, and it was already moving at light speed the five years before that. So with innovations moving so quickly, we at Marlin wanted to catch up and see what the ultimate helm stations from some of the leaders in the electronics industry would look like.
We’ve touched responsive screens, streamed wireless music throughout the boat and counted individual sardines on the crazy high resolution of CHIRP sonar screens. We’ve actually read underwater billboards with side-scanning sonar and found lost anchors on Boca Grande, Florida’s Power Pole Reef. With digital radar, we’ve painted scallop snorkelers that we could barely see with our eyes. But what we haven’t seen is all this outstanding technology together in one vessel.
Imagine the possibilities. We did, and we asked Furuno, Garmin, Raymarine and Simrad to help us construct a dream suite of navigation and fish-finding technology. Here, then, are our dream navigation systems built with the best the industry has to offer.
EDITOR’S NOTE: We’ve listed MSRPs for the total equipment list, including peripheral devices, cables and connectors required by the full system.
Price Tag: $120,050
On the Bridge
The heart of this machine will be three 19-inch (MU190T) touch-screen displays powered by dedicated (TZTBB) black boxes. Everything else in the boat feeds this info monster, giving the skipper control of all he surveys. And this system is lightning fast; there’s no visual redraw delay when panning or zooming the pre-loaded U.S. coastal National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration raster and vector charts on these clear displays.
The full-color Nav Pilot 700 controller and Furuno’s SC30 satellite compass deliver precise heading, position, SOG and COG, plus pitch-and-roll compensation, to maintain an accurate course. We’ll put one (711c) controller on the tower and cockpit, and we might pop one in the salon too — you can add up to six.
For ship-to-ship and ship-to-shore communications, we’ve tied in the 250 watt (FS2575) MF/HF Radiotelephone and AIS (FA50) system and a (LH3000) hailer.
True bird-finding radar comes from the 25 kW (DRS25A) color radar. Targets are shaded by strength of return, and few captains will settle for less than this bird’s-eye view. Underwater, the black box TruEcho CHIRP black box (DFF1-UHD) chirps out 90 distinct frequencies and uses Furuno’s exclusive Accu-fish analysis to “print” the clearest fish returns possible.
Searchlight Sonar boasts a 360-degree capability and can track bait and fish no matter where they hide. Two distinct frequencies enhance its ability to track different species.
You may be grabbing a beer and catching the game scores in the salon, but thanks to the 24-inch touch screen (MU240T), you won’t miss any of the action — or control. If you want to cut corners, you can use Furuno’s apps, which are designed to monitor and control the company’s systems from anywhere on board.
Tower & Cockpit
The 14-inch NavNet TZtouch display (TZT14) and 9-inch touch screen (TZT9) in the cockpit give full control to every function on the network, including sonar, radar and autopilot. For communication, we’ll include the two-way speaker and mic for direct communication between bridge and tower or tower and cockpit, and an additional output for VHF, satellite radio and stereo system.
Custom yacht builders usually install whatever sound packages and speakers that the customer chooses, and more often than not, the speakers of choice are the waterproof Bose 131s. The speaker unit fits in the same hole as most standard speakers making them a great choice for a refit. A dedicated driver and an all-Bose ported enclosure give it an unequaled, clear range of tones. Connecting stereo controllers through a Bose receiver/amp really thumps out the sound. The Cinemate sound bar and subwoofer fill the salon with rich music or movie soundtracks.
Price Tag: $111,540
On the Bridge
Garmin’s touch-screen systems are legendary for being user-friendly, but the company’s new 8000 series systems deepen the features and ease of use. In Garmin’s Dream Suite, three black boxes (GPSMAP 8530) will power three 19-inch Garmin displays (GMM 190). The boxes can be controlled from the screens or from the Grid remote. To help keep you on course, the helm includes a GHP 20 autopilot and Smart Pump controlled via the GHC 20 color controller, or you can run it from any display.
For ship-to-shore and ship-to-ship communications, Garmin spiffed up the system with a VHF 300 at the bridge and an AIS 600 that overlays all AIS transmitting vessels on the chart plotter. You can also turn off the transmitter once offshore — no need to divulge your hot weed line!
A CHIRP black box and an Airmar R509LH transducer deliver top discrimination at all depths, letting the crew separate quarry from bait. For finding birds, the long pulse GMR1206x HD provides a powerful return on small targets. The 1204 xHD gives better discrimination of targets in and near shore for safest navigation in low visibility.
Garmin just introduced Meteor, an integrated stereo solution with zone control. We’ll go with the Bose 131 speakers on the cockpit and bridge and pipe it all through the Bose amplifier with the Bose salon entertainment system.
Cockpit, Tower & Salon
Our tower comes equipped with two GPSMAP 8215s, which allow for full control of the entire system, including the autopilot. We’ll slip a VHF 200 up there as well. The salon and cockpit each get a GPS Map 8212. For monitoring engine functions, we’ll tuck a GMI 20 NMEA 2000 instrument display in the engine room. For auto pilot control in the cockpit, we’ll mount the GHS 20 next to the chart plotter. A Meteor remote on the tower, bridge and salon give entertainment flexibility to the crew.
You could streamline the system by adding a Wi-Fi module and using the multiple iOS or Android apps and devices to control the network — but we want the fixed stations too! For autopilot control from anywhere on board, the captain’s wrist should boast a Quatix watch. Because the action on this vessel will be so hot, we mounted several waterproof VIRB action cams to capture it.
As of 2014, FLIR technology networks seamlessly with Simrad, Furuno and Garmin systems. We like this top-shelf, stabilized thermal imaging camera for its super-crisp images. When heading out on a long-distance tuna trip at night or navigating a foreign port for the first time after dark, infrared vision helps you distinguish everything from marker buoys, to crewman in the water, to floating obstacles. For a sport-fisher, it’s not just a navigation device; it’s an essential piece of equipment that can save your boat or someone’s life.
Price Tag: $83,959
On the Bridge
Raymarine’s high-end system comes with three 16-inch (gS165) Glass Bridge displays that carry their own internal processors, eliminating the need for external black boxes. The polarized sunglass-friendly display means no screen blackout as your viewing angle changes. Mounting the included remote keypad (RMK9, one with each display) brings displays up to hybrid touch capability. Each IPX7 waterproof remote has a microSD card for uploading or downloading waypoints, screen grabs or charts. You can mount the keypads in either a vertical or horizontal orientation, as the station requires. For auto control, we chose the award-winning EV400 Evolution Autopilot and p70R controller for simplicity of installation and operation. We thought it was a good idea to mount controllers in the cockpit and tower, too.
Auxiliary instruments reflect wind and speed sensors to make drifting, deep dropping and kite fishing a breeze.
Raymarine partners with Fusion for its sound system, and you have complete control of your tunes throughout the vessel. It will also pair nicely with a Bose amp, marine speakers and salon sound system.
The communications suite should include a multistation VHF radio with loud hailer and foghorn, as well as a backup VHF, Class B AIS and a man-overboard alert system.
FLIR’s (T473SC) stabilized thermal camera system completes the safety factor with clear nighttime imaging. (It rings the register at $40,000, and miserly skippers may select lesser systems that start at $3,500. Neither are reflected in the price above.) Remote displays (EC1100) and cameras in the engine room facilitate maintenance and keep the skipper informed of all functions. Cameras astern give clear views when docking.
New to Raymarine is the EmpirBus Digital Switching System, which is ideal for new builds. It links and operates every electrically operated mechanism on board.
Our sport-fish will carry a Dual Sonar CP 100 with the Lighthouse II update with both CHIRP and DownVision. The latter translates side-scanning sonar with direct depth reports below the keel to enable screen portraits of bottom structure using the CP 120 transducer. You will paint birds in vivid detail with the 12 kW Super HD 6-foot open array radar, which also features dual range, high-speed scan, antenna boost and power boost options.
On the Tower, Salon and Cockpit
S125 displays in the tower keep the skipper in full control. But we mounted e165 displays in the salon and cockpit to keep the crew fully informed of vessel status, position and fishing conditions. With the entire system networked, these stand-alone components give backup to the main displays and allow for complete system control throughout.
Fusion Electronics was the first to integrate audio equipment with navigation suites, providing a seamless interface that allows captain and crew to control sound and tracks in multiple zones without ever taking an eye off of the game. Fusion recently expanded their iPhone/Android docking system with wireless Bluetooth capabilities, which lets everyone take a turn at piping their playlist throughout the vessel. Android and iPhone apps allow remote control of the system.
Price Tag: $83,959
On the Bridge
A few years ago, Simrad impressed its competition and inspired its customers with its new NSS touch-screen systems. The company kept building on that success by adding 24-inch widescreen glass cockpit displays (MO24-T) powered by their brand-new EVO2 processor. The beauty of EVO2 is that each black box functions like two processors, and they’re embedded with Insight Cartography.
On our battlewagon, these touch panels also connect to three tactile controllers (OP40), the hard-wired helm seat remote (CP40) and a wireless (FU80) controller.
Simrad’s AP70 is the ideal autopilot for a vessel in this size range, and we’ll control it with an AP70 color control panel.
Here, Sonic Hub is the music controller of choice because it gives separate zone control for volume, balance and tone in cockpit, bridge and salon.
A VHF (RS35) radio and handset on the bridge and tower, plus the NAIS-400 AIS system, keep skippers and vessels connected. A Float Away Automatic EPIRB adds an extra level of safety.
Simrad’s Broadband Sonar (BSM 2) black box feeds multifrequency CHIRP data to the entire network. An Airmar B265LH transducer transmits beam widths of 6 to 25 degrees for clean, sweeping images of the water column. A StructureScan (LSS HD) black box makes tracking bait pods and predators around the vessel incredibly easy. Simrad’s 6-foot open-array 10 kW radar (TX10-1) will mark the birds, but we’ll also pair up a Broadband 4G Radar for its superior target discrimination capabilities for nearby targets.
In the Salon
In the salon, anglers and crew can keep an eye on vessel status on a fourth 24-inch (MO24-T) display.
Tower & Cockpit
We’ll post one recently introduced NSS9 EVO2 on the tower and one in the cockpit. Its integrated CHIRP sonar provides an additional backup, but it also allows crew and skipper to monitor any device on the network. Autopilot controllers (AP70) in the tower and cockpit give crew members the ability to fine-tune trolling patterns and bearing.
No traveling sport-fisher hits the high seas without a Sirius XM satellite radio — and it’s not just to keep the tunes jamming. With satellite radio, you can watch storms in real time and skirt them if necessary. You can watch weather trends as they develop, allowing you to determine whether you should pick up and run to port or stand pat and fish. Sea-surface temperature overlays also help find rips, which often create those pretty weed lines we love to find.