New boating products coming soon to a store near you
Innovation in the marine industry is alive and well as I saw at the IBEX show in Miami last week. From that show there will be a batch of new products coming onto the marketplace over the next few months. Some of those products are truly new and interesting. Here are just a few of them:
Suzuki's new 300 DF 300 hp four-stroke outboard. This is the largest displacement fourstroke ever and is lighter than its competitor's 250 hp engine. It has a totally new lower unit that reduces drag by up to 18 percent, has an all new electronic throttle and shift system, and uses NMEA 2000 electronics that allow owners to realize the full potential of the current crop of electronic systems. The cost is high, in the $23,000 range, but lighter weight, a more efficient lower unit, and greater horsepower makes this an outboard worth looking at.
At the other end of the size scale is the Torqueedo electric outboard motor. This engine is unique in that it has a six-pound lithium-manganese battery that can be removed from the motor by simply lifting it off the unit. Once it is off, it can be taken home and recharged overnight, ready for the next day's fun. The motor is equivalent to a 2-hp combustion engine, completely collapsible, weighs about 25 pounds, and can be carried around in a kit bag. The motor takes about 5 minutes to assemble, and has a range of up to 13 miles at maximum speed or about 10 hours at a slower speed.
While we are looking at engines, the Rocketek engine has gear driven accessories with no belts to break or wear, all mounted at the back of the engine. Each accessory can be changed in minutes using standard parts, and it is very compact. The power of the patented engine can easily be boosted by up to 100 hp, by adding a turbocharger that takes less than 5 minutes to install. Removing the starter motor, for example, has been done by the developer, Tim Clark, in a minute and a half, and he estimates that an average boat owner can do the same job in 5 minutes using only a single wrench.
Also for the engine compartment is the SeaTorque enclosed shaft system. This system is the first "bolt-on" inboard propulsion system since the development of the stern drive. It is an oil-filled, self-contained, shaft-and- thrustbearing assembly supplied as a complete unit from the propeller to the engine. It eliminates shaft alignment problems and puts propeller thrust directly against the hull, not through the engine and engine mounts as on a typical shaft installation.
If you have a problem in the engine compartment such as a fire, another new product can automatically extinguish it. The Sea Fire control panel from Sea Fire Marine offers enhanced safety for most boats. The system monitors fire, heat, smoke, and carbon monoxide levels in the engine room and can automatically shut down the engines, cut off fuel supply, and close vents to stop a fire before it can get started.
Also for the engine is the EXT/ CAT from Indmar products, Inc. The patent pending EXT/CAT is the industry's first and only catalytic-converter exhaust system for gasoline marine engines. It reduces CO gases by up to 98 percent, reduces nitrous oxide hydrocarbon emissions. This the only marine exhaust to earn the California Air Resources Board's four-star, super-ultra-low-emission rating. It meets all federal EPA emission requirements for 2008 and is a single piece unit
that takes up very little engineroom
There were new boatbuilding materials on show as well. One material that won an Innovation Award is the ZPlex fiberglass re-inforcement with a foam core woven right into the material. No longer does a builder have to lay up fiberglass mat, add in the foam core, then lay up another mat over the core. With Zplex, a builder lays the mat, foam, and inner skin in one pass. For vacuum bagging ZPlex is a time saving step that gives an incredibly strong completely formable laminate in one step.
Another item you might find on a boat later this year is the PowerSign electrical system. This is a multiplexed system for intelligent power distribution and management for any vessel that uses DC circuitry. What that means is that you can control and monitor all the onboard electrical systems from one location or from any remote location. The system comprises four main units; switches, power distribution units, graphical user interfaces, and communications cables. The power distribution units identify what type of fixture is being used, then turn on that fixture according to a predetermined delay curve. This results in a 41 percent savings in wire, an 18 percent savings in engineering time, and 22 percent savings in installation time.
The electrical system may well be hidden behind panels held in place with a new type of fastener. It's a ball-and-socket fastener made of acetal copolymer that is self-tapping and fits into a predrilled hole. It can be used to hold ceilings, cushions, and even vertical panels in precise locations. With this fastener, you can remove and re-install panels precisely again and again.
These are just a few of the unique and innovative products that were at the IBEX boatbuilders show. I'll let you know what the most interesting boating products in Europe are when I return from the METS show in Amsterdam later this month.