Boat Show Brief

Good weather prevailed in Fort Lauderdale for the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, though all eyes and iPads are on Hurricane Rina, which just may stay far enough south of us for the show to run its course through Sunday.

We got a preview of some intriguing new electronics, under nice sea and weather conditions, on Wednesday morning, some big developments that are worth keeping an eye on.

First stop was a sea trial with Raymarine, to try out the new E7 Hybrid Touch, which is fitted out with built-in WiFi, so among other features; you can view whatever is on the screen on a mobile device, iPad or iPhone. As well it integrates, via Plotter Synch, with Navionics charts between the MFD and the mobile device. But what really caught our attention was the first showing of Ray’s CHIRP fish finder, so new they won’t even release a final name for it yet. CHIRP modulates each sonar ping, producing an unparalleled level of detail and resolution. The picture above, taken form the onboard E7, shows the midrange transducer modulating from 85 to 130 kHz transducer on the left and the high range, chirping from 130 to 210 kHz, on the right. Note the detail in the return near the “20” mark on both screens. It’s an intriguing addition to a surge of innovation Raymarine is rolling out.

Also in our morning’s work we got a look at Navico’s newest radar, the 4G Broadband. This one expands the range of the predecessor, the 24-mile 3G, to 36 nautical miles and features some heavyweight programming and signal interpretation. Among other refinements it has a scalable beam width, which Simrad calls “Beam Sharpening.” The beam width is adjustable from 2.6 to 5.4 degrees, which acts like a contrast and resolution-sharpening tool, and drastically improves detail in the return. The screen shot here shows dual range operation (two ranges, from 200 feet to 36 miles can be displayed with total independence) with radar on the right and radar-chart overlay on the left. The dual range feature also allows independent tracking of up to 10 MARPA targets in each range. Just as appealing, the sweeping new features and range only add a couple hundred bucks to the price of the earlier model.