On a 30-mile night passage to the tuna grounds, my crewmate grew noticeably uncomfortable with his inability to see in the inky blackness of a moonless evening and expressed doubt in my ability to pilot safely via radar. So, I handed him my handheld FLIR Ocean Scout TK marine thermal camera. “Try this,” I said. “And speak up if you see anything.” Armed with the technology to visually pierce the darkness, he settled down, gained confidence in our safety, and served as a more effective lookout.
From mobile phones and doorbell cameras to public surveillance and automobile backup warnings, video increasingly pervades our lives. That extends to a growing number of marine camera systems that enable safer navigation, easier docking and improved security, as well as capturing angling action and accomplishments, whether for entertainment or as part of fishing-tournament requirements. Let’s look at some examples.
Marine video systems find highly practical applications when navigating at night. FLIR, a leader in this field, offers thermal-imaging cameras that display heat signatures to help detect potential hazards and steer a safe course in the dark. To meet a variety of navigational needs, boat sizes and budgets, FLIR systems range from the M364C ($22,495 suggested retail), with gyrostabilization and multiple cameras that network with multifunction displays, to the Ocean Scout TK handheld scope ($599).
One downside to thermal images is that they are monochrome and two-dimensional. However, FLIR also offers light-amplification technology that picks up the slightest illumination, such as starlight, and amplifies it to depict images in color and three-dimensional views of your surroundings. It offers this in cameras such as the fixed-mount M300C ($6,995) and others that network with MFDs.
SiOnyx also offers light-amplification systems that help anglers navigate safely at night. In 2018, it introduced the Aurora (starting at $699) handheld camera for boaters. Now SiOnyx has debuted the Nightwave D1 ($1,595), a fixed-mount camera system that networks with an MFD and wirelessly connects to mobile devices. Like the Aurora, it requires only a miniscule amount of starlight to generate color images that replicate daytime views.
Marine video systems also enable anglers to keep an eye on systems hidden from view, says Jim McGowan, marketing manager for Raymarine/FLIR. Raymarine’s CAM210IP ($799) or CAM220IP ($599) marine HD video cameras can be installed in areas such as an engine room or bilge compartment. “When networked via Ethernet with MFDs, they quickly let you see from the helm if there are any problems, such as a fluid leak or excessive bilge water, that need to be addressed,” McGowan points out.
FLIR’s compact AX8 ($999) network camera goes a step further. “Its thermal-imaging capability can be preset to certain temperatures and programmed to alert you if temps exceed the presets,” McGowan explains.
This helps monitor diesel exhaust manifolds or circuit-breaker panels, providing an early warning of potential trouble, he says.
Video cameras have a reputation for improving security in the residential and business sectors, and they can do the same for boat owners. Raymarine’s CAM210IP features infrared illumination, making it effective day or night. With the new Raymarine YachtSense Link wireless router, you can monitor from afar on your mobile device or computer, and immediately alert marina management or law enforcement if you see something suspicious. YachtSense Link is engineered to connect via 4G cellular or marina Wi-Fi.
Docking a boat in tight quarters ranks as one of the most nerve-racking experiences, but marine video cameras ease the process. For example, the Garmin Surround View intelligent six-camera system offers a 360-degree bird’s-eye view around the boat on a Garmin MFD to eliminate blind spots. The 1080p cameras include a forward-looking camera at the bow, a rear-looking camera aft, and two side-looking cameras. Available as an option on new boats only, it also provides a visual bumper and distance markers.
Raymarine’s DockSense Alert assisted-docking system uses up to five 3D stereo-vision cameras around the boat that measure target size and distance, and provide proximity warnings to help boaters better negotiate tight quarters. The system networks with Raymarine Axiom MFDs to provide a real-time bird’s-eye view of the vessel and its surroundings. It also offers notifications tuned to the captain’s preferred proximity alert distance. DockSense Alert is currently available as an option on select Boston Whaler models.
If all you need is a camera to look behind the boat when reversing in or out of a slip, Raymarine’s CAM210IP or CAM220IP can be mounted on the hardtop and aimed backward, then viewed on a networked MFD. The wide-angle lenses provide an excellent visual reference.
The same cameras can serve saltwater tournament competitors who need video evidence of angling success, particularly when it comes to catch-and-release events. Mounted high on a hardtop or tower and aimed down at the deck, these cameras record catches, measurements and releases for playing back later on a Raymarine
Whether you’re looking to navigate with greater confidence at night, watch onboard systems for potential trouble, monitor the security of your boat, dock more easily in tight quarters, provide evidence of your fishing success, or just calm the nerves of a crewmate, today’s marine video systems afford effective solutions.
New controls for Suzuki Marine’s 2022 outboards include multiple features such as drive-by-wire shift/throttle, as well as a multifunction gauge and keyless starting systems. There are single- and dual-lever binnacles, as well as a single-lever flush mount, with synchronized control of up to six outboards. The optional keyless start includes a wireless fob that starts up to six engines in order. Price TBA; suzukimarine.com
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Garmin Navionics+ and premium Navionics Vision+ represent the newest generation of electronic marine charts for compatible Garmin chart plotters. They include all-new chart presentation, up to 5,000 chart updates each day and advanced auto-routing capabilities, as well as color-shaded target depth ranges with up to 1-foot depth contours. Available via download or microSD card. $129.99 to $399.99; garmin.com