This marks the 21st year that the International Boatbuilding Exposition (IBEX) has been held. Unlike a consumer boat show, this event offers a venue for all the vendors who supply materials and technology to the boat building industry to show their wares. Seminars abound and if you love the process of building ad equipping boats, this show represents the best continuing education opportunity you ccan ever find.
Like most trade shows, a panel of industry experts evaluates the newest products and technology and gives awards for the best and the brightest. When considering a candidate, judges use five criteria in on the way to their decisions: innovative distinction from other products previously or currently manufactured, benefit to the marine industry and/or consumer, practicality, cost-effectiveness and each product must be customer-ready within 60 days from the end of the show.
At this year’s IBEX, I found the following recipients particularly noteworthy and am mentioning only those in which an end-used might have interest:
Electrical Systems – Charles Industries, Intelligent Marine Charger
Not all that new as it’s been out for at least a year or two. However, this system really does manage your batteries brilliantly.
Furnishing & Interior Parts – Thetford Curve, Porta Potti
Hard to get excited about a new portable toilet? This one looks and acts differently. It boats a battery-powered flush mechanism, A higher seat for greater comfort, larger bowl (no comment), hidden controls for increased durability and even an integral toilet paper dispenser. (Thetford.com)
OEM Electronics – Raymarine, e7D Multifunction Display
This system operates just like an Apple product with the ability to swipe the screen to move it. You get limitless page-generation flexibility via swipe, drag and drop. Entering and exiting apps couldn’t be easier. Touch and hold waypoint generation is also easy. The menu structure and user interface have both been dramatically upgraded, taking the company’s Hybrid Touch to a new level. Followup includes upgrading operation and user interfaces in both Raymarine autopilots and instruments. My aging eyes also appreciate EZView that enlarges the digital readouts.
Raymarine has also added Bluetooth and wi-fi to every unit. Bluetooth lets you control your plotter with a tiny remote that you can wear around your neck or attach to your steering wheel. It also lets you control your sound system. The wi-fi turns each E-7 unit into its own hotspot. Integrate your iPhone, iPad or other Apple computers as well as Androids for video streaming or more importantly plotter synchronization. (raymarine.com) (mercurymarine.com)
Engines – Honda Marine — BF 250 Outboard Engine and Mercury Marine 150 Four-Stroke Outboard
The 250 marks the largest four-stroke Honda has ever produced. Mercury’s new 150 four-stroke comes in considerably lighter than any other 150 — including tw-strokes! (marine.honda.com)
Propulsion/Propellers – Powertech Propellers’ Power Stop Propeller
Admittedly, propellers are designed to push a vessel forward. And that works great most of the time except for when you want to stop quickly, back into a slip controllably or you happen to be a walleye fisherman who travels everywhere (ITAL) backwards! Powertech’s truly unique propeller has a ridge along the low-pressure side that grips the water in reverse giving you infinitely more thrust in the opposite direction. (ptprop.com)
Safety Equipment – Protomet Corporation — Panoramic Mirror System
This is admittedly meant for boats engaged in tow sports so that no matter how wide an arc the skier/wakeboarder might scribe, the driver can always see them. However, what immediately popped into my (ITAL) mind was fishing in a big offshore tournament with lots of boats. In that circumstance, the helmsman must keep track of all the boats criss-crossing in front as well as the bait spread behind. With this mirror (very attractive and with zero optical anomalies), you can watch ahead and watch the entire trolling spread all at once without having to turn around and around constantly. (ptmedge.com)
Environmental – US Marine Products, EFOY Fuel Cell
Okay, this may be the coolest product of them all! And my crystal ball says that the days of the internal combustion engine have just been numbered.
This “charger” works on methanol rather than scarier hydrogen. And in this case, a miniscule amount of methanol goes a very long way. Turn it on and it automatically charges your batteries on as needed, while emitting nothing but a few drops of water and about as much carbon dioxide as in a child’s breath. It weighs about 14 pounds and you honestly need to put your hand on it to tell if it’s running. EFOY fuel cells come in a 2200 model producing 2,160 watt/hours per day and the 1600 with 1,600 watt/hours per day output. (efoy.com)
My Personal Honorable Mentions:
It’s a know fact in the industry that shipping boats from the factory to the dealer often causes wear and damage. Shrink wrapping is costly, environmentally disastrous and wasteful. Ameritex Fabric Systems, Four-in-One Boat Cover protects the boat from the chine up, and then is reusable as a permanent mooring or trailer cover. (ameritexfabrics.com)
Whale is an Irish company that makes a full line of easy-to-use plumbing systems for boats. Its new bilge pumps can move an entire baitfish overboard without a hiccup and the new solid-state-sealed sensors work perfectly. And the best part is from piping to joints to pumps, it can all be installed by an average 12-year old. It just snaps together! (whalepumps.com)
CoastKey replaces your normal kill-switch lanyard with a wireless fob. Accidentally fall overboard and the engines immediately stop. You can also start, stop and tilt your engines with the fob, or activate your anchor windlass or engine cover. (coastkey.com)
What fisherman doesn’t love Dometic’s Eskimo ice machines? Press a button and never have to carry expensive bags of ice cubes down the dock again. Fill your fish box with flakes that you can mix with saltwater for the ultimate frozen brine. Now, even smaller boats can avail themselves of this fabulous technology with the introduction of the company’s EI540D model that makes up to 540 pounds of freshwater flaked-ice per day. You can easily install this compact unit belowdeck or in the engine room and unlike older models, you can send the ice through the insulated tube up to 30 feet to wherever you want it without clogs. The EI540D Ice Cube replaces the EI250D and produces 116 percent more ice than the earlier model but in the same amount of space. (dometic.com)
And finally, Fusion’s 700 series came within a hair’s breadth of winning the electronics category. It has a color display screen, AM/FM, VHF receive, WX receive, satellite ready, iPod audio and video inputs, allowing you to channel your videos and audio from your iPod, iPhone or iPad to your chart plotter or any other screen. Fusion also sets up zone controls rather than faders, allowing you to operate in different spaces at different dynamics. In addition, the compact repeater control head 700 series is NMEA 2000 compliant, affording you the ability to control and display any and all onboard monitoring information via the compact remote control repeater. Or, control all of the above from your iPhone, iPad or Droid via Wi-Fi. This truly represents a complete paradigm shift for the marine audio/visual category. Very cool! (fusionelectronics.com)
——Dean Travis Clarke