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March 05, 2008

2008 Electronics Emporium: Safety

New safety equipment you can count on.
03 ee ACR-Nauticast-B 200

The Nauticast B targets smaller vessels who want B-class Automatic Identification System (AIS) aboard.. The Nauticast B interfaces with chart plotters and laptops and can multiplex to several screens; it comes with a data power cable and VHF and GPS antennas. The unit also features a remote Safety Related Message (SRM) send button that saves the precise coordinates of an emergency incident and immediately generates a safety distress message to surrounding vessels. Users can configure SRM to operate in stealth mode by shifting the AIS data to receive only. Retail price runs about $1,180.
Also from ACR comes the ResQFix, a PLB that weighs 10 ounces. It comes with a permanent flotation pouch and transmits at 406 MHz with the sender's unique, registered, digitally coded distress signal and GPS location. The ResQFix is a smaller, lighter version of the AquaFix and costs $750. Contact ACR at 800-432-0227 or

Simrad's B-class AIS-150 debuted late in 2007. Besides transmitting boat name, type and Maritime Mobile Service Identity (MMSI), it provides closest point of approach (CPA), time to CPA, vessel course, speed, heading and rate of turn of target vessels. The unit comes with a daylight-viewable, waterproof, color LCD screen and built-in coastline maps. You can connect the AIS-150 to the NMEA 2000-based SimNet marine network which features Buddy Tracking, allowing users to enter MMSI numbers for regular contacts and create an alert when those contacts come into a preset range. The AIS-150 also offers Simrad's unique data-logging feature, which records the position of the user's vessel and surrounding vessels throughout the day on an SD memory card. Retail price is $1,500. Contact Navico at 425-778-8821 or

Spot, a subsidiary of Globalstar, is a new "satellite messenger" service. The 7.37-ounce waterproof transmitter sends a GPS location message via commercial satellites to a 911 center. It also offers help request, check-in and progress-tracking functions. The unit should cost around $169 and requires a $99 annual subscription that includes unlimited 911 GPS service and check-in ability with prearranged contacts. An optional progress tracker costs $49.99 annually, and Spot also offers a $100,000 search-and-rescue policy for $7.95 a year. The company claims a 99-plus-percent success rate, sending a message within 20 minutes throughout U.S., Canadian and Caribbean waters. Contact Spot at 866-651-7768 or