We take a look at some of the best new boat accessories that will be making its way to a shop near you in 2023
When it comes to picking the best boat accessories of any year, the Marine Equipment Trade Show (METS) is the place to be, where many brands launch their latest gadgets and tech due to hit the market. Every year the Yachting World team attends this event to get the inside line on the newest gadgets coming to the boating world.
METS is also the location of the illustrious DAME awards with one overall winner, five category winners and lots of special mentions, all of which form a good list of the best boat accessories and tech for 2023.
We’ve picked out our favourite award winners and looked at some of the other eye-catching innovations to bring you our list of the best boating kit for 2023.
Ocean Signal rescueMe PLB3
What is it? The first compact MOB beacon to combine AIS and satellite technology
Who’s it for? Each and every person who puts to sea, particularly leisure sailors
This new personal beacon arguably presents the best possible chance for a MOB casualty to be rescued, even if they are incapacitated.
Ocean Signal has specialised in making compact antennae and personal beacons over the last decade. And, while you’ll have to forgive the barrage of acronyms, this rescueME PLB3 is very much the product many of us have been waiting for since personal MOB AIS beacons first started coming on the market.
By integrating Cospas Sarsat beacon technology, as used by global rescue services, with AIS, it has created the most powerful means of alerting others to a MOB or distress situation.
For those in VHF proximity to other vessels, the AIS MOB signal offers the most likely chance of a quick rescue. If this signal is not received by a vessel within range, then the 406MHz global satellite system will trigger a response suitable for the location.
The PLB3 combines GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) positioning, 406MHz and 121.5MHz signals, plus the new Galileo Return Link Service (RLS) technology, which alerts users that their signal has been received, all within a unit the size of a conventional hand flare.
It also manages to include Near Field Communications (NFC), a clever and current method for users to monitor their beacon’s performance and maintenance requirements. This technology can help show a live digital record of the beacon by simply placing your phone within its range. An important benefit of this is knowing how much battery life is left – this PLB has a five year battery life but the battery is not rechargeable.
It features manual or auto activation and each PLB3 is registered, so if accidentally activated its owner will receive a phone call. But there is also an ‘off’ button, and you can check on the mobile app the amount of time it was activated for.
So why has this not been done before? Ocean Signal explained that until now there have been separate AIS and PLB standards, but that its engineering expert Simon Nolan sat on a committee to rewrite the regulations and help push through what is equivalent to a new EPIRB standard. The challenge was combining technologies at such a compact physical size while providing the battery power necessary to run the alarm for the required 24 hours.
“We could probably have got this one out earlier but to physically shrink battery size it needed a lot of work on it,” Nolan told us.
The DAME jury, a panel of experts looking at design and innovation at the METS, is chaired by designer Andre Hoek and includes former YW editor Elaine Bunting. The jury said: ‘in a rescue situation speed is always of the essence and this unit provides the very best chance for survival through this combination of long- and short-range detection.’
The waterproof rescueME PLB3 weighs 190g, measures 200x36x30mm and is now approved for sale in the UK and Europe.
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Integrel Next Generation
What is it? A very high output alternator that can replace traditional generators, plus hybrid propulsion options
Who’s it for? Cruising yachts with power generation requirements above 5kW per day
Four years ago Integrel launched an intelligent system allied to an extra large 9kW belt-driven alternator that makes use of the spare capacity that’s intrinsic in marine diesel engine installations. It was overall winner of the 2018 DAME awards and is now fitted as standard on an increasing number of new yachts, including all Balance Catamarans, which no longer have an optional diesel generator. It also features on the options list for many yards. High-profile clients include Riley Whitelum and Elayna Carausu of YouTube channel Sailing La Vagabond.
During the Covid lockdowns, when the company’s engineers were unable to travel internationally to complete or advise on installations, Integrel invested heavily in product development, massively accelerating the launch of new equipment, resulting in three new Next Generation products that won this year’s DAME awards Machinery, Propulsion, Mechanical and Electrical category.
The Integrel Inline performs exactly the same task as the original big alternator. However, instead of being a belt-driven device, it has a thin 10kW, 48V ‘pancake’ alternator that slots between the engine and gearbox. This lengthens the drivetrain by only 20cm, and dispenses with the belt drive to significantly reduce routine maintenance. It’s suitable for engines from around 30hp-200hp.
The Integrel Plus is a powerful hybrid propulsion and charging solution, with an electric motor rated at 30kW continuous and 50kW peak output at the back of the diesel engine. This serves two functions – it can be used for propulsion over shorter distances and at lower speeds, such as when entering or leaving port. Alternatively it can be used as a massive alternator/generator to charge a 40kW battery bank when the diesel motor is running.
The final new item, the Integrel Ultra, has a Torque Boost function, for planing motoryachts that need a big burst of power for a few seconds to get on the plane, before throttling back to a comfortable cruising speed. Incorporating an electric motor with 100kW continuous (150kW peak) rating into the drivetrain allows that short-term boost power to come from batteries, rather than internal combustion engines. The engines can therefore be up to 40% smaller, reducing weight and significantly improving efficiency at cruising speeds. At displacement speeds the electric motor can be used as a very high-output alternator to recharge the battery bank, thereby rendering a separate generator unnecessary.
Simarine Nereide 3
This digital switching brand is increasingly popular on new yachts and its third generation product received a DAME nomination. New features include 80% lower power consumption, a bigger LCD screen, and soft labels for each of the 18 hard-wired tactile aluminium switches on the boat’s main panel.
This allows boatbuilders and owners to quickly and easily change the function of any switch to best suit the equipment fitted to an individual boat, or to neatly incorporate extra kit added after the boat leaves the factory. Button labels can be either static, or dynamic, with the latter combining multiple functions on a single button. For instance, you could have a single button for refrigeration that brings up a further menu with a switch for each individual fridge and freezer unit on board.
The system can therefore be used to control a huge number of devices, with a minimum of complexity for the end user. There are also separate modules for bilge pumps and for the main power switches. At the same time, it also includes back up manual switches and fuses, while Simarine’s excellent Pico battery and tank level monitoring display is built into the main Nereide 3 display. It’s also designed for plug-and-play compatibility with Sentinel Marine’s BM-50 Remote Management System.
As electric propulsion becomes more and more widely adopted, the need for fast electric charging escalates. Aqua superPower is rolling out the world’s first dedicated global marine fast charging network across Europe and the US. Its knowledge and experience stems from the automotive world (it built up the UK network for automotive fast chargers). Aqua offers the backend part, the safe chargers for docks and marinas, using IP-65-rated waterproof hardware.
Typical shorepower connections are designed for slow overnight charging, whereas superPower uses ultrafast 25kW-150kW DC charging. This gives the potential to recharge battery power on both leisure and commercial boats to over 60% in just 40 minutes. Considering the mix of high voltage with the marine environment, a key component is Aqua’s use of CCS Type 2 standard connectors, which the company says are completely safe, even if dropped in the water.
Its business model is aimed at encouraging marinas to install them on a long lease.
With the demand for higher and higher charges comes the need for faster chargers. “Our network is designed to create a seamless user experience that is accessible to boat users via the Aqua app or RFID card, enabling users to view a map showing charger locations, offering navigational aids, and managing charging sessions,” says CEO Alex Bamberg.”
Cyclops Marine Wireless Load Pin
Over the past 15 years load sensing has changed from a technology in its infancy even on the latest IMOCA 60s to widespread use in fleets such as J/70s and two-handed racing in small offshore yachts. Part of this is down to companies such as Cyclops Marine producing streamlined systems that are simple to swap for the original components, thus making retrofitting very easy.
Yet the results can be dramatic. Kate Cope, organiser of the UK double-handed offshore series told us that when she fitted one to her Sun Fast 3200R2 it showed she was 400kg short of forestay tension when sailing upwind in strong breezes. Cranking on more backstay boosted boat speed by 5-8% by preventing the boat being overpowered, thereby reducing heel and rudder drag.
The Cyclops Marine Wireless Load Pin was DAME nominated as its a straightforward drop-in replacement for a standard rigging pin and is the first load pin that doesn’t need to be wired in. The 27.5mm size entered in the DAME awards is suitable for the cap shrouds of 55ft cruising catamarans (which allows an alarm to be set to warn of the boat becoming close to being overpowered) or the forestay of a similar sized racing monohull.
ePropulsion I-20 electric inboard
ePropulsion’s I range of electric inboard motors for shaft drive boats is intended to be easy to fit on existing engine beds. This makes retrofitting easy and allows boatbuilders to offer both diesel and electric propulsion for the same model.
Initially the range consists of three models, at 10, 20 and 40kW, equivalent to 30, 55 and 75hp diesel inboards respectively. The smaller unit is air-cooled, while water cooling is recommended for the larger two. All have integrated battery management systems to simplify installation and save space. At the same time the company launched a complementary 96V 10kW G-series lithium-ion phosphate battery.
As with all other ePropulsion units, regeneration is included at standard. Real-world testing has yet to take place, but for the I-20 unit calculations show 250W at 5 knots of boat speed, 500W at 6 knots of speed and 1,300W at 8 knots.
This French company won a special mention for its Karver Jammer Staysail Kit (KJSK), an easy set-up for rigging an inner forestay for a heavy weather or storm jib.
It’s designed for use with furling sails that incorporate their own textile forestay and Karver recommends a halyard lock to eliminate movement and wear over the sheave.
Tensioning is via a 3:1 tackle that can be taken directly aft to a winch, using a snatchblock if necessary to create a fair lead. Once taught, the built-in cleat allows this line to be taken off the winch and coiled up out of the way. Attachment to the deck is via either metallic fastenings or high-tech lashing.
Mantus dinghy navlight
This looks like a handy tricolour light for use on a dinghy which could also double as an emergency navigation light. The light has US Coast Guard approval for two miles. It has five modes including tricolour and bicolour and it’s possible to select between the three colours – for use as only a stern light for example. The Mantus light is waterproof to IPX8 and has fittings to allow it to clamp onto a rail, or attach to an engine cowling using a 3M pad. Where the base is permanent the body can quickly disconnect which makes it useful for USB charging. A full three hour charge gives the light approximately eight hours use – which should prove plenty for dinghy use.
Watersports enthusiasts typically rely only on buoyancy aids, rather than full lifejackets that will support a casualty’s head above the water if they become unconscious. However, that’s far from an ideal situation, especially for those who are becoming older, or are practising watersports in an area without immediate safety cover.
The Furio is a solution – it’s a conventional buoyancy aid with 50N of flotation, plus features a PLB pouch, back protection and integrated provision for a harness hook. However, it also has a 110N inflatable bladder that transforms it into a full manually activated 160N lifejacket.
A shocking statistic from the RNLI’s free lifejacket inspections a few years ago was that the inflation cylinders of roughly one third of those checked were not fully screwed home and therefore at risk of not inflating properly. Regatta and Aalesund Protective Wear have solved the problem with this neat friction device that physically prevents the cylinder rotating after installation.
The two models offered enable retrofitting to the almost ubiquitous UML MK5 and Pro Sensor Elite lifejacket trigger mechanisms. DAME judges praised the Safelock, saying it was: ‘An excellent example of how clever design thinking can resolve long-standing problems.’
Rooster Aquafleece Robe
Changing robes may have become the ubiquitous watersports fashion statement, but at least they have a practical element. This is a versatile offering from Rooster as it has a removable, washable fleece lining.
Founder Steve Cockerill explained to us that his company wanted to offer a changing robe, but “we wanted to do something different, make it unique.” It uses Rooster’s proven durable Aquafleece material as the outer layer, which is a fully waterproof PU coated fleece, permeable but not enough to call breathable. Inside is a teddy fleece liner made from recycled polyester, which can be removed to be washed and so kept fresh.
From the makers of Ghook comes another ‘simple works best’ product for cleaning the typically muddy and barnacle encrusted stern docking lines found in many marinas, particularly in the Med. During its studies Boatasy found that giving a rectangular shape to the spiral metal works best on dock lines and its tool makes it quick and easy to attach onto lines up to 32mm diameter. The sharp inside edges of the stainless steel cut away algae, dirt and shells, says sales manager Gregor Jeretič. He estimates that just 10 minutes of using this to clean the lines three times a year is all that would be needed to keep them fouling free and without needing to hire a diver or using chemicals.
Roll-up emergency VHF antenna
Historically, emergency VHF antennas had a short and stubby antenna, which can limit range. Shakespeare improved on this a couple of years ago with the inflatable Galaxy INFL8-5 VHF antenna, which incorporates a full-length aerial.
Revolve, a spin-off of a firm producing roll-up antennae using carbon fibre for military and search and rescue use, is now employing the same technology to produce a 2.5m high antenna with a 3/4 wave dipole antenna embedded within the laminate. It takes only seconds to unroll and includes a strobe light at the top. It won a DAME special mention.
The company also produces a roll-up boat hook with accessories including soft and hard bristle deck brush heads.
Deck and sunlounging cushions, together with saloon seat backs are big business today. But they need to stay in place – how many broken buttons or Velcro fastenings have you seen? Here is a simple but practical solution which uses powerful magnets embedded in the foam of cushions, rather than trying to connect fabric to fabric.
The New Zealand company claims they will last forever and will not rust as they use aircraft grade epoxy coated magnets and marine grade stainless steel fixings. Depending on the application, either strips or single points can be used and after installation they are invisible. Magnets can even be glued behind surfaces so they’re not visible. They can be retrofitted into any furniture and all cover materials.
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