What are the best boating products to look out for in 2022? Rupert Holmes previews some of the most exciting gear to come this year
2021 has seen many new boating products come onto the market, despite the difficulties seen throughout the year, here’s our Yachting World roundup of the best boating products of 2022 to help you with your sailing this season.
2021 finished with METS equipment show returning after cancellation in 2020 due to Covid, although the show went ahead this year it was at a somewhat reduced capacity and a late cancellation of Boot Dusseldorf was a blow to the marine sector.
Despite these difficulties, however, the annual DAME awards took place at METs so impressive kit and DAME winners were still duly selected. A common theme at November’s METS marine equipment trade show was that of existing products benefitting from development work that dramatically improves functionality, which you will see reflected in our selection of the best boating products of 2022.
One example of a manufacturer focussing on updated kit is Oceanvolt, which has worked on its ServoProp series of electric saildrive units to improve efficiency in propulsion mode and to increase battery charge rates when regenerating power while under sail.
Improvements have been achieved through a two-pronged approach. Software changes give much more linear and stable regeneration at higher boat speeds. This is especially true in surfing conditions, when boat speeds can vary dramatically. This update is available for owners with existing systems.
In addition, improved water cooling helps to increase efficiency at higher speeds. At 11 to 12 knots – a speed many cruising catamarans can achieve – a massive 3kW of power is produced by the ServoProp 15.
Re-engineering mechanical elements of the system has reduced friction, enabling a big boost to charging rates at lower boat speeds. Regen now starts at 4.5 knots instead of 5.5, the amount of energy needed to spin the propeller fast enough to initiate charging is reduced by one third and there’s a tangible jump in charge rates at 5-6 knots of boat speed.
The ServoProp 15 (suitable for yachts up to 15m with a single electric motor and larger yachts with twin units), for example, now produces 220W at 5 knots of boat speed, increasing to 500W at 6 knots and close to 800W at 7 knots.
Relatively lightweight cruising yachts equipped with a Code 0 and asymmetric spinnakers are easily capable of achieving 5-7 knots, even in very light airs, providing the apparent wind is kept well forward. This may mean gybing through large angles, which can mean slow VMG.
However, instead of zigzagging slowly downwind, fast cruisers with electric propulsion may want to route more like a raceboat in light airs. These might use the Code 0 to reach off quickly towards another part of the ocean with more breeze, or at least towards an area where a new wind is expected to build.
For cruisers this approach reduces time spent under power, while increasing the time the regen function is able to put substantial charge back into the batteries.
Price: from €39,400 for ServoProp 10 system including 13.3kWh battery bank.
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This second generation top-down furler for asymmetric spinnakers and reaching sails offers a number of important refinements. The larger spool diameter, for instance, reduces the physical effort needed to furl the sail.
The plastic sleeve around the torsion rope isolates the sail from the cable, which improves the reliability of furling, while also minimising the risk of damaging the sail. In a similar vein, the hardware top and bottom has been redesigned with more rounded edges to reduce chafe.
As with the previous version, sealed bearings are used on all but the smallest model. These need no maintenance other than a regular wash with fresh water.
The Spinex is produced in four versions to suit boats from 29ft (8.9m) to 60ft (18.2m).
Price: from €2,000
Digital Yacht NavAlert
Many new products offer such a wide range of benefits they’re becoming increasingly difficult to categorise. Digital Yacht’s NavAlert, for example, works as a remote monitoring device that will ping you an SMS message in the event of a problem.
However, it’s also designed to produce helpful alerts when you’re on board – it’s supplied with an audible and visual alarm to mount in the cockpit and can be interfaced with compatible MFDs, where an alarm will open a pop up window.
NavAlert is therefore in effect a universal system that’s capable of monitoring any parameter on the boat’s NMEA 2000 network, from engine data to GPS position, bilge pumps, sensors and anchor drift alarm. It interfaces with Digital Yacht’s existing 4GXtream internet connectivity product, which means there are no additional on-going costs.
It’s also designed to interface with a NavChat device that will be available in early 2022. This offers spoken alarms such as “Caution – low depth alarm!”
Dometic Voyager TX aircon
Improvements in technology have led to the development of more compact air conditioning systems, with lower power requirements, simplified maintenance and greater longevity.
Dometic’s Voyager TX series is available in 10,000BTU and 18,000BTU units (roughly 2.9kW and 5.2kW) and are a drop-in replacement for the previous DTG range. They run on both 110V and 240V AC power and both have a built-in inverter.
Instead of distinct ‘on’ and ‘off’ modes the variable capacity compressor is able to maintain exactly the speed required to keep interior temperatures constant. This also helps reduce noise levels and the power draw at start up.
Built-in digital pressure sensors eliminate the need for a technician to visit the boat and connect his own pressure gauges as the first step in a trouble-shooting process.
Prices from approx US$2,500
Sailmon Max mini
Uptake of Sailmon’s compact Max wireless instrument display and analytics tool has been dramatic in many classes – 84 J/70s use the system, for instance, as do many foiling Moth sailors. However, many keelboat and dinghy classes don’t allow electronic displays.
Sailmon therefore developed the Max mini, which includes all the sensors and processors of the original Max in a black box format. It can operate as a stand-alone device, or interface with other systems on board, including Cyclops load sensors, and relay data to the cloud via a 4G data connection.
Despite the lack of a display, it’s therefore possible to use Sailmon’s performance analysis tools after racing or training. You can replay the course to see which boats around you were higher or faster and even drill down to details such as comparing heel angles across the fleet.
This 10in rugged tablet is an affordable and flexible alternative to an on board navigation computer. With the waterproof covers on the various ports closed it is water resistant to IP67 and rated to withstand being dropped from a height of 1.2m (4ft). The 850nits sunlight viewable screen uses a third generation Gorilla glass with an anti-glare coating.
Its 10,000mAh battery is easily changed, allowing the unit to be used on deck for extended periods, whether for race navigation or complex pilotage. When used at the navstation it can be connected to a remote monitor, bluetooth keyboard and trackpad.
The SP10W sits in Sail Proof’s range alongside 8in and 10in marinised Android tablets.
On Deck USB charging port
Scanstrut has added this dual USB-C/USB-A charging port to its range of products for powering portable devices on board. The USB-C outlet provides 36W on 12V boat systems – that’s enough to directly power many laptop computers. An impressive 60W is available when used with 24V DC systems.
The USB-A outlet provides up to 36W for fast charging. With the flap closed the unit is waterproof to IPX4 standards, so it can be installed on deck. Called the Flip Pro, this charging port will be available from February.
Solution for lithium battery fires
The rapidly increasing popularity of lithium-ion batteries poses a problem that conventional fire extinguishers cannot deal with effectively. These batteries pack so much energy density into a tight volume that, if a fire occurs, temperatures can rise to 800°C.
The solution is an AVD (Aqueous Vermiculite Dispersion) extinguisher. These spray a fine mist of water and platelets of vermiculite, a type of aluminium-iron-magnesium silicate.
The water has a vital cooling effect, while the vermiculite platelets form a layer over the battery that seals it from oxygen in the atmosphere and dramatically reduces the risk of re-ignition.
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