DUCK KEY, FLA. — Talk about tricked out. The 278 Dusky Open Fisherman was packed with just about every navigational nuance from Navico.
I got a chance to see the new technologies in action — and on the water — during a sea trial in the Florida Keys on Tuesday at Navico’s annual press event. (Navico owns the Simrad, Lowrance and B&G electronics brands.)
Two Simrad NSS evo2 touchscreen navigation systems with 16-inch displays anchored the center console’s helm. Simrad’s new GO7 XSE standalone GPS plotter/sounder combo unit (with a 7-inch display) was mounted starboard of the steering wheel; three IS35 multifunction instrument gauges lined the area just above the wheel.
The overhead electronics box held a Simrad RS35 VHF radio with Automatic Identification System capability, along with a “Sonic Hub” docking station for mobile phone connectivity.
Tito Perez, a Simrad key account manager, showed me the features via the touchscreens, paying special attention to Simrad’s new StructureScan 3D and the Halo pulse-compression radar system. The boat was equipped with seven transducers for various sonar views, including the 3D view, 2D DownScan, SideScan and ForwardScan.
“All of the transducers are not being used for what I’m showing today, but they get used as this boat is set up with different products for testing,” Perez said.
Our boat was using five of the seven, Perez later told me.
At one point during the 90-minute test run, we had StructureScan 3D displayed on the bottom and StructureScan SideScan 2D on the top of one of the 16-inch units. In this split-screen mode, nothing — no rock cropping, ledge or school of fish — was going untraced.
Perez switched to a screen showing images from the Halo radar, which delivers close and long-range detection and high target definition with minimal clutter, the company said. To illustrate the capabilities, Perez laid down the radar image on top of the chart plotter display. It showed the radar mimicking the shoreline and the nearby breakwater as the boat trolled just offshore.
The boat also was equipped with AIS. We marked and tracked another boat — a 34-foot Sea Vee, also rigged with Simrad equipment — about a quarter-mile away.
Back inshore, as we cut through a narrow channel, the radar teamed with the StructureScan 3D in a split-screen display, showing the carved-out shape of the channel bottom, as well as the breakwater to starboard and private docks and their boats to port.
Perez also gave me the lowdown on the $649 GO7 XSE, which includes TotalScan, a new all-in-one transducer that combines CHIRP technology with high-resolution StructureScan HD and DownScan imaging technology. The unit also features ForwardScan, which was introduced in 2014. The StructureScan 3D operates with its own transducer.
I saw only Simrad products on Tuesday. Today I may have a chance to hop on a boat with Lowrance or B&G equipment. If so, I will include that information in my story for Soundings Trade Only’s March issue.
Meanwhile, here’s a rundown of the major new Lowrance and B&G products:
• Lowrance’s new Elite Ti Series fishfinder/chart plotter with CHIRP sonar, StructureScan HD and DownScan Imaging is available in 5- and 7-inch displays.
• Available in 4-, 5-, 7- and 9-inch displays, Lowrance’s Hook fishfinders offer CHIRP sonar and DownScan Imaging. The Hook line includes two value-priced fishfinders — the Hook-3x with BroadBand Sounder and Hook-3x DSI with DownScan Imaging.
• The B&G Vulcan 5 is a 5-inch standalone chart plotter with pinch-to-zoom, user-friendly menus and a built-in GPS. The Vulcan 7 FS has integral ForwardScan sonar, is compatible with GoFree wireless and has built-in GPS, waypoints, routes, integrated autopilot control and a choice of cartography providers.