New developments in next-generation technology have opened the door to unprecedented power and automation onboard, offering real-world benefits to boaties everywhere. Story by Craig Ritchie

It’s an over-used phrase, but the reality is that technology does indeed breed new technology, and nowhere is that more apparent than in the world of marine electronics.

The popularisation of powerful, touch-screen, multi-function displays (MFDs) over the past few years was more than a technological triumph in itself, it proved a crucial step in opening the door to all-new developments in related high-tech.

When these innovative MFDs came to market boaters were told they were just the foundation of entirely new ways of running the boat. It sounded like pretty heady stuff at the time, but now we’re seeing that bold claim was right on the mark – and could even have been a bit of an understatement.

With their large screen size, unprecedented resolution and vast processing power, these new MFDs really have allowed electronics manufacturers to bring all-new capabilities to market. This includes exceptionally detailed charts with satellite image overlays and depth band shading, remarkable sonars that scan 360° around the boat, and even autopilots that use a wireless remote to offer point-and-click heading inputs, so cruisers can make course changes without ever leaving the sun pad.

In a year of virtual product launches and digital trade shows where everything happens on a high-resolution screen, the evolution of boating technology seems all the more relevant. Here’s just a small sample of some of the coolest stuff we’ve seen so far.



Its name may be a mouthful, but Furuno’s NAVNet TZtouch3 TZT19F touch-screen display brings a boatload of power and high-tech to any helm station, while remaining intuitive and easy to use with familiar smartphone swipes, scrolls and pinches.

Powered by a quad-core processor for lightningfast response time, the unit includes a powerful internal 1kW TruEcho CHIRP fishfinder and DFF3D multi-beam sonar for 120°port-to-starboard viewing at up to 200m. Its 19-inch LCD display yields bright images in any lighting conditions; PIN code security protects stored data from theft while cloud compatibility protects against accidental waypoint loss.


Humminbird’s Solix12 CHIRP MEGA SI+ G2 combines the company’s leading sonar, mapping and plotter technologies in a single unit for boaties who demand the very best. New MEGA Side Imaging+ provides crystal-clear viewing out to 61m on either side of the boat, while MEGA Down Imaging+ delivers unprecedented underwater clarity down to 61m depths.


The built-in AutoChart Live feature allows users to create their own high-definition charts in real time, including details on depth contours, bottom hardness and vegetation. Full NMEA 2000 networking, ethernet networking and Bluetooth compatibility allow the Solix 12 to interact with a wide range of other equipment, including select Minn Kota electric motors.


A mid-year update to its Axiom MFD line-up, Raymarine’s new Axiom+ offers a brighter, higher resolution screen that won’t black out when viewed through polarised sunglasses, while maintaining comparable wide-angle performance to that of the original so you can see everything clearly even when standing to the side of the helm.

The new screen also benefits from a new HydroTough glass that resists smudges from water or oil – a common complaint with touch-screens. Axiom + displays are available in 7-, 9- and 12.1-inch sizes and each boast a whopping 16Gb of memory for improved app performance and greater storage capacity for charts.

A standard quad-core processor and an improved 10Hz GPS sensor are said to deliver faster response and greater accuracy. Axiom + units are fully compatible with Raymarine’s ClearCruise Augmented Reality for those who want to leave nothing to chance.



As part of its new Works with CZone initiative, Kiwi-founded digital switching supplier CZone has announced a new capability allowing its systems to function with Siren Marine’s remote connectivity platform, providing boaties with complete control and monitoring of critical onboard systems.

Owners can remotely power up refrigerators, bait freezers and HVAC systems before heading to the boat, eliminating dockside preparation time. As well as controlling a variety of dedicated circuits, the system can remotely monitor battery levels, shore power, fluid levels and even the GPS positioning of a vessel, sending instant alerts to a mobile device if something goes wrong.


OnDeck is a neatly-designed communications system that lets anyone track, monitor and remotely control a variety of functions on their vessel from virtually anywhere.

When paired to the ActiveCaptain app, users can monitor critical information like the boat’s battery status, bilge pump activity, door/hatch sensors, GPS location and more – as well as control up to five digital relay switches onboard to remotely operate onboard systems so everything’s ready to go when they step onboard.

Full connectivity through the Garmin Marine Network, engine protocols and NMEA 2000 sensors allow OnDeck to seamlessly integrate into to a full marine system, or be set up as a standalone capability with no MFD required.


Presenting a unique, high-resolution 360° view around the boat, Humminbird’s MEGA 360 Imaging beam rotates with a reach of up to 38m in every direction around the boat to deliver clear images of structure, bottom cover and fish whether the boat is in motion or stopped.

While many high-definition shallow water transducers mount on a boat’s trolling motor, the MEGA 360 transducer mounts independently of it, allowing the sonar to maintain a constant orientation in use regardless of the boat’s actual boat position or heading.

Custom viewing options allow fishos to choose how sonar returns are displayed on the screen, including split-screen views and a zoom function to focus on key areas of interest. Six rotation speeds allow easy optimisation of image quality and refresh rate at any depth.


With its powerful 1kW TruEcho CHIRP fishfinder technology backed by the company’s extensive commercial fishing know-how, Furuno’s Deep Impact DI-FFAMP amplifier transforms a compatible NavNet TZtouch3 display into a turbo-charged fishfinding machine.

Winner of a coveted National Marine Electronics Association (NMEA) Best in Product Award, the device amplifies the display’s onboard TrueEcho CHIRP fishfinder to 2kW or 3kW while preserving full signal clarity, allowing users to scan depths of up to 3,000m in astounding detail.

High-powered TruEcho CHIRP ensures that sonar returns come back strong and clear at every depth range, displaying fish targets and bottom structure with amazing clarity. The Deep Impact can also connect a 5kW or 10kW transducer with the BT-5, for the ultimate in deep water search capability.


The Active Imaging 3-in-1 transducer from Lowrance claims to deliver superior clarity and the highest resolution images of fish and structure at a longer range than any other structure-imaging technology.

Featuring CHIRP, SideScan and DownScan with FishReveal technology, Active Imaging enhances the capability of compatible HDS Live, HDS Carbon and Elite Ti2 displays with more refined detail, greater range and exceptional clarity.


Available with a choice of 7-, 9- and 12-inch displays, Raymarine’s Element HV fishfinder/GPS combo features seven built-in sonar channels fed from a single all-in-one transducer.

Hyper-Vision 1.2MHz, super-high resolution Down-Vision, SideVision, and Raymarine RealVision 3D sonar technology delivers precision target imaging and fish identification capability, letting anglers see structures, vegetation and fish with life-like clarity.

Element features an onboard quad-core processor for instantaneous chart redraw, super-fast signal response, and smooth RealVision 3D image rendering. Intuitive keypad controls work with wet hands or when wearing gloves, while support for Raymarine’s Lighthouse Sport operating system supports a range of mapping options, including RealBathy which lets anglers create their own high-definition bathymetric charts on the fly.


Garmin Panoptix LiveScope delivers detailed, easy-to-interpret live scanning sonar images of structure, bait and fish swimming all around and ahead of the boat in real time, even when the vessel is stationary.

That capability is further enhanced with the optional Perspective mount, which allows easy adjustment of the transducer to suit different fishing techniques – exploring up to 60m ahead when trolling, searching bottom up to 60m below when jigging, or employing an overhead angle displaying bottom up to 15m away when fishing in shallow water.

Each mode renders super-sharp, real-time scanning sonar images on a Garmin chartplotter screen. The Panoptix LiveScope scanning sonar system includes a compact GLS 10 sonar black box with LVS32 transducer and simple plug-and-play Garmin Marine Network connector, making it easy to install and seamlessly integrate with a compatible Garmin chartplotter.


B&G’s innovative ForwardScan forward-looking sonar doesn’t worry about what lies below the boat and instead focuses on what’s ahead, allowing sailors to avoid unmarked reefs and shoals when navigating unfamiliar waters.

With an effective range of eight times the actual water depth, the system features real-time updates, historical sonar logs that display depth history in relation to the boat’s current position, and a built-in configurable shallow depth alarm for the utmost in protection from unseen hazards.

The exclusive Heading Line View feature uses a colour-coded heading line extension to identify shallow spots, moderate depths and deep water ahead of the boat, which can be viewed on a compatible B&G Vulcan or Zeuss3 display, or even a compatible tablet or smartphone using the B&G GoFree Wi-Fi-1 system.


If you’ve enjoyed playing video games with Nintendo’s Wii system, you’ll love Furuno’s newest autopilot.

With its unique Gesture Controller, the Furuno NavPilot 300 brings point-andshoot capability to autopilots using Bluetooth connectivity. Designed for small to mid-sized vessels, the system includes an autopilot black box, a single-DIN, 4.1-inch colour LCD display and Furuno’s lanyard-based Gesture Controller for point-and-click remote operation from anywhere onboard.

Simply point the gesture controller forward, push and hold the Set Heading button, then point the controller to where you want to go and release the button – the device promptly determines the new heading and turns the boat accordingly for effortless navigation and a gee-whiz factor that just can’t be beat.

Anglers will appreciate the NavPilot’s built-in Sabiki Mode that maintains steering and heading control even when drifting astern, allowing users to simply focus on fishing. Furuno’s NAVpilot series is compatible with Volvo Penta IPS, Yamaha Helm Master, Yanmar 8LV engine systems and SeaStar Optimus360 Joystick systems.


Raymarine’s EV150 Hydraulic Autopilot System Pack is a complete autopilot-in-abox kit designed for popular fishing and cruising powerboats with hydraulic steering.

Like its siblings, the EV150 features Evolution Track IQ algorithms for tight trackkeeping and fast track acquisition. Raymarine’s patented Hydro-Balance technology automatically compensates for deficiencies in the boat’s hydraulics and adjusts automatically for asymmetrical loads caused by propeller walk and unbalanced steering rams.


Targeting smaller fishing boats and day cruisers, the Si-Tex SP120C offers four steering modes: manual, auto, GPS waypoint steering (when interfaced with GPS) and wind steering, which steers to wind when interfaced with wind sensors for sailboat applications.

The colour display shows compass heading, selected heading, rudder angle information, input voltage, and amperage simultaneously. It comes paired with a precision nine-axis gyro compass for quick course detection and steering control in changing sea conditions.

The system can work with or without a Rudder Feedback unit depending on the installation preferences.

GARMIN REACTOR 40 WITH SMARTPUMP V2 With its solid-state, nine-axis Attitude Heading Reference System, Garmin’s Reactor 40 hydraulic autopilot keeps boaters on course at cruising speeds in all sea and weather conditions with a heading accuracy within two degrees.

Patented technology automatically disengages the autopilot when the operator takes the helm, and reengages once a steady course is maintained. The device uses a single compact, brushless SmartPump v2 that fits most hydraulically-steered boating applications and is fully compatible with a range of Garmin displays. Combined with BlueChart g2 Vision charts, users can enjoy a range of optional features including Auto Guidance1, which automatically steers following defined GPS paths. NMEA recognised the Reactor 40 with SmartPump V2 as its Autopilot of the Year in late September.