Best multi-function vessel monitoring systems for 2018

Not only are onboard networks making navigation a lot more efficient and simpler, integrated systems serve up a ton of easily accessible information about mechanical, propulsion, security and electrical equipment. Most of that data flows along the NMEA 2000 backbone to the Multi-Function Display---MFD. What’s more, you don’t have to be on the boat to see whether the bilge pump is working hard, perhaps indicating a serious leak, or if someone---maybe an intruder---has turned on lights in the salon. Remote monitoring and warning alerts are commonplace---so is software that lets you manage some functions from wherever you are.

Vessel monitoring systems are showing up on all sizes and types of boats, both recreational yachts and commercial vessels. Over the next few weeks we’ll tell you about some serious monitoring/management devices that can provide lots of peace of  mind. We lead off with seven multi-function systems.

The lineup is part of an exercise that Marine Electronics Journal does every year. We call it the Best & Brightest Boating Electronics—it works like this:

We ask manufacturers to identify the one model they produce in a particular category that they consider to be their Best & Brightest—not necessarily the most technically advanced or newest but rather the one they rate highest in the product line for one reason or another. Could be the functions and features it offers, or maybe it breaks new ground in maximizing effectiveness or utility, or maybe it’s the most popular as measured by sales to boaters.

There are 17 categories in all­, ranging from autopilots and fishfinders to vessel monitoring systems and multi-function displays---MFDs. Last week we rolled out electronic gateways that facilitate seamless communication between devices that operate on different protocols.. Click HERE to check it out.


Maretron N2KView

Whether you are interested in monitoring your vessel’s systems while underway or remotely from your home or office, Maretron’s N2KView software displays the information you need including engines, generators, tanks, rudders, navigation instruments, local weather, and much, much more. N2KView® is completely user-configurable and you are free to create different screens for your exact needs while easily switching from screen to screen for monitoring all your systems. Digital displays, analog gauges, graphic displays, warning lights, and bar graphs, all can be configured to fit your needs. You can even set the operating limits and color bands for analog gauges so you know when things are within limits and when they are not.



The new miniature GOST MINI Dome PTZ 1080P AHD camera is a discreet yet powerful safety solution for monitoring activity onboard, from the engine room to the cockpit. Measuring 4.8 inches in diameter, this camera is tiny compared to most Pan Tilt Zoom cameras and is a rugged marinized GOST camera that is tamper-proof and water-resistant for interior or exterior mounting. The camera includes a 2.0 megapixel sensor that provides high-resolution 1080p images. The camera has a 4x optical zoom lens and is compatible with the GOST WATCH HD-XVR HD for remote viewing, storage, and notifications.


Nautic Alert X2

Nautic Alert X2 is the ultimate compact, global and wireless security, monitoring, and tracking solution for recreation, commercial and fleets. X2 is the first to offer advanced perimeter microwave and FLIR-based security that can drive video clips and notifications. X2’s unique bilge management detects and notifies for leaks and more very early on, auto-switches bilge pumps, controls bilge discharge, enables service notifications to dealers, and displays detailed pump events and data remotely. Its tracker core brings VMS standards to recreation, and its smart geofencing enables fleet management. Advanced anti-theft, monitored SAR/MOB, multi-bank monitoring and trending and much more are featured in this award-winning IoT platform. Customizable features, monitoring, and messaging enable unique value-adds for OEMs and dealers whose customers expect more.


Naviop/Simrad/B&G control system

Navico and Naviop have combined their expertise to develop a state-of-the-art solution for displaying and managing sophisticated yacht systems. Enabling monitoring and control of key equipment, Naviop allows captains, boat owners and manufacturers to develop an easy-to-use, fully customized, touchscreen user interface. Accessible directly from the home screen of any Simrad or B&G glass bridge display, the system facilitates management of engines, generators, batteries, trim tabs and flaps, lighting, air conditioning, entertainment, security systems, bilge pumps, and other vital onboard services.


Siren Marine MTC+

Siren Marine has added wireless sensors to its popular MTC Boat Monitoring and Tracking system, making it even easier for boat owners to create their own Connected Boat and access critical onboard information from a phone, tablet or computer. Five new wireless sensors—High-Water Sensor, Bilge Pump Sensor, Battery Voltage Sensor, Entry Sensor and Temperature—are easy to configure and can be installed on any size and type of boat, without the need to drill holes or run wires. These are offered individually or with the Siren MTC+2 Starter Kit, which includes an MTC and two wireless sensors that monitor battery voltage, high water or unauthorized entry.


Garmin VIRB Ultra 30

The waterproof VIRB Ultra 30 HD action camera captures 4K/30 fps video with GPS data overlays. It also features voice control so users can tell the camera to start, stop and “remember that.” For adventures in wet conditions, its LCD touchscreen display and high-sensitivity microphone that even work through the waterproof case. Plus, you can live-stream your video adventures with friends online. When connected to a Garmin chartplotter, the VIRB Ultra 30 is capable of receiving and overlaying engine speed, heading, speed thru water, water depth and temp, lat/long, course/speed over ground, true wind angle/speed and apparent wind angle/speed (applicable sensors required). Take still photos, and start/stop the video recording and play back footage directly from the chartplotter screen.



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Page 1 of 3 ( 13 comments)

Jp:(8/11/2018 5:28:29 PM) "I have a 2018 Yamaha f40 la and Humminbird helix 7 di , I would like to leverage the nema 2000 capability of the helix 7 to display engine info, what do I need , Humminbird does have a gateway and lowrance makes a Yamaha nema cable, but I'm reading connectors are proprietary . How can I get what is needed?

Since these products are not NMEA 2000 certified there is little assurance that they will share data with each other.

1. Here is the link to see all NMEA 2000 certified products:

2. The NMEA 2000 cables and connectors are from many manufacturers: Here is the link for approved cables and connector manufacturers:

AC/DC grounding distance:(8/2/2018 1:29:35 AM) "What about the grounding points of AC /DC systems? can they be grounded at the same point?
If one system has both AC and DC can they both be grounded to a common buss-bar that has only one conection to the hull?

Here's what Ed Sherman, electric tech guru at the American Boat & Yacht Council, said:

The ultimate goal should always be to tie ac and dc grounds together on board at a single point. In ABYC Standard E-11, it is described as “the engine negative terminal or its buss.” It is most commonly done at a buss."
Hard-Over with Brushed APilot Pump:(12/18/2017 5:37:05 PM) "Jim.
What do you mean by ...."Garmin GHP 20 with SmartPump...Because it is a brushless system, it is fail-safe and won’t execute a hard-over turn the way a brushed pump can."

Thanks for the note. Since the description came from Garmin I contacted the company for an explanation. Here's what one of their engineers told me:

On brushed DC actuators, a single-point failure in the drive circuit (shorted wire or blown component inside the controller) could cause the motor to run full speed in one direction and take the rudder all the way to one rail. A brushless actuator relies on timing-controlled commutation, so a short or component fail would cause the actuator to stop moving rather than moving at full speed.

Hope this helps,

trawlerdeejay:(10/13/2017 3:46:51 PM) "Excellent article. I had no idea what the differences were between o183 and 2000, Thank you so much."
Darryl:(3/27/2017 10:17:15 PM) "Putting the MSRP with each unit reviewed would have been helpful. If each unit was actually tested, the reports on each unit would have been helpful too.

Thanks Darryl---we generally don't mention prices due to confusion over so many variations---MSRP (mfg. suggested retail price), MAP (min. advertised price), MRP (min. resale price) and then there are internet prices on some websites that go their own way. But your point is well taken--buyers need to know if something is in their price range. We'll work on it.
There is independent testing of some of these products on sites like but the information we receive from manufacturers rarely cites the results of any shootouts they may conduct against the competition's products. "
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