Monitoring 2017: Siren, QuikTrak, DotMobile, Yacht Protector, GOST, Maretron, Boat Command & GoFree

Ben Ellison

Ben Ellison

Panbo editor, publisher & chief bottlewasher from 4/2005 until 8/2018, and now pleased to have Ben Stein as a very able publisher, webmaster, and editing colleague. Please don't regard him as an "expert"; he's getting quite old and thinks that "fadiddling fumble-putz" is a more accurate description.

8 Responses

  1. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Some boat monitoring history from a reader (thanks, David!):
    Do you remember Sensaphone’s Boat Remote monitor from the 90s which alerted via POTS? They’re a remote environmental monitoring systems manufacturer that’s been doing telematics since 1985. Evidently their founder was also a boater, so he naturally adapted one of his products into the Boat Remote… and from my exp. he put a lot of thought into it.
    I installed mine in 2000 shortly after I bought my sailboat, and it’s been running just fine for 17y. Even as a new owner it was super easy to install and program, hardwired for AC, DC, 2 bilges, high water level, temperature, and a security sensor alerting selectively via voice annunciation on multiple dial-outs.
    It cost ~$2.7k back in the day, which I thought at the time was well worth my piece of mind. Initially I used it w/a landline at my dock, easy enough. Eventually I acquired a mobile phone terminal for ~$1k to use it anywhere, but really to free me up from Verizon. Times have sure changed b/c the new terminal I got a few years ago when changing carriers only cost ~$35! Presumably if I got one w/GPS built-in I could also remote ping my boat’s location.
    While Sensaphone is alive and well, between their founder’s stepping back/retiring from the business and the relatively small recreational marine market, they discontinued the Boat Remote years ago. His daughter now runs the co. All that remains is the legacy manual: and a few installs like mine.
    What happened to another marine telematics pioneer, who you knew, BoatSense?”
    BoatSense worked pretty well but is long gone:
    Like digital switching, remote boat monitoring is a niche that requires business tenacity. Neither has really caught on yet, but there will be some winners when they do.

  2. Ben, do any of these guys harden their stuff against lightning (and other electrical hazards)? We have a cabin in the mountains of AZ, and building a security system that wouldn’t just curl up and die every time a lightning bolt dropped in the neighborhood wasn’t easy (and lightning protection is what I did for a living for a long time!).
    I don’t mean hardening for a direct strike – that wouldn’t be practical – but against nearby hits and spikes coming in via the power line, it should be do-able.

  3. Sven-Bertil Carlsson says:

    Hi Ben!
    Does any of the solutions mentioned in your article or other system like InReach have a simple method of logging track and navdata for every trip? What I am looking for is application or device with an easy way of “starting” a new trip and the application/device starts logging the track, speed, heading, wind etc (like a combination of an electronic logbook and VDR) and when you have reached your destination a simple way to “end” the trip and giving it a name. Useful functions would be: Possibility to add remarks, notes, photos with time/position stamps, replay, filtering, searching for particular data, timeline presentation, visual presentation on charts and sharing on social media.
    Best regards,

  4. Hendrik says:

    I believe gofree HD will do what you want.

  5. Taylor says:

    I’d be interested in some solution that will allow me to determine if my anchor is dragging and if someone is messing with my ground tackle. Mysteriously I leave my boat at anchor that is set and holding solid and in hours I am dragging.

  6. Deborah O'Connor says:

    Well, now the MTC has arrived to replace our Siren Marine Pixies and Sprites… please do a new review. I miss the old system very much, and can be quite specific about the details, but Panbo is where the real review will happen! Firmware and app updates should eventually fix everything, meanwhile, I’m thinking of giving up on all of them and getting my Arduino back out of the closet. Yiks! But I can’t resist and so will probably move on to my next choice from the list above….

  7. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Hi Deborah,
    Please feel free to list your issues with MTC here. We can compare notes.
    I’ve had one installed for a few months, but so far only have Gizmo’s two battery banks and shore power wired in for monitoring. The connectivity has been good (once the boat got out of Camden, which is a TMobile anomaly), tracking/geofencing has worked well and so have notifications.
    I was quite disappointed with the sensor history graphs, but I’m happy to see that Siren has just fixed that nicely with the iOS app update. Now I can get last hour, last day, or last week graphs of battery level, shore power status etc.
    What are you missing from the original Pixie/Sprite service?

  8. I have used the Yacht Protector system since June 2017. Easy to set up and worked well until just before haul-out last fall. Out of the blue no cell connection as if the tower near my marina went down. Hauled boat and paused service till April of this year. Attempt to commission yields no service. Reaching out to The Yacht Group seems that the people that I delt with last year are gone. The service person deals with the service in Spain that built and maintains the system. After 7 weeks, I’m waiting for a new system to arrive from Spain. It’s seems that my emails requesting updates are falling on deaf ears. I’ve noticed that The Yacht Protector is no longer advertised in any of the boating mags. Is this the silent end of this product as they push their other product lines? I haven’t given up hope yet but I am concerned. Anybody else have any experience?

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