2020 Vision: A Decade of Advances in Boating
Engine TechnologiesMarine engine manufacturers continue to make lighter, stronger, and more reliable engines to more exacting tolerances. While inboard technology has remained essentially unchanged in the last decade, outboard engines are steadily increasing in horsepower. Mercury Marine, following up on its Mercury 400 Racing, recently introduced the new 400 Verado with 400-horsepower. Not to be outdone, in 2019 Yamaha began producing their 425 XTO, delivering 425-horsepower.
Diesel and electric outboards are making waves in the recreational markets. OXI Diesel offers 5 diesel outboard models from 125-horsepower to 300-horsepower. Several companies are going green with electric marine motors. Over the last decade, Torqeedo has introduced a line of inboard and outboard electric propulsion systems into the market.
Large Outboard Day BoatsThe most remarkable recent change in marine propulsion is the trend to large outboard-powered day boats. Touted as more reliable and easier to maintain, most day boats are good for fishing, cruising and entertaining.
Debuting at the 2015 Miami International Boat Show, Boston Whaler soon released its 420 Outrage and it was named Boating Magazine’s 2015 Boat of the Year. In 2019, Scout introduced its 530 LXF with a 53’ length overall, a 14’8” beam and a 2,250 max horsepower.
The trend is not restricted to center console fishing brands. Recreational boat manufacturers are jumping into the large day boat market as well. For instance, the Sea Ray SLX 400 Outboard offers a 41-foot 11-inch length overall, with a 12-foot 1-inch beam and triple Mercury 350 Verados.
Ocean Alexander bowed to the trend and created a “day yacht,” the 45 Divergence, with a 47-foot 5-inch length overall and a 13-foot 9-inch beam powered with quad Mercury 350 Verados.
Digital Control SystemsDigital marine control systems have been making boating easier and more reliable. Digital controls replace much of the cabling and hose lines of traditional mechanical or hydraulic systems.
Electronic controls ease the task of running multiple outboards. Using Mercury Marine’s Digital Throttle and Shift (DTS), with a press of a button on the control box, operators can use a single lever for shift and throttle of up to four outboards. Another button on the DTS binnacle synchronizes the revolutions per minute for up to four motors.
Drive-by-wire systems also facilitate the addition of second helm stations in a tower. A second binnacle integrates with the electronic controls. A press of a button transfers control.
Electronic throttle and shift controls also make possible integrated joystick steering systems, some of which incorporate station-keeping features. The computer brains of systems such as Mercury Joystick Piloting for Outboards and Yamaha Helm Master appropriate the electronic throttle and shift, and combine it with independent outboard steering to point, pivot, and move the boat in joystick mode.
Digital Switching SystemsDigital switching systems eliminate mechanical switches, contacts, fuses, and bus-bars, and wiring harnesses with separate wires for each and every switch and replaces them with an electrical flow of current distributed through a NMEA2000 “backbone” cable. The interface can be displayed in a number of ways. The Ocean Alexander 45 Divergence uses a dedicated Octoplex touch-screen display. Scout has digital C-Zone digital switching on their 420 XSF that is integrated into the Garmin multifunction displays.
As technology evolves over the next decade, recreational boat manufacturers will adapt new technologies to their products, continuing to make boating even more pleasurable and user-friendly.