The Latest Trends in the Boating Industry


Boating is a pleasurable activity for people who love being out on the open waters. You are cradled in the middle of the ocean, lake, or bay with access to a bevy of modern amenities right on board. Therefore, your boat acts as a floating hotel of some sort, providing you unlimited access to the beauty of the blue waters, while keeping you comfortable at the same time. This is what makes boating a fantastic way to flee from everyday routine and simply forget about all your stress and frustration.

But, if you think that’s all, you are mistaken. With every activity comes a host of accompaniments to make your experience even better. And, when it comes to boating, it’s no different. Every year, boat manufacturers from around the world introduce new technologies, trends and accessories that enhance the boater’s experience and add a level of luxury and convenience to otherwise ordinary endeavors. Some of the latest technologies and trends in the boating industry include:

Get Connected: Wi-Fi on Boats

Since its inception, Wi-Fi has taken over the world by storm, introducing a whole new enhanced and efficient method of connectivity. That being said, realizing the importance of Wi-Fi and its connectivity that allows people to access a huge plethora of apps and gadgets, the boating industry has now introduced the Get Connected Technology. As the name implies, this technology will allows boaters to access Wi-Fi, even in the middle of the ocean.

Many base model boats will now feature built-in Wi-Fi. Hence, entertainment and navigation at sea will be more fun. 24/7 internet connectivity makes it easier to connect to your boat’s navigation, stereo, and even engine displays via your mobile devices. It will also eliminate the need for investing in another Multi-Function Display (MFD), as you can simply upgrade your second helm by using a tablet or laptop instead.

Therefore, the Get Connected Technology not only eliminates the cost of adding new instruments, but also the expenses and pain of cutting new holes in fiberglass. You can easily connect all your primary instruments to your tablet or iPad via built in MFD. However, in order to use this technology efficiently you will be required to invest in a robust mounting system for your mobile device. Other benefits of Get Connected include:

Remote Monitoring – Built-In Wi-Fi will allow you to track how many hours your engines have run since the last scheduled maintenance, monitor your boat’s vital signs in real time, and set up alerts for unusual activity through the use of numerous boating apps.

Internet Access – Get the latest stock market quotes, list to Pandora from your Tablet, and check the tides, without worrying about cellular data connections. Built-in Wi-Fi will allow you to connect to multiple networks.

Heads-Up Display – Built-In Wi-Fi will allow you to receive real-time boat data when you can’t view the fixed instruments. Mobile apps can connect with your instruments using NMEA0183, hence allowing you to access data of tacking angles, true and apparent wind angles, depth, and speed through your mobile device, smart watch or even heads-up display glasses.

wifi on boats

Marine Electric Mobility

The introduction of numerous electric and hybrid cars over the years also raised many questions, such as whether boats could be operated electrically or not. Even though gas and diesel prices are low, electric and hybrid power still remains a hot topic when it comes to boating. And it was because of this that the European Boating Industry has recently announced a partnership with Electri-City to create the world’s first Electric & Hybrid Boat Summit called “PlugBoat”.

This summit will provide a global high-quality platform for boat manufacturers around the world to exchange views and ideas for the development of electric boats and support the pioneering and innovative work of European companies to develop new, clean and energy-efficient solutions for boating. According to recent reports, the technology will be called Marine Electric Mobility and the summit will take place in Friesland and Amsterdam from 30th September to 2nd October.

Regardless of the summit, electric technology has already been noticed in a few boats. These include the Greenline Range and Beneteau Swift Trawler that offer integrated solar panels and hybrid drives, providing boat owners the opportunity to enjoy a clean and quiet boating experience, especially while moving in and out of marinas. Therefore, with these benefits, we expect to see more boats featuring this equipment as standard.

Gadget-Happy Boaters

Let’s face it, over the years smartphones have become essential for our daily survival. Therefore, it comes as no surprise if new apps are introduced to make our lives easier at work, home or while on the water. That being said, the latest trends in boating include the use of marine gadgets for enhancing the overall boating experience. These apps are no longer just navigational tools and can offer boaters everything from weather forecasts, chart plotting, mileage and fuel tracking to budget planning.

Not to mention, they also offer new social applications that allow sharing the best fishing locations with friends and fellow anglers. There are also many apps that make it easier for you to upload journal entries, photos, and travel logs to your own personal blog or Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram profiles. According to a study conducted by Google in 2012, it was revealed that more than 65,000 boating apps were available online, with the numbers multiplying significantly.

These apps utilize the interoperability of NMEA0183 and NMEA 2000 to allow mobile devices to access critical boat data and information. Many major manufacturers, such as Actisense, Maretron, Airmar, Humminbird, Garmin, Furuno, Lowrance, Simrad, and Raymarine, are working towards introducing certified apps that provide boaters the ability to remotely monitor boat data and utilize heads-up display though their mobile screens to view location, speed, depth and other boat information.

Pontoons Reign Supreme

Popular for being the ‘ugly ducklings’ on the water, pontoon boats are now making a huge comeback. The latest trends in boating include  a more attractive and youthful design for pontoons that provide both value for money and entertainment. These new innovations make for great starter boats and are available at relatively affordable prices (as low as $10K) to allow budget-conscious buyers to experience the fun of cruising on their boats across oceans, lakes, and rivers.

The boats are powered by a new generation of outboard motors also making them incredibly fuel-efficient as compared to their predecessors. The aim of introducing pontoons is to promote the use of open-concept boats that are ideal for entertaining large groups. For instance, an average 22-ft pontoon can easily accommodate and transport 14 people. However, what people love most about these boats is their versatility.

This is because pontoon boats are available in a range of options, like interchangeable seating, customized layout, and built-in features, including retractable sound systems, stainless steel barbeques, wet bars and many other features that can suit your desired boating lifestyle. Therefore, there is no doubt that in the coming years we will notice a significant growth in the sale of pontoon boats and their features, styling, and designing options.

sailboat

Double-Stepped Hulls

In an effort to increase the versatility and performance of boats, manufacturers are now focusing on creating more complex hull forms. One of these includes the double-stepped hulls. For those who don’t know, the stepped hull has been around for many years. They are capable of reducing friction and allow boats to run efficiently and faster. However, now we are noticing another trend of double steps that will provide a significant boost in terms of overall performance.

Not only will these hulls increase boat performance in normal cruising, but they will also enhance fuel-efficiency in a variety of load and sea conditions. Examples of the double-stepped hulls include the Cutwater Solara 24 and the Seavee 270z. For the Solara 24, Cutwater combined steps with a re-designed hull surface called “Laminar Flow Interrupters” help reduce water adhesion. The 270z similarly opted for larger openings to increase airflow and help counter slippage during sharp turns.

However, the challenge most manufacturers will face when creating double-stepped hulls is that these innovations can only be created with the use of 3D design programs and fluid dynamics. Therefore, they must hire professional designers for generating several computer models to optimize hull designs.

Stabilizing and Leveling Technology

Another trend noticed in the boating industry this year is the stabilizing and leveling technology that is aimed at reducing fatigue, seasickness, and boat rolls. This means boaters can now enjoy more hours of exploring the waters and fishing. Previously, stabilizers were available as options in large boats like Hatteras 70 GT and Viking 66. However, this year, this technology is being made available in smaller 30” to 50” boats.

But, that’s not all. Last year, new auto leveling systems from Lenco Marine AutoGlide and Humphree were also introduced. This leveling technology helps boaters avoid the need to manually control trim tabs while cruising or idle on the water. The technology uses your GPS and engine data to automatically adjust the trim tabs. Therefore, this helps keep your boat at an optimal running angle, while also improving fuel efficiency and boosting overall boat performance.

leveling technology

Side Access

Last, but not the least, the latest trend in the boating industry is side access. Years ago, lavish side balconies and terraces were available on super yachts, but now the focus has shifted to new recreational powerboats. This new trend will allow for the introduction of numerous designs that will incorporate everything from sliding doors, single doors, double doors, to extended platforms. Therefore, swimming and diving access will definitely be a breeze with this new feature. Not to mention, stepping onto and off the dock will be a whole lot easier.

Gazing into the future, we might also see the introduction of boats that can fly. For example, MVP has recently introduced the new MVP Model 3 that is a plane which doubles as a boat. So, imagine fishing use the onboard trolling motor and then flying back home while receiving real-time data regarding your location. Therefore, with the introducing of new trends, innovations and technologies, there is no doubt that the sky really is the limit when it comes to the future of boating.

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