SHOW STARTERS - A look at some innovate products from the 2016 IBEX Show that may show up on the TT35
few weeks ago, we went down to Tampa to wander the aisles of the 2016 IBEX Show. This exhibition of boating equipment and boat building materials is a great place to catch up on innovative products and processes. For us, it was like being kids in a candy store. And though we ultimately had to leave a day early due to the looming approach of Hurricane Mathew, we did come away with some great ideas. Here are three that are likely to show up on the TT35.
A Touch of Glass
We've long been a fan of integrated touch-screen displays at the helm. In fact, we introduced the first Glass Helm in our Great Habour line nearly 15 years ago. Our own Travis, who was age 15 at the time, created this proprietary system from a CPU, a pair of ATM-style touch screens and some smart programming and hardware that tied the various inputs together. In the years since, the major marine electronics manufacturers have caught up, and as we strolled the aisles of IBEX, it became obvious that there are now a wide range of integrated touch-screen display and control systems to choose from.
For the new TT35, we've settled on a Garmin touch screen system, either the GPSMAP 7610 or 7612, which feature 10- or 12-inch screens respectively. In addition to their primary functions as advance chart plotters and sonars, with both down-looking and side-scan capabilities, the units can report and control an impressive array of onboard electronics, including radar, autopilots, engine diagnostics, entertainment systems and even wireless video cameras. The system can even be controlled via a smart phone link. You can learn more at the Garmin website, so we won't take up more space on the specifics here. The short version is that this level of integrated function is extremely space- and cost-effective, and will streamline and greatly enhance the operating experience.
An Introduction to Induction
Like many people, we hadn't been paying much attention to the phenomenon of induction cooking. That changed when we stopped by the Kenyon booth, were we had our eyes opened as to just how well this cooking technology could work in a marine environment.
We've always put electric cooktops on our Great Harbours. Induction cooking is also electric, but with a difference. Conventional electric stoves generate heat by running electrical current through a wire that creates high levels of resistance. That resistance takes the form of heat energy, which is transferred to pots and pans through conductive transfer, It's a process that generates a lot of extra heat, much of which goes into the air rather than the food being cooked.
An induction cook top substitutes the heated wire for a magnetic copper coil, which sits beneath the ceramic cooktop surface. When an electrical current is passed through this coil it creates an electromagnetic field of energy. When an iron core pan is placed on the cooktop, it is heated by the electromagnetic energy. Meanwhile, the underlying surface remains cool. As compared to a gas burner or conventional electric heating element, which are 50 to 60 percent efficient, an induction stove channels 90 percent of its energy into cooking.
Energy efficiency alone might seem reason enough to opt for an induction stove, but there's more. Having a cook top that remains cool to the touch can be a major safety factor in the galley of a moving boat. It's also easier to clean, because anything spilled on the cool surface won't get baked on. And then there's the mat. Turns out you can place a soft silicon mat right over the ceramic surface of an induction cooker during operation. This mat provides enough surface friction to keep pans stable at tilt angles as high as 45 degrees. It also removes easily for fast cleaning.
Our one concern with induction cooking was the need for special pans. But it turns out that quite a few companies make induction-ready pans, and there's a chance that some already in your pantry will work. If not, you can add a simple, griddle-like induction element under your favorite pot, and it will do the heating. We're pretty excited about the possibilities of this technology, and once we have one aboard and have made a few pots of gumbo or boiled some shrimp, we'll let you know how things worked out.
Adding Joy to the Stick
At the show's in-water display, the big news was the joystick control systems that have migrated to outboards. It was pretty amazing to watch a quad-engine center console slide in and out of a slip by pivoting and shifting pairs of outboard in independent directions. But is that something that would ever make sense on our TT35? The answer is maybe.
We are confident that this boat will be easy to maneuver with throttles alone. The twin outboards sit all the way outboard, well beyond the usual dual-outboard pairings, and also wider than the typical twin inboard. This should provide significant twisting thrust when engines are cross controlled, allowing the helmsman to spin and maneuver with a high degree of precision.
That being said, we've already had some requests for bow thrusters. We're hesitant to tack that feature on to the base price, but we are looking at systems that will combine reliability and performance with reasonable cost, and when we settle on a design, it will likely be offered as an option. Once you opt for a bow thruster, the next step up the convenience ladder would be an integrated joystick controller that links the outboards and thruster with fly-by-wire software that allows the operate to maneuver around the dock with surgical precision. It's too early in the process to put an exact number on the cost of such a system, but again, it would be offered as an option for owners who felt the convenience justified the cost.
The Straight Poop on Composting Toilets
There are many delightful aspects of cruising. Holding tanks are not among them. Like it or not, the periodic pump out is the price paid for freedom from shoreside utilities. So too is the realization that some day, things could go wrong in a very smelly fashion, requiring the repair or replacement of odiferous fittings.
During some early brainstorming sessions on the TT35, we wondered if there might be an alternative solution to onboard waste management. That's when we started looking at composting toilets. Self contained, self-composting marine heads have been around for a number of years, and they have caught on with a subset of cruising sailors. Reports and reviews from online forums and chat rooms seemed largely positive, and when we put out an online survey on design options for the TT35, nearly half of the 600-plus respondents indicated potential interest in a composting system. Encouraged but still unconvinced, we wanted more verification from cruisers who had actually used similar systems in powerboats. This lead us to a pair of cruisers who own MC 30 power catamarans. These Polish-built pocket cruisers are trailerable, and were originally equipped with conventional marine heads. Both Tom Rogers and Bob Cantell replaced these systems with composting heads.
“I had an electric head and a 22 gallon holding tank,” Bob recalls, “There were a lot of causes for failure, and it wouldn't work when the boat was on a trailer. With people living aboard the tank would fill in four days. No more island sitting for us, we needed to find a marina to pump out.”
Manufacturer's literature states that a composting head will provide a month's capacity for two people before the need to empty the composted solids. Bob's real-world experiences are similar. “There is no stink, and the composting toilet has a capacity that really negates concerns about when we empty,” he says, “By eliminating the holding tank, we gained a lot of storage space.”
Tom Rogers replaced his conventional marine head some ten years ago, and has cruised the Great Lakes and Florida with a composting system ever since. “We cruise for up to ten months a year, but are intermittent users,” he says. “We spend a good portion of our time at marinas because we cruise with a dog, and we take advantage of shore facilities whenever possible. But having the composting system is a real convenience for those times when it is needed.”
While some composting systems incinerate solid wastes, Tom opted for a simpler system with minimal power demands. “It has a small ventilation fan with a milliamp draw, but even at times when the fan became disconnected, we didn't notice an odor.” One key to odor-free operation, both men feel, is the separation of liquids and solids. “The chemistry experiment of mixing seems to be the cause of the stink in a conventional system,” Bob says.
The three primary manufacturers of marine composting toilets all incorporate designs that divert urine to a separate receptacle from the sold waste chamber. Urine chambers are removable for emptying. Tom says the addition of a dishwasher rinse additive keeps urine containers free of buildup and odors. Bob equates the periodic emptying of the solids chamber to changing a cat litter box.
“We just tip the solids into a trash bag and dispose of it ashore.” Tom says, “If you leave the solids in the chamber long enough, it actually becomes garden-ready compost. We usually empty the chamber sooner than that, but what we're removing is definitely not just a bucket of s**t, and is appropriate for municipal trash and land fills.”
The system needs less cleaning that one might initially expect, Tom says. He spritzes the bowl after use with a commercially available biodegrading enzyme solution to keep things tidy, while also giving a boost to the digestion process. Decomposition typically takes three to five days in climates above 60 degrees says he says. “The one thing that will really increase capacity and speed digestion is excluding paper from the chamber, he says. Some cruisers already do this with their holding tanks, but it's the biggest change those who don't might want to make.”
Aside from the periodic emptying, there is little to no maintenance involved in a composting system, Tom says. “And if something did fail, you could remove the entire unit and have it on deck in five minutes with no plumbing parts to deal with.”
Based on feedback such as this, we're taking a serious look at composting systems as a viable solution aboard the TT35. Of course, we will also offer the highly-reliable traditional marine heads that been a feature of our GH and N series models for nearly two decades. This will give owners the option to hold and pump or compost and dump, based on their personal sensibilities and cruising habits.