Auckland based BoatSecure is using the latest generation of satellite technology to provide boat owners with peace of mind
New Generation of Satellites Monitors Boat Status Globally
BoatSecure is using the latest generation of satellite technology with a new service development for its boat monitoring service. The service keeps an eye on boats at mooring and informs boat owners or their boat manager of any issues that need attention.
The system reports key information of boat status and location using satellite communication to provide data connections at any location globally instead of land based wireless. The system makes use of Low Earth Orbit (LEO) nano-satellites to track and report the status of boats with updates conveniently displayed on a smart phone app.
New Zealand boat owner and BoatSecure users Mike F. has been testing out the new system to monitor his boat during a recent trip. With New Zealand boat owners back on the water after the end of the local Covid19 lockdown Mike has taken the opportunity to test out the system from BoatSecure.
The new BoatSecure development sends the location and other boat data back up into space to the nano-satellite network so that the messages from the boat can be received anywhere using the BoatSecure smart phone app or a web dashboard.
The satellite transmitter that BoatSecure provides onboard the boat means the service will operate reliably even when a shore based wireless network is not available or the boat is far from land. With the satellite system orbiting over the whole earth BoatSecure is planning to scale up with a global service for boats anywhere in the world.
Boat owners will be familiar with the GPS system that allows boat location to be tracked. But GPS is fundamentally a one way system that lets the person onboard a boat know where they are. Usually a screen or other device on board is used to view the location position. The new system allows boats to be monitored globally by sending data back up to the LEO nano-satellites and then displayed on a smart phone anywhere in the world.
Boat Trip Tests Satellite System Performance
Boat owner Mike tested the new BoatSecure system on a recent trip bringing his boat from New Zealand’s Bay of Islands back to Auckland. Mike explains, “I had my boat at the Bay of Island during the summer, but was unable to get back there for the return trip due to the covid lockdown. Once travel was allowed again I arranged to sail back to Auckland.”
“I already had BoatSecure installed for monitoring my boat at Pine Harbour Marina, and it’s been a fantastic system watching out for shore power faults and protecting the boat batteries. John from BoatSecure has been exceptional with his customer care in making sure I’m alerted when the BoatSecure app notifies a shore power fault and the boat batteries are being discharged. We were able to monitor the boat at Opua Marina using BoatSecure as well, so it was interesting to know that the new satellite update will allow monitoring wherever the boat is located.”
BoatSecure Safeguards Boats In Marinas
“Being an absentee owner and the nature of my occupation means I can’t always be there to check on my boat. I had already lost a freezer full of food after the shore power connection was lost and I was unaware the batteries had completely discharged. Not only that, ask any electrician and they will tell you this is one of the worst events that batteries can experience and with a new bank costing well in excess of $2000.00 this device has the potential to pay for itself in a very short time.”
“We were able to monitor the boat at Opua Marina using BoatSecure as well. Again this was an excellent example of John’s customer service. The wireless system was not available in Opua so with agreement of Opua based engineers Seapower, the owner Bruce Fuller agreed to host a repeater from BoatSecure so I could monitor my boat, Samudra. This was invaluable during the Covid lock-down with my boat undergoing repairs and shore power still essential for various services while the boat was on the hard. It is interesting to know that the new satellite update will allow monitoring wherever the boat is located, even where a land based wireless system is not in place. I also can tell immediately of any unexpected persons gaining unauthorised access to the boat from the BoatSecure app.”
New Zealand Trip Tests Satellite Performance
“John asked me to test out the new satellite system and I was more than happy to assist for the return trip from Opua back to Pine Harbour. The BoatSecure satellite kit is fairly small and was not a problem to have on board during our trip.”
“We left Opua Thursday evening, with the first night spent in Whiorau Bay. The next day was a long haul, leaving before 7am, and cruising down the east coast of the North Island. We were anticipating a reasonable weather window before a significant NE wind warning was forecast building from late Saturday afternoon. Friday forecast was for cloudy skies, reduced visibility in rain and a steady North Easterly of 20 to 25kts with a moderate chop and a north easterly swell of 1 meter. Samudra approached Cape Brett to be meet by quite a significant chop and a North East wind of 25 kts with the occasional gust to 30kts and we were ready to return if there was any deterioration in the sea state. We rounded the Cape at 0800 with an improvement in the choppy conditions.
“The trip south was a long day but just how I like it — uneventful. We had hoped to reach Pine Harbour Friday evening, but by 7pm we were ready to drop anchor at Kawau Island. We woke early on Saturday morning to a foggy dawn but a perfect forecast for the four hour trip to Pine Harbour. We were glad to get going and pleased that the fog had cleared as we slid past Mansion House Bay from Kauwau finally arriving in the Pine Harbour Marina in time for lunch.”
“John has since checked in with us for an update on using the satellite gear. Having the kit on board was no trouble at all, with a small unit sat near a window in order to send signals up to the satellites. The data reports updated every hour and showed a steady 7.6 knots which compared perfectly with my onboard chart plotter. This week I am in the South Island and pleased to be able to use the BoatSecure real time monitoring of my boats systems as she sits in Pine Harbour waiting for my return and the next winter boating adventure.”
Satellite Tech Adds Value to Boat Monitoring Service
John McDermott from BoatSecure explains the purpose of the trial, “We’re using the latest generation of Low Earth Orbit (LEO) nano satellites to receive data from the boat, similar to the satellites that RocketLab has been launching from New Zealand. We send data messages to the satellite system with the status of several signals from the boat, such as power, battery and bilge pump status as well as the GPS location.
In simple terms the BoatSecure device on board monitors these signals on the boat and takes a GPS reading to pinpoint location. We pack this data into a short message and transmit it to the LEO satellite system, with the satellite service then sending data to us via a secure software connection so we can store it at BoatSecure to share with each boat owner. We’ve been developing this update during the lockdown period and were keen to test the performance and reliability of the hardware and satellite service on a boat trip over a few days. Mike is an enthusiastic user of BoatSecure and was very kind to offer his help for this trial.”
John says they expect significant demand for the satellite service that will increase the business for BoatSecure. “We’re terming this a Global-Global-Global system because of the three fold ability to monitor a boat — GPS to locate boats anywhere, nano-satellites to remotely collect data reports from any global position, and a smart phone app dashboard allowing users to monitor their boats from wherever they are.”
John explains the advantages of the satellite system over land based wireless networks, “Land based radio systems are often troublesome, the lack of coverage where the boat is being sailed or berthed results in lack of confidence and uncertainty about where the boat is and if there is any issue onboard. The characteristics of land based wireless systems also increase cost or add to system complexity, for example expensive on board radios, large antennas or for cellular systems roaming between network operators in different countries.”
“A satellite connection avoids these concerns and provides a lot more potential for BoatSecure to increase our business. Although the GPS satellite system allows people to locate where they are using a GPS receiver, the system is only one way — it can’t send that position report, or any other information, back to anywhere else. We can now solve this using the latest LEO satellites. The reports we send can be important for a shore based person to know the boat location, status onboard or any issues that could be occurring. This new technology is also exceptionally low cost, making it a reasonable system for almost any boat owner.”
BoatSecure is expecting more demand as a result of this new service, “We’re confident that adding a satellite capability to BoatSecure will assist with our business expansion overseas as the satellite data connection will work out of the box. Using the LEO satellite data services allows us to provide our product at an attractive price, as these new satellite services are lower cost and more convenient than the other alternatives. We are also one of the first businesses to be using this new generation of Internet of Things technology and are excited by the possibilities it provides to help boat owners and users to enjoy their sailing with fewer worries. A particular example of interest is with charter and shared ownership boats, so that boat managers can remotely check boat status and location. With shared ownership models becoming more popular we expect our service will become a necessity. BoatSecure allows a fleet manager to be sure that charter conditions are being met, and if trouble occurs to know exactly where to go to help those on board.”
Asked about using BoatSecure as a safety system as an alternative to Personal Locator Beacons, John says, “We need to be clear that BoatSecure is primarily a monitoring and locating service, not a navigational or safety system. Boat owners should still follow Coast Guard advice to have appropriate communication devices when they are on board. We do recognise that our system provides regular position and status reports that may be of use if a boat gets into trouble and we will assist as much as possible when required.”
BoatSecure is in conversation with boat builders and brokers as a low cost monitoring service allows them to provide better warranty and service backup to owners. They also hope that insurance companies will recognise that the system reduces the likelihood of expensive claims and that premium discounts will be offered in much the same way that car owners with tracking systems receive policy reductions.
Another markets of interest to BoatSecure are commercial fishing operations using small craft. These operators also want to know where vessels are working but don’t use VHF AIS or other wireless systems so the new BoatSecure service is expected to be more suitable for them. This purpose is also one of interest to marine regulators in their role of protecting fisheries and the marine environment.
There is more development work for BoatSecure to do before the system is available to buyers. However with the satellite technology proven BoatSecure is now ready to undertake the work for a manufactured product.
BoatSecure is providing the service using the satellite system operated by Adelaide, Australia based company Myriota. Myriota have raised over A$50m in funding to develop and operate their nano satellite system.
BoatSecure has a small number of satellite units available for further trial and is wanting to hear from boat owners that would like to test for themselves. Boat owners can register their interest with BoatSecure on their website
More About BoatSecure Orbit
Satellite system operator Myriota — https://myriota.com/
BoatSecure is based in Auckland, New Zealand
BoatSecure was founded in 2017 by CEO and owner John McDermott
All development, manufacture, operations and business management are carried out locally. BoatSecure has been operational for NZ boat owners since 2018.
BoatSecure is a member of the NZ Marine Association
John McDermott is an electronics engineer and entrepreneur with interests in Internet of Things technologies. He is founder of the IoT Auckland Meetup and council member on the NZ IoT Alliance.
IoT Ventures is a minority shareholder, providing strategic technology and business advice.