Best vessel safety/security monitors for 2019

In all likelihood your boat is one of your most expensive assets. Keeping it safe and the equipment onboard operating within normal ranges will save money by pointing to problems above and below deck before they become full-bore emergencies. Knowing all is well will also provide peace of mind whether or not you’re on board.

Monitors keep track of a wide variety of functions, ranging from engine and exhaust manifold temperatures and bilge pump operation to sounding the alarm in the event of break-ins, equipment thefts and the snatching of entire vessels. Many monitors can be operated remotely and trigger alarms when preset temperature/water levels or geofence settings are reached and exceeded. Some store data so you can review operational trends of mechanical and electronic devices and systems, warning you in advance of some problem.

Last week we told you about monitors for engines, electrical and fuel systems. (Jon-Pls add hyperlink to last week’s blog) This week it’s monitors that help you keep an eye on safety and security.

The roundup is part of an exercise MEJ does every year in our Buyers’ Guide. It works like this: We ask manufacturers to identify the one model they produce in a particular category that they consider to be their Best & Brightest—not necessarily the most technically advanced or newest but rather the one they rate highest in the product line for one reason or another. Could be the functions and features it offers, or maybe it breaks new ground in maximizing effectiveness or utility, or maybe it’s the most popular as measured by sales to boaters. The Best & Brightest list includes 16 categories of electronics, from autopilots and fishfinders to radar and satellite TV.



Gain an entirely new view of your vessel’s mechanical system with the FLIR AX8 thermal monitoring camera. Combining thermal and visible cameras in a small, affordable package, the AX8 integrates with Ethernet networks or with Raymarine multifunction displays and sends audible and visual alerts when the temperature of machine parts rises or falls from preset thresholds. Keep a watchful eye on such critical equipment as engines, exhaust manifolds, and shaft bearings and spot problems before they leave you stranded on the water. And FLIR’s exclusive MSX imaging blends visible and thermal images for more detailed imagery that is easier to understand.  

The GOST Nav-Tracker 1.0 Elite is a marine-grade, water-resistant, vessel tracking system that globally sends out an alert should the boat’s batteries run low or power is cut off. Originally designed for monitoring battery levels for remote commercial maritime assets operating outside cellular coverage, the system features a full battery backup to the award-winning GOST Nav-Tracker Inmarsat satellite-based tracking antenna. Using the 8th generation GOST Nav-Tracker website interface and the ultra-reliable Inmarsat Satellite Constellation for all communication and control, the GOST Nav-Tracker 1.0 Elite provides users remote website battery polling ability, global arm/disarm of Geofence, and relay control from anywhere in the world.
Maretron’s VDR100 provides a complete record of all information produced by electronics connected to the vessel's NMEA 2000 network—ideal for performance analysis, vessel tracking, preventative maintenance, network diagnostics, warranty incident, and accident investigation. Each message is stored using solid-state memory technology with simple data retrieval via a removable 16 GB USB flash drive that will hold weeks or more of data, easily exported with the free N2KExtractor. Using a circular buffer, the oldest data is overwritten only after the entire memory is filled so you’ll never have to worry about losing the most recent data. A year or more of data can be stored by purchasing a larger USB flash drive. IEC 60945 certified.


The Garmin GC 200 marine IP camera provides added security and awareness on your vessel. Use multiple cameras to monitor areas above and below deck in clear, real-time HD video. Users can also connect up to 16 cameras on the Garmin Marine Network and share across multiple compatible chartplotters or stream video from up to five cameras at a time on a single chartplotter. Use the reverse-image setting on compatible chartplotters to help back out of tight locations such as crowded marinas. The GC 200 is easy to install, and its small size and discreet design will blend into the surroundings. It can be mounted in virtually any orientation, because its images can rotate 90/180/270 degrees. Its rugged, water-resistant case allows you to place it nearly anywhere you need a camera.
The GOST Apparition is the ultimate vessel security, monitoring, and crew management system. The Apparition includes a five-inch touchscreen GOST Apparition Interactive display and main control panel and is capable of controlling up to 192 sensors, 250 relays, 999 Users, 8 Partitions, 999 Remote Controls and provides access control for up to 32 doors and hatches. The system has a wireless expansion module and a full battery back-up built in. For simple remote control, the water resistant GOST GP-KF25 Key Fob Remote Control comes standard. The GOST Apparition LTE 4G Cellular Communications Module for SMS/Text Message Notification and control, the Internet access module and the Inmarsat-based Nav-Tracker GPS Tracking System are also included.
Designed for small- to mid-sized watercraft and vehicles, the HSL30 is guaranteed to light up the night. The KJM HSL30 Wireless Halogen Searchlight is affordable, compact and powerful. Command full functionality of the spotlight wirelessly within 90 feet. Control with up to four WRC30 wireless remotes. The HSL30 is a rugged, marine-grade halogen searchlight with a brilliant 30,000 candela of light output. The wireless remote simplifies installation by eliminating long cable runs to the helm.
N2KTracker displays your boat’s position and recent track as well as selected vessel operating parameters on your Android or iOS smartphone or tablet. Create, enable/disable a geo-fence around your boat so that you or others can be alerted if your boat leaves a specified area (enable/disable notifications via e-mail or SMS text message). N2KTracker’s dashboard function displays stored data from the cloud such as engine hours for maintenance tracking, fuel levels for cost management, engine parameters to ensure proper operational procedures are being followed, or bilge pump runtime to ensure your boat will remain safely afloat. Ideal for single boat or fleet management. Requires onboard Internet connection and Maretron’s Telemetric Cloud Service subscription.

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Page 1 of 3 ( 13 comments)

Jp:(8/11/2018 5:28:29 PM) "I have a 2018 Yamaha f40 la and Humminbird helix 7 di , I would like to leverage the nema 2000 capability of the helix 7 to display engine info, what do I need , Humminbird does have a gateway and lowrance makes a Yamaha nema cable, but I'm reading connectors are proprietary . How can I get what is needed?

Since these products are not NMEA 2000 certified there is little assurance that they will share data with each other.

1. Here is the link to see all NMEA 2000 certified products:

2. The NMEA 2000 cables and connectors are from many manufacturers: Here is the link for approved cables and connector manufacturers:

AC/DC grounding distance:(8/2/2018 1:29:35 AM) "What about the grounding points of AC /DC systems? can they be grounded at the same point?
If one system has both AC and DC can they both be grounded to a common buss-bar that has only one conection to the hull?

Here's what Ed Sherman, electric tech guru at the American Boat & Yacht Council, said:

The ultimate goal should always be to tie ac and dc grounds together on board at a single point. In ABYC Standard E-11, it is described as “the engine negative terminal or its buss.” It is most commonly done at a buss."
Hard-Over with Brushed APilot Pump:(12/18/2017 5:37:05 PM) "Jim.
What do you mean by ...."Garmin GHP 20 with SmartPump...Because it is a brushless system, it is fail-safe and won’t execute a hard-over turn the way a brushed pump can."

Thanks for the note. Since the description came from Garmin I contacted the company for an explanation. Here's what one of their engineers told me:

On brushed DC actuators, a single-point failure in the drive circuit (shorted wire or blown component inside the controller) could cause the motor to run full speed in one direction and take the rudder all the way to one rail. A brushless actuator relies on timing-controlled commutation, so a short or component fail would cause the actuator to stop moving rather than moving at full speed.

Hope this helps,

trawlerdeejay:(10/13/2017 3:46:51 PM) "Excellent article. I had no idea what the differences were between o183 and 2000, Thank you so much."
Darryl:(3/27/2017 10:17:15 PM) "Putting the MSRP with each unit reviewed would have been helpful. If each unit was actually tested, the reports on each unit would have been helpful too.

Thanks Darryl---we generally don't mention prices due to confusion over so many variations---MSRP (mfg. suggested retail price), MAP (min. advertised price), MRP (min. resale price) and then there are internet prices on some websites that go their own way. But your point is well taken--buyers need to know if something is in their price range. We'll work on it.
There is independent testing of some of these products on sites like but the information we receive from manufacturers rarely cites the results of any shootouts they may conduct against the competition's products. "
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