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Editorial: Technology and Boat Washing by admin

Trevor recently attended YachtWorks Brokerage University (you can see his write up here), and they obviously were trying to convey how important technology is important in todays marketplace.  It is important to sellers and potential buyers, there is no doubt about that.  At the end of the day it comes down to how easy information quality information can be accessed.  We can debate all day about how important being on Facebook is, if Twitter is here to stay, or who first came up with the idea of "social media" integration into their website.  There is a much larger force at work here behind the scenes, and it is called signalling.

How do you signal that you "get it" to potential customers?  How can they easily obtain quality information about the type of people they are about to conduct significant transactions with?  Word of mouth is great, and is going no where, but sometimes it is not enough to set you apart.  Being an early adopter of new technologies and communications mediums is not always easy.  It requires work, effort, learning, and paying a premium for some cutting edge products.  However, it is precisely these qualities customers are looking for.  How do your potential clients know you are up to date on all the current trends or willing to go the extra mile?  All the current electronic packages in boats?  You can signal this by using Twitter, posting YouTube videos, writing blog posts, and communicating with customers in their medium of choice (email, texting, cell phone, voicemail, video chat, twitter, facebook, etc).  Even if you adopt technologies which fade away and are fads, it signals you are unlikely to leave any stone unturned for your clients.  Using these tools you can set yourself apart from desk jockeys and any yacht broker who paid $30 for a box of business cards, you have invested yourself in being up to date with the business world.

What does technology have to do with boat washing?  Very little.  When we write about Navionics for the iPhone or Android, not only are we interested in the technology, but we are hoping to communicate to our customers that we "get it".   If we can talk with you about the bleeding edge of the marine industry, there is a good chance we know a lot about our primary job, washing boats.  How else will our customers know we have a passion for what we do?

Boat Show Homework! #flibs by admin

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So while we are at boat shows, we do more than checking out booth girls and attending swanky parties.  We stop at a lot of booths and ask the pros about any and all questions we might have. While we have done our homework on working on teak, it is always good to stop by and see the guys at Teak Decking Systems, as they are the industry standard (they do a lot of factory installs).  Who better to spend 30 minutes with asking questions about teak?

While a lot of boats we work on are not painted, we still have quite a few customers who have some Awlgrip paint on their hull or non-skid.

Boat shows also give us a great opportunity to get the heads up on new products, such as new anchor designs.

No boat show would be complete without a stop to the Navionics booth.  We got to play with their maps on the iPad, and talk to them about their expansion into the world of Android.

Have something you want us to check out for you at the next boat show?  Drop us a line at info@FirstMateYachtCare.com!

Active Captain for the iPad/iPhone by admin

The goal is not to bring every app for the iPad/iPhone into the spot light, but Jeff Seigel does a great job of showing off a few features of Active Captain through a series of screen shots. If you are curious as to what value such a device could have, this is worth a look.

Here are some screen shots of the iPad application to be released in a few days that fully supports all of ActiveCaptain's data offline. No internet connection is needed to view all of the marinas, anchorages, bridges, locks, boat ramps, etc., along with all of the reviews. It works incredibly well and even rotates the chart as your boat is turning.

On a related note, the tablet game is starting to heat up (HP with WebOS, and Android tablets are popping up!). With a wide variety of price points, features, and operating systems, it will be interesting to see if another tablet will be better suited for marine use. How long before there is a weatherproof iPad case?

iPad and iPhone - Put to the Test! by admin

Along from watching marine industry news and events, we also keep an eye on the mobile and tech landscape. For example, we have mentioned a few times, here and here, about the importance cross over products are already having in the marine industry. Mad Mariner (a great news source if you don't already follow them), has a quick review of using the iPad while out on the water.

Having said that, the iPad is not “must have” technology, and it will invariably raise questions about how many devices you need (and what each of them will do). Like all marine equipment, the value of the iPad will depend on its user, governed by factors such where you take your boat, the type of equipment you own already and how much you depend on a computer to run your life.

The BBC is reporting a lost vessel was able to be found the other day thanks to an iPhone app as well.

With no flares, flash lights or VHF radio onboard, the Wee Rascal was unable to signal its position to rescuers.

It was then that the Belfast Coastguard resorted to mobile phone technology a locator iPhone app was able to give rescuers the vital latitude and longitude they needed.

What does all of this mean?  In the short term, the iPad will probably not be replacing typical electronics en masse (and we are still rooting for Android devices!).  What the application of smartphones and tablets being used in this manner does suggest is how powerful gadgets can become when they are not bound to doing one specific action (only GPS, or only being a radio).  These multi use devices also signal simplicity and function often go hand in hand.  Akin to Volvo's IPS technology, anything which makes boating easier is an easy sell.

To push even further, imagine yacht designers and builders having to dedicate less and less room to dedicated controls and displays.  Perhaps a sleek display/control panel which is easily concealed, a remote control for the entire boat which can be run from the crew quarters.  Maybe some bluetooth devices which mimic phyical controls, essential allowing you to have a mobile helm station!  Far off?  Perhaps, but these ideas are less far fetched than ever.

Navionics on Android! by admin

While having Navionics on your iPhone or iPad is certainly appealing to many AT&T customers, what about the rest of us?! Navionics is rolling out their marine app to the Android platform!

Ideal for boaters, fishermen and water sport enthusiasts of all kinds. Track your navigation while on the water, capture geotagged pictures, and create a virtual travelogue to share with friends via email or facebook. The most comprehensive features available in version 3.2:

  • Record/Save tracks, routes
  • Capture geo-tagged pictures of your adventures
  • Access the largest database of specialty marine POIs available
  • Search marinas and specialty marine POI, with just one click to call
  • Check tides & currents, moon phase, sun/moon rise/set

Given the variety of devices out there for Android right now, on each of the big 4 carriers, this could be the compelling reason to go jump on board with Android. The EVO (just realized on Sprint) is a solid piece of amazing hardware supporting a 4.3" screen and could be perfect for those day trips.  There looks to be a lot of different hardware options in the pipeline too, including a new revamped version of The Droid on the Verizon network.

Now if someone would just make a bluetooth depth finder to pair with a phone (seriously)!  Not only could you make your smartphone of choice all the more like a Swiss Army knife, but I'm sure with enough aggregated data someone could provide better and more detailed charts.  High traffic areas would have almost real-time water depths.

Mobile phones are becoming more and more powerful, and iPhone remotes are quite common on superyachts for media and lighting controls. The next step may be an NMEA2000 bridge that would display relevant mechanical data on your device.