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Hi-Tech Gizmos

Hi-Tech Gizmos Reach Local Shelves

The revolution that has brought the iPad and the Kindle to the masses has brought similar wonders to the more humdrum worlds of navigation and safety. The same consumer who expects to be able to watch high-definition videos on his mobile phone now demands similar miracles from his yacht's instrument panel. And manufacturers are scrambling to provide them.
A recent visit to Tortola's Cay Electronics provided a quick lesson in the best of today's navigation, satellite and communications systems. From the deceptively simple to the mind-bogglingly complex, the storeroom boasts an ample selection of equipment.   


Take the Spot. This five-ounce miracle does a couple of basic chores extremely well. It broadcasts to the world your location co-ordinates and it sends a brief message of your choosing, announcing your status, conveying greetings or requesting assistance. Whether you are hiking the Grand Canyon or sailing Great Exuma, this little beacon can really save your bacon, or leave a trail of popcorn in your wake by enabling your followers to track you in close to real time via Google Earth.  Utilizing the global satellite network, the Spot is able to communicate with the world from virtually anywhere on earth. Powered by three AAA batteries, the Spot will broadcast an SOS or other message in optimum conditions for up to six days.
If your requirements are a little more nautical, the Raymarine LifeTag could be a lifesaver. This little instrument can be worn around the wrist or a belt loop or clipped to clothing. Operating in conjunction with a base station aboard the vessel, the LifeTag takes note of your proximity to the base. If you drift too far away (because, for example, you fell overboard) the LifeTag sounds an alarm and marks your position on the chartplotter. Because it's a Raymarine, the LifeTag communicates with the compatible instrumentation on board via the SeaTalk system. Think of it as something like Lindsay Lohan's ankle bracelet, only waterproof. Put one on the pooch, too. Battery life is said to be about one year. The basic system comes with a base station along with a pair of LifeTags. Additional tags are optional.
While rescue is important, especially if you've fallen off your boat, perhaps of greater value is prevention. One of the most intriguing systems available to boat operators is the AIS WatchMate. Designed by a sailing couple (“By sailors for sailors,” is their motto) the AIS WatchMate utilizes the Automatic Identification System (AIS) collision avoidance data that is required to be transmitted by all vessels subject to appropriate regulation. Currently, AIS has to be fitted aboard international voyaging ships with displacement of 300 or more gross tons, and all passenger ships regardless of size. The beauty of the basic WatchMate configuration is that, unlike radar, it is passive and simply receives signals being broadcast by nearby shipping, reducing the power demands of the system to around 3 watts. This clever Kiwi technology even has Capt Fatty Goodlander singing its praises—and he's not a man to let slip too many positive endorsements. Since it is a stand-alone unit with its own screen, the AIS WatchMate needs no computer or chartplotter. Fatty says if he had to choose, he'd take the WatchMate over radar.   


Cay Electronics is not just a passive supplier of equipment but also a provider of emergency communications systems for individuals as well as the private and public sectors. Given the region's seasonal instability when storms of massive size can disrupt normal life and render communication almost impossible, Cay Electronics can provide short- or long-term solutions by way of satellite phones and other independent communications equipment. Long a favourite of information-critical enterprises such as law firms, trust companies and government emergency services, satellite comms can provide assurances that business can continue in somewhat normal fashion. The Iridium satellite phone, for example, is available for rental by the week or the month at around $75 per week or $200 a month. Airtime is around $1.50 per minute—but when communication is critical, that's cheaper than roaming fees .
For more sophisticated data transfer and internet access in tough times, the Inmarsat Bgan system is extremely portable—just prop the unit up by the window or on the hood of the car—and transmit data up to 384 kbps for video streaming, VOIP and data transmission. It's what CNN carries to the battlefront. Cay Electronics have used the Bgan system as the emergency network for CDEMA, the Caribbean regional disaster and emergency management liaison. Whilst the emphasis is necessarily on emergency applications, there's a less dramatic side to all this portability. Why not live-stream your wedding from the beach in Anegada?
All that's required for this security and peace of mind is a continuous supply of electricity—whether to power the asset directly or to charge batteries intermittently. Cay Electronics can handle that too—generator supply is one of their major businesses. Not only can they supply a generator but they can install the equipment to permit off-site monitoring and regulation as required. The sophistication of the technology responsible for reverse-osmosis water purification or wind turbine operation requires constant monitoring of pressures, temperatures and speeds—all of which can be achieved by SCADA protocols. This Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition capability permits a remote operator whether in Sopers Hole or Seattle, it doesn't matter, to monitor and control the status of the equipment.   


Another of Cay Electronics' services is the supply of monitoring equipment to assist in fleet management, whether it's a fleet of trucks, powerboats or rental cars. The company has installed such a unit into VISAR's emergency response vessels so they can be tracked in real time—in VISAR's case, the equipment was a gift from the firm in recognition of the sterling work the search-and-rescue volunteers perform.
So, from the small store at Wickam's Cay, the company has a long reach. In business since 1982, it is one of the longest established marine electronics suppliers in the entire Caribbean. With a staff of around eight, servicing superyachts, trust companies and government departments, as well as home owners, cruising sailors and others, Cay Electronics is a key player in this crucial technological market.  


Cay Electronics
For more info:
t (284)494.2400
f (284)494.5389
e [email protected]

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