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Best in Show

Some of the most innovative products seen at the Newport International Boat show include a portable fuel cell and an energy efficient watermaker. "Gear Up" from our October 1, 2009, /SW eNewsletter/

September 30, 2009
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For the electrical needs of most boats, the EFOY 1600 fuel cell (left) will charge the batteries all summer long on just one jug of on methane (right).

For the electrical needs of most boats, the EFOY 1600 fuel cell (left) will charge the batteries all summer long on just one jug of on methane (right). Www.efoy.com

At the Newport International Boat Show in Rhode Island earlier this month, I spent a few days cruising the tents, scoping out new gear. Some of this snooping had to do with the Newport for New Products competition, for which I served as a judge.

The EFOY 1600 fuel cell won my vote for the most innovative product in the contest. The unit is the size of a car battery, weights about 15 pounds, and outputs 1,600 watt hours a day sipping on a separate, five-liter jug of methanol. The system features an automatic charge controller that tells the fuel cell to top off your boat’s batteries whenever the charge drops below 12.3 volts (or whatever voltage you set it to). Compared to a noisy, diesel generator, the EFOY is relatively simple to install, virtually silent, and eco-friendly, emitting only water and carbon dioxide. This powerful little fuel cell is a slick and sensible way to charge your batteries when you’re on the hook or out at sea, and I imagine it won’t be long until the EFOY, or something like it, is standard equipment on many boats.

One trend I’ve noticed-and this is great news for us lazy, bungling Americans-is products designed to be extremely easy to install. It’s not just accessories like Vacumount‘s line of suction-cup holsters for binoculars and handheld radios; fool-proof installation is the key selling point for everything from Marinno’s Exturn external-mounting bow thrusters (admittedly, not something you’re going to slap on your raceboat) and the Gobius tank level indicator, which mounts on the outside of any tank and uses vibration to measure the level of fluid inside.

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At the Headsync booth, Bryan Cooney introduced me to the Farallon 1800, an innovative new watermaker from Spectra that can generate 75 gallons of freshwater an hour drawing only a kilowatt of electricity. The system achieves unprecedented energy efficiency thanks to Spectra’s Pearson Pump, which uses the pressure of the outgoing brine flow to help drive the pump. The Farallon 1800 weighs 225 pounds dry. For racers looking to keep weight and energy consumption to a minimum, the Farallon 1800 warrants serious consideration.

Euro Marine Trading is a great source for cutting-edge gear from across the pond. It’s where I first learned about Antal’s Low Friction Rings and where I heard about Karver’s KB blocks. These lightweight lashing blocks come in a variety of configurations and, if you so choose, can replace just about every block on your boat. As opposed to the Antal rings, which are best for applications like inhaulers and vangs-where you’re not making constant adjustments-the KB blocks are ideal for mainsheets, spinnaker sheets, and the like.

It’s hard to get excited about marine coatings, but if you work in a boatyard, you’ll have reason to rejoice over Awlgrip’s Awlfair LW. The company has reformulated this fairing compound to work with its Awlfair Mixing Machine, which automatically mixes five-gallon buckets of the coating, eliminating the need to have one person hand-mixing the stuff while others apply it to the hull. Come to think of it, if you work at a boatyard, and you’re the new guy, this new fairing compound/mixing machine might have just put you out of work. In that case, my condolences.

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