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Dispatches November 2009

Navigation in the fourth dimension

DIMENSION: The “fourth dimension” of C-MAP’s new 4-D electronic charting software is time, as the software will be updated two or three times a year, more than any other navigation software, according to Jeppesen Marine. The system incorporates three-dimensional charts that can be overlayed on high-resolution aerial photography, and an “easy routing” feature automatically charts the shortest route between two points while working around hazards. The North American introduction of the 4-D software will be Oct. 29 at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, when pricing will be announced.

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Downturn takes down Maxum

As part of its ongoing cost-cutting initiatives, Brunswick Corp. is discontinuing its Maxum boat line, which it established in 1988. “It was a difficult but necessary decision driven and based on economics,” says Brunswick spokesman Dan Kubera.

Maxum will sell boats that remain in inventory, but will not produce 2010 models. Dealers have been notified of the decision, and Brunswick says it will honor in full all warranty service, parts and support.

In the early 2000s, Maxum was one of the first brands to install thrusters on small boats.

Brunswick manufactures 15 U.S.-based boat brands, including Boston Whaler, Cabo, Hatteras and Sea Ray. In May 2008, Brunswick announced it would cease production of its Bluewater Marine brands, including Sea Pro, Sea Boss, Palmetto and Laguna.

— Beth Rosenberg

Global ocean temperature reaches a record high

The planet’s average ocean surface temperature for July was the warmest on record, breaking the previous high mark established in 1998, according to an analysis by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Climatic Data Center.

The global ocean surface temperature for July was 1.06 degrees F above the 20th century average of 61.5 F, breaking the previous July record.

Arctic sea ice covered an average of 3.4 million square miles during July, 12.7 percent below the 1979-2000 average and the third-lowest July sea ice extent on record, behind 2007 and 2006. July Arctic sea ice has decreased by 6.1 percent per decade since 1979, while July Antarctic sea ice has increased by 0.8 percent per decade during the same period.

The July average temperature for land and ocean surface was the fifth-warmest since 1880, when worldwide record-keeping began.

In our wake

The infamous Portland Gale that pummeled the New England coast Nov. 26 and 27, 1898, is considered one of the worst storms to ever hit the region. Massachusetts took the brunt of it, and the island of Nantucket weathered hurricane-force winds. More than 400 people died, and more than 150 vessels sank. The storm earned its name from the steamship SS Portland, which was lost at sea en route from Boston to Portland, Maine. All 192 passengers and crew perished. In 2002, researchers located the wreck in the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary in Massachusetts Bay.

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More power, lower emissions from new Mercury engine

Mercury and MerCruiser have developed the next generation of big-block marine power for their sterndrive and inboard packages. The company says the 8.2-liter gasoline engine, which replaces the 8.1-liter model, produces more power and has better midrange acceleration, lower emissions and excellent fuel efficiency.

“The new engine is being introduced because GM [General Motors] stopped making the block of the previous engine,” says Mercury communications director Steve Fleming.

The engine is equipped with a catalyst for ultra-low exhaust emissions, virtually eliminating exhaust odor, according to the company. “Not only did the team achieve superior performance while adding a catalyst, they maintained fuel efficiency and improved serviceability without adding cost,” says Derric Drake, MerCruiser program manager for the new engine. The engine, with closed-loop cooling, runs on 87 octane fuel.

With base (380 hp) and high-output (430 hp) ratings, it is compatible with such MerCruiser options as the Axius sterndrive system with joystick control, the SmartCraft engine monitoring system, SeaCore corrosion protection, and either digital or mechanical throttle and shift on sterndrive applications and digital throttle and shift on inboards.

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“With boatbuilder and dealer input in mind, access to service points and connections has been significantly improved to simplify installation and maintenance,” says Fleming.

Other features include a higher-charging amperage at idle — more than 15 amps — and an air-actuated seawater drain system, he says.

Pricing is expected to be available this fall, after the International BoatBuilders’ Exhibition & Conference Oct. 12-14 in Miami, with retail sales beginning in February 2010, says Fleming. For information, contact Mercury Marine at (920) 929-5040.

— Chris Landry

This article originally appeared in the November 2009 issue.