Yachting

LOOKING SHARP

THE AWARDS WERE anything but small, and they came back-to-back-to-back-to-back. ¶ First, at ICAST, the world’s largest sport-fishing trade show, Garmin’s Panoptix LiveScope took home the Best Electronics Award. Then the sonar system won the Best in Show Award, with Bassmaster Elite Series and Garmin pro Fred Roumbanis announcing, “Never before have you beenthe first and only live, real-time recreational scanning sonar,” the NMEA judges wrote. Anyone reading the announcement could feel their enthusiasm leaping off the page as they described the technology. ¶ Panoptix itself is not new. Garmin debuted that technology in 2015, providing real-time, live sonar returns — something no other company had been able to do for recreational boaters. The Panoptix technology allowed for views forward, aft, sideways and down, even while the boat’s hull was not moving. Garmin called the sonar “all-seeing,” which sounded good until now, with the company proving that it can show boaters so much more. ¶ What the new Panoptix LiveScope ($1,499) does is combine that “all-seeing” sonar ability with live-return capability. The effect is that skippers can see real-time scanning-sonar images from beneath or away from the boat — as far as 200 feet away. And it doesn’t matter if the boat is stationary or underway. While cruising, Panoptix LiveScope continuously adjusts the sonar beam to compensate for the boat’s motion. ¶ That’s why fishermen and electronics experts are so excited, not only about how they can distinguish among different species of fish based on what they see at the helm, but also about how they can also see things like bait beneath the boat. The imagery on the screen is that good, with details that small, even when those details are moving underwater. For technology watchers, the system is so cool to see, it doesn’t even matter if fishing is part of the plan. ¶ Panoptix LiveScope comes with a black box and transducer (see sidebars at left), and a plug-and-play connector attaches the system to compatible Garmin chart plotters. For purists, the transducer also can be used as a traditional sonar source, letting boaters see a historical representation of structure and fish below the hull.

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