Get Connected With Siren

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The “Internet of Things,” or IoT as it’s called, now includes everything from doorbells to dishwashers and is forecast to encompass over 20 billion connected devices by 2025. One of those many machines might be your boat. And though it may seem a bit overly complex and tech-heavy for someone who just wants to catch a few speckled trout or cast topwater lures for bass, having a communicative watercraft will make your boating life better.

For better or for worse I was an early adopter of aquatic IoT, rigging my 22’ Glacier Bay with the original Siren Marine way back in the technological stone age of 2017. This initial system was limited to geofencing and a few alarms that pushed SMS messages to a smartphone. Since that boat lived in a wet slip and the marina’s security was less than perfect, I was mostly interested in the geofencing aspect of things. At any time, I could look at a map on my phone and see exactly where the boat was. And if it left the slip without my knowledge, I’d get an alert.

Change of Attitude

Late one rainy evening, a few months after the Siren system had been installed, my phone started blowing up. I grabbed it, swiped, and learned that a high-water alarm was ringing its bells. Knowing that the boat was well maintained and had multiple bilge pumps, I figured it had to be a false alarm, but grudgingly grabbed a raincoat and headed for the door.

When I arrived at the marina, I discovered a badly listing boat and a cockpit ankle-deep under rainwater. The deck scuppers were completely plugged on both sides, water was flooding the bilge via an overwhelmed deck hatch, and the pumps had run the batteries out of juice trying to keep up with the flow.

I later discovered that the piles of brownish crud clogging the scuppers consisted of sawdust and wood chips. A contractor had been making repairs to the dock, and carelessly ignored where all the refuse was blowing as they cut new boards. Where it was blowing was directly into my boat. When the rain began that evening the dust and chips washed to the scuppers, collected, and eventually stopped any water from flowing down the drains. Had I not arrived when I did the result could have been disastrous — and the Siren system was solely responsible for triggering the alert. I realized that while geofencing service was great, having 24/7 remote alarms was downright boat-saving.

More for 2024

Since that original system was produced, the tech surrounding connected boats has evolved at warp speed and today is already in its third generation. Yamaha Marine purchased Siren in early 2022 and immediately began integrating it with their engine’s systems, and as Yamaha’s Director of Connectivity Andrew Cullen puts it, allows boat owners “to ‘be’ aboard their boat even when they can’t be in person, putting everything a customer needs to know about his or her boat at their fingertips.”

In addition to the security and monitoring features (which we should point out can net you a 5-to-10-percent insurance discount depending on your carrier and location), a Siren system can include remote digital switching. That means you can flip on a boat’s lights or fire up the a.c. when you’re miles away. The latest iteration, Siren 3 Pro, was just announced early this year and includes a new app user interface, which works with Apple, Android, and even many smart-watches. It integrates with Yamaha’s Command Link Plus protocol, so it can remind you and/or your dealer when scheduled maintenance is due. It maintains maintenance records, can be personalized by boatbuilders, has the ability to share float plans, and offers NMEA2000 connectivity.

Tech Talk

So, how does this stuff work? The Siren connects to the IoT and the wider world via 4G/5G cellular. For boaters who range far afield and can’t depend on cell service there’s the optional SirenSat, an offshore-capable satellite antenna. Monitoring functions, which range from battery level to tank levels, to that critical high-water alarm, work via both wired and wireless sensors which communicate with the Siren 3 Pro Main Device. And remote control comes via direct integration with a CZone digital switching system or the addition of a 12-V DC Accessory Relay. All the data that’s collected and the ability for remote control then gets into your hands via the app. You can also set it up to deliver the engine data directly to your Yamaha dealer.

The value of having a connected boat has at this point been proven by the boat-saving experiences of many people, along with my own. And now, many top boatbuilders like Grady-White, Regulator, SunCatcher, and Skeeter have begun offering Siren systems as standard equipment on some models. You can bet that as time goes on, more and more will. And as more and more boats get connected to the IoT, more and more boat owners will be glad for it.

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