NauticExpo e-Magazine - #13 – Personal SafetyNauticExpo e-Magazine
August 24, 2017

Your Monthly Dose of Nautical and Maritime Innovation


Wearability: the Watchword for Lifejackets

PanPan Can Save Your Bacon

Offshore Telemedicine for All

The Online Boating and Maritime Exhibition

Safer and Smarter

Safety at sea means having the right attitude and respecting proper procedures. That said, a little help from cutting-edge manufacturers can’t hurt. In this issue, we dig through some spectacular nautical equipment which could make your next trip safer and smarter.

Think connected life jackets from a European Space Agency project. Think beacons to check onboard crew presence continuously. Think easy-to-use and affordable telemedicine at sea.

Hot Topics
Lifejackets need to make the most of the latest material technology.
Clipper Round the World Race (Courtesy of Brian Carlin)


Innovations including satellite technology and advanced alerting devices are bringing lifejackets into the 21st century. But wearability remains key.   NauticExpo e-mag spoke with three manufacturers, who all agreed that designing lifejackets that people want to wear, especially for long periods, should be the major...

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We wanted this product to be accessible to everyone.
Jason Schot, PanPan founder (Courtesy of PanPan)

Dutchman Jason Schot created the PanPan Beacon and App in January 2016. Soon after, it received  the 2017 Pittman Innovation Award and can be found on NauticExpo website. This smart, inexpensive crew monitor consists of a beacon and a simple phone app to constantly check everyone’s presence on board. Jason told us more.


NE e-mag: How does the system work?

Jason Schot: The two parts are a small beacon and the app. The two connect via low-energy Bluetooth. At first, I was concerned that Bluetooth’s range would be inadequate. But we made it work by inverting the principle—monitoring for a loss of signal instead of for an emergency signal.

“The beacon is constantly sending and verifying a signal.”

There are two ways the MOB alarm can be triggered: through the water sensor or by a loss of signal. The beacon constantly sends an “I’m okay” signal to the phone. Bluetooth transmission is very poor in the water, so going overboard will either break the signal or trigger the water sensor.

Both events automatically activate the alarm after three seconds. The water sensor is especially useful if you go overboard while attached to a lifeline. You would still be in signal range, but the beacon would get wet and alarm your crew.

If it’s really a man overboard, you see the MOB compass. Concretely, your boat is shown at the center of the compass and a MOB icon indicates the direction to the point of loss. You change course until the icon is dead ahead. The icon then turns green and gets bigger as you approach. There’s no map reading involved; it’s really simple and intuitive.

The PanPan Beacon (Courtesy of PanPan)

The PanPan Beacon (Courtesy of PanPan)

Once you get to the loss point, the system initiates a homing feature, which is also what rescue helicopters use. A search perimeter is drawn around the point of loss, based on the time passed to account for drift due to current and wind. The beacon will rapidly emit a signal saying, “I’m here, I’m here, I’m here.” Because Bluetooth performs poorly in water, the phone will receive this signal only when it is in close proximity. The app then notifies you and tells you to try to establish vocal and visual contact with the MOB.

NE e-mag: How is a false alarm possible?

Jason Schot: There are two things that can happen. First, we recommend wearing the beacon inside your life jacket. Placing it high on the body will maximize its range. It will also keep the sensor dry while on board, preventing false alarms. If worn elsewhere, the water sensor usually can distinguish rain or waves from a man overboard. However, continued exposure to water can trigger the alarm.

Second, on a very large boat, let’s say over 60 feet, you might be in the engine room. Bluetooth has a hard time with solid metal objects, which could cause a false alarm by a loss of signal. To increase range, we are using the very best Bluetooth antennas commercially available. We also built a unique meshing system to prevent unwanted signal loss. If you’re in the engine room and there’s a second beacon on board, the signal will be sent to the phone through the second beacon, which automatically becomes a repeater when necessary.

“With our system, you have the alarm, the vibrating phone and the strobe light.”

NE e-mag: What are the differences between PanPan and traditional AIS systems?

Jason Schot: We wanted this product to be accessible to everyone. AIS beacons are often too expensive for an entire crew. They usually start at around 350 euros. Ours is 95 euros, with a quantity discount.

Another thing is that almost no AIS beacons play an audio alarm. You usually get something like a dot on the AIS chart. You have to look down and notice it. With our system, you have the alarm, the vibrating phone and the strobe light.


The PanPan Beacon & App is smart and unexpensive (Courtesy of PanPan)

The PanPan Beacon & App is smart and unexpensive (Courtesy of PanPan)

We also have a very fast response time. Our active system means the beacon is constantly sending and verifying a signal. As soon as it’s lost, it sounds the alarm. Most AIS or EPIRB beacons do nothing when you’re aboard. Once in the water, they must be manually activated or they turn on automatically, but all must get a GPS fix. It can take up to 15 minutes for a traditional AIS beacon to get that fix and start sending its emergency signal. This is a long time to spend in cold waters, a danger in itself.

NE e-mag: Does your app work on both iPhone and Android?

Jason Schot: Yes. The only requirements are that you have GPS and low-energy Bluetooth on your phone. That includes almost all phones since 2014-2015. If you don’t have GPS, it will still send the alarm, but won’t be able to guide you back to the man overboard.

Read more about Personal locator beacons (PLBs) on NauticExpo website. 

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  • Dominator Ilumen 28M (Courtesy of Wim Vercauter)

    It took Dominator about 3 years and more than 10,000 hours of craftsmanship to carry this dream from sketch to reality. NauticExpo tested it. Technical characteristics can be found on NauticExpo website.


    The distinctive design of the ILUMEN 28M features curved glass surfaces and somewhat 20th century lines drawn by Italian designer Alberto Mancini. It takes some getting used to, but the effect is impressive.

    Dominator chose to build hull and deck using carbon fiber, epoxy and resin. This reduces weight and provides structural reinforcement. The hull is covered with paint instead of gelcoat. The striking bow shape is designed to cut through the waves easily.

    Fine Craft Materials

    On board, we see custom furniture and fine craft materials like white onyx, lacquered ebony, white oak, silk, Zimmer + Rohde fabrics, suede ceilings and nubuck leather. Decor is by Boutsen Design. The first ILUMEN also features an innovative audio/video, entertainment and domotic system developed by Videoworks. The flybridge can even be fitted with a spa.

    Dominator Ilumen Courtesy of Wim Vercauter

    Dominator Ilumen 28M (Courtesy of Wim Vercauter)

    The layout is state-of-the-art for a yacht of this length, and the interior is functional, ergonomic, spacious and aesthetically pleasing. The ILUMEN 28M perfectly balances comfort and style. The flybridge is sheltered by a well thought out sun roof. A unique detail is the direct access from the master stateroom to the foredeck.

    Dominator Ilumen Courtesy of Wim Vercauter

    Dominator Ilumen 28M (Courtesy of Wim Vercauter)

    Stable in All Conditions

    Thanks to the shipyard and the owner of the Kalliente, the first model by the way, we were able to experience the ILUMEN in open water. We initially feared  the high freeboard would reduce dynamic stability. But our Mediterranean outing showed that this yacht is stable in all conditions. Moreover, a Seakeeper gyro stabilizer and a Humphree Active Ride Control system reduce pitching and damp overall motion by up to 80 percent.

    In the Port of Monaco the ILUMEN stands out not by its size but by its appearance. And its modest dimensions make it easy to find a berth.

    Dominator Ilumen Courtesy of Wim Vercauter

    Dominator Ilumen 28M (Courtesy of Wim Vercauter)

    Two MAN V8-1200 diesel engines and twin push/pull counter-rotating propellers provide propulsion. We reached 13 knots with the engines at 1800 rpm. This results in fuel consumption of 206 liters an hour. A pleasant and reasonable speed to cruise is about 16 knots, to obtain a range above 600 nautical miles. For long distances, an economic speed of 10 knots should allow a range above 1500 Nm. The ILUMEN is easy to steer, and the thruster is needed only when maneuvering in port.

    Our experience on this 28 meters yacht is above our expectations and corresponds to what you can expect on board a mega yacht.

    Specifications for semi-displacement version tested:

    • Length overall: 27.35 m (stern platform open)
    • Beam: 6.58 m
    • Max. draft: 1.75 m (inc. propellers)
    • Displacement: 95,000 kg
    • CE category: A
    • MCA standard: MGN 280
    • Max. Engine power: 2×1200 hp (max. 2×2400)
    • Fuel capacity: 11,800 liters
    • Freshwater capacity: 1,900 liters

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    How the Tidal Technology Center will look (Courtesy of TTCG)

    Developed by Netherlands-based Water2Energy, a vertical axis water turbine (VAWT) with an innovative pitch control system is proving from 30% to 50% more efficient than traditional systems.


    The VAWT will be installed at the country’s new Tidal Technology Center Grevelingen, due for completion in late 2017/early 2018. Water2Energy (W2E) has signed a technical development partnership with Dutch electrical system integrator Bakker Sliedrecht to further develop and deliver such turbines.

    The position of the turbine blades is continuously modified such that they always receive the full force of streaming water. The resulting efficiency is enhanced by Bakker Sliedrecht’s design for the conversion of mechanical to electrical energy via a special set of gearboxes and generators. The company also created a smart system that delivers the electrical power to the grid.

    “W2E concluded that a better, tailor-made energy conversion system would be required to have the turbine running at the best efficiency point,” a Bakker Sliedrecht spokesman explained to NauticExpo e-magazine.

    An Automatic Control System

    “The control system will be fully automatic and keep the load off the turbine at a maximum during the ever-changing tidal current flow. Even in the case of potential overloads due to extreme tidal differences, the system will be able to control the turbine and protect it.”

    The turbine (Courtesy of Bakker Sliedrecht)

    The turbine (Courtesy of Bakker Sliedrecht)

    W2E general manager Reinier Rijke said, “With the Bakker Sliedrecht partnership, the conversion ratio from mechanical energy to electrical energy has improved significantly. This makes tidal energy an even more attractive type of sustainable energy.”

    The Bakker Sliedrecht spokesman added, “The VAWT will work in all estuaries, tidal barriers, and rivers with sufficient water current. While it works in bi-directional tidal waters, it can also work in a one-directional flow.

    5 kW to 500 kW Over a 24-Hour Cycle

    “Over a 24-hour cycle, a single turbine will generate in the range of 5 kW to 500 kW. We expect that to increase to about 1.5 MW in a next stage of design.

    “As a bonus, the VAWT is also proven to be safe for aquatic life and ecosystems,” he continued. “The turbine’s open structure allows fish to swim through easily. During development trials, it was shown that harm to fish swimming through the turbine was below 1%—significantly lower than the 20% fish damage caused by traditional water turbines.”

    “The VAWT is also proven to be safe for aquatic life and ecosystems.”

    The Dutch government recently granted the Tidal Technology Center Grevelingen (TTC–GD) €4.1 million to help build test channels for tidal turbines. Having Water2Energy’s VAWT chosen for initial installation at TTCG is something of a coup.

    As of this writing, about 18 other turbine developers are interested in using the facility.


    Designed to become the premier international research center for tidal energy, the center will provide developers the means to test, certify and showcase their products in a fully operational tidal facility. Access to it is by land, avoiding expensive offshore installation and operational costs.

    The ultimate goal is to find a technology to use in Zeeland’s planned 60 MW tidal plant in the Brouwersdam. The TTC-GD should provide the required data and suitable solutions.


    Michael Halpern

    Michael Halpern is a US-born and bred writer with experience in radio. He has lived in southern France for 15 years. Michael is the copy editor of NauticExpo e-magazine.

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    Øyvind Bordal

    Øyvind Bordal is a norwegian writer and sailor, based in Denmark and Caribbean.


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    Wim Vercauter

    Wim Vercauter is a freelance boating editor and a fire safety expert.

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    Celia Sampol

    Celia Sampol has been a journalist for more than 15 years. She worked in Brussels and Washington for national medias (Agence France Presse, Liberation, Europolitics). She’s the editor-in-chief of NauticExpo e-magazine and MedicalExpo e-magazine.

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    Tony Slinn

    Formerly editor-in-chief of IHS Maritime, Tony Slinn is an independent maritime journalist.

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    Samantha Fisk

    Samantha Fisk worked at RINA for 7 years and has now gone into freelance for European magazines.

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