NauticExpo e-Magazine - #15 – Smart MarinasNauticExpo e-Magazine

The Online Boating and Maritime Exhibition

Smart Marinas

Did you know that the average boat in a marina leaves the dock only three days per year? It’s a fact. Boats are becoming more like vacation homes. In this context, marinas have to adapt to offer almost the same services as holiday resorts. The SmartMarina concept facilitates access to marina services and booking available berths through wireless networks and the Internet of Things. Time to park it!

In this issue, you will also read about the Yara Birkeland project, the world’s first all-electric autonomous ship. And don’t forget to read our stories about the Innovation Award winners at last month’s IBEX conference in Tampa, Florida.

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We’re betting that tomorrow’s marinas and floating houses will need IoT.
Smart Marina helps find available berths through wireless networks (Credit: nazar_ab)


With more and more boats permanently moored in marinas, space for visiting vessels can be hard to find. The Smart Marina concept facilitates access to marina services and booking available berths through wireless networks and the Internet of Things.   The average boat in a marina leaves the dock only three days per...

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Better puncture-resistance, non-slip surfaces and UV protection are now virtually standard.
Modular floating docks made simple (Courtesy of Dock Blocks)


From helicopter landing pads to a floating film set, customers are finding new ways to use dock modules, as modern designs and connection systems for the individual units provide increasing flexibility. NauticExpo e-magazine spoke with industry expert John Krogman to find out more.


Marketing & international sales director of US-based manufacturer Connect-A-Dock, Krogman’s most unusual project was a floating set for the 2016 Clint Eastwood film Sully: Miracle on the Hudson. The film tells the story of US Airways pilot Captain Chesley ‘Sully’ Sullenberger, who safely landed his disabled airliner on the Hudson River in 2009 with no fatalities.

Innovation in the technology used to produce, connect and strengthen modules allows for bigger sizes—those used for the film set measured four by eight feet (1.2 x 2.4 m). It also makes possible the addition of an increasing array of attachments and accessories. Across the industry, better puncture-resistance, non-slip surfaces and UV protection are now virtually standard, Krogman explained.


Set for the film "Sully Miracle on the Hudson" (Courtesy of Connect-A-Dock)

Set for the film “Sully: Miracle on the Hudson” (Courtesy of Connect-A-Dock)

“We have also developed a versatile system that allows our rotationally-molded polyethylene modules to be configured end-to-end or side-to-side in many different configurations,” he said. “And it takes just five minutes to attach a module to its neighbor.”

Dock’s Stability

Dock modules today have a huge variety of uses—floating platforms for dredging, temporary venues for water sports events and helicopter landing pads, in addition to marina construction. Canada-based CanDock has taken the latter to a new level, with its patented service channel technology that allows customers to insert electric cables and pipes through the modules.

Modular docks can also be used as helicopter landing pads (Courtesy of)

Modular docks can also be used as helicopter landing pads (Courtesy of Matrax)

Mooring vessels remains the most common use for modular docks. But are there limitations to securing larger craft? “It depends on the pull-out strength of your cleats and of the dock sections themselves,” Krogman said. “It also depends on anchoring methods, but we have 40- to 60-ft [12-18 m] vessels moored to our system.”

“Rowing clubs appreciate the lower freeboard and the dock’s stability.”

Larger craft require docks with a freeboard of 17 inches (43.2 cm). For smaller craft, there are modules with eight inches (20.3 cm) of freeboard.

“Rowing clubs and coaches appreciate the lower freeboard and the dock’s stability, which creates a safe platform for entering and exiting their shells,” Krogman noted. Safety is also a feature of the newly developed personal kayak launches that can be attached to docks, along with drive-on modular units for jet skis and other personal watercraft.


Modular dock for kayaks (Courtesy of At Ease Dock & Lift)

Modular dock for kayaks (Courtesy of At Ease Dock & Lift)

Recycled Materials

There is an industry trend toward units that are not just recyclable, but made from recycled materials, Krogman added. “Most docks are made from virgin polyethylene, but there are materials coming out that will help repel various forms of pests that can eat through plastic docks. Not much readily available yet, but hopefully coming soon.”

Global dock module player T Dock International has serious environment-friendly credentials: “Our cubes are made from recycled materials and are 100% recyclable,” a spokesman stated. The company’s Tide Manager system allows docks to float up and down with changing water level. It also introduced an open sea version. The spokesman stated: “We have tested in waves as high as three meters and the success rate has been very good.”

Floating bridge (Courtesy of TDock)

Read more about Floating docks on NauticExpo website. 

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Yara Birkeland will be 100% electric. There will be no traditional engines.
The Yara Birkeland project (Courtesy of Yara)

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A partnership between Norwegian fertilizer giant Yara International and marine technology leader Kongsberg Maritime is developing the container feeder vessel Yara Birkeland, the world’s first autonomous, zero-emissions battery-powered container ship.   Yara Birkeland’s batteries will be charged with clean Norwegian...

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Akzonobel Launch (Courtesy of Infante/VOR)


The seven VO65’s racing 45,000 nautical miles around the globe will be crunching massive amounts of data. That means Big Data is onboard.  This concept refers...

Working toward ocean sustainability (Courtesy of Volvo Ocean Race)


Every big event leaves an environmental footprint. In sailboat racing, vessels are built, a huge logistical operation is set in motion and RIBs log hours of...

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  • Blue Isles, the world's first solar power docks (Courtesy of Blue Isles)


    Boaters enjoy free solar energy with the Blue Isles floating microgrid. They are the world’s first solar power docks. Power to the people!


    It was something as simple as a refreshing beverage that gave Rhode Island native Anthony Baro his brainwave. From one thirsty sailor’s need for a chilled beer came the idea of harvesting the sun’s energy to power boats.

    “My boat was tied up in Rhode Island’s Bristol Harbor on a hot summer day,” said Baro. “I thought to myself, There has to be a good way to keep my onboard refrigerator running so that I can enjoy a cold drink.”

    Already working in the renewable energy field, an inspired Baro teamed up with Chris Fagan to found PowerDocks in April 2016. Just over a year later, the company launched Blue Isles, their Marine Autonomous Powered Docking Platform (MAPD), a world first.

    “Blue Isles has the potential to be a game changer in the marine environment,” explained Baro. “We’re talking about a completely autonomous and sustainable powered mooring capable of generating, storing and distributing renewable energy to boats in areas where there was never power before.”

    Hook Me Up

    Fabricated on land, the first Blue Isles “aquatic microgrid” was installed in  Newport Habor on Rhode Island in July. The 30-square-metre floating platform generates electricity through a bank of solar panels, stores it in batteries, and then delivers it to docked vessels.

    Blue Isles is a completely green technology (Courtesy of Blue Isles)

    Blue Isles is a completely green technology (Courtesy of Blue Isles)

    It also provides WiFi up to a range of 90 metres. Platform operators such as marinas, harbours and private individuals can either rent platforms (when a charge for the generated electricity is included in the rental fee), or purchase them outright. Boaters using Blue Isles can download a smartphone app that controls charging and monitors electricity usage. The app also shows the temperature of batteries on the platform and images from security cameras.

    “That’s roughly enough to supply energy to four boats for a week, without sunshine.”

    “This particular platform can generate about two kilowatts of power and has storage capacity for about 12,” added Baro. “That’s roughly enough to supply energy to four boats for a week, without sunshine.”

    Many boats have gas or diesel generators to charge the batteries that power their electrical systems, including refrigeration equipment. When boats are hooked up to Blue Isles they have no need for such generators, which are noisy, polluting and can be costly to run. Once deployed, a network of such microgrids will also serve the growing number of boaters using electric propulsion.

    “With no fossil fuels involved, this is a completely green technology,” says Baro. “Not only do we want to lower energy costs for boaters, we also want to promote sustainable power. After all, we all enjoy eating fish and swimming in clean water.”


    When boats are hooked up to Blue Isles they have no need for generators (Courtesy of Blue Isles)

    Blue Isles in Europe

    PowerDocks has plans to roll out and diversify its offerings, and will launch Blue Isles in Europe at the METS TRADE show in November. The company sees potential applications for solar power platforms in areas as diverse as commercial fishing and aquaculture, oceanographic research, water quality monitoring and the military.

    It recently showcased a platform with the ability to recharge autonomous undersea vehicles and aerial drones.

    Platform with the ability to recharge aerial drones (Courtesy of Blue Isles)

    Innovation award winners at last month’s IBEX conference in Tampa, Florida included the Seakeeper 3 anti-roll system in the Mechanical Systems category....

    deckWatch demo (Courtesy of Vesper Marine)

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    This year’s Safety Equipment innovation award winner at the Tampa, Florida IBEX conference went to Vesper Marine’s deckWatch app. The Auckland, New Zealand...

    Ship in fog (Courtesy of Wikimedia)


    The Tampa, Florida IBEX 2017 conferred its Deck Equipment & Hardware innovation award on the Light Pole™ navigation lights from Aluna Systems. Designed to...

    The Hrönn project prototype (Courtesy of Kongsberg)

    Norway-based Kongsberg Maritime, the UK’s Automated Ships and French marine services specialist Bourbon have combined forces to pioneer Hrönn, the first autonomous offshore support vessel (OSV). NauticExpo e-magazine met with Peter Due, Kongsberg’s strategic projects manager.


    NE e-mag: Could you tell us more about the systems and how they will operate?

    Peter Due: Kongsberg’s responsibility includes all the systems for dynamic positioning and navigation, satellite and position reference, marine automation and communication. Our vessel control systems, including K-Pos dynamic positioning, K-Chief automation and K-Bridge ECDIS and radar, will be replicated at an onshore control center.

    The OSV will first be remotely operated from that center, with a transition to fully automated and, ultimately, autonomous operations as the control algorithms are developed.

    NE e-mag: What roles will Bourbon and Automated Ships play in the project?

    Peter Due: Initially, we will create a CONOPS, a concept of operations, based on Bourbon’s intended use of the vessel. Bourbon will leverage its expertise in building and operating a standardized fleet to provide detailed input for Hrönn’s development, ensuring flexibility, reliability and cost efficiency to operate safely and effectively.

    Bourbon joined the Hrönn project (Courtesy of Bourbon)

    Automated Ships will focus on the design, construction and operation of the vessel, which will be built in Norway. The company has modified the original catamaran design since project launch, now opting for a 37-meter monohull vessel of steel construction. That will provide more payload capacity and greater flexibility over a diverse range of operations.

    NE e-mag: Which industries will such an OSV serve?

    Peter Due: Apart from the offshore energy and fish farming industries, Hrönn will be suited to hydrographic and scientific research, and use as an ROV and AUV support ship and standby vessel. It also will have the ability to provide firefighting support to an offshore platform, working in cooperation with manned vessels.

    “Apart from the offshore energy and fish farming industries, Hrönn will be suited to hydrographic and scientific research.”

    NE e-mag: What are your major challenges?

    Peter Due: Kongsberg has been integrating with other partners for decades, so we don’t see any big challenges there. The major challenges are more about regulations and class rules. To that end, Hrönn, Kongsberg and DNV-GL are taking part in the SIMAROS project, where the objective is to design new class rules.

    NE e-mag: Where will sea trials take place and who will oversee them?

    Peter Due: Hrönn’s sea trials will take place in Norway’s official automated vessel test area in the Trondheim fjord. The trials will be conducted under the auspices of DNV-GL, which will class the vessel, and the Norwegian Maritime Authority, which will flag it. Hrönn is expected to enter service in 2018.



    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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    Daniel Allen

    Daniel Allen is a writer and a photographer. His work has featured in numerous publications, including CNN, BBC, The National Geographic Traveller.

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    Øyvind Bordal

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


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    Kevin Green

    Kevin Green is a Sydney-based yachting journalist who contributes to international boating publications.


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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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