As the gigantic hurricane Dorian barreled its way up Florida's Eastern Seaboard, October 2019, I had to leave Britannia to fend for herself in a marina at Cape Canaveral, Florida, For three days I remained very concerned about the boat, with only sketchy TV reports to say what was happening at The Cape. A Float-hub device would have dramatically changed this scenario, by transmitting real-time boat information to my home computer and I-phone.
The concept is logical enough: you connect all the things you want to monitor to the Float-hub, a rather innocuous little yellow box only 3” x 5” x 1½” inches, but evidently with an over-sized brain. The data is transmitted through either Wifi or cellular connection, and you see an interactive “dashboard” of your boat, as it is actually happening.
Float-hub operates on the NMEA 0183 protocol, (National Marine Electrics Association), which most modern instruments conform to. There will also be a newer NMEA 2000 version available around October/November 2021.
Unfortunately, my wind speed and direction instrument at the mast-head are not NMEA compatable, and I could not make the Float-hub work for that information, which, with a hurricane is on the way would have been very useful information to have.
I did wire the Float-hub to show output from my wind generator: the condition of two sets of batteries, and whenever two bilge pumps came on. This information would be particularly helpful if a boat was on a mooring, or at anchor, rather than in a marina. If the boats position suddenly changed, you would know it had moved for some reason. If it was being stolen, you could follow it, without the thieves even knowing they were being tracked. It would also be useful to bare-boat charter companies, to show the position and equipment status on their vessels. The device also sends out its own internally collected data, for saloon temperature: barometric pressure: GPS position and boat speed.
Something to be aware of, Float-hub, along with all the things being monitored, must be switched on all the time, which means battery drain, but if a battery charger is on from shore power, this too can be monitored. I ran my Float-hub from a separate battery just to watch the drain, which was very small indeed.
The basic Float-hub, with only Wifi connectivity costs $149.00, plus shipping, and data transmission is free. The combined Wifi/cell version costs $239.99 with retrieval plans at $9.99 a month, or $99.99 yearly.
I wouldn’t say I’m looking forward to the next big storm, but it will be interesting to watch what is actually happening on the boat.
Read more about this neat little device at www.floathub.com.