As seen in Yachting – Cyber Caring and Sharing Two slick yacht information systems to consider. By David Schmidt
A great advantage of living in the era of high-speed Internet and Wi-Fi hot spots is the ability to manage and access information. Two forward- thinking products — WheelHouse Technologies Inc.’s WheelHouse (formerly SeaKits; www.seakits.com) and Digital Yacht’s BOATraNET (www.digitalyacht.co.uk) — provide yachtsmen with the capability to monitor specific aspects of their yachts, ranging from location and heading to preventive and corrective maintenance. While these products differ widely in intent, purpose and functionality, both are designed to make it possible to wirelessly monitor a vessel’s condition and situation … and, in the case of BOATraNET, to have some fun. Here’s a look at both products and at how they can improve your boating experience.
Barry Kallander founded SeaKits (now WheelHouse) because he was looking for a better way to outfit and maintain his Nordhavn 40 for extended cruising. Inspired by the diligent preventive-care mentality he had experienced while serving as a submariner in the U.S. Navy, Kallander began
developing his own proprietary software. The result of his efforts is WheelHouse, a turnkey, planned maintenance program for boat owners and operators that provides a disciplined structure for preventive and corrective maintenance.
The process begins with a thorough stem-to-stern walk-through inspection, in which Kallander and company create a list of the make, model and serial number of every piece of onboard equipment, as well as all necessary replacement parts, and build an exact database for each client. This information is uploaded into WheelHouse’s cloud-based, browserlike software program, along with each manufacturer’s suggested schedule for preventive and corrective care, creating a sophisticated maintenance calendar. The program automatically generates notifications advising when scheduled maintenance work is needed and provides warranty tracking. While WheelHouse requires an Internet connection to access all of the system’s features, it includes a function that automatically downloads critical documentation and planned maintenance tasks to a user’s hard drive.
WheelHouse is also designed to give owners and managers unparalleled access to replacement parts while venturing out of their home waters. For example, if a customer receives an alert advising that his watermaker filters need to be replaced, he can simply order the part through WheelHouse. WheelHouse receives the part, inspects and verifies that it’s the correct unit, and then works with the owner to ship the package to any port of call.
The company also offers its SeaKits Spare Parts Outfitting service, which provides custom-designed repair kits. WheelHouse Technologies physically sources and assembles a full outfitting of vesselspecific spare parts. These parts are inspected, tagged, bagged and kitted in well-organized, easyto-use, water-resistant cases, which are shipped tothe customer. Additionally, WheelHouse compiles comprehensive electronic documentation, available online, including manuals for major onboard equipment and systems, giving an owner or operator access to a library of information.
WheelHouse is available for both new builds and existing vessels in the 40- to 140-foot range, and the company will work with project managers for one-offs and custom builds. Irrespective of age or size, the earlier in a yacht’s life cycle an owner or operator enlists the boat in the program, the greater the long-term returns will be. “The key feature with a new build,” Kallander says, “is that WheelHouse helps an owner maintain his yacht to new-boat standards. If you use WheelHouse, you’re able to maintain every piece of gear and every onboard system from day one. With a five-year-old yacht, the owner is probably coming to us because he knows he’s not keeping up with his boat’s maintenance needs and he wants to get on a longterm program of bringing the vessel up to a higher level of material condition.” Additionally, WheelHouse Technologies works with equipment manufacturers.