Complete refit of historic racing powerboat includes integrated navigation, communications and safety equipment installation


A total refit of GEE, originally built in 1967, has enabled owner Chris Clayton to include a complete package of the latest marine navigation, communications and safety products on board.

With the prospect of one of the toughest endurance races looming – the 2008 Round Britain Offshore Power Boat Race – GEE has been fully equipped with a marine electronics package that brings the boat right up to date with all the latest position, speed, communications, radar and safety equipment. The equipment on board includes Raymarine’s latest high tech digital fishfinder. This won’t be used to hunt down fish – unless the crew search for the Loch Ness monster while going through the Caledonian Canal – but it will give high clarity images of the sea bed and water depth when launching and berthing the boat during the nine stop-overs.

Geoff Sargent, who has been responsible for the electronics installation on GEE, said that due to space limitation within the cockpit even the boat’s traditional fuel tank gauges had been removed. Using Raymarine’s NMEA2000 data link, vital fuel and engine data would be available through the E120 integrated multi-function display and the ST60 instruments fitted on board.

Thanks to the complete package of products available through Raymarine, Sargent says that installation of all the equipment to provide fully integrated data has been easy to achieve. On board, data from the radar, chartplotter, and the AIS receiver – which provides a wireless exchange of details of vessels within the vicinity showing them as distinct and identifiable targets – will all be available on the large, easy to see, bright sunlight viewable, colour E120 screen. At the push of a button, the pilot or navigator can switch screens, or select a picture within a picture, to bring up more details. Key data, such as speed, position and fuel monitoring information will also be available and repeated on the ST60 instruments.

Raymarine has also supplied an autopilot, which will intuitively understand the boat’s sea handling characteristics, giving the crew some welcome rest from manually steering on some of the longer offshore legs. For fast shore and water-based communications there are hand-held radios combined with an installed Ray240E radio with Digital Selective Calling (DSC) which transmits an emergency call with vessel data and position at the press of a button.

Finally, for complete crew safety, GEE has been equipped with Raymarine’s LifeTag Man Overboard system. Anyone on-board GEE – and during the race there will be a variety of guest crew including Fiona Pankhurst, International Marketing Communications Manager of Raymarine; and Hayden Morgan, who will be celebrating his 40th birthday on the leg from Newcastle to Lowestoft – will wear a LifeTag transmitter as a standard safety procedure. If a person falls overboard, the LifeTag emits a warning sound and the position is automatically logged on the chartplotter and instruments enabling the remaining crew or a rescue vessel to quickly find the person in the water.

GEE’s owner Chris Clayton says he is delighted that the historic GEE is now completely up to date with the latest high technology navigation, communications and safety equipment. He concluded: “We chose Raymarine because not only does the company have an excellent reputation for manufacturing reliable products, it was also one of the only companies that could provide us with the entire range of equipment we needed. This has enabled us to completely integrate all the data with the plug-and-play interface, and has also been very easy to install. All this technology on board will make a massive change from when GEE first competed in the Round Britain Race in 1969.”