TREMONT — A brand new, state-of-the-art smartphone doesn’t last more than six months before a better, faster, cooler one comes on the market to take its place.
So it goes in the marine technology industry, where fresh innovations are rolled out frequently.
Robert Kramp, owner of Kramp Electronics in Seal Cove, said advancements in marine technology are growing along with the fishing industry.
“Lobstermen are going farther and farther out these days, and they are able to put more traps on board,” he said. “Fishing is a little different now, and so they need technology for that.
“People are waiting for the latest and greatest.”
Just like a smartphone or tablet acts as a phone, computer, still and video camera and can help access updated weather forecasts, the latest marine equipment has to do more than one thing at a time, or it is becomes obsolete.
Touch screen equipment that acts as a chart plotter, radar, depth sounder and weather report all in one is now the standard.
Companies also offer non-touch devices or keypads to accompany the modern screens.
“Some fishermen find with their gloves that keys work better than touch screens,” said Kramp. “But it’s all going to touch screen.”
Kramp is a dealer and technician for all of the major marine tech companies, such as Garmin, Raymarine, Simrad and Furuno.
The manufacturers produce similar products. The biggest difference between them all is how user-friendly each fisherman finds them to be.
“The technology has evolved since I started,” Kramp said, who has been in the business since 1992. Prior to that, he received electronics training as a service member in the U.S. Navy.
Much of Kramp’s work is wiring and outfitting new boat construction, while another portion is retrofitting existing vessels and repairing equipment. The majority of his projects are fishing boats, but he also works on recreational boats, as well as for the Maine Marine Patrol and on other government vessels.
Over the past few years, Kramp has seen an increased interest in bottom-plotting software that allows fishermen to visualize what is beneath them in order to form a more educated prediction of the best place to drop traps.
Although the technology has been around for the better part of a decade, Kramp has seen it catch on locally in the last four to five years.
“With this, you can see the bottom. You’re not just getting an echo back, but you are getting a physical representation,” he said. “When you can see what it can do, yes it’s expensive, but [fishermen] find it is worth it.”
The software from TimeZero and Olex allows the user to pick out targets easier and determine whether the boat is moving away or towards bottom features.
Bottom-building software can be used as a navigation tool or as a detailed depiction of what lies beneath.
Each time a fishing vessel travels over an area, the map becomes more detailed. Different colors represent heights, black lines represent contours in the bottom, and white dots identify the depth.
“There is a wealth of information there, so this is what a lot of guys are starting to use to get that advantage,” said Kramp.
Increased interest in the latest technologies keeps Kramp and his business busy year-round. Because the profession is so specialized, there are only a handful of other technicians in the state who can perform the same marine wiring and repairs, which keeps Kramp busy taking care of customers from Tremont to Addison.
“None of it is easy, and there is so much to know,” he said. “But I love a challenge.”