Rupert Holmes tests out Brnkl, a new remote monitoring system that offers reassurance for owners even when they are a long way from their boat
Since the start of the Covid crisis many of us have been separated from our yachts for much longer than usual. Fortunately, there are a growing number of options for a remote boat monitoring system that enables us to keep an eye on essential parameters from afar. One such system is Brnkl.
Canadian company BRNKL offers a system that monitors GPS position, bilge pumps and several battery banks. The base unit also includes environmental sensors for temperature and humidity, as well as an accelerometer/gyroscope for heel, pitch and motion/impact.
There are also add-ons for shore power connection and cameras, plus wireless sensors that can be fitted to hatches, companionways and lockers to warn when they are opened.
Since fitting the system to my partner’s 36ft Humphreys-designed one-off, it has been enormously reassuring to be able to check every morning that all is well and to know you will get an instant notification if anything is amiss.
The built in GPS appears to be extremely accurate, with no erroneous positions and the trace remaining within a radius of just 6m over a two-week period, despite not having an external antenna. As a result I’ve reduced the geo-fenced area to just 10m. If the boat moves outside that radius we get an immediate alert.
We fitted the device after the boat sustained some damage when it was moved by the marina staff just before a winter storm and without fenders repositioned to suit the new location. If we’d known the boat had moved we could have asked friends who live nearby to check and potentially have avoided the problem.
The base system consists of the main BRNKL box, to which battery banks, bilge pump float switches and one external camera can be hard wired. The BRNKL Mate add-on includes a wireless interface for networking other sensors and has connections for an additional camera, as well as NMEA 2000 data. This is a fairly expensive upgrade, but is worthwhile for the additional security of adding wireless sensors to hatches, lockers and the companionway. These have user-replaceable batteries, which will reduce the long-term costs of running the system.
Fitting time will vary depending on the complexity of the system. A basic set up can be done in as little as a couple of hours, although a more comprehensive set up, with multiple battery banks and additional cameras with cables that need to be run behind linings would take longer.
RRP: base unit and external camera €1,074
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