BRIGHT SPARKS 429 - The Smarter Riviera

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  • Trade-A-Boat

Smart electronics can simplify life at sea by giving the skipper only essential information, while the rest is taken care of by digital automation, reports KEVIN GREEN aboard Riviera’s new 75 Enclosed Flybridge flagship

BRIGHT SPARKS 429 - The Smarter Riviera
BRIGHT SPARKS 429 — The Smarter Riviera

Smart systems can be fitted to mechanically governed diesels that lack the thorough monitoring of newer electronic engines, and it’s not just about being user friendly in the increasingly busy cockpit consoles, it’s also about preventative maintenance.

Imagine the scenario of say, exhaust temperatures, something that is typically monitored by digital systems. The latest monitors can chart and log it; so if a trend develops showing, for example, rising temperatures during every outing, the skipper can act on this.

Monitoring is also handy for warranty claims — like that expensive bilge pump that failed suddenly, even though the usage chart/log proved that it’s hardly been deployed. Digital systems from companies such as Palladium (see and Maretron (visit among others, do this kind of job easily — as I saw last month when I was invited aboard Riviera’s brand-new flagship 75-footer.

Hull number one of the Riviera 75 Enclosed Flybridge is an impressive looking vessel, an evolution of the 70 model and now with larger cockpit and flybridge. The New Zealand owner wanted a luxurious cruiser that he could manage himself, without the need for a skipper.

That’s a lot to ask, considering this is a 76-foot motoryacht, weighing 43 tons and with a myriad of complex systems to run, as Riviera representative Dean Horgan explained to me as we walked around the boat.

"There’s been a lot more integration than normal on this boat, with even items such as the watermaker being NMEA 2000 compliant," said Dean.

First off, controlling the mighty twin 1800hp Caterpillar C32 engines was done by the installation of the Twin Disc Express Joystick System (EJS). EJS and its QuickShift gearbox basically gives shaftdriven boats the same joystick controls as enjoyed by saildrive transmissions.

This is achieved by a black box (known as the EC300 unit) that manages the fore and aft hydraulic thrusters in conjunction with the main engines.

The next layer of smarts to be integrated was the digital control systems from Maretron. Four Maretron J1939 engine-data converters translate information into NMEA 2000 readable format for display on the Simrad MFDs.

Typically, the data will be engine coolant temperature, oil pressure and temperature, transmission oil pressure and temperature, and exhaust gas temperature shown both in graphs and numerical values on one display.

Another interesting bit of Maretron kit fitted was the WSO100 Weather Station, which ultrasonically measures wind speed and direction while also recording air temperature, barometric pressure and relative humidity. It’s an NMEA 2000 compliant solid-state unit with no fins or other moving parts, so also ideal for sailboats; and it can tilt to 30 degrees.

Organising the substantial CAN-bus cabling backbone was done by the CZone team from BEP (visit, who worked closely with Simrad’s NZ-based software group on the project.

Climbing around the Riviera’s engineroom, I came across the bank of CZone boxes, near the enormous twin Onan 22.2kW generators.

As the CZone name suggest the boxes organise all systems into zone clusters, with one power cable in and one NMEA 2000 cable out.

"Using CZone allows the systems on this boat to be configured to run in modes, which removes the need for the owner to worry about switches. The modes that run on Simrad MFD include docking, cruising, anchor and night mode," explained Dean.

Climbing up to the enclosed flybridge reveals an impressive array of four Simrad NSO 19in touchscreens along with a smaller NSS12, professionally installed by R-Electronics at the Queensland HQ of Riviera.

This extensive array allows the skipper to zone-control areas in each screen. Looking along the bank of screens, the first, the port display, showed digitally-created analogue engine readouts, easily readable from the comfy helm.

Of course split-screen technology allows multiple displays but reducing data clutter is a good idea on such a complex boat. Next to it was output from Simrad’s new CHIRP sounder, which had the BSM2 broadband sounder module that ran off a 3kW transducer. Using the additional structure scan module (with transducers either side of the hull) allowed me to clearly view protrusions from the dockside and of course fish.

Moving along to the third screen revealed the new 4G broadband radar output. Simrad claim a doubling in range (from 16 to 32nm) as well as dual-speed (36 and 48rpm) on this latest model, while close-in targets are clearer; something I saw for myself a few months ago when using it.

On the fourth screen, Navionics charting was displayed, while the small NSS12 showed the Modes that control all the boat systems, simply illustrated with five touch icons.

Overall, it was an impressive show of Australian and NZ technology at work.

Integration is done by a CAN-bus system, originally developed for the motor trade by Bosch but now used widely in other areas including our marine environment. CAN (Control Area Network) is the backbone that ECU (electronic control units) plug into. Using NMEA 2000 protocol the digital data runs through this backbone from all other NMEA 2000 compliant external devices. Typically, computer cabling is used (Ethernet) to physically link-up the NMEA 2000 connectors attached to all the onboard devices.

photo: Riviera's nw flagship 75 has an impressive array of smarts from Simrad, CZone, and Maretron.

Mode icons on the touchscreen Simrad NSS12 simplify controls for the skipper.

CZone control units divide all systems into control clusters that operate through a CAN-bus system; this has no single point of failure and inbuilt fault-finding.

The Maretron control box allowes engine data to be NMEA 2000 readable.

The Maretron weather station is ultrasonic so requires no moving parts to measure wind and other atmospheric data.

A Twin Disc joystick (at left) controls the shaftdrive Caterpillars.

Australia's premier motorboat brand definitely moved up a technological notch with launch of Riviera's 75 Enclosed Flybridge.

From Trade-a-Boat Issue 429, July-Aug 2012. Photos by Kevin Green; Maretron; Riviera.


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