Vesper Marine Cortex

How one company has changed the concept of VHF as we know it
Vesper Marine Cortex used for communicating while on a boat
Courtesy Vesper Marine

Vesper Marine’s Cortex might remind boaters more of a smartphone than a VHF. The touchscreen handset (the size of a mobile phone) combines a Class B AIS transponder and remote vessel monitor with VHF. Vesper CEO Jeff Robbins says, “Cortex fundamentally changes how you interact with safety communications systems.”

For example, have you tried making a direct DSC call to another boat? You might try it, but few people use this function regularly because it’s complicated. With Cortex, you simply touch the vessel on the screen and press “call” to make a direct DSC call.

Cortex includes Vesper’s SmartAIS technology to alert boaters of potentially hazardous situations. It continuously calculates and shows crossing situations with navigation light sectors onscreen, and even allows trial maneuvers while a boater talks on the VHF. It also generates collision alarms for critical action.

When you’re sleeping on board and the anchor drags, Cortex sends alerts on the handsets (up to 10 wireless and/or wired handsets can be connected at once) and Wi-Fi‑connected smartphones. If you’re ashore, the system sends alerts to a smartphone via the Cortex Monitor app. It can also alert you to changes in wind speed, wind direction and water depth.

Cortex combines built-in sensors and NMEA 2000 compatibility with free basic monitoring. Using cellular connectivity, boaters can view twice-daily updates of power, location, wind, depth, bilge, temperature and more on their smartphones. The Cortex premium subscription ($120 annually) offers real-time vessel status, alerts, and device control for boat systems such as refrigerators, ice makers, lights and heaters.

The black-box module and handsets carry an IPX7 rating, and the wired H1 and wireless rechargeable H1P handsets feature 4-inch Gorilla Glass ­multitouch displays, built-in mics and 85 dBA speakers. The black box includes a splitter so a single VHF antenna can be used for Cortex and another VHF radio. Systems start at $1,799.

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