So you’ve found the perfect boat. Now you’re ready to outfit it with boating electronics. You have a vast array of choices, which is good, but it may seem to make it confusing choosing from among them. Much will depend on the type of boater you are and the type of electronics you use in general. Can you read charts and the stars, or will you only want the best in electronic navigation? When you’re on your boat, do you plan to leave civilization behind, or will you want phone or email contact? Do you have a favorite marine electronics brand, or would you rather cherry pick the best from several different brands? Knowing your own attitude toward electronics, your preferred type of boating and type of boat will make an easier time of choosing your electronics outfitting.
Choosing the most suitable marine electronics can not only make your boating experiences more fun and your fishing more productive, but it can be important to your well being as well in case of an emergency. Choosing the right equipment is the first step, but learning to use it properly is equally as important. And that means you’ll have to take the time to learn how to use the equipment whether it’s from instructional videos, manuals, or having someone show you how to use it.
Besides, you should know how to navigate by other means in the event of your electronics failing. Learning how to read charts and plot your course is still a required skill. That being said, here are some tips to help you choose your electronics.
1. The boat electronics you should choose should be an automatic identification system, or AIS. It is used by boats and by the Vessel Traffic Services to find and identify boats. Your automatic identification system gear is the most important electronic device you’ll own. It allows boats to exchange electronic information including position, identification, and course. The AIS transponder will cause your vessel to show up on computer screens at Vessel Traffic Services stations. If you have an emergency or should become lost this is critical.
2. Your boat electronics package should also include a GPS plotter as one the important components. One popular option is a multifunction GPS/plotter, which puts multiple functions into one device. Mutifunction displays can even allow you to run radar, GPS and fish finder data on one screen at the same time. They are also relatively easy to expand for other functions and displays.
3. When choosing a display remember that the larger it is the better you will be able to see it. And keep in mind that on a boat, viewing conditions can be far from optimal due to sun glare, storms, and swells. If you can afford a 10 to 12 inch display, that’s best, but you should definitely choose at least a 7 inch display for your boating electronics.
4. When there is an interest in onboard entertainment you may want to coordinate your mutifunction display for several peripheral electronic devises. Other devises like satellite receivers, computers, DVD players and music systems can be connected. These are great extras to have, but don’t get them at the expense of choosing inferior safety equipment. And make sure that all your navigation equipment is mounted where it access is easy.
5. Another good investment in the safety of your boat is a depth sounder or fishfinder. When the weather turns bad a depth sounder combined with your GPS can help find the way back safely to shore.
6. There is an ever changing selection of marine electronics products made available for the boating industry. Now there are laptop computers designed for marine use. These computers perform like standard laptops do, but they can also be equipped with special software like RayTech RNS 6.1, which allows multi-format charting, hsb2 electronics integration, and worldwide tides and currents among its many functions.
In summary, GPS plotter, your AIS device, and depth sounder are the most important pieces of marine electronics for your boat because they pertain to your safety and the safety of your passengers. Have these devises in place first, and if it’s in your budget, there are plenty of peripherals you can add in the way of entertainment equipment and fish finding devices that you can have fun with.