So you’ve found the perfect boat. You’re ready to now outfit it with boat electronics. You have a vast array of choices, which is great, but it may make it seem overwhelming 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 just choose the best from several different brands? Know yourself, your boating plans, and your general attitude toward electronic gadgetry, and you’ll have an easier time choosing how to outfit your boat.
Choosing the most suitable boating 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 the event 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 use navigational 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 AIS gear is the most important electronic device you’ll buy. It allows vessels to exchange electronic data 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. A GPS system is another important piece of boat electronics your boat should have. One of the more popular choices is for a multifunction display that puts several different instruments onto one screen. Such multifunction machines can even allow you to run radar and fishfinder data through one display. They are also relatively easy to expand for other functions and displays.
3. If you have a choice of displays, remember that the larger it is, the easier it will be to see. 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. If you are interested in on-board entertainment, you can coordinate your display for several peripheral boat electronics. Other devises like satelite recievers, computers, DVD players and music systems can be connected. All of these are great extras to have, however, don’t get them in lue of choosing quality safelty gear. 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. If the weather turns bad, a depth sounder combined with your GPS plotter can help get you safely back to shore.
6.There is an ever changing selection of marine electronics products made available for the boating industry. There are now laptop computers designed specifically for use in boats. 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, your AIS device, GPS plotter, and depth sounder are the most critical pieces of boat electronics for your vessel because they pertain to your safety and the safety of your passengers. Have these pieces in place first, and if it’s in your budget, there are plenty of extras you can add in the way of entertainment equipment and fish finding devices that you can have fun with.