Sense you have found the perfect boat. Now you’re ready to outfit it with boating electronics. Choosing from amoung the vast array of units is great but may at times seem overwhelming. Much will depend on the kind of boater you are and the type of electronic equipment 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 favored boat electronics brand, or would you rather cherry pick 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 case of an emergency. Learning to use your electronic equipment is equally as important as choosing it. And that indicates you will have to take the time to learn how to operate the equipment whether it’s from manuals, instructional videos, 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. Knowing how to read navigational charts and plot your route is still an important skill. With that in mind, here are 6 tips for choosing your boat 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 boats 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. This is critical to have should there be an emergency, or should you become lost.
2. Your boat electronics package should also include a GPS plotter as one the important components. 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. Remember, that on a boat, screen viewing can be far from optimal during sun glare and rough weather conditions. You should choose at least a 7″ display, but if there is room and it will fit your budget a 10″ or 12″ will be much better.
4. If you are interested in on-board entertainment, you can coordinate your display for several peripheral boat electronics. They can be connected to satellite television receivers, DVD players, music systems, and some computer devices. These are great extras to have, but don’t get them at the expense of choosing inferior safety equipment. Be sure to mount your navigation equipment in an easily accessed area on the helm.
5. A depth sounder is another good investment in the safety of your boat. 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 do what normal laptops do, but they can also be loaded 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. After having these devises in place first, and if you can afford it, there are plenty of extras you can add in the way of entertainment equipment and fish finding devices that you can have fun with.