Top Electronics Tips for First Time Boaters and Sailors
There were a record number of first-time boaters on the water last year, with many new boat sales especially in the small powerboat and RIB sectors. Many boats were sold with no or very limited electronic navigation equipment onboard. With summer on the way, and lockdown restrictions lifting, this is a good time to think about upgrading your electronics on board ready for the season. If you have a small inflatable, a fishing or power boat, a RIB under 6m or a small sailing boat here are our recommendations to enhance your time on the water...
For Small Inflatable Boats
PORTABLE FISHING PACK
If you have a small inflatable without a 12V system and you want to install a fishfinder or a fishfinder/plotter combination unit then consider the Garmin Portable Kit with one of the Garmin Striker Fishfinders (up to 7”). The Kit protects and carries your fishfinder and includes a sealed, rechargeable battery with smart charger, built-in transducer cable management and storage plus suction cup transducer mount and float.
You can even put a mapping chartplotter/ fishfinder such as the Garmin Echomap UHD 65cv inside. It's preloaded with Bluechart g3 charts with Navionics data for the UK, Ireland and the NW coast of mainline Europe and includes Quickdraw Contours map drawing software.
If you don’t want to screw your transducer to the transom then use the Minn Kota Portable Transducer Pole Bracket. It features a reinforced composite, multi trim, lever lock bracket which resists flexing, warping and UV damage. It's a quick robust and reliable solution for mounting a temporary transducer.
Keep yourself safe and carry a VHF radio when in your inflatable - your mobile phone may not always get a signal so a VHF is an essential safety item. These two models are popular with our small boat customers
Standard Horizon HX210 Handheld VHF with FM Radio - A rugged, powerful 6W floating handheld VHF with an integral FM receiver. If dropped in the water, the radio will float face up and a water activated strobe light will flash. You can also use it for listening to FM radio while out fishing.
Consider also the compact Icom IC-M25 Euro VHF Radio - A very light (only 220g) floating handheld Marine VHF Transceiver with slim body for optimum handling. If dropped in the water, the LCD and button backlights flash together with a bright red LED to aid recovery.
If you want to listen to your favourite tunes while out in your inflatable then take a look at the waterproof and robust Fusion Stereo Active. Designed and engineered in New Zealand by Fusion, its engineered for the ruggedness of life on the water and tuned to deliver crystal clear music.
For Small Fishing Boats under 6m
If you have bought a fishing boat then you are probably looking at a fishfinder/chartplotter with more advanced sonar features such as Ultra-high definition, Downscan, Sidescan or even 3D sonar.
Here are some units that are designed for the fisherman:
Humminbird Helix 7 CHIRP MSI GPS G3N - with Mega+ Imaging, High Frequency Down and Side Sonar which will give you unprecedented underwater clarity with coverage down to 125 feet below your boat.
Raymarine Element 7HV with HV-100 Transducer - with High Frequency Down and Side Imaging + 3D Sonar. It's Raymarine’s small & medium sized fishing boat solution that offers superior sonar technology and unrivaled quad-core processing speed. Ideal for single station boat owners who want the performance, but don’t have the need for a fully-fledged multifunctional navigation system.
Lowrance Hook Reveal 7 Tripleshot - affordable Side and Down Imaging with unique FishReveal, a powerful fishfinding tool.
Garmin Echomap UHD 95sv - with Ultra High-Definition ClearVü and SideVü scanning sonars and Garmin CHIRP traditional sonar for improved underwater imagery. It's preloaded with Bluechart g3 charts with Navionics data for the UK, Ireland and the NW coast of mainline Europe and includes Quickdraw Contours map drawing software. (Transducer sold separately).
Lowrance Elite FS7 Chartplotter & Fishfinder - combines the power of Lowrance’s proven and newest fishfinding tools with a more affordable display that’s easier to use and install. From ActiveTarget™ live sonar and extreme high-resolution Active Imaging™ with Lowrance CHIRP sonar, SideScan and DownScan Imaging™ to compatibility with a wide range of chart options, Elite FS gives you all the tools you need to find and catch more fish.
A fixed mount radio is a permanent addition to your cockpit or cabin running from power generated by the boats battery. The Cobra F57 DSC VHF is an affordable waterproof DSC VHF packed full of features commonly found on much more expensive sets and a good choice for a small fishing boat.
If you want to listen to your favourite tunes or the radio while out fishing then the compact Fusion MS-RA55 Marine Stereo and Speaker Pack is a good place to start. It's a complete marine stereo bundle for smaller boats looking for a twin zone, 4 speaker system. The bundle includes a compact MS-RA55 marine stereo and a pair of MS-EL602 slimline six inch speakers.
For RIBs & Power Boats under 6m
No chartplotter onboard? - Know where you are and how deep the water is with a Chartplotter/Fishfinder combination unit. These are 3 of our best-selling units and they ideal for a smaller boat:
Simrad Cruise 7 - designed for those who dont need all the bells and whistles that are associated with the latest MFDs and chartplotters. A simple and intuitive button controlled user interface allows you to navigate without fuss. A bright sunlight viewable display combined with a IPX7 waterproof rating means you can mount the Cruise either inside or outside the boat. It is shipped with a small transducer than can be bonded inside the hull or mounted on a transom.
Raymarine Element 7 - a button controlled wide screen chartplotter with NMEA 2000 and Wi-Fi RADAR connection. Engineered for simplicity and affordable performance. Features a powerful quad-core processor and an all-weather, sunlight viewable display. Element’s simple and straightforward LightHouse Sport operating system lets you navigate with confidence.
Garmin Echomap UHD 65cv - features Ultra High Definition (UHD) ClearVü sonar support for improved underwater imagery. Its preloaded with Bluechart g3 charts with Navionics data for the UK, Ireland and the NW coast of mainline Europe and includes Quickdraw Contours map drawing software.
Add a sound system with Bluetooth streaming capability such as the Fusion RA-70 Stereo Bundle with Speakers. A waterproof AM/FM stereo, it's designed for use in a marine environment. Download the free Fusion link app and control the RA-70 directly from your smartphone.
FIXED VHF RADIO
Here are a couple of super compact radios that are perfect for a console or dashboard with limited room:
Icom IC-M330GE VHF Radio with GPS - Ultra Compact Model. This small space-saving radio that can fit in those tight spaces where a traditional full sized radio cannot. It may be small in size but is certainly not lacking in features.
Standard Horizon GX1400GPS E VHF with Internal GPS - An affordable Ultra Compact Class D Fixed Mount VHF Radio with an internal 66 channel GPS receiver built into the front panel for ease of use.
Unfortunately, boat and outboard theft does happen far too often especially when boats are laid up over the winter period. Add a tracking device such as:
Spot Trace GPS Anti Theft System - The SPOT Trace offers advanced theft-alert tracking for anything. Instantly receive a text or email when your most valuable assets move, or follow them on Google Maps anytime on your phone or computer.
For Small Sailing Boats up to 30ft
Pick a chartplotter that fits within your boat's confines. Bigger is usually better when it come to screen size. 5-7" screens are good for using split screen features or zooming in. They are also easier to see from across the boat.
Garmin GPSMAP 722 MFD - an advanced navigation solution, this compact 7-inch GPSMAP 722 touchscreen chartplotter has built-in Garmin SailAssist™ features, including laylines, race features, set and drift, wind data and more.
B&G Vulcan 7R Sailing Chartplotter - a great value, sailing chartplotter designed for coastal cruising and club racing. This easy-to-use, intuitive 7-inch multi-touch screen is packed with B&G’s unique sailing features including SailSteer and RacePanel.
Raymarine Element 7s Chartplotter - A button controlled wide screen chartplotter with NMEA 2000 and Wi-Fi RADAR connection. Engineered for simplicity and affordable performance with a powerful quad-core processor and an all-weather, sunlight viewable display Element’s simple and straightforward LightHouse Sport operating system lets you navigate with confidence.
VHF marine radios are used for a variety of purposes including; contacting harbours & marinas, summoning rescue services or ship-to-shore and ship-to-ship communication. Fixed panel-mount radios offer greater range than a handheld because of their extra power and external antenna.
Icom M423GE DSC VHF Radio - with built-in GPS. The IC-M423GE is ideal for customers who are looking for a compact radio for their boat with advanced functions and dual station control.
You can use a second station to control all the functions of the main unit from a distance. The Icom HM-195G Commandmic can be positioned up to 18.3m (60ft) away from the IC-M423GE. It can also be used as an intercom.
Instruments have moved on a long way from the older analogue single function types. Now, multi-function NMEA 2000-based instruments with colour screens can be configured to show any data from sensors that are on the NMEA 2000 bus.
Garmin GNX Wireless Wind Pack - GNX Wind gives you the wind data necessary to make confident decisions. It includes the GNX Wind Instrument and gWind Wireless 2 transducer. With a compatible GPS chartplotter, GNX Wind provides two data fields and a digital wind rose to simultaneously display true* and apparent wind data, Steer Pilot, boat speed and more. The gWind Wireless 2 transducer is easy to install and eliminates cables for masts up to 15m (50ft).
* For true wind information, speed through the water and heading inputs are required.
A properly operating sailboat autopilot will keep your sailboat on a selected course even in strong currents and winds. Compact Tiller Pilots are a good small boat solution.
Simrad Tiller Pilots - designed for high precision, reliable autosteering while drawing low current to optimise battery life. The hard wearing, waterproof body contains all the controls and has been tested for many hours in total immersion. Exceptionally quiet in use, the Tillerpilot gives fast and positive performance for effective steering in a wide range of sea states and wind conditions.
Raymarine Tiller Pilot - this waterproof and robust tiller pilot can be used as a stand alone pilot or can be connected to GPS for auto control. 6 large tactile buttons enable the user to switch in and out of Auto mode and to make simple one button press course adjustments. A backlit LCD display will give navigational data such as a heading, distance to waypoint, bearing to waypoint and cross track error.