As boats become more advanced so too does the technology aboard. Recreational boating has seen amazing advancements in the technology available to boaters. From easy to use multifunction displays to the integration of onboard systems that monitor everything from your vessel’s speed to when your engine’s need an oil change, suffice to say there is a lot of information available on a modern boat. However, this information comes at a cost: complexity. New boat’s have a myriad of high tech systems aboard with more features than the average boat owner can ever hope to use. In this article we’ll take a look at some of the most common devices aboard and how you can get the most out of them.
Multi-function displays are the heart of your boat’s tech stack. All or almost all the technology aboard a boat is, or can be, routed through your boat’s multi-function display. Traditionally referred to as a GPS or by their brand like Garmin, because that is its core use, a good multi-function display is essentially a computer aboard your boat.
Like the computer on your desk at home or at work it can be used for any number of things. Mapping software is the most popular use with incredibly detailed high resolution maps being offered to boat owners to help them avoid dangerous shallow areas and find prime fishing and diving locations. Additionally overlays like satellite images, weather radar, and sea condition data can be layered on to your display’s maps to increase the amount of information available to you, the captain.
As the primary user interface system aboard your boat, your multi-function display converts data being received by onboard devices into a readable format for you. Devices like sonar and radar transmit data to your multi-function display and allow you to know more about the environment you’re sailing in.
While they may not look like much, those little round gauges displaying your engine’s RPMs and speed aren’t the old analog gauges on your dad’s boat. Modern digital engine gauges are themselves a highly advanced computer processing tons of data from your engines and displaying it in a format you can understand. Everything from the basics like engine RPM and temperature to complex data sets like oil and water pressure monitoring, fuel usage and flow rates, and hints about what to do to get better efficiency out of your engines is available. A mobile marine mechanic that specializes in your motor brand can help you understand all the features your engine gauges have in them. Some are even capable of being linked to your multi-function display or a screen designed for them, making the data they have available much easier to read and interpret.
Tips and Tricks to Make the Most of Your Boat’s Tech
Now that you’re familiar with what technology you have, let’s talk about how you can become more comfortable using it. The best solution is simple, use it. If you keep your boat at home, fire up the multi-function display while it’s on it’s trailer and play around with it. Get familiar working the buttons and knobs, or on ultra modern devices, the touch screen. Create routes and waypoints, add layers to the chart, just use it. If you have some downtime while out on the water you can do this too and familiarize yourself with it’s full range of capabilities while out on the water.
Another great strategy is watching how-to videos created by manufacturers and users on Youtube. Manufacturers of multi-function displays like Garmin, Simrad, Raymarine, and Furuno spend a lot of time and money creating videos featuring their products for their customers. Additionally, experts like captains and fishing guides that are sponsored by these companies create tons of content featuring them using the products. If you’re into the nitty gritty of the limits of what your device is capable of, then videos by experts will show just about every use case imaginable.
All said, the technology aboard your boat is likely a lot more capable than you know and far more capable than you’ll need for the average use. As technology aboard advances, it’s important to stay familiar with what the devices you have can do and how to use them. Additionally, much like computers, your multi-function display may require updates from time to time with new software. With new software comes new features and options. Sure they may take a little getting used to, but like with any other piece of technology it just takes a little getting used to.
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