So, you just bought a boat and it contains equipment dating from WWII. What should you buy-Raymarine, Garmin, Furuno, Simrad, Lowrance, other? There are major differences as well as similarities in each brand available. The real question you should be asking is not what is the best, rather, you should be asking, "What is the right equipment for me and my boat?" Our job at Frequent Sea Marine Electronics is just that. We match your boat and your lifestyle with appropriate equipment. Some questions we ask are; What kind/size of boat do you own? What are you primarily using your boat for? Where do you do most of your boating?
Garmin offers reletively inexpensive systems which are very easy to use and understand.
Raymarine offers more complex systems which are still fairly easy to use, but offer many features for advanced boaters.
Furuno, on the other hand, is well known throughout the marine community for having outstanding fish finders and radar, but I've heard more than one person say they needed a degree to understand operations.
Simrad is really known for autopilots, however their new chartplotters and sounders are actually very competitive.
Lowrance is owned by the same company as Simrad-Navico. They are very popular in the West and Mid-West where there are thousands of lakes. They are known for very good freshwater sounders at a reasonable price.
Frequent Sea Electronics sells and installs all that is listed above and more. Call or email for free consultation.
There are 3 basic styles of transducers. Transom mount, thru-hull, and in-hull. The type of transducer you use depends on several factors including type of boat, type of use, and of course, money. The most popular transducer used today on center consoles 16' to 42' is the tilted element flushmount transducer. The most common power of the flushmount transducer is either 60 watts or 1 kilowatt. Once installed, these transducers are almost flush with the hull...hence the name. This makes it much easier to put a boat on a trailer or boat lift because of it's low profile. Because the exterior of the transducer is made from bronze, it is very rugged. In the no so distant past, the transducer was mounted outside the hull and needed a large fairing block to ensure smooth water flow over the element, thereby increasing drag through the water. Putting a boat with that style of transducer on a lift or trailer was very difficult and time consuming.
A great way to test your transducer and sounder is to place several ping pong balls into a nylon stocking and tie each of them off about a foot apart. Attach this to a fishing line and put a very heavy weight at the end. With your fishing pole, drop this over the side and lower down until it shows up on your fish finder. You should be able to see each ball individually with a good unit. Try this at 50' and 100' and note how well or not so well it shows up at different depths. If you can't see each individual ball at 100', your sounder may need a tune-up, or it may be time to upgrade your transducer.
Most MFD's (multifunction display's) offer speed and SOG. These can be very different. Speed is boat speed through the water and is usually measured using a paddle wheel or ultrasonic transducer. SOG or speed over ground is measured using the boat's GPS. An example is if you are trolling in the Gulf Stream headed South, and the Gulf Stream is flowing 8 knotts, and your display says your speed is 8 knotts, your SOG is zero, you are not moving. If you turn North at the same speed, your boat speed will show 8 knotts, but your SOG is actually 16 knotts.
We are seeing a huge increase in theft aboard boats. Usually, the thief takes the displays only and cuts all the cables (they are not smart enough to know all they have to do is twist and pull the connections off). Also, more and more insurance companies are requiring a GPS tracking device before they will insure any vessel. Frequent Sea specializes in boat security and monitoring, offering many different levels of security systems to meet almost any budget.