Great Ideas for Marine Electronics Upgrades


Photo Courtesy of Garmin

By Andy Adams

Electronics are usually the single biggest difference between a brand-new boat and one that you might have bought five or ten years ago. The tech advances have been coming thick and fast for several years now and show no signs of slowing down. In this feature, we have selected a series of the latest electronics products with an emphasis on great new Multifunction Displays since those are the gateway to the world of functions that you can add to your boat.

The best way to get the latest and greatest is to simply buy a new boat with the options you want, but luckily, there are reasonable ways to upgrade an older boat to still enjoy the amazing new capabilities in safety, communications, connectivity, comfort and fishing success. It’s enjoyable to go fishing but it’s far more exciting to be catching!

In many markets across Canada, the fishermen are driving the electronics business because the capabilities of affordable “fish finders” seem to advance every year. It’s a very competitive part of the market.


From Johnson Outdoors comes the Humminbird line of marine electronics and their focus is fishing. Entry-level units are so affordable that we had to include them. Their Helix 7 CHIRP SI GPS G4 model can be had for under $1,000 in Canada and it’s primarily a fish finder which means it’s a sonar that “sees” underwater. You get depth information and a split screen picture of the bottom, but a lot more.  It can give you CHIRP (compressed high-intensity radar pulse) in both down imaging and side imaging to show you the bottom in two views and a real-time view of the fish swimming around the bottom. It has AutoChart Live for navigation and an internal GPS for your position, so you get a lot of important features and simple installation in one compact unit. Plus, you can detach it from your boat and take it home for security. It’s a great starting point for your onboard electronics. https://humminbird.johnsonoutdoors.com



Furuno has been in high-end navigation electronics for a long time with commercial-level equipment, but their big success recently has been around the fishing community. The introduction of their NavNet TZ Touch multi-function displays (MFDs) really upped the game. The attraction is that these have both a touch screen and also a manual knob for control. While a touch screen is often fast and convenient, there are times in rough water when you need to steady your hand and control the screen with a manual knob. That’s what the NavNet TZ Touch systems bring to the party. A recent development is their “Drift-It, Fish It…Catch It” system where you can save time and fuel by helping you target your spot, then drift through a series of range rings with drift-times from 3 to 20 minutes. The top pros use this technique in tournaments. Learn more at www.navnet.com



While all the major electronics manufacturers have a range of MFDs in various sizes and prices, the big competition is at the high-end where they are all vying to be the one with the biggest and best screen. While size matters, so does resolution. Garmin recently won an IBEX Innovation Award for their new GPS Map 9000 series MFD. This MFD has a 4k display with edge-to-edge clarity and it’s powered by a processor that is seven-times faster than previous generations. Utilizing Garmin’s new BlueNet network, mariners can link the GPSMAP 9000 series with multiple chartplotters, cameras, radars, sonars and more, at 10 times faster networking speeds. The newly released GPS Map 9000 series goes from the 19” model that will likely run about $13,000 in Canada, to the top-of-the-line flush-mount 27”.



The new NSX chartplotter / fish finder is available in 7”, 9” and 12” sizes. It’s a new midrange product in the Simrad line and it redefines the easy to use touchscreen experience while providing powerful new C-MAP charting and navigation with DISCOVER-X and REVEAL X marine optimized charts. The Simrad NSX has true multifunction capability with sonar, radar and autopilot suites, as well as a simple setup to make boating adventures and navigation more accessible and more enjoyable. The versatility and functionality that NSX offers makes it the ideal solution for a wide variety of boaters from novice to veteran and small centre consoles to bigger offshore fishing boats. Visit www.simrad-yachting.com



Introduced earlier this year, the new B&G Zeus S includes such features as Sailing Modes for Cruising and Racing to provide you exactly the data you need, a new Safety Alerts feature using C-MAP cartography for collision avoidance and anti-grounding and Zeus includes B&G’s award-winning sailing features plus new updates to Laylines, Routes, SailSteer and StarLine. The high-definition SolarMAX IPS touch screen is viewable in all conditions even with polarized sunglasses and the system is fully integrated with HALO Radars, Triton 2 Pilots, Triton 2 and Nemesis instruments and more. Visit www.bandg.com



Raymarine has added their new Alpha Series display, new Smart Wind Technology, and performance sailing upgrades to the LightHouse operating system for Axiom chartplotters. The new Alpha Performance suite for competitive sailors includes 7” or 9” displays that can be mast-mounted in either portrait or landscape orientation. They operate with touch control and ethernet connections deliver great speed. The system has a new Wind Transducer with a 3D sensor that can measure the boat’s attitude to adjust for the upwash effects from the sail and more. A great feature is called Sail Point which is a visual display of the port and starboard laylines – just steer to match the crosshairs to head to your target. See our video with Raymarine’s James McGowan. To learn more: www.raymarine.com


Navico Relion Battery

RELiON Battery’s new RB100-HP Lithium Starting Battery is the first lithium-ion starting battery to be evaluated and approved for use with select Mercury outboards. This is a Group 31 12V, 100Ah deep cycle lithium-Ion battery built for starting and cycling of marine and RV applications. The new RB100-HP has increased peak amps for starting motors, electric start generators and other high-amp-draw devices. It also doubles as a house battery, powering peripherals, accessories and more. The new enhanced version features six terminals versus the two on standard batteries, offering users more flexibility when connecting electronics to the battery. The battery includes an IP67 ingress protection rating. But one

of the most exciting benefits is that it is the first starting battery to be evaluated and approved for use with certain approved Mercury outboards. Check the list to see if it works with your Mercury.

The RB100-HP is priced at $1,159.95 USD and is available on the RELiON Battery website: www.relionbattery.com.


Mastervolt MAC Plus 48V

As an increasing number of boaters have taken an interest in lithium-ion batteries and as the sophistication of onboard systems increases, it’s important to have safe, stable charging to address all the needs. The new Mastervolt Mac Plus 36 Volt and 48 Volt DC to DC charger provides a quick, safe and consistent charge for service batteries, and a stable output that powers even the most sensitive loads. The Mac Plus uses new bi-directional technology to ensure that both service and starter batteries receive all the power they need by using either side as an input or an output. The Mac Plus uses the proven Mastervolt three-step plus charge algorithm, delivering a quick and easy charge even to completely flat batteries.

 KVH ONE Network

KVH One Network

Another major electronics upgrade that you could consider is to select one of the KVH TracNet family. It’s KVH’s newest product line and features hybrid connectivity, with VSAT, 5G/LTE, and Wi-Fi all under one dome, with intelligent automatic switching among satellite, cellular and WiFi networks. With KVH TracNet you can stay connected on virtually any vessel, even in rough seas or at high speeds!



AIRMAR Smart Box

So…how can you update an older boat to some of the great new equipment that we have highlighted in this story? If you are building on a newer system, you can probably upgrade but if not, there is a solution for you. It’s the SmartBoat system from AirMar and we wrote about it in last year’s Marine Electronics story. You can see our brief explanation of how the SmartBoat system can “read” all sorts of signals from older and previously non-compatible equipment to link it all together. (add link to CY Dec 2022 story). Now the system is even more effective because it can be connected to the cloud for remote data. To learn more visit www.airmar.com

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