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Greetings. I am buying a new boat soon - 23' cc. My family loves to fish and we're upgrading from our previous Pamlico River haunts to Bogue Banks. So gone is the bowrider, in with a new cc. I have been boating all my life but these new fancy electronic devices are not something I've kept up with.

So I know I want a big fancy 10" combo electronic device with sonar and GPS and all that good stuff. But I'm ignorant as to the details and have some questions:

1. What kind of transducer do I want/need? What are the considerations?

2. Laugh if you want but I want an auto-pilot and I want to be able to tie it into a GPS course. I chartered a trawler with this combo once and was blown away by how cool it was.

3. I want to be able to see weather but short of a radar on my boat. Is there no service that provides weather radar images via satellite?

4. With these new fancy devices that appear to provide User Interface for all of these functions on one 10-inch screen (amazingly not touch-screens - what the heck), why do I see so many boats with multiple electronic devices mounted on the dash? Seems to me like one is more than adequate - they all even support split screens in any configuration you wish...

5. Lowrance vs Garmin - any functional difference versus just brand loyalty and user interface?

Any general thoughts given my intended use, which is general boating, fishing, with the goal of moving to off-shore trips at a comfortable pace?
 

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I would start by going over to the The Hull Truth and reading through their electronics forum... lots of info and many similar questions... also recommend talking to the guys at BOE Marine-- they were super helpful for me when I was choosing a new transducer and sounder last winter (and their pricing is very good). The GPS Store is another good choice if you want a more local option.

With that, here are some basic thoughts on your q's:

1. Transducers-- can run the gambit from cheap to super expensive... then there are traditional sonar models, Chirp, Side Imaging/Down Imaging (needs to match your sounder).... then there are choices in power- 600W, 1000W, etc.... then there are transom mount, thru hull, and shoot through the hull variations... it's gets fairly complicated quick... If you intend to be serious about fishing near/off shore then I would not try to get by on the super cheap on the transducer... Highly recommend you try to figure out what type of fishing you want to do (i.e. near shore in less than 100+ of water, stream trips, bottom fishing, etc) and then contact a few experienced dealers and they should be able to provide you some recommendations based on your needs.

2. Autopilot is awesome. Not cheap, but awesome. It's my next upgrade. The pricing on these can be a little deceptive-- a lot of them advertise the system (like the Garmin GHP 10/20), but that does not include the pump (another ~$1000)... and then there is install which is time/labor intensive.

3. Sirius/XM has a weather service if you want to be integrated into your system. Usually need to buy a separate antenna (i.e. GXM 51 or 52 for Garmin). Worth every penny, in my opinion if weather avoidance is the main goal. If you will be nearshore/inshore, though, you could always go the much cheaper (free) cell phone/IPad route...

4. 10" screen is a good size, but not that big.... I run a 12" networked to a 5" next to it.... yes, you can split screen, but when you want navigation plus split screen sonar, etc everything gets real small quick. Plus, you have a backup unit if one fails. You definitely can be fine with one screen, though.

5. There are differences and there is also a lot of brand loyalty... I would also take a look at other brands such as Raymarine.... With that said, I run Garmin on my CC and a Humminbird standalone unit on my skiff... I personally like Garmin and they have a lot of newer products and options that they recently released...

Good luck!
 

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I would stay away from the touchscreens at the moment. There has been some issues with touchscreens in the salt environment.
A prominent boat dealer in the area told me about the problems.

As far as one unit vs 3 or 4 units on the dash....
Personally if I was running offshore much I wouldn't want to depend on one unit for my safety or the success of my day.
You lose one piece of the combo, you are without all of it.

The all on one units are a marketing strategy to boost consumer cost and have catered by and large to the freshwater fishermen.

Each to his own.
 

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I agree with 2 systems for offshore. Even if the second is just an inexpensive unit with GPS. Something to keep you pointed for home and in the deep is all you need. Don't skrimp on your marine radio either. Make sure it is as good as it can be so that in an emergency you can still call for help. Small things get big fast when you are all alone and far from home.
 

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Wait until the plotter portion of your all in one fails and the cost to fix drives you to either get out of their game or drop another 3 grand on a whole new system.
Whereas you could replace a stand alone but linkable plotter far cheaper if that was the problem. That's what I'm looking at.
 

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I use 2 units on my console at times. If I am doing alot of offshore structure fishing using 2 units allows me to use one full screen for side scan and have the other full screen for mapping and sonar. Having the map on a full screen make it alot easier to drive the boat right over a waypoint to check it for bait and fish than if you tried to do it on a split screen.

Two screens is also helpful when running narrow channels or unfamiliar water. I can have one screen zoomed in close to ensure I stay on my track and the other zoomed out where I can see where the next channel bend or flat may be. Also helpful when going back to waypoints, again a close view for accuracy and a zoomed out view for seeing where I am beyond the zoomed in screen.

Water Computer Vehicle Gadget Communication Device
 
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