A Helm to Steer By
The Digital Age in which we’re all so comfortably ensconced (hint number one, you’re reading a blog) has got us all tuned into our screens for an alarming amount of time each day. (I unfollow any Twitter account that tries to shock me with such depressing statistics!) The amount of importance people put on the information flow that springs from their respective devices is shocking. We, as boaters, should know, we started this whole thing. The idea of data and information coming to you on a device you carry with you originated on boats long before anyone ever thought to put a radio in an automobile.
But it’s not our fault we’re devil-may-care early adopters. As boaters we understand the value of equipment we have, keep it maintained and the software updated, and when it’s time for new gear, we usually pull the trigger.
Now, Electronics are funny. Since they often still perform the basic functions for which they were designed, we often leave them right where they are. And while the new systems are powerful and loaded with features, if we don’t know the first thing about using them, we’re going to be on a steep learning curve for a while. The system that works adds to our comfort zone.
On a motoryacht such as the helm of this 2012 Outer Reef 630 LRMY shown above there’s plenty of room for multiple screens (as well as large flat helm areas useful for keeping a paper-chart record—very important. These Raymarine units aren’t too old or outdated, and even have the widescreen aspect ratio that’s a selling point on many new systems.
On a 1985 Senator 35 Trawler the upper helm shows a couple of different systems placed in tandem in a bracket mount setup. It’s all quality stuff, always a good sign, and the way it operates may give some insight to how the owner kept the boat. That’s important since a long-range boat like this needs solid, earnest maintenance to keep her value.
There’s a little magic in a fishfinding machine like a 2015 SeaVee 39 center console and this Garmin setup is built to be easy to use with big bright touchscreens. Make her yours and you may see consistent improvements in functionality as Garmin offers free software upgrades that make their machines better.
That upgrade is key. If you power the units on and they flag you immediately saying they are awaiting a bunch of software upgrades to the operating system or the cartography, pay attention. The boat may have not gotten the TLC it deserves, and you may want to have a closer look at all facets of the care it has received.