FIVE $20 UPGRADES
Looking for easy projects when the water is hard? Think about simple ways to boost the functionality and better protect your marine electronics. You don’t need a degree in electrical engineering or a big bank account, just a little spare time and some motivation to pull off these five marine electronics upgrades, each for less than $20.
Buy a plastic sun cover to protect your electronics screen from UV light, moisture, dust and damage between trips. Get the appropriately sized sun cover for your model. These easily snap on, and then snap off when it’s time to go boating ($14.95 for a Garmin GPSMap 7x12, thegpsstore.com).
Using clamshell fittings to finish, protect and waterproof places where a cable passes through a bulkhead is old-school. Use an up-to-date cable pass-through such as the Blue Sea Cable Clam side-entry pass-through ($13.49, expresss.google.com). It comes with a stainless-steel snap-on cover that creates a nicely finished look. Best of all, you don’t have to remove or reroute the cable for this retrofit.
NOW HEAR THIS
Hearing your fixed-mount VHF radio can prove difficult above the noise of the wind, water and engines. Add a compact external VHF speaker to solve that problem. The Poly Planar 2-inch external 8-watt speaker ($16.95, thegpsstore.com) is waterproof and comes with a 1∕8-inch mini plug. Make sure your VHF has a matching receptacle on the back of the unit. Mount the speaker far from your compass to avoid magnetic interference.
If you haven’t upgraded the software for your electronics in the past 12 months, it’s probably out of date. Most electronics brands offer updates free. Visit the manufacturer’s website to learn if upgrades are available. You might need to download the update from your computer to an SD card, then transfer it to your unit, though models with wireless capabilities can download the most recent updates directly when connected to Wi-Fi.
We take our cellphones everywhere, even on the water. That’s why most new boats come with USB ports for charging our electronic leashes. If your older boat doesn’t have a 12-volt USB port, think about adding one such as the Marinco SeaLink dual-USB charger receptacle ($14.99, shop.pkys .com). This charging port is easy to install, and it will charge two phones at once. It features a cover that shields the sockets from moisture.