FIVE $20 UP­GRADES

Boating - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

COVER UP

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).

CABLE UP­GRADE

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.

FREE SOFT­WARE

If you haven’t up­graded the soft­ware for your elec­tron­ics in the past 12 months, it’s prob­a­bly out of date.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.

CHARGE IT

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.

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