Friday, March 1, 2024
Reviews

ELECTRICAL FIT-OUT

GREG FINNEY’S project boat has been fitted with the latest electrical goodies.  

FITTING out a new boat with electronics is a daunting task. A decade ago the options were quite limited. Back then most offshore rigs carried a 27 meg radio and a depth sounder. That was it. The past 15 years have a seen a multitude of affordable sounder, GPS, marine radios and stereo systems units hit the market. Making the right selection for your particular requirements can be a bit of a minefield. I’ve just been through that process while fitting up my project boat, an Evolution 500 fitted with a 150hp E-TEC. The following outlines some of the pitfalls I experienced and hopefully offers some hints on how to go about it if you’re fitting out your own boat.

Communications

My last boat had a GME 27 meg radio fitted up inside the cuddy cabin and a six-foot aerial off the side of the cabin. It gave excellent reception and was easily removable for ease of storage. Unfortunately removing and refitting it every time we went fishing was very annoying, especially at 5am.

Once we spent some time out wide we soon found some the 27 meg has a limited range and is usually quite busy with chatter on channel 94. On a good day it was worth listening to for picking up useful info on where fish were and was easy to use for logging onto the local marine base for coverage. Many boats started using VHF so they could communicate in peace. We decided to fit 27 meg and VHF to the new boat – permanently panel mounted.

I looked around at several brands of radio but having such good service from the last GME I stuck with the brand. We chose GX300 27 meg and GX600D VHF radio sets. They’re matching units that look good panel mounted together. These were run with eight-foot aerials mounted to the sides of the cuddy cabin. The aerials are folded down for road travel. The GX600D is an outstanding unit and worthy of a separate review later on so keep an eye out for it in a future issue.

Years ago I would have scoffed at someone suggesting my boat needed a stereo. These days music is an important part of most people’s lives. My kids love their music and so do I, although our taste in music varies somewhat!

The boat’s GME GR9020 AM/FM radio, CD/MP3 player now lets us listen to the radio or play CDs while out fishingt. We’ve all got iPods and these can be connected to the GR9020 and MP3 songs played through it. We fitted two GME SPK002 speakers next to the seats on each side and the sound is quite impressive.

Sounder/GPS

My last boat ran separate sounder GPS units. I spent a few months looking around prior to the delivery of Voodoo and decided to go for a colour combo unit. There are now heaps of good combo sets available from several manufacturers who concentrate on the trailerboat fishing market. While I seriously looked at most of them I decided on something a little different. Simrad is well known in commercial fishing circles and some of the better equipped game boats use Simrad sounders, GPS or radar. What’s not well known is that this European marine electronics manufacturer also produces a range of smaller high quality units that are perfectly suited to trailer boats.

I wrote a lengthy review on my Simrad CX34 in the April 2008 issue of Boat Fishing. I’ve used it for a solid 12 months now and its workload has included chasing inshore red and kings and a fair bit of work out wide on marlin, yellowfin and sharks. It hasn’t let us down and has significantly contributed to us finding fish and plotting locations. It’s very easy to use with a simple menu and navigation set up that helps find fish in a very short time.
    
Installation

On my last boat a mate and I did the radio, sounder and GPS installation and it took us a whole day. That was a fairly simple job and everything worked fine. With panel mounted radios, stereo and a splitter box wiring up Voodoo was more challenging so I arranged for local marine electronics guru, Matt Adamson, to do the job. I supplied all the bits and it cost me less than $500 to have it all installed professionally. The Evolution’s dash features a large electronics capsule at the rear and this houses all wiring looms and terminals in a very neat and simple fashion. I have to say the boat on delivery was wired very professionally and now with the electronics installed the complete package is first class. I couldn’t be happier.

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