The world of boat gadgets keeps getting more innovative. You could easily spend an entire day in the tech section of a boating store (and that would be a great day). But what electronics do you need on your boat? We’ve broken down the must-have boat gadgets to have onboard, whether you like to fish, cruise, or take overnight adventures.
Boat electronics essentials
From a compass to a VHF radio, keeping a few boating gadgets on board serves many purposes. They can help you navigate and communicate no matter what situation you find yourself in on the water. Every boat might benefit from having the following boat gadgets:
As much as you love tech gadgets, they don’t always come through in a pinch, especially if you’re out of range. So, you’ll be glad you have a trusty compass onboard when all else fails.
Few things will ruin a day on the water faster than running aground. Installing a depth finder will keep you, your guests, and your boat safe and happy. These are also particularly handy when boating in artificial lakes that might have hidden underwater obstacles like tree stumps.
GPS & radar
Whether you install a dashboard marine GPS or use an app on your phone, they will help you know how to get where you’re going. And, more importantly, how to get back! It’s never a bad idea to watch out for other boats, large ships, and land.
Whether handheld or mounted, you’ll need one onboard to safely communicate with other boaters and the Coast Guard if needed. It’s also never a bad idea to have a backup VHF radio. If you cruise far from land or explore unfamiliar waters, a backup handheld VHF can be a lifesaver.
Nonessential but cool boat gadgets to have on board
Some boat electronics aren’t essential, but they can make your life on the water much easier, particularly if you like to take longer trips.
- Anchor drag monitor: Keep an eye on things whenever you drop anchor. Most GPS systems will have this feature built-in, or you can download an app on your smartphone.
- Fish-finding sonar: Installing a fish-finding sonar will make catching your dinner much easier.
- AIS receiver: Know when you’re in the path of larger boats and ships.
- Autopilot: Sometimes, on a calm, clear day, it’s nice to set your heading and kick back.
- Boat stabilizers: These can be pricey to purchase and install, but you’ll be glad you have them onboard when you anchor on a rough day.
- EPIRB: An emergency position-indicating radio beacon is something you hope you’ll never need to use, but it’s good to have in case of emergency.
- Satellite internet/phone: Handy to have in case of an emergency.
- Satellite TV: Who says you must miss the big game just because you’re on your boat?
- Sonar: See where the fish, whales, and sunken ships are.
- Wind meter: Sailors will love having real-time wind-speed information at their fingertips.
When it comes down to it, the best boat gadgets are the ones you use the most. Learn more about boat essentials and other must-have boating accessories.