Just a little more detail on NMEA 2000:
- it is a true network, allowing for multiple talkers on the same backbone.
- it is based on a marinized version of the CAN (IIRC - Control Area Network) BUS that is used in the automotive industry for things like dashboards, fuel management, and engine control.
- as SD implies, it will supercede, and thus make NMEA 0183 obsolete in the near future
- for marine applications, it can tie your GPS, Chartplotter, VHF, AIS, engine management (guages), autopilot, and RADAR into a single network with a single control panel.
- many manufacturers have their own "brand" of NEMA 2000. Raymarine, for example, calls it "SeaTalk NG."
There is a great blog discussing the advances in this area available at Panbo: The Marine Electronics Weblog: Network & control
Oh yeah, belated congratulations on the georgous boat!