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Leli 08-19-2011 04:18 AM

Cost of Electronics
Hello everyone, I am new to this forum.

I am interested in knowing what are the expenses related to the electronics on board yachts. How often do marine devices fail or need to be replaced with better and up-to-date ones? Although the total cost of ownership concerns more the acquisition and maintenance of the actual vessel, I believe that electronics can affect the TCO/yr, especially if it is a critical device.

What are your views about this? Do you have an estimate of the costs involved with electronics?

Thanks for taking the time to answer my question!


Ajax_MD 08-19-2011 07:58 AM

My research and (limited) experience is leading me to believe that quality marine electronics last quite a while (10-15 years) if cared for properly.

You may get frustrated with the rapid pace of technology that quickly renders your equipment obsolete, but it will still function for many years.

In the case of anamometers, depth finders and knot meters, I think the instrument head tends to fail before the transducer. Some of these companies, like Signet and Datamarine still offer repair services on even very old, obsolete products.

My advice is to either remove the instrument heads and store them when not in use, or at least have covers for them to protect them from blistering heat and cold winters.

This is all anecdotal though, I'm sorry I don't have any hard figures to back it up.

svHyLyte 08-19-2011 08:49 AM

Most electronics save those on deck will generally outlast the point at which you can get support from the manufacturer and the time for that seems to be ever shorter. We have a Raytheon R-20x Radar that continues to be very reliable but have a stock of replacement parts from other failed/discarded units, courtesy of an acquaintance in the electronics business. Similarly, we have a Garmin 2006c now 10 years old that is an excellent piece of gear. Unfortunately, Garmin will not service the device if it needs repair and will not offer charts that will work with the device after discontinuing the last, 2008, update. We had a Raynav LORAN that was 20 years old but worked extremely well as a back-up for our GPS devices but of course the Feds killed LORAN to support the welfare state.


Donna_F 08-19-2011 10:03 AM

And in the case of the Loran system, those electronics outlasted the US Government. I still know people who are holding on to the Loran electronics they had on their boats hoping that some miracle will occur.

emoney 08-19-2011 10:12 AM

It's a good question and definitely something every potential owner needs to consider. Although not a "requirement" in order to sail, there's a huge "need" to have them. I'm about to replace the electronics on my Newport and I'm looking at a minimum $500.00 if I get a basic GPS/Depth finder, to as much as $2000.00 in order to pick-up an autopilot and basic wind/weather info. And hey, I'm going the cheap route. Electronics are like anything else "big boy toy" related; you can spend as much as you can afford as I know guys that will tell you they have $10k and want to add more. Wouldn't suprise me that this figure is closer to the average cost. If you can count on them for 10 years, then you're looking at $1000 annually.

PaulfromNWOnt 08-19-2011 10:48 AM

Short answer: It depends on what you want and expect.

I'm using an old handheld GPS to give me ballpark position in LAT/LON to go with my paper charts as well as an indication of speed. I'm also using a fishfinder with the transducer set in a ball of wax to give me depth.

All together I'm into my electronics "suite" for around 200 bux, and expect it to last a few more years. If I want something more feature packed, it will require some serious spending on a 22 foot boat that could be put to better use elsewhere.

BarryL 08-19-2011 11:21 AM


As others have mentioned, it's really up to you. Does 'Electronics' mean below decks autopilot, radar, speed, depth, and wind displays, a large chartplotter at the helm with another display below, integrated to a DSC VHF radio and AIS transponder, or does electronics mean a hand held GPS and depth display?

Lastly, who will be installing the gear? You can easily DOUBLE the cost of the gear by paying for installation and using fancy Edson mounts.

Gear seems to be reliable. Most of the time I think stuff gets changed to take advantage of new features, like DSC radios, broadband radar, fishfinder / sonar displays and that stuff.


olson34 08-19-2011 12:05 PM

Lots of great advice so far.
One little facet I might mention is establishing a Priority of the sailing info that you need vs. what you might want.

Around the NW, the main thing everyone needs is a reliable depth readout. With that and a paper chart and your everyday ability to take a bearing, you can be fairly sure of where you are. And since running aground is the major cause of recreational boaters' heartburn and bleeding from the wallet, a good DS is always the first thing we need.

Next is the fun stuff, like speed and wind data. The addition of wind data is wonderful as eye candy, but the speed stuff adds to your navigation arsenal. (Yeah, I know... the handheld GPS will give you SOG info, but that's still not boat speed...)

The instrument makers know this, and commonly bundle their data packages into a speed/depth combo that nowadays can use a single transducer, and for more money, will sell you a depth/speed/wind package at a discount.

I bought the Raymarine ST60 package in '02, and it's been reliable & trouble free so far. (If I were skint, I would have the speed & depth package instead.)

One caveat is to beware of bit players in this market selling poorly-engineered stuff and then bailing out on the customers...
Stick to the stronger long-term companies like Raymarine or Furuno, with good tech support and basic product engineering for salt water usage on board actual boats.

:rolleyes: Opinions rendered on the hour, deposit one virtual cent!


PaulfromNWOnt 08-19-2011 12:37 PM

Forgot to mention a radio in my earlier post. My handheld cost me another 72 dollars.

olson34 08-19-2011 01:42 PM


Originally Posted by PaulfromNWOnt (Post 764386)
Forgot to mention a radio in my earlier post. My handheld cost me another 72 dollars.

Extra Points, Paul! Why didn't I think of that? :rolleyes:

I should have also mentioned that, over the decades, we are on our second handheld VHF, and would not leave the dock without it.

Notably, the original (installed in '88) Furuno fixed-mount VHF in our boat still works perfectly. Kudos to the first owner for picking it. I take it in for an annual free bench-check and the dealer refuses to sell me a new one, saying that mine is well built and right on the power output and frequencies.


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