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Old 03-09-2010
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Question electronics on pocket cruiser

I'm currently looking to purchase 20-25' trailer sailor and would like to equip it with some basic electronics such as depth finder, 2way radio, maybe wind meter with speed and direction, gps (I have a hand-held so maybe I could wait on this one). Adding to my collection as I discover new needs (wants?) and my budget allows. I'll be sailing on inland lakes and reservoirs so I won't need electronics essential for blue water cruising. If that day ever comes I'll get a bigger boat. If I could get some advice on priorities I would appreciate if very much.
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Old 03-09-2010
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I would get the depth finder and VHF radio first. The Depth Finder is very useful for figuring out if you're about to go aground... the VHF is good for getting weather information and calling for help, etc.

The wind instruments are usually not necessary on a smaller boat. You can just use telltales on the shrouds. Christmas "icicle" tinsel works pretty well as does acrylic yarn.

A handheld GPS should be all that you need on a boat this size sailing on inland lakes and reservoirs, assuming you're not talking GREAT LAKES.
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Old 03-09-2010
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On a 17 that I trailered around central Mass and southern Vermont I had a transom mount speed and depth and a removable Windex wind vane. When I moved up to a 26 and 25 I started trailering only spring and fall down to Narragansett Bay and had through hull mounted depth and speed but still the removable Windex on the masthead. VHF also on the 26 and 25 for NGBay, but nobody to hear me out in the woods with the 17 any way Didn't get into the electronic wind speed/direction until the later and larger keel boats.
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Old 03-09-2010
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I would maybe look into getting a handheld VHF if you really feel there is enough other traffic on the lakes that will be listening. If you have good cell coverage you should be OK for emergencies.

For wind direction use your senses. You can feel the wind on your face and you can see the wind on the water and using the trees around the lake. If you really want to have something on the boat for wind direction use old cassette tape on the shrouds. Don't forget about the tell tails on the sails. Wind speed is not necessary.

Depth is nice but not necessary. If you do decide to spend money on a depth sounder go for the transom mount version so you can take it with you when/if you decide to get a new boat.

Keep the handheld GPS. Don't waste the money on a fixed mount.

Remember for hundreds of years we sailed without all of this stuff. Many people still do. The only instrument I really use is my depth sounder and only because the area I sail in has many spots that are shallower than my keel.
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Old 03-10-2010
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For a boat that size, keep it simple! Your handheld GPS and a handheld VHF are all you need to start with. If you want something for the wind, get a windex - does NOT need to be electronic. I personally do not use a depth finder. As long as you have charts, you should be fine. A lead weight and a piece of string work great if you really need to know depth. In 20 years of boating & sailing I have only hit ground 2 times. The first was some submerged rocks. The second time I wasn't paying as close attention as I should have and drifted outside of a narrow channel. In neither inshance would a depth finder have helped me as it wouldn't show the rocks/shoal until I was already on top of it.

Get your boat. Get out and sail. You don't need much fancy equipment to get out on the water. As you use your boat, you will learn what additional equipment you want (if any at all). Personally, I keep my boat very simple so that I don't have to deal w/ a complicated electrical system. Less to break, less to fix, less cost to me.
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Old 03-12-2010
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if you fish, you may want to opt for a fishfinder in lieu of a depth sounder. cost is similar, you get the depth and a bunch of bells and whistles.
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