Get in Touch with Your Marine Electronics

When it comes to new technology in marine electronics, resistance is futile.

Touch-Screen Displays: The Wave of the Future

If you think a touch-screen display won't work on your fishing boat, try one. It is sure to change your mind.Jim Hendricks

I'm old enough to remember when Loran-C became popular. My first Loran was a Micrologic ML-7500, and I swore by it so devoutly that when GPS for boats was introduced, I vowed to never give up my Loran.

The same was true of fish finders with paper readouts. My first fish finder was a Ray Jefferson 5300 “curved-line” recorder in which the paper spilled out of the machine from a slot to the right of the display. That was in the late 1970s. Then I stepped up to a Lowrance X-15 “straight-line” paper graph – state of the art in the early ’80s. It recorded the bottom and fish in fine detail, as long you replaced the stylus every fourth trip. Re-spooling thermal paper and cleaning out the sooty dust inside was also a major pain in the butt. Still, when LCD units hit the market, I again vowed to never give up my paper graph.

Today, I have neither a paper graph nor a Loran-C. I eventually switched to a Furuno GP-7000F featuring a flat-panel color LCD multifunction display (MFD) with a GPS/chart plotter and a dual-frequency fish finder, and I loved this MFD immensely more than the antiquated paper graph and Loran of yesteryear.

You’d think this would have taught me a thing or two about the follies of stubbornly clinging to old technology, but I still had a lesson to learn.

When it came to the newer touch-screen operating systems for MFDs, I resisted again. My reasoning was that hands and fingers get wet on a boat (especially on a fishing boat), and I did not want salt water and slime all over the touch screen.

Well, today I have a touch-screen MFD, and I now can't believe I questioned the wisdom of getting one. My Lowrance HDS-12 Gen2 Touch makes navigating 10 times quicker and easier than with even the most advanced push-button menu system. Using the Gen2 Touch is so intuitive, you catch on in minutes, even without reading the manual. A number of other brands offer touch-screens, including Garmin, Furuno, Raymarine and Simrad.

As for my concern about getting the screen wet, it has not been an issue. I keep a towel at the helm to quickly wipe my hands before touching screen if I have been out on deck. That’s something I did with the old push-button units, so not much has changed… except my perception that touch screens have no place on fishing boat. Fact is, touch screens work well on any boat. They are the wave of the future. In the not-too-distant future, we’ll all look back and chuckle over the old days when our marine electronics used push-button menus, just like we laugh now about the days of Loran-C and paper graphs.