marine electronics

We have all seen the lines outside of the Apple Stores, with consumers anxious to upgrade to the newest iPad or iPhone as soon as they come out! Should you be as anxious to upgrade to the latest electronics package available for your luxury motor yacht? The answer is: “Yes,” “No,” and “Maybe!”

Like their land counter-parts, marine electronics evolve quickly and constantly. Nearly every season new and better versions of security systems, navigation systems, switching systems, etc. become available for your motor yacht. However, because they are often part of an integrated electronic suite, the decision of when to upgrade, is a little more complicated than merely buying a new smart flatscreen TV for your home.

A Daunting Task?

Upgrading your yacht’s electronics can often seem like a daunting task that owners choose to avoid. But, you do not have to fear an upgrade. The way most marine electronics are designed these days, is to be very modular. This is particularly true on luxury motor yachts.

Components such as navigation systems are designed to not only be easily upgraded to newer models, but to interface with legacy components like an auto pilot and depth system. They can be traded-out, and upgraded without requiring an “all or nothing” kind of upgrade.

yacht dashboard

When facing a marine electronics upgrade or refit, it usually comes down to what you can keep, and what must be replaced. Besides system compatibility and communications, there are “real estate” concerns. Can your yacht’s current dashboard accommodate newer equipment that could be of different size and shape from the original? Or, is there enough space to add additional electronics?

Your systems engineer and electrical technicians will be instrumental in making those evaluations and decisions.

Most Common Marine Electronic Upgrades

The system most commonly in need of upgrading is your navigation system. In turn, the “navigation” system is made up of a number of “sub-systems,” or components. The main component of your yacht.s electronic navigation system is the “chart-plotter.”

The chart-plotter is a multifunction display that tells whoever is at the helm where you are, how fast you are going, and the depth of the waters you are cruising. The chart-plotter interfaces with the other parts of the navigation system such as your autopilot, radar etc. Usually when upgrading “navigation,” you start with the chart-plotter, then you can see from there anything else that also needs a refit or an upgrade.

motor yacht chart plotter

A chart-plotter is the core of your electronic navigation system

After the plotter, the next most common upgrade is to your radar.

Besides upgrades to radar and navigation systems, one of the most common electronic refits we see is to add AIS to your yacht. Many newer high-end luxury yachts come equipped with AIS. AIS stands for Automatic Identification System. AIS is a transponder-based system that allows boats of all shapes and sizes in a given vicinity, to keep track of each other in real time. If your yacht’s original radar or chart-plotter is not AIS compatible, this is a desirable upgrade.

Another popular upgrade is to digital monitoring and digital network switching systems that allow you to control all of your boat’s electronics from a single touch screen.

Before you Consider an Upgrade

Before considering an upgrade to more sophisticated electronics, it is important to have all of the wiring, connections, and other components of your electrical system inspected. These may also need to be upgraded to be compatible with any new marine electronics.

Did you know that routine inspection and maintenance of your electrical system is part of our On Demand yachting solution?

chart plotter upgrade

That is only one advantage of being part of On Demand yachting. Members are aware of when upgrades to any system from hydraulics to your engines, may be necessary, and you can be sure your yacht is ready when the time comes for any necessary refits.



Operating a motor yacht can be costly. You can reduce your expenses, and avoid costly repairs by keeping her well maintained. On Demand yachting from FYM can help. If you would like to learn more, or if you have any questions or comments about this blog post, do not hesitate to contact our Yacht Management specialists, or call us at (954) 900-9968.