capeman, I know this must be an exciting time getting this pretty girl all dressed up. Once you get her home and she is ready to use we can all help you with a lot of the really important things like using just a dab of 4200 to hold a neodymium magnet just the right distance below the beer opener so the caps don't get underfoot. You know...the really serious stuff.
I've made the decision to upgrade from my Freedom 255 to the 335. Boat ordered and now I am thinking about electronics. I ran with Garmin gear on the 255 and likely will go with them on the new boat. That said, I have a coupe of questions for the experts out there.
- I have room for 2x 16" displays. So I am leaning towards the 8616xsv for both displays. Gives me options for more transducers and a backup if one unit fails. Wondering if this strategy makes sense or should I not spend the extra $500 for the second display?
- Has anyone used the GRID 20 which is the small control panel that can be used instead of the touchscreens? Wondering if its really worth $250 extra.
- I'd like to extend my mission capabilities and do some night time boating. I can buy a FLIR system but wonder if in practice whether it is useful or not. I won't be able to spend more than $3-4k on the unit.
- Should I go with AIS? I will be boating in the offshore locations that overlay shipping lanes off of cape cod. Thinking its a good safety measure, but its not a cheap option.
- Always a challenge to select the transducer. I believe its rather challenging to do a thru hull on the Grady. So, transom mount seems like the best choice. That said, I fish mainly in 20'-60' of water and no more than 500' when offshore. Wondering if I should get 1 or 2 transducers and if so what models would be best for my use cases?
I installed it all myself and learned a lot. You will love it. I'm a geek by heart and trade and I played with the setup non-stop. I agree with all the other advice that was offered.
Definitely go with AIS VHF. It integrated seamlessly into the displays functionality. The Fantom motion-scope/doplar feature is very handy. If you are going this far you have to add the AP. Its basically plug/play with the drive by wire engines. I used the AP most for the shadow drive and heading hold functionality and not sure I would get another boat without it. I thought long and hard about the FLIR but passed. I relied more on my radar when cruising at dark.
I was told the GT50's were better suited for shallow waters (<100ft), the GT51's for deeper waters when asking around. I only got offshore to the canyons a few times. Once we got over ~500ft they couldn't read bottom anymore. If I had to do it again I would have went with the GT51's. Not sure how much better resolution I had in the shallow waters with the GT50's. I also installed a pair as I wanted the sidevu/clearvu functionality. But honestly once the novelty wore off I barely used that functionality.
Lastly, make sure the installer or you order the memory card reader. It is (or was) a separate item not included with the displays. And you can't update the software without it.
If you have any questions feel free to reach out. I did a build thread in the Tidewater owners forum if you plans on installing yourself. Can't wait to see pictures of your setup.