Compact Navigation Systems - Big Value in a Small Package

Tech Talk – Compact Navigation Systems

This year at the boat show, manufacturers featured several big value navigation systems that came in small packages. A number of fellow boaters purchased these systems for their day boats or runabouts and called us to say how impressed they were with the performance. 

For this reason, when a boater contacts PYS or Roton Industries to purchase a simple-to-use fishfinder or depth sounder, we often recommend a fishfinder and chartplotter combination.  Most of the fishfinder/chartplotter combination systems also include an easy to install transom mount transducer that will give you CHIRP capabilities.  Many also include NMEA connectivity and the ability to expand to include AIS or VHF, at a later date.

For example, an entry-level Garmin Echomap Plus 43cv combo is easy to install and even easier to use. It has a 4.3” screen and ships with a GT20 sonar transom mount transducer for near-photographic images below your boat.  The EchoMap UHD 63cv combo offers the same features with a 6” screen.   Unfortunately, these units don’t ship with charts for Canadian waters, but they can be purchased separately.

Fishing Boat (Under 10 metres) - If you want to get a bit more serious about fishing, we would recommend the Raymarine Axiom 9RV.  This 9” rugged all-glass touch screen display includes standard Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity.  It supports Quantum radar, CHIRP sonar, FLIR cameras, audio and autopilot.  Combined with the Raymarine RV-100 all-in-one transom mount transducer, you will enjoy crystal clear imagery in waves, swells and while maneuvering.  You can quickly identify underwater structures and locate fish with the life-like clarity of RealVision 3D sonar.  The Raymarine Axiom 9RV ships with a built-in RealVision sounder and pre-loaded Navionics charts.  You can also upgrade the package to include the Raymarine RV100 (transom mount RV transducer), or the Raymarine RV200 (thru-hull RV transducer).

Day boat or runabout (under 10 metres) – In this category, we like the Raymarine Element HV series, which is available in a 7”, 9” or 12” display.  If you are a day-tripper, part-time fisher or like to crab and prawn, we would recommend the Raymarine Element 7HV with the HV-100 transom mount transducer. The HV-100 all-in-one transducer combines HyperVision, DownVision, RealVision and conventional CHIRP sonar channels in a straightforward installation. The RealVision 3D allows you to see the location of ledges and contour changes.  There is also the option to use the Raymarine HV300 thru-hull transducer if you prefer that over the transom mount.

The fast processor allows instantaneous re-draws and sharp 3D imaging.  Whether you are fishing or navigating a shallow channel, this sunlight viewable display includes an integrated GPS/GNSS receiver and is pre-loaded with Navionics charts.  It is a big system at a smaller price.

Trawler (under 10 metres) – Perfect for a dual helm trawler, the Garmin 1042xsv (10”) or 1242xsv (12”) is an advanced all-in-one solution that can be networked with another Garmin display, a Garmin radar, integrated with an autopilot, view wired and wireless cameras, or even control your Fusion sound system. You could install the larger 12” for your main helm and the smaller 10” for the second helm.  The chartplotter even ships with an 8-pin transducer to 12-pin sounder adapter cable that may work with your existing Garmin thru-hull transducer saving you a haul out.  However, we would add the Garmin GT51MTH thru-hull mounted CHIRP traditional sonar transducer.  It consistently displays clear and crisp pictures with amazing target separation.  You can see objects, structures and fish that pass below as well as to each side of your boat.

The  Garmin GPSMap 1042xsv has a 10” screen with buttons, a built-in sounder, and ships pre-loaded charts.  The Garmin GPSMap 1242xsv has a 12” screen with buttons, a built-in sounder, and pre-loaded charts). ,

Lake Boat (Under 10 metres) There are so many beautiful lakes in British Columbia to explore, and the Garmin 742xs is designed with this in mind.   It is a seriously powerful, compact 7” touchscreen chartplotter and sounder combo.  It comes pre-loaded with LakeVu inland maps and BlueChart coastal charts with integrated Garmin and Navionics data and auto-guidance technology to calculate routesbased on your boat’s draw and height. It includes wireless connectivity features for Garmin mobile apps, NMEA 2000 support and Garmin Marine Network capabilities such as Panoptix FrontVü sonar and even radar.  

The Garmin 742xs plus has a 7” touchscreen, a built-in sounder, pre-loaded charts, but no transducer.   To take advantage of the available sounder features, we recommend the Garmin GT23M-TM (CHIRP with ClearVu) transom-mount transducer or the Garmin GT23M-TH (CHIRP with ClearVu) thru-hull transducer.

There is something for every boater. If you have been contemplating installing a simple fishfinder on your boat, seriously consider adding a chartplotter and sonar functionality in an all-in-one combination.  If you are looking to upgrade, these compact systems offer a lot of value for the dollar.  For more information and pricing, contact Roton at 604-688-2325 or

About the author: Jeff Cote is the owner of Pacific Yacht Systems, a full service shop delivering marine electrical and navigation solutions for recreational boats. Visit their website and blog for info and articles on marine electrical systems, projects and more: