How to save money on electronics and navigation equipment
How to save money on electronics and navigation equipment

Discover how to save money on essential electronics and navigation equipment for your sailing adventures without compromising on quality or functionality.

How to Save Money on Electronics and Navigation Equipment

Sailing the open seas with your family is an exciting and fulfilling adventure. However, it’s essential to have the right electronics and navigation equipment on board to ensure a safe and enjoyable journey. In this article, we’ll explore various ways to save money on these essential items without compromising on quality or functionality.

Table of Contents

Understanding the Basics

Before diving into the world of marine electronics and navigation equipment, it’s essential to understand the basics. Familiarize yourself with the different types of devices available, their functions, and the features you’ll need for your sailing adventures. Some of the most common electronics and navigation equipment include:

  • GPS/chartplotters
  • Autopilots
  • VHF radios
  • AIS (Automatic Identification System) transceivers
  • Radar
  • Depth sounders
  • Wind instruments
  • Solar panels and battery chargers

By understanding the basics, you’ll be better equipped to make informed decisions when shopping for these items and avoid overspending on unnecessary features.

Prioritize Your Needs

When it comes to electronics and navigation equipment, it’s easy to get carried away with all the available options. However, not every sailor needs every piece of equipment on the market. To save money, prioritize your needs based on your sailing plans, experience, and budget.

For example, if you’re planning to sail primarily in coastal waters, a basic GPS/chartplotter and VHF radio may be sufficient. On the other hand, if you’re planning to embark on long offshore passages, investing in a more advanced navigation system, radar, and AIS transceiver may be necessary.

By focusing on the essentials and avoiding the temptation to purchase every gadget on the market, you’ll save money and reduce clutter on your boat.

Shop Around for the Best Deals

Once you’ve determined your needs, it’s time to start shopping. Don’t settle for the first price you see – take the time to shop around and compare prices from different retailers, both online and in-store. Keep an eye out for sales, discounts, and promotions, as these can significantly reduce the cost of your electronics and navigation equipment.

Additionally, consider purchasing items during the off-season when demand is lower, and retailers may be more willing to offer discounts. By being patient and diligent in your search, you can find great deals on the equipment you need.

Consider Used or Refurbished Equipment

Purchasing used or refurbished electronics and navigation equipment can be an excellent way to save money. Many sailors upgrade their gear regularly, meaning there’s often a market for used items in good condition. Check out online marketplaces, marine consignment stores, and local sailing clubs for potential deals on used equipment.

When buying used, be sure to thoroughly inspect the item for any signs of wear or damage, and ask the seller about its history and functionality. If possible, test the equipment before purchasing to ensure it’s in good working order.

Refurbished items are another option to consider. These are typically products that have been returned to the manufacturer, repaired, and tested to ensure they meet the original specifications. Refurbished items often come with a warranty and can be a more affordable alternative to buying new.

DIY and Open Source Solutions

For those with a technical background or a willingness to learn, DIY and open source solutions can be a cost-effective way to acquire electronics and navigation equipment. Many sailors have successfully built their own chartplotters, autopilots, and other devices using open source software and off-the-shelf components.

There are numerous online resources, forums, and communities dedicated to DIY marine electronics, where you can find detailed instructions, advice, and support for your projects. By taking the DIY route, you’ll not only save money but also gain a deeper understanding of your equipment and its functionality.

Maintain and Upgrade Your Equipment

Proper maintenance and timely upgrades can extend the life of your electronics and navigation equipment, saving you money in the long run. Regularly clean and inspect your devices, checking for any signs of wear, corrosion, or damage. Keep software and firmware up to date, and replace any worn or damaged components as needed.

By investing time and effort into maintaining your equipment, you’ll reduce the likelihood of costly failures and ensure your devices continue to function optimally throughout your sailing adventures.

Join Sailing Communities and Forums

Connecting with fellow sailors through online communities and forums can be an invaluable resource for saving money on electronics and navigation equipment. Members often share tips, advice, and personal experiences, helping you make informed decisions and avoid costly mistakes.

Additionally, these communities can be a great place to find deals on used or discounted equipment, as members may be looking to sell or trade their gear. By engaging with others who share your passion for sailing, you’ll gain access to a wealth of knowledge and resources that can help you save money on your electronics and navigation equipment.


Investing in quality electronics and navigation equipment is essential for a safe and enjoyable sailing experience. However, this doesn’t mean you have to break the bank. By prioritizing your needs, shopping around for the best deals, considering used or refurbished items, exploring DIY and open source solutions, maintaining and upgrading your equipment, and connecting with fellow sailors, you can save money while still ensuring you have the necessary tools for your adventures on the open sea.