Multifunction displays can do a lot for a boat owner. Here we let one tell the story
Editor’s Note: We tasked our writer with anthropomorphizing a multifunction display on a boat. Not an easy task, as MFDs operate slightly differently and have a few different functions, but for the most part, they are do-almost-everything control centers that are making boat operation simpler. Our generic MFD has a bit of an attitude, but it provides a pretty good look at what a boat’s command center goes through during a typical day on the water.
Good morning and welcome aboard. That’s right, it’s me, your hardworking, multitasking, onboard multifunction display. Surprised? Don’t be, I can do all sorts of things, so come over here and let’s get started. But put your coffee down and please wipe your hands — I don’t like fingerprints all over my nice touchscreen and sleek bezel.
Everyone in the marina is still asleep, but we can put on some tunes via Sirius satellite radio while the engines warm up. Or, I can stream music from your Bluetooth-connected smartphone. You know I always make you feel better than Siri. (I never did like her.) Oh, you brought new tunes on a USB drive? Well, plug those MP3s in right away. Sorry, is that too loud? Well, you know I also work as a stereo head unit, so just turn it down using commands on my screen. Hello, Marvin Gaye.
First, let’s check the weather and the water conditions for a bit of fishing. You know we have to be back to pick up the wife and kids by noon. SiriusXM real-time weather information coming right up. Hmmm, it doesn’t look too bad. Let me bring up the surface buoy reports and the NOAA marine forecast. Perfectly sunny. No raindrops to mar my pretty LED backlit screen.
A LITTLE TRIP PLANNING
OK, now let’s set up the screen, since my interface is totally customizable. Use my shortcuts to create split-screen views and panel layouts, so you can see everything you need for fishing this morning on one screen or a combination of screens that is to your liking. I can show you depth, speed, water temperature and wind. Oh, and let’s bring in the info from the outboards, because if they’re NMEA 2000-capatible, I can probably display the data, cutting down on the dash space needed for other gauges. I can display fuel level and flow, speed and rpm, and even some basic diagnostics, so you know everything is ready to go.
Now let’s plan that quick run out to dip a line. Depending on how fast you want to get there this morning, I can lay out the fuel range over the chart. No sense in getting low on fuel. And yes, the tides are fine, so you won’t scrape the keel like last time.
Ah, it’s nice to be out of the marina and up on plane. Why don’t you turn on the autopilot and adjust the heading via my screen so you can relax? We should try those two spots we hit last time — fishing was great. Now, where are those waypoints? I can store up to 5,000 of them. Just tap waypoints you want to use and drag them onto our route today. I like that we can switch between Navionics, C-MAP and other charts, to get just the info we need. My charts come pre-loaded, or owners can swap them out via my microSD card slots.
The redraw on these charts is lightning fast even as we zoom along at 30 knots. It’s my 10 Hz GPS receiver, you know. It updates the position 10 times every second and makes our progress on the chart smooth, accurate and real-time without that weird jumping from point to point. All my charts are seamless, and I can display traditional 2-D chart views or a 3-D display that will help orient you — and blow your mind. You can drill down on the chart by using my pinch-to-zoom feature, just like on your smartphone. Hey, watch the pinching.
You know what would help? Let’s turn on the radar and see if there are any birds around; they’re probably hanging out around the fish. The 4G and pulse compression radar is amazing, and you may remember that when it was installed, it was all plug-and-play. You can even overlay the radar directly on the chart, which delivers a better feel for the surroundings.
What a glorious day, and we got here so fast. Are you going up on the bow to do some casting? Why don’t you use the Wi-Fi feature and make your phone mirror my screen? That way you have the info up there in your pocket. I’ll display information from the built-in CHIRP-enabled sonar, so we can see what’s happening in the water column. The clear definition and target separation of new fishfinder software is fantastic. You’ll even have a scrollable depth history, so we can backtrack in case you see a bait ball or something bigger hiding near some structure down there.
I can display down or side views, to provide a clear picture of what’s happening in the murky waters, and you can designate different colors for different depths. You know, the fishfinders are so advanced that you can see exactly what’s swimming around. Heck, I’ll even show you the forward-looking sonar for a clear two-dimensional picture of what’s ahead, in case there’s something we could run into. Look, I can see your lure down there. Let me integrate the info from the trolling-motor transducer, so we don’t have to run the big engines.
Woo hoo! Those last two were some big fish. Nice job. OK, let’s put them in the cooler and pick up the kids for some tubing. It’ll be best to set my screen to cruising mode, since we don’t need all this fishing info anymore. I can even plot a safe route along a virtual pathway that will help us avoid any low bridges or shallow spots. I’ll calculate your time to get back to the marina. We mustn’t be late. Oh, and let’s change up the music to something a little peppier, make you the “hip” dad.
FUN DAY WITH THE FAMILY
Man, those kids are crazy back there. You should get all the action on camera. I can integrate with many action cams and play it for you right on my screen. The kids sure know their way around my utility. Of course, that’s because I’m so intuitive for them to use. Come on, admit it. You’re pretty confident yourself. I mean, I’m getting more and more like the phone and tablet you use every day, so it’s no wonder you look like a pro out here.
It’s such a lovely evening for a cocktail cruise, but I guess you had better find a place for dinner now that we’re back. Just jump on the marina Wi-Fi to read some restaurant reviews. And make it a nice place, because you know it’s your anniversary, or did you forget?
Boy that was a great day. We did so much. And I’ve archived all that info so we can do it again next week. You can save everything and even create your own personal fishing charts for next time.
What’s that? So after the good time we’ve had you say I can’t talk like some Star Trek computer? Just wait. Siri will have nothing on me soon enough.
Disclaimer: No, they can’t talk to us yet, but that’s coming. MFDs such as the Simrad GO9 XSE, the Furuno TZTouch9, the Raymarine eS9 models, and the Garmin GPSMAP 7600xsv models function as the virtual brain of a boat. Check in with your MFD and see how much more interesting your day on the water can be.