Gizmo’s new (though previously owned) compass, thanks to Max Marine Electronics
Perhaps you too remember seeing decent-looking marine electronics peeking out of boatyard dumpsters? While I fear that such waste is probably still happening, thankfully websites like eBay and Craigslist have made it much easier for buyers and sellers of niche gear to find each other. But did you know that a company in South Florida has brought high levels of expertise and professionalism to the used boat electronics market? In fact, the main goal of this entry is a hearty endorsement of Max Marine Electronics.
Also up for discussion is how my latest MME purchase will replace the classic Ritchie Navigator steering compass that’s probably been on sightline center at Gizmo’s lower wheel since she was launched 23 years ago, even making it through my 2021 ergonomic helm refit. I expect to get some guff about switching to digital Heading from salty friends, and maybe readers, but I believe my rationale is valid.
Actually, a new Furuno FI70 4-inch color instrument display at $495 retail is a fair deal in my opinion. The pair above, for instance, can clearly deliver all sorts of valuable nav and system info, with multiple screens set up for different underway situations. That’s why they got such prominent placement when I tried to maximize Gizmo’s flybridge ergonomics, as did the somewhat similar Maretron and B&G displays. Can there be too many NMEA 2000 data displays at a well-appointed helm?
But when shopping for a third FI70 to install where the analog steering compass used to be, I didn’t hesitate about buying a used one from Max Marine, especially because the $380 cost included a hard-to-find sun cover that was needed on the flybridge. Besides that and the $115 saved, I knew from prior experience that MME thoroughly checks out the gear they sell and is scrupulously honest in their listings.
You can see the eBay entry for my “new-to-me” FI-70 here, and note that the listing’s “minor scratches on the front panel” only show in the photo above because the light angle was just so, and they seem completely invisible when the display is powered up. Note too that I could have saved another 10% if I’d shopped directly at the Max Marine Electronics website, and a current search for instrument displays shows another FI70 and many other choices.
But while I saved a few bucks (and also believe in working toward a circular economy), Max Marine really shines at providing electronics that are not manufactured anymore. For instance, a boater trying to keep an old Northstar radar alive might find that MME has what they need. Moreover, the company refurbishes some popular classics like Autohelm/Raytheon ST50 and Furuno Navnet VX1 displays, as you can see in the details here and in their YouTube factory tour.
MME even 3-D prints parts like SimNet connectors for their refurbished AP27 autopilot control heads and claims that “they will outlast OEM parts as they are made from a superior material.” Which reminds me of the Simrad Robertson AP11 components I sold from the Panbo Forum in 2021. It was a real pleasure to help the French buyer, who didn’t want to replace his charter boat’s whole autopilot system just to get control heads with working screens. But it was also a real hassle dealing with international shipping and payment, and any such direct deal might have gone sour if the other party wasn’t so honest.
In short, both buying and selling used marine electronics can feel good in my experience, but putting a pro outfit like Max Marine in the middle of the transaction is an easy and safe option. And, yes, they do buy gear from regular boaters, though it’s not mentioned on their website. Just call them or email photos and device info.
So why am I replacing a perfectly good steering compass that would continue to work despite some drastic electric power issue like a lightning strike? The main motivation, trivial as it may sound, is that the relatively heavy and bulky binnacle compass makes it awkward to lift the panel it sits on. Plus the various and occasionally changing electronics I sometimes need to access under that panel are not always friendly to accurate magnetic heading.
But maybe hanging on to the handsome Ritchie Navigator was just sentimental anyway. There hasn’t been a magnetic compass on Gizmo’s flybridge for many years and I rarely use the one below. But then again, the boat does have two NMEA 2000 networks, and at least one Heading sensor on each, and there’s a handheld compass in a drawer along with the parallel rules I might remember how to use with the old paper ChartKit also still on board.
Your thoughts on Heading devices and used electronics welcome.