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Garmin Upgrade by Christopher Tavera

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My name is Christopher Andrew Tavera and I’m a professional spearfishing guide, free-diving instructor, and underwater photographer. Naturally, what I do requires a great deal of time on the water. I’m often heading out before sunrise and returning home well into the evening hours. These hours on the water are what led me to Garmin.I’ve always been pleased with what Garmin has to offer: from the user interface to the interconnectivity between products via the Connect app, and of course the ActiveCaptain app. With my various electronics linked together, I feel a sense of control from the helm to my smart phone—all while I’m sitting on a bean bag.

When I decided to update my 2008 Contender 31T, the first item I picked up was the GMR 424 xHD2. I needed a radar that could pick up birds during fishing, while keeping my mind at ease when running at night. This is a major obstacle for us on the East Coast of South Florida, because the summer months bring a lot of Tuna fishing in the Bahamas. The GMR 424 xHD2 four-foot open array radar has all the necessary features and sensitivity to identify small targets in the dark, as well as birds. I’m also a fan of the “Trails Mode”, which leaves a faint path of direction in front of moving objects. This is great when I need course around an approaching thunderstorm.

Next on my list were chartplotters. I wanted a clean layout, so I snagged two GPSMAP 7610. I love these units. They provide a ton of features. I use Quickdraw Contours the most, which creates contour lines as I dive, allowing me a detailed snapshot of the ocean floor. Even better, I can back up my GPS coordinates to my smart phone. While someone else is running the boat, I can still keep an eye on our position.

Then there are the auto-pilot features, which work perfectly. The 7610’s link up through the Nema 2000 connection without issue. Truly plug and play. I also added a recessed dash and Garmin wireless remote control. For running with the dash closed or in rough weather. Otherwise, I would have had issues using the touch-screen features. Now, I don’t have to touch anything with wet hands. Anyone on the water knows to avoid excessive salt water on your units.

One last thing: I did replace the VHF. I wanted something to match the black dash and black 7610’s. You can’t have an older, white icom with a fresh new dash.The installation was straightforward. We started by removing the older units. It’s a simple task, but work is better with company so I invited my good friend—Angel from Voodoo Marine.

Fishing the wires through the T-top was a little time consuming. After everything was removed, it was time to cut out a new dash and lay everything out and have a cup of Cuban coffee. After measuring twice, we cut one and had the units laid out for wiring.
Next came the radar install.  We got lucky here, as we were able to use the same bolt pattern.
However, there was one thing we needed: a transducer box. This was an easy fix. I found the part locally, and re-pinned the wires with a bottom machine. Some friends warned me against this, and you might too, but I haven’t had any problems. I read bottom running at 40mph perfectly, and I can pick up bottom in the swords grounds over seventeen-hundred feet deep. You can order this part directly from Garmin.

With our work done and all systems go, it was time for the fun part. The shake-down trip. I headed down to Green Turtle Cay for a solid week of spearfishing. I covered over a thousand miles as I hopped around the Abaco’s, down to hole in the wall, around to sandy point, Bimini, and finally home. I put some hours into these new units, and of course they performed better than expected.This post was written by Garmin Ambassador, Christopher Tavera. Check out Chris’ website here, and follow his spearfishing adventures on Instagram at @miamiskindiver.

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