The last few weeks have really been hectic. I got the boat back from the guys at Dick’s Marine in Wareham and it looks and runs fantastic. The laundry list they were able to knock out during the winter was nothing short of impressive.
While the boat was in their capable hands, it received: a new pair of 300-hp Mercury Verados, new fly-by-wire controls, a third battery (including new switches, isolators and all cables), and repair of every knick, chip and ding on the hull. The old Raymarine electronics were removed and the dash was reglassed to give me a clean slate when I installed the new Raymarine E-Wide screens.
To top it off, while the guys at Dick’s had the boat, I gave the trailer a complete refit, with new tires, brakes and lights.
Once I got the boat back, it was time to break out the jigsaw and cut up that nice clean new dash. When the fiberglass dust had settled, the Riptide had the following: Raymarine E-Wide 14 and 9″ Hybrid Touch displays, Ray218 VHF, DSM300 HD fishfinder, 4 kW Hi-Def digital radar dome, Sirius Satellite weather and a full Smartpack/Verado autopilot with ST70 color control. The guys at Raymarine really set me up with the best electronics available, and it shows!
Once things were buttoned up it was time to take the Riptide on a shakedown run. On a nice calm, cold but sunny day, Capt. Shaun, Capt. Joe and I splashed the boat in Bourne Marina and headed out to see if everything came together. I’m pleased to say it was better than expected. All systems worked perfectly. The guys at Dick’s are well known for getting it done right the first time, and this was no exception. My rigging of the Raymarine equipment came off without a hitch, and the boat’s capabilities are far beyond what they were in past years.
The HD radar is amazing, both at extremely short ranges (where I struggled before with clutter) and at long-range bird finding.
Having never had an autopilot before I was curious to see what this thing could do. It surpassed my wildest dreams. It’s a “smart” autopilot and it “learns” the boat the more you use it. In less than a couple hours we had the system calibrated and “learning” the Riptide.
The unit has preset patterns it can run with the push of a button. We had the boat making figure-8′s, clover leafs, and a host of other maneuvers with total precision. This is going to be invaluable when we are trolling the canyons. After a knockdown we can go back and the boat will work these patterns on the point of the knockdown allowing us to more effectively fish the area.
Of course the huge touchscreens are just plain cool! When it comes to TV’s and marine electronics, bigger is better. I had to shoehorn these monsters into the dash of the Riptide. You know you have a lot of screen size when they look huge on a 33-foot boat.
All of the playing with the electronics was facilitated by the new Verados, which got us out to the middle of Buzzards Bay at highway speeds. These motors seem quieter than the older ones, if that’s possible. We were able to chat at normal conversation levels at 50 knots. The engines are still being broken in, so we had to limit the top-speed runs to one out of every 10 minutes.
Now it’s just a waiting game. In less than a month the stripers will be back, and a few weeks after that the tuna will be here in force. I just can’t wait. I’ll try to contain my anticipation by doing some boat cleaning and maybe a little yard work, but it’s going to be hard.
As soon as we wet a line, BoatingLocal readers will be the first to know, and the reports will follow, so stay tuned!
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