Reviving Venom: Upgrading a high-performance RIB with the latest Garmin tech

With the Rigid Inflatable Boat (RIB) having been invented in the late 1960s, there is a plethora of older RIBs out there, many still in great condition but with outdated systems and electronics onboard. One such RIB is an 8.1m Scorpion built in 2004 called Venom, recently purchased for use out of Lymington.

The boat has been well looked after but the electronics equipment on board were the original products fitted in 2004 and so were very much due a refresh, which would not only provide a better user experience, but to also bring the boat’s looks up to date with a modern version.

The existing products were a mix of various sizes meaning the console would be left with holes that would not match up with the new products. With modern chartplotters, Garmin in this case, you get much more screen size verses the overall footprint of the chart plotter, and the trend is now towards widescreen plotters, which are especially effective when using a combination split-screen view.

This is particularly true of Garmin’s latest GPSMAP® chart plotter range where the area around the screen is minimised to give that glass cockpit feel and provide the largest screen possible within the overall size. In this is case, when console space is a premium, this is key and the larger the screen, the more detail can be seen at lower zoom levels; important especially when travelling fast.

Venom’s dashboard before the refit

A local fibreglass specialist was employed to fill the holes in the console and effectively create a blank canvas for the new Garmin products to be installed, costing approximately £450. Platinum Marine, a Garmin Select Dealer, were used to assist with choosing which products to fit and where to mount them, carry out the installation, and to ensure everything was fully functioning prior to handing over the finished product, taking any bother for the owner out of the equation.

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So which products to use? The RIB will be used primarily in the busy Western Solent area on the South Coast and so awareness of other vessels is very important. To track other vessels, the GMR Fantom™ 18 solid state radar was chosen to replace the existing radar.

The Fantom radar provides Garmin’s MotionScope, which uses the Doppler effect to detect moving targets and highlight them in different colours, so you can navigate around other boats or even severe weather, highlighting targets in red if approaching or green if moving away.

An AIS™ 800 Blackbox Transceiver was also installed for extra safety and works in tandem with the radar to not only display other vessels’ locations but also enable Venom to be seen by other vessels with AIS receivers. The VHF 215i marine radio and AIS can use a single VHF antenna due to the AIS’s built-in, boosted aerial splitter.

The primary display chosen was the GPSMAP® 8416xsv. This product is a multifunctional touchscreen chart plotter capable of displaying the information you may require in a crisp 16” IPS, high-resolution screen.

As Garmin’s top-of-the-range chart plotter, this is a relatively large display for this size of boat, but they are also available in 7”, 9”, 10” and 12” sizes, should the dash not have enough available space.

The chosen chart plotter also offers built-in support for Garmin’s sonar and has an in-hull CHIRP transducer (the GT15M-IH) fitted inside the boat towards the aft end, meaning there is no need to drill a hole in the hull or have a transducer on the transom.

The in-hull transducer is especially good for high-speed vessels as a depth reading is maintained further up the speed range.

To allow easy control of the chart plotter while at speed, the GRID™ 20, Garmin Remote Input Device, was added. This provides intuitive remote access and control of your entire Garmin marine system when planning, as well as a fixed remote for when moving at high speed, allowing zooming or quick changes between pages with the simple press of a button or twist of a knob, so you can anchor your hand next to the remote.

The plan is to use Venom with family and friends, making entertainment an important requirement for the new owner, and as such as Fusion Entertainment audio package was specified and fitted. The latest marine touch-screen stereo, the Fusion® Apollo™ RA770, a 1400W Signature Amplifier, and the subtle, but stylish Signature series 3 classic, 6.5” waterproof speakers where chosen.

These top-end speakers include CURV Cone Technology and built-in silk dome tweeters giving performance across the frequency range, from those deep bassy low frequencies to the higher ranges, especially important for those with varied music tastes.

As the photo below shows, the owner chose to have the products completely flush-mounted into the dash to get the best look possible. This did require extra consideration on how to secure the products in the dash, and the cut-out holes had to be made extremely accurately. The latest Garmin products are now so low-profile, only protruding millimetres on the front, that a similarly sleek look can be achieved by surface mounting them too.

The finished product

Having an authorised dealer such as Platinum Marine carry out the installation ensures the products are fitted to the standard Garmin would expect, but also means the vessel will gain a two-year onboard warranty for the products they have fitted, meaning in the unlikely event of a problem, Garmin will arrange for an authorised dealer to visit the boat wherever it may be to have any issues resolved (subject to warranty conditions).

In conclusion, the new installation, combined with an upholstery refresh, has made the boat feel like it is fresh out of the Scorpion factory, made it safer and easier to use, and more fun for family and friends, not to mention adding value should the owner wish to upgrade the boat in the future.

For more information and to find your local dealer, visit the official Garmin website


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