The LED thread reminded me to bring everyone up to date on my adventures. For the last two years, I have been doing a lot of work in RV electronics - which has a strong parallel to boating electronics, and you might find some of my projects useful.
I started it off with designing a battery monitor. Actually I had this project in mind when I had a boat, but didn't get around to it until a couple of years ago. The monitor provides a direct LED readout of not only the battery capacity, but also if the charger is in Trickle, Normal, or Bulk mode. Typically you have to use a voltmeter to do this and remember what the speciffic voltages are for each state. But I simply used a set of LEDs to show the state. http://www.rv-project.com/projects/batterymonitor.php
I have also been working on "home automation" for my RV - again, this can be done with boats. I have wirelessly remote controlled my awning, LED lighting for the bedroom and living room, remote controlled a backup camera, exhaust fans, and other devices. Of course, many of these projects can easily be adapted to boats (remote control of the windlass, spotlight, and so on). The index for these projects is here: http://www.rv-project.com/projects/remotecontrol.php
I also designed and built a cool water alarm that has multiple zones. You can build several sensors and put them in the bilge in various areas, and they are all controlled by a central unit: http://www.rv-project.com/projects/wateralarm.php
I have also done a lot of research on LEDs, and designed a dimmer (I call it a "SuperDimmer"). In fact, one RV company wanted me to make 300 a year for them, but as I am retired, I have no interest in starting a company to build them. Again, the LED dimmer can be used in a boat as well: http://www.rv-project.com/gear/dimmers.php
I also have done some research into DC surge suppression - or more accurately - how to prevent damaging voltage transients on your DC bus. We all know the need for AC circuit suppression, but DC suppression is required as well, and it is damaging equipment if you don't have any protection: http://www.rv-project.com/projects/spark.php
All of these projects can be built by the boat or RV owner. I provide a parts list, instructions, and source to have a custom circuit board made. I make no money on these items - they are free to download and build as long as it is not a commercial entity.
I have yet to buy a boat, mostly because I have no room to store it at my house, and no way to haul it behind my RV. But my brother bought a boat last year, so I am boating with him by proxy.
Anyway, I have been fairly busy since retirement. My Dr told me to keep my mind young, and I will keep my body young. So what better way than designing and building stuff?
One of the projects on the docket for this year is designing a tank monitor. I plan on networking all of the monitor units at the tank to a central display unit using CanBus. Canbus if you don't know is a Controller Area Network, and NMEA2000 is based on it.