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Old 21-10-2009, 20:41   #16
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Learn how to be proficient on paper charts first

Although there is a great deal of dependability in electronic systems...they do fail.

Paper charts/Chartbooks have no batteries, wires.

Look at it this way....would you navigate roads with just looking at an automobile map roads might be off just a wouldn't blindly turn when the machine told you....if you could see the road wasn't there.

I have been on some vessels with very sophisticated charting/radar gear......

but, that said......why do you think that Bay/Harbor pilots are still needed?.....

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Old 22-10-2009, 05:09   #17
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The technology is enabling people like this 16 year old to develop the confidence to undertake risks like soloing around the globe. Is this the direction we really want to go?
Whether you like it or not, it is. Technology allows us to fly around the world, travel on roads at ridiculous speeds etc. I am an electronics engineer and a sailor ( or as my wife puts it a serious sailor who dables in electronics!). I am also a fan of traditional nav and can actualy compute longtitude using the lunar distance method!!.

But I recognise the advantage that modern GPS nav brings and there is no going back. Sure systems fail and sometimes as a result people die ( see cars, trains, planes etc).but that does not warrant a return to horses

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Old 22-10-2009, 05:22   #18
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I am the other way. I navigated on land in the army when i was a school cadet through till I was 25 all on paper. I navigated a boat with paper when I was a kid before GPS et al.

And I navigate now with whatever I have.

My thoughts are that paper is a waste of time and money and probably dangerous in the hands of anyone than some old salty bugger.

Leave them for the history museum and learn on a chart plotter.

Get the biggest screen you can afford.

By the way, the only use of a sextant is for being wrapped up in paper charts and thrown overboard.
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Old 22-10-2009, 05:42   #19
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Thank god for those harbor pilots, that is how we got into new york harbor, a pilot boat was kind enough to guide us in. The coast guard said, call us after your engine dies.....

I have a question chief engineer about radar. Once when I was off newfoundland as a delivery crew the radar on board picked up everything ( a piece of drift wood) it was a tad bit stressful. I am in the midst of trying to decide what I really need and what I don't .

I want to keep it simple as possible. In my thinking you don't need radar unless your solo sailing ( i have no desire to) In lieu of, one needs good crew/watches...I discovered what works as the " perfect radar reflector" , so what is your thought on boats, offshore , without radar on board?

While I have you, I have a battery charger that is vintage, my surveyor stated " the battery charger appears to be working" what he really wanted to say was " I can not believe this thing is still working." The boat yard talked about a charger that was computerized. Is that my only option " computerized".???..... This is the " first' boat I owned and my primary focus is safety, reliability with the least amount of " gadgets" as possible, so that I am not spending my whole life learning how to fix things, only half my life.

Newft talked about traditional sailing ways, I aspire to combine modern sailing with traditional. I want to update my electronics ( basic electronics) , but develop my skills and increase my knowledge to handle even worse situations like the recent gale we were in and were knocked down. We survived, were here, we all did our job, now I am reviewing and revising!

thank you
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Old 22-10-2009, 05:45   #20
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Let's see. when I got infected with sailing GPS did not exist and Loran A had just given way to Loran C. I had taken courses in Coastal Cruising / Naviagtion, Celestial Navigation, and Meteorology and did all my naviagation with traditional tools on paper charts. I used hand bearing compasses, and purchased oddles of charts, most of which I still have and use.

I sailed to Bermuda with no electronic positioning gear, using celestial.

I welcomed GPS, and now GPS plotters. I sail mostly in site of land now, along the South coast of New England. Aside from inclement weather, I hardly even need charts as I have been sailing these waters for 25 years. But I have my paper chart on the chart table and I do fire up my 3 plotters and do enter a way point and so forth. I don't rely on electronics. I use them because they are easy and powerful tools.

If Magellan were aboard Shiva, he'd use them too... and love 'em.

That said, I believe that all on the water should be trained in basic and traditional navigation and be able to do it underway in the case of electics/electronics failure. Sh*t happens. Be prepared - that's prudent.
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Old 22-10-2009, 05:50   #21
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Radar, properly tuned, in the hands of a skilled navigator is analogous to what binocs are to unaided eyes.

Radar let's you see in the dark, the fog.

It lets you see weather coming such as squalls and prepare (reef) or run etc.

It certainly is an assist for collision avoidance.

Newer radars with MARPA can warn of collisions which could occur in enough time to take action and avoid it.

Electronics can fail, but Radar is handy at times. I don't leave it on when visibility is OK, but it does go on when visibility is compromised.

If you can afford it, it's a friend and welcome him/her aboard.
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Old 22-10-2009, 06:12   #22
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Good point. I will welcome her/him aboard with open arms, even before I become a skilled navigator.

What would you suggest as a good unit?
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Old 22-10-2009, 09:52   #23
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I am not someone who has experience with MANY units so I can only comment on the few I do and one of them is out of business now - Vigil. When that radar died my wife insisted that we have one on board as she became very frightened when we were sailing blind in the fog north of Martha's Vinyard.

I decided to go the MFD route. I had a plotter so I went for the Raymarine C80 and set it up with a 2KW scanner. It has some good new to me features like MARPA and the fact that you can overlay radar on the chart.

The MFD also allows AIS which is yet another promising tool and collision avoidance product. I got an inexpensive AIS listener so I can display that as well on the chart. Of course I bought charts and a GPS antenna.

But the original idea was to use the C80 as a color radar display.

The radar is fine, but I hate the user interface on the C80. I would say it's poorly designed, but their newer models don't seem to be getting much better as far as I can tell as they try to pack too many commands onto too few keys which means many are buried deep down in a command "tree" and hard to find (for me) at times.

I don't know that Garmin, or Furuno etc. is much better, But Furuno seems to have a very good reputation and I see few complaints about their units.

What I AM waiting for is a smaller radar which can be IN the cockpit where I need to be - not in the nav station.

The screen size is not as important as the resolution and clarity of the image. I find the tiny Garmin iQue 3600 screen / charts are equal to or even superior to the Ray which is much larger. Too big is too bright for night.

Check out Panbo online for marine electronics discussions.
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Old 22-10-2009, 12:24   #24
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Nosaj - to get to your two questions - yes, Garmin does offer all of those functions/overlays.

The PC based systems are nice too. I carry my laptop with me on deliveries, and use Nobeltec software to both plan and execute my trips. Basically, it's a fully functional plotting system, with charts, a ton of features (more than I'll ever use), a USB GPS antenna and that's about it. You can actually hook up to an NMEA system and get the same overlays on your PC as what you're looking for on the fixed mount systems. Weather, radar, AIS etc...

The PC thing is only necesary/preferred for me because I never know what I'm going to get when I get to whatever boat I'm delivering. It's always a surprise (an especially nice surprise if the on-board system actually works)...but this setup - I can take with me wherever I go, and it's entirely self-contained.

If it was my own boat, and depending on what kind of sailing I was doing, best case would probably be a fixed mount system on the boat, with a software setup on my PC for planning that could interface with my unit on the boat so I could upload/download wpts, routes, charts etc...

No, I don't work for Garmin, hell, I don't even own their products (aside from a backup handheld) but I still think their system is best as an all around product.


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Old 22-10-2009, 15:23   #25
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I do own Garmin 545- no problems yet, but I haven't gotten a radar yet to interface with it. Let you know in 6 months....
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Old 23-10-2009, 04:50   #26
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You can't interface a radar to a Garmin 545.
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Old 26-10-2009, 02:24   #27
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Originally Posted by nosaj View Post
New boat has nothing but basic electronics so I’m beginning the arduous task of researching and weighing the options versus what we can afford. Most sailing will be in a bay with an occasional offshore trip and hopefully some coastal cruising. i prefer something where the systems can be layered on, weather, radar, etc.
Other basics still apply, like how much room and electrical power are available on the boat, and sail versus power.

Sounder, VHF and GPS for sure.

Radar is virtually essential in fog and night running, especially in moderate to high traffic areas (need pure luck without it). Without it, one has to run daytime and good weather windows.

AIS is handy in high traffic areas, but I am not sure it is essential for recreational boat cruising away from commercial shipping lanes. I have very limited experience with AIS though.

GPS (electronic charting) is essential, in my opinion. The choice of GPS brand has become a very hard question to answer. Depends in part on whether one needs to network components on the boat, which may lock you into a single brand. But thinking only the electronic chart aspect, choices are still not easy, as previous posts indicate. Computers free the user to use non-proprietary charts, but need a bigger boat and expensive weather-proof components for delivering data to the helm. Proprietary chartplotters are handier than computers in some ways, but lock the user into specific brands of electronic charts. This gets expensive if crossing boundaries, but not bad if one can get away with cruising in a single chart region. None of the systems today are as simple and convenient to rig and use as a few years ago, in my humble opinion. The industry is still trying to find itself. Garmin only just this month is releasing HomePort, software for doing off-boat passage planning to use with its chartplotters that come with modern preloaded charts. This I think forces the user to transport data between planning computer and boat chartplotter on cards, not via a USB cable. No ECS (Electronic Charting System) solution seems drop-dead obvious to me these days.

Real time weather requires components capable of receiving satellite-transmitted data and displaying it on the chartplotter, depends on systems remaining economically viable in future, and may not have the local accuracy a small boat requires. While not essential for coastal cruising it is nice, particularly in places like the eastern seaboard of the US when thunderstorm cells stream off the continent. VHF weather reporting is basic and necessary but leaves gaps, and Internet browsing is not usually an option while coastal cruising, although technology like G3 just might be opening new doors in that regard.

Autohelm is another consideration, especially if thinking of networking it into the chartplotter.
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Old 26-10-2009, 04:04   #28
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Originally Posted by s/v Beth View Post
I got a Garmin 545- chartplotter/fishfinder. Pretty happy with it. Super basic and easy to use.
Agree with Newt, we have the Garmin 555s (which I think is the European version of the 545). The "S" tag means it will take a sounder module which is nice to have and confirms the Raymarines ST60s read out but gives a picture and hence history rather than just numbers.

Where are you going to mount this GPS? we have the 555s sat on the binnacle in place of a compass and do all navigation at the wheel because we sail in very crowded waters (Solent and English Channel). If you mount it outside, go for the built in ariel, saves having more widgets and wires to go wrong. With have AIS feeding info into the Garmin the whole set up is delightfully easy to use. My little sis who cam sailing with us during the summer for her first time took about 30 seconds to work it out and how to steer a course.

The little Garmins 545/555 also automatically adjust the brightness levels for evening and night time so you are not blinded by the bright chart. There is a small platic lense on the front which I think reads the light levels. It works well as I watched it slowly brighten as dawn arrived.

We also have a Raymarine C80 under the sprayhood (left over from a previous boat when the buyer knocked me on the price). We sometimes switch it on and may in the future add Radar but there are other priorities at the moment, so it only gets used as a back up.

Given the choice I prefer the little Garmin with the AIS overlay for coastal cruising, simple clean and easy menus to use, but mount it somewhere within easy reach, the chart table would be a mistake IMHO for coastal work. If later on you wanted a full Radar / weather system then look again and keep the little Garmin as a back up on separate circuits, just in case. It is cheap enough.

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Old 26-10-2009, 07:50   #29
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I have a question about having a radar on board. I have a radar mounted at the helm station and I use it all the time mostly to get use to it and up here in New England it does come in handy. Anyway I was told that if you do have radar on board you are required by law to use it all the time. Has anyone ever heard if this is true?
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Old 26-10-2009, 19:32   #30
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Rules 5 and 7

refer to this. It has to do with lookouts and using every available means to avoid collisions.

Bright Sunny Day.....I would not have it on......but if a collision occurred, the lawyers would ask you if you had your radar on.....stickey wicket

Originally Posted by captden View Post
I have a question about having a radar on board. I have a radar mounted at the helm station and I use it all the time mostly to get use to it and up here in New England it does come in handy. Anyway I was told that if you do have radar on board you are required by law to use it all the time. Has anyone ever heard if this is true?

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