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Old 23-03-2016, 11:47   #1
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Looking To Upgrade Instruments

hey all,

I've acquired a "new" boat, and I'm currently working my way slowly through all the systems, refurbishing that which has a lot of life left in it and replacing that which does not.

currently I'm looking at the wind speed and direction instruments... the masthead is not responding and looks to be damaged. the bulkhead displays look to be in half-decent condition, but I know from previous experience that I can drop a few hundred dollars into a new masthead unit and *still* not have working gear, so this time around I'm curious... what is the current line of thinking for good, solid, reliable modern cruising instruments?

I'd really like it if they spoke NMEA, but really don't care for bells and whistles past that - my primary interest is definitely longterm reliability. I'm technical enough to figure out my own "fancy" displays with Signal-K and my iPad and such, but for now I'd just like simple, reliable instruments to build into the cockpit bulkhead.

my goals are to leave on an extended multi-year cruise in the South Pacific in about six months - and if that proves to be as fun as I think it will be, I may push through and try to circumnavigate (though I imagine there's a high possibility I'll get stuck in the Mediterranean for a few years).

what are your thoughts? what's great out there in 2016? is it better to stay with NMEA senders and multi-displays, or dedicated analogue meters? what brands do you love, and why?

"Analogies are dangerous, Amanda, because life is like a sandcastle."

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Old 24-03-2016, 06:56   #2
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Re: looking to upgrade instruments

When purchasing instruments, keep in mind almost all premium grade components have only a two-year warranty. Entry level instruments usually have a one year warranty. Over the years, I have not had good success with any instruments in salt or fresh water due to the harsh marine environment, and especially lightning strikes, in spite of careful maintenance. My personal belief is that it is not cost effective to buy premium grade components at twice the price of basic instruments with such a short and limited warranty(read the pamphlet). In the last five years in the Great Lakes, I have replaced my wind instruments twice due to lightning strikes. They were the Raymarine I40 @$430. plus my labor--total cost to replace twice-- $860. The top level I60, which I did not buy, was $969.99-- total cost for both would have been almost $2,000. Both units I replaced were hit after 2 years and the warranty would have been void. Currently, I am simplifying my boat for our next cruise and will eliminate my speed log, wind speed instrument and wind-pointer as I believe they are unnecessary. We will use the GPS for position fixes and speed and our depth log for soundings. I'm certain there are many on this Forum that will extol the virtues and longevity of their instruments, but if you want to be cost effective on a long term cruise, think simple. It's just one more thing to keep you in harbor when you could be sailing. Good luck and safe sailing.

"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music."
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Old 24-03-2016, 08:11   #3
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Re: looking to upgrade instruments

I like instruments, but like Rog I have has very poor luck keeping them working, and at least for me they are black box items. Once something goes wrong it's almost never worth trying to fix them.

That being said I am a fan of wireless mast head instruments, it eliminates wires and weight and I have had very good luck with them.

I would also recommend only using NEMA2k stuff, this way it's trivial to mix and match down the road as things start to fail, and they can all be networked to each other and a computer.

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Old 24-03-2016, 14:39   #4
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Re: Looking To Upgrade Instruments

So which wireless instruments and why? I am in a similar position to the OP

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Old 30-03-2016, 11:55   #5
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Re: Looking To Upgrade Instruments

thanks all for your input!

just to follow up - currently I'm looking at installing the Maretron WSO100 or possibly the Airmar 220WX for my masthead, since both of them have no moving parts and speak NMEA2000. I'm leaning towards the Airmar 220WX, simply because it has more sensors and I'm a bit of a data nerd.

I'm still on the fence regarding a good depth/temperature sensor - I know from experience that I'm not really interested in a paddlewheel, so just a basic one should do. I had the new boat out for a shakedown sail this past weekend (and she sails like a dream! 7+ knots in 15k winds), and noticed that the depth indicator was non-functional the whole time.
"Analogies are dangerous, Amanda, because life is like a sandcastle."

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