I regularly have the same problem, think I need more instruments, go to the dealers and look at the new stuff, evaluate it against what I am already using and give up on the deal.
I started out with a compass
, $3,000 sextant
and small calculator with a nav program, switched to a Magellan
5000 and paper charts, tried SeaMap and Seaclear on a laptop
and finally ended up with a small Asus eee computer and OpenCPN
hooked up to the autopilot via a USB to RS422 converter, which appears to be where I am stuck. In the mean time I have done about 30,000nm of coastal cruising and only ended up on one reef, which was not up to the nav equipment
but going into an anchorage in an archipelago in the dark when I should not have.
My view is that we are in one of those phases of technoleap where anything we buy today is likely to be obsolete tomorrow. Everything I buy these days has wifi
and now that I have figured out how to manage the software
part I have become a big fan. Now more contortions and skinned knuckles whilst I feed and pull wiring
and everything interconnecting.
That's the hardwear viewpoint.
From a software
viewpoint, I have some friends who invested in a chart plotter a couple of years ago. We were cruising up the coast together and one day in Bundaberg the proprietary software which connects the chart plotter and tablet together updated. They lost
a month whilst the plotter went to the agent and back. I don't want to go there as I have absolutely no patience with corporate morons these days.
A couple of weeks ago I plugged a cheap
receiver into the nav computer and OpenCPN and am very pleased with the result. I get all these ship symbols on the OpenCPN display with lots of novel information for less than A$200, that's hard to beat and if it had not worked I would have had the enjoyment of posting
a query here and interacting with lot's of other yachties whilst we tried to solve the problem.
For my part I'm going to resist the temptation to go out and splurge on expensive proprietary electronic equipment
and hang in there with the open hardware
software crowd, it's lots cheaper, probably just as, if not more, effective and a lot of fun.