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Old 29-09-2008, 11:59   #1
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Radar or Chart Plotter

It's a little convoluted how I arrived at this question so please put that aside.

If you could only choose one or the other, which would be the best display choice at the helm for crossing oceans (the Atlantic) and cruising Europe and the Caribbean:
a. a radar display or,
b. a GPS chart display with AIS overlay.

I am very interested in your thoughts on this.
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Old 29-09-2008, 12:06   #2
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I can't imagine a situation where you could not have both. Offshore a plotter is of little value except for AIS ability. Radar would be preferred. But inshore and cruising the Caribbean or Europe the plotter would be very useful. Many units now are multi functional with plotter and radar combined so why choose either or. On the other hand there are cruisers out there that have neither.
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Old 29-09-2008, 12:06   #3
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Nowadays there is no need to choose. Get a chartplotter with radar overlay.
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Old 29-09-2008, 12:29   #4
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Chuck, Vaisco,
Would be interested in your opinion on which one you would choose if you had to choose one or the other.
Thanks.
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Old 29-09-2008, 13:01   #5
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We have both and as a safety issue if nothing else we would not make that trip without both or any other trip at this point. Over the years we have used a laptop instead of a plotter but have always had at least that and our radar. But that is only this skippers opinion.
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Old 29-09-2008, 13:05   #6
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Chuck,
Will have both on-board, one or the other will be at the nav station. However, is there an advantage of one over the other at the helm that I am not seeing?
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Old 29-09-2008, 13:11   #7
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we had the plotter at the helm and the radar mounted inside the cabin in a spot where it could be seen from the helm by turning it to face the companionway. The reason for this is that we wanted to see the radar inside the cabin as a anchor watch in severe conditions and this was used frequently. Again, offshore you will probably not use the plotter and use the radar more. But inshore and coastal cruising you will use the plotter more. So if you have room at the helm for only one, then which one will be used the most percentage of the time? Mount that one at the helm. The decision is really up to you since it will be based on your needs and comfort level.
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Old 29-09-2008, 13:16   #8
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I have both. Originally I went with just a chartplotter but for a few bucks more my dealer convinced me to add radar. Sailing in mostly fog free waters I seldom use radar, last season put it on two or three times, usually to see where the squalls are. The first time I used the overlay was to watch Towboat US tow a boat into a harbour I was anchored off and needed to enter in the morning. I had never gone in there before and marks weren't the best. Another sailboat went aground and was towed in. I watched the track on radar overlaid on the chartplotter and followed the same track in the next day. I figured the towboat knew the best route in and the boat it was towing had a much greater draft than I.
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Old 29-09-2008, 14:00   #9
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The first time I used the overlay was to watch Towboat US tow a boat into a harbour I was anchored off and needed to enter in the morning. I had never gone in there before and marks weren't the best. Another sailboat went aground and was towed in. I watched the track on radar overlaid on the chartplotter and followed the same track in the next day. I figured the towboat knew the best route in and the boat it was towing had a much greater draft than I.
Great idea!
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Old 29-09-2008, 14:12   #10
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I cant ever imagine having to choose one over the other. But if for some reason I had to, I would choose the radar. Radar shows whats actually out there. A chart plotter will not show boats (unless it has AIS) or other floating hazards.

Back in the "old" days, all I had was radar, Loran and and a paper chart to work with. I was fine with that.

Running around at night in a busy harbor at night or in fog like I do, being without radar would be foolish.
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Old 29-09-2008, 14:13   #11
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Originally Posted by LakeSuperior View Post
If you could only choose one or the other, which would be the best display choice at the helm for crossing oceans (the Atlantic) and cruising Europe and the Caribbean:
a. a radar display or,
b. a GPS chart display with AIS overlay.
To answer the question directly, radar. But I say this with qualifications. Namely the way it is mounted (gimbled or not), the power, and most importantly, operator skill.

This is my rationale.

Not all ships and, more importantly, boats have AIS. Same goes for pirates and icebergs, though rarely are these problems. On the other hand, the Captain the Titanic might have a different view.

Radar also has limited ability to corroborate your position with respect to land masses.

Radar can point out approaching storm fronts and help you evaluate them.
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Old 29-09-2008, 14:22   #12
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Originally Posted by LakeSuperior View Post
Will have both on-board, one or the other will be at the nav station. However, is there an advantage of one over the other at the helm that I am not seeing?
The real advantage is not making this an either-or type decision but rather a both-and. I understand your intention is to have both, but so does everyone else. Otherwise it sort of like asking if you would rather have a kidney or a lung removed.

... I'd get rid of the kidney first




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Old 01-10-2008, 09:18   #13
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I suspect many people are cruising with neither, from choice or economic necessity. Some may have made that choice based on the limitations of their electical systems. For whatever reasons, the smallest chartplotters, such as Garmin's 400 series, coupled with a single channel AIS receiver, could provide all of the essentials short of radar, at a low cost in dollars and watts. For about $800, a boat could be equipped with this chartplotter, a DSC VHF, and AIS receiver and an XM weather capability. This would permit enough elctronic sophistication to keep your average Tron very content: Electronic charting, DSC, AIS, Satellite Weather for the coastal US, autopilot control, Epirb positioning, data out to electronic record keeping, and more, all for 2 or three amps (excluding the outopilot.)
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Old 01-10-2008, 15:24   #14
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The question being "which" and knowing the choice of one or the other could be driven by a number of things including economics, I would go with "b. a GPS chart display with AIS overlay" .

In my view, even a reasonably sized "GPS chart display" with proper electronic nav tools on it will alone, used knowledgably, add more to the safety of the boat when coastal/in pilotage than any other nav aid likely could.
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Old 01-10-2008, 19:02   #15
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Radar or Chart Plotter
In higher latitudes the issue of fog comes up far more often. In the issue of darkness lower latitudes have far less twilight. So is the issue darkness or fog? They both are about visibility. Radar does visibility vary reliable and chart plotters can do location accurately. In some places the location is not reliable. Visibility is the devil you you can bet on and reliability is a crap shoot.
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