Thanks for your thoughts and honest opinions, your points are well taken. I would like to list a few things that formed my decision to go with the package I am considering and then ask for your opinions again:
1) After using Garmin, Raymarine and Furuno chartplotters on a multitude of yachts over the years, I have found that display real estate is at a premium and an important factor in how I used a chartplotter
. For my day to day use I found I really struggled with an 800x600 screen
and that even 1024x768 wasn't really adequate when I had things setup the way I wanted. Because of this, screen
resolution is probably the single
biggest reason I am not going with a Furuno system (the Furuno MFD12 is only 800x600, the Raymarine C120W is 1280x800). And no, I am not putting a 17" Furuno display in my cockpit
to get a comparable resolution.
2) I really value the ability to overlay radar data on my charts
. I sail in a relatively narrow and commercially busy place (Puget Sound) so radar and AIS are very helpful at night or in the not infrequent fog
. When using separate radar and chartplotter displays, I found I spent a lot more time than I wanted with my head
in the cockpit
trying to figure out what I was interpreting on both displays and doing a mental overlay. With a combo unit, this simply was not the case and I find this to be a significant factor in my decisionmaking. I know you can do overlays on a Furuno, but with the 800x600 resolution I was always zooming in on the low-res screen to see sufficient detail and then I would be frustrated that I couldn't see out as far as I would like so I was zooming in and out. Displaying charts
at two scales would work great and is my preferred solution but is not practical on a low-resolution screen. This is all relatively simply addressed by a higher resolution display.
3) Again, I really want to have the ability to overlay radar on my charts and this is one area that you do not get interoperability between companies. Only Furuno chartplotters will display data from a Furuno radar. Same for Raymarine and Garmin. So I am locked into a single vendor for my chartplotter / radar solution (crafty vendors). Given my experiences detailed above, I am willing to forego some radar performance (and that may be splitting hairs as Panbo recently gave the new Raymarine Digital Radomes high marks) for the ability to overlay radar on a high-resolution display.
4) So I have nailed down a chartplotter / radar vendor based on the above criteria. At this point I looked at the other components and decided there wasn't enough difference in performance (between the Raymarine DST800 and the Airmar transducer for example) to warrant the inevitable finger pointing that will ensue if I have problems integrating the systems. I have been a system administrator for years and the first (and second and third ad nauseum) lines of defense by software and hardware
makers is to point at the other guy and say it is their fault. In my experience, ultimately the burden of proof falls upon the user to establish who is actually at fault before a company will address the problem. I have also seen this on friends boats where mixed systems are in use, and some companies (Furuno) seem to be better than others when it comes to customer satisfaction, but it is still a huge problem in my opinion and just not worth the hassle that will result if (when) something goes wrong.
5) And yes, I realize that I am violating Item #4 with my desire that started this thread in the first place... using Furuno displays in a Raymarine world. However, in my mind the two displays are optional as I can get the same information from other displays (i.e., the chartplotter and ST70) if necessary, and they are filling a non-critical (or at least less) role. Why go through all the hassle then? Like I mentioned in the original post, I like the larger old-school analog display for wind and would really like a larger multi-display that is visible throughout the cockpit for races where I have crew that need to see the information from a distance. Ultimately however, this may not be worth the hassle...
6) Lastly, quality. In my admittedly limited personal experience, I have heard of problems with all the major players and no single vendor seems to be better or worse than another as far as overall quality goes. My friends that have had problems with Raymarine will badmouth Raymarine and some have changed brands when given the chance. Same for Garmin. And in all cases, there are also happy customers as well. Raymarine's financial problems aside (though troublesome), I just don't see them as being any worse than the Garmin or Furuno systems on the two dozen or so boats I have experience with. That said, I don't discount your experiences or opinion in the least and you have me thinking very hard about Raymarine in this respect.
7) I guess one last thought... what about Garmin. The biggest strike against them for my purposes is they do not have an integrated autopilot
that works well for sailboats. I have even spoken with Garmin representatives and they admit that their autopilot really isn't ready for prime-time as far as sailboats go. And referring back to Item #4 above, an integrated system is a big deal to me.
So, given the tangled thought process I try to lay out above, I hope my decisions are more clear. They are certainly not set in stone and I will appreciate any additional effort you put into steering
me in the right direction!