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Old 08-06-2009, 21:15   #1
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Where's Your Chartplotter?

This is a question for experienced live-aboard cruisers (full or part-time) who have had a chance to really put this to the convenience test: where exactly are your chartpotter and wind/speed/depth instruments in the cockpit? I understand that many systems include repeater instruments at the nav station down below, but in the cockpit, where is the best place for them? On watch, during passages, where do you spend most of your time, and can you see your instruments from there? Can you only view your chartplotter with radar overlay if you go to the wheel, or do you have them installed under the dodger so they can be viewed from anywhere in the cockpit? If they are under the dodger, do you ever find that to be inconvenient? We are in the process of re-assessing our instrument arrangement and want to make the final result a bit more user-friendly for a live-aboard situation.
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Old 08-06-2009, 21:39   #2
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Wind instrument, depth and Garmin 176C (chartplotter) mounted at the binnacle. Radar and larger Raymarine/w depth-fishfinder (seperate) mounted at the nav station.

I would have liked to put it all in the cockpit, but am happy with things as they are. I even bought a beautiful swing arm mount to try and get it all out to the cockpit, but I just couldn't bing myself to installing the whole thing because it just wasn't going to come out like I'd hoped.

Everything can easily be seen when I poke my head in the companionway.
With the autopilot on it, seems like such a non issue now.
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Old 08-06-2009, 22:05   #3
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Our sailing instruments are located in the cockpit. The radar/chartplotter are mounted below at the nav-station, in a location where they are still visible from the helm. Cruising, we don't spend much time at the wheel. Sitting under the dodger on watches, we can view the plotter/radar easily down below. On longer passages, the computer monitor is off to conserve power, and just the plotter/radar screen is used. AIS is also shown on the plotter/radar screen. If I had the $$, it would be great to have a repeater at the helm. But....
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Old 09-06-2009, 05:28   #4
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My Chartplotter and autopilot are at the wheel. My other instruments are in a pod on the coachroof where they can always be seen by both of us in the cockpit. I do not have them at the wheel because we are usually on autopilot.
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Old 09-06-2009, 06:32   #5
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I guess an advantage to a cat with a single bulkhead-mounted wheel is that my chartplotter, radar, autopilot control head, waterproof VHF and all instruments are located on the bulkhead 'dashboard' directly in front of the wheel (and hence under the dodger). I do have a repeater for the instruments, chartplotter (actually a complete back-up chartplotter) and another VHF at the nav station. The dodger provides additional weather protection for not only the helmsperson, but also the instruments/controls. Further, the screen for the chartplotter/radar tends to be more visible when it is not in direct sunlight.

On my previous boat (a Cartwright 36 Pilothouse) I had the autopilot contol head/Charplotter/radar/instruments mounted at the inside steering station and used only a repeater in the cockpit (this provided better weather protection for the instruments, albeit the repeater which was exposed to the elements, never failed).

On my Bayfield 32 I had instruments mounted on the companionway bulkhead and this proved to be incredibly inconvenient when sailing with guests; they inevitably blocked the view of the same for the helmsperson. For that reason, if I were to own another monohull without a pilothouse, I would definitely go with instruments/chartplotter etc. mounted on a pod at the binnacle. While the weather protection would be inferior, in my experience the current electronic instruments/repeaters are more than able to withstand exposure to the elements; I would hope that the newer chartplotters are also capable of the same (although I would nevertheless want a back-up chartplotter set up as a repeater at the nav station, just in case).

Regardless, in my opinion a chartplotter should be visible to the helmsperson and not simply mounted below: the big advantage to chartplotters (and the safest way to navigate) is with real-time updates of your position/nearby hazards and this is defeated when the unit is mounted below, or out of direct line of sight of the helm.

Brad
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Old 09-06-2009, 08:23   #6
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Chart plotter with sonar at the helm, seperate depth sounder on cockpit bulkhead, computer at nav station with plotting programme and GPS USB drive, seperate GPS at nav station on seperate antenna.
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Old 09-06-2009, 08:50   #7
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total redundancy

all instruments, including radar/chartplotter, are at both locations. Additionally, autopilot controls are located both at the helm and at the nav station.
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Old 09-06-2009, 08:58   #8
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A chartplotter, radar, and sailing instruments are useless unless you can see them. For cruising, we like redundancy on gps and depth-sounding.

For sailing instruments and depth, most (I believe) have mounted in the cockpit.

From there, I'd look at where I spend most of the time underway. On previous boats, most of the time we were at the helm, and being able to have controls for a plotter/radar was great. The unit was mounted in a pod on the binnacle guard.

If cruising using a windvane/autopilot for long periods of time (days), the time spent at the helm is significantly less, but one needs to keep an eye on instruments while on watch. Then, it seems that having the unit mounted forward (either in the nav station, on a swing-out arm, or right under the dodger) makes more sense.

The key is to also be able to see the screens while navigating in closer quarters.

We went through the same dillema and questions when we set up our boat for cruising. For our needs (and not being able to have a repeater at the helm), it made sense to mount the unit at the nav station. But our boat is also configured so the radar/plotter is in direct sight from the helm. In close quarters and unfamiliar waters, two of us are 'on watch' and navigating. The paper chart is now folded and in the cockpit, the plotter is visible, and radar is on if needed. At night and in open waters, I'm more interested in the AIS and a radar sweep every so often. Granted, alarms can be set, but I don't really want to go back to the helm to look for targets. I kinda like having a cup of coffee or tea and remain under the dodger while I track any targets. So for us, visibilty of the radar/plotter is important from the dodger/cockpit seat area (ahead of the helm).

Our plotter and computer nav programs also repeat the sailing instrument data at the nav station. We have an older Garmin plotter/sounder as a back-up (along with hand-held gps). Our computer/nav program can receive gps data from either gps.

It's all a matter of your style and choice. The key is visibilty of the screens when you need them. Beyond that, I believe in rendundancy- which has already been stated.

Steve
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Old 09-06-2009, 09:18   #9
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The redundacy aspect is great, but adds quite a bit to the cost. My setup is pretty simple. We just have a chartplotter with depth reading at the helm. I installed the chartplotter on one of the really cool RAM mounts, that allows it to swivel and face any possible direction. So it can face the helmsman standing at the wheel, or it can swivel over and face someone lounging comfortably on the cockpit bench. At night, we leave it on, set the anchor alarm, and face it down into the companionway so that from down below we can check on our position and depth.
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Old 09-06-2009, 10:01   #10
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This is my view from the helm, and the laptop sits on top of the chart table......i2f
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Old 09-06-2009, 11:47   #11
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Originally Posted by imagine2frolic View Post
This is my view from the helm, and the laptop sits on top of the chart table......i2f
Damn you catamaran people! Don't you know that laptops are supposed to be carefully padded and stowed away while travelling, and that you are supposed to have to climb down a steep companionway and turn a corner before scrunching yourself into a nav station seat?!
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Old 09-06-2009, 11:47   #12
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I mounted my chart plotter on an Ergotron monitor arm situated at the helm station. This allows me to swivel it for optimal viewing from a number of different locations in the cockpit. I did the same with the LCD at the nav station. This lets us view it for entertainment purposes from the settee, or as a working monitor when I am at the nav station.
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Old 09-06-2009, 12:17   #13
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Damn you catamaran people! Don't you know that laptops are supposed to be carefully padded and stowed away while travelling, and that you are supposed to have to climb down a steep companionway and turn a corner before scrunching yourself into a nav station seat?!
That is a compliment isn't it? Tell Goldie we said hi...............i2f
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Old 09-06-2009, 14:51   #14
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As I rarely stand the helm all I have back there is the compass. On a dash above the compainionway which is visible from anywhere in the cockpit are a series of instruments including SAilcomp103ac with GPS data, depth, boat speed, apparent wind, true wind (speed, angle) apparent wind angle indicator, GPS repeater (SOG, COG, DTW, XTE, TTG, CTW, DTW etc.). I used a Hand held Garmin IQue as a cockpit plotter (fav instrument!) and the auto pilot controls are in the forward end port coaming opposite the engine controls in the starboard coaming. I can sit in the companionway, on my bridgedeck, under the dodger and see the nav station below which contains:
2 fixed mount plotters, one with radar and AIS, B&G depth and sailing monitor, radios.

I don't spend a lot of time in the nav station and vurtually none behind the helm which is too exposed to wind and sun and if I had a bimini I would STILL not have an instrument pod on my boat at the pedestal.
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Old 09-06-2009, 15:04   #15
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"where's your chartplotter?"....uhh... she's in the head... who wants to know?
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