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Old 01-08-2005, 19:03   #1
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Best Integrated Computer Navigation System?

I am preparing for offshore cruising and am researching the Computer Navigation System. Is there anyone who has experience with an integrated system? By integrated I mean - displays chart, boats current GPS point, radar, depth, etc. all on one screen at the nav station. I have looked at 'The Capn' and Nobletec Admiral. Does anyone have any experience setting these systems up with GPS antenna, radar, depth, and charts?

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Old 01-08-2005, 22:39   #2
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Raymarine "C"

I have a Raymarine system which is capable of doing all of what you listed. It's a nice toy, it's a useful toy but don't ever rely on it solely! My brand new boat got hit while at anchor in the Bahamas by a 46' Irwin piloted by a couple of idiots that couldn't take their eyes off the computer screen ! They came right at me for over five minutes and not one of the four adults aboard was keeping a lookout. This was in broad daylight . GPS and chartplotters have made cruising easier but it's also unleashed some real idiots. By the way, the owner/skipper of the boat that hit me had a six pack license and also claimed to be a charter skipper.

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Old 02-08-2005, 00:57   #3
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Hi theloneoux
nice to see you here

Have a look at

In the support area there are sources for conecting the range of periferal devices, diagrams, etc. You may also wish to look at the software given its price


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Old 02-08-2005, 03:25   #4
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Thanks for the info!

I appreciate the feedback.

Vasco - I am interested in this kind of equipment only in an effort at safety for myself as well as others I may run into (pun intended). Mostly, because I will be singlehanding more often than not, I want to take every precaution that I don't put myself in the way of a tanker while I am in the middle of the ocean at night.

I have read logs from people who have circumnavigated singlehanded without the benefit of any of the equipment I listed. I admire their pluck but, at the same time, I want to make it around alive. Anything that might help in that regard is money well spent.

Thanks again!
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Old 02-08-2005, 11:15   #5
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Please don´t think I´m being facitious when I say that the Integrated Computer Navigation System that you will need to rely on while doing a Circle is between your ears and not available on a shelf. If you are like 99% of us who are out doing extended cruising, you will not have enough money for all of the boat, all of the gear, and all of the along-the-way expenses that you might want...which by necessity means you need to sort out what is essential from the nice-to-haves. Your ICNS is a nice-to-have.

Assuming you are a mere financial mortal, here would be my suggestion for what you will find essential, based on our last 5 years.

Radar (which comes with the legal obligation to use it whenever conditions warrant, so don´t overlook the commitment you make when installing it; see Rule 9 I believe)

Fixed GPS, external antenna and a self-built NMEA data buss to/from which you´ll be transferring data; back-up handheld GPS with data cable and antenna extension so you can maintain the connectivity and NMEA buss should the mainunit fail...OR simply buy a spare fixed GPS and store it away.

Chart Plotter - usually not a necessity but especially helpful when singlehanding; we´ve found using a laptop and free navigation software to be very cost effective and navigationally effective, but then we have a chart table that protects the laptop from exposure yet offers a view from the cockpit. If that´s not your option, then a value priced unit capable of cockpit mounting is probably worth considering. Still, before you jump for the box (which is sold close to cost) price out what the digital charts will cost you for a Circle; you may be surprised (as in disappointed)
Paper charts, at least for enroute navigation, along with free downloads of NIMAs Pilots; consider Bellingham Chart Printers as a cost-effective source of paper charts

Basic instruments in case the rest packs up; speed and depth are sufficient; masthead wind instruments are expensive and fragile and clearly nice-to-haves given the inexpensive handheld units now available

Before you add add´l bells and whistles to these basics, consider having a SSB and-or sat system that can provide real-time weather information, something like Winlink´s weather file catalog that is worldwide in coverage (and free, by the way). A broad, relevant supply of weather information will supplement your navigational safety far more than more electrons zipping around the boat.

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Old 02-08-2005, 11:22   #6
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Paper charts are a necessity.

In addition to electronic charts, you should have paper charts aboard. I use the Raymarine system with Navionics charts but they have some drawbacks. Were I to venture around the world, I would arm myself with paper charts and a Yeoman chart reader. I have both aboard and find the Raynav to be very useful in tight areas, but lack the long view of paper charts.

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Old 02-08-2005, 11:52   #7
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I have been using the C series from Raymarine for a year now and I am very happy with it..the best feature IMHO is the radar overlay on charts.
I also use Maptech offshor nav on a laptop hooked up to a cheap Garmin e-trek...
Finally a third older garmin 176 map.

Plus paper maps and guides of where ever we cruise.

We NEVER EVER use the electronic charts for micro navigation as they have proven to be 'Off" for various reasons time and time again.
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Old 02-08-2005, 12:26   #8
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An interesting article about the future of electronic charting:
“Creating a Navigation Ontology“ - by Raphael Malyankar
Gord May
"If you didn't have the time or money to do it right in the first place, when will you get the time/$ to fix it?"

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Old 02-08-2005, 13:08   #9
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In my limited experience with such things...

When you want these things to work the most is when it is rough and there is limited visibility. My concern was that with a "one screen does all approach" as with the Raymarine C series, to get a good readable chart and radar screen for my eyes when rocking and rolling at sea, I would need to get the large C120. The 8 inch screen is just too small for me when running split with chart and radar and the cockpit is moving around. Now that big screen is just too expensive for me and when it breaks it is going hard to service and expensive.

I have opted to buy a 6" chart plotter and a 7" radar. These screens are big enough for me to read and they will connect via NMEA to show my next waypoint on the radar screen. Now I can replace either one for a reasonable price.

The only thing I don't have with this is the ability to sync the displays for the zoom and to overlay the radar on the charts. These are less important to me than cost and servicability at this time.
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Old 02-08-2005, 14:05   #10
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With the Raymarine C you can overlay the radar on the chart so you don't have to have two or three small windows if you prefer the one large one. I have the eight inch and it has worked well . I used it continously from November to June while cruising in varying weather conditions. The visibility was always very good. The screen is very bright in sunny conditions and there is a night setting plus backlight dimmer. It does a lot for a relatively smallprice.
Rick I
Toronto in summer, Bahamas in winter.
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Old 27-10-2012, 10:41   #11
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Re: Best Integrated Computer Navigation System?

This thread is long out of date, but the questions are on target.
If one were to need to replace lots of navigation equipment on a relatively tight budget, how would you proceed?

Lets say we are trying to put the following on an older 35' sailboat:
Wind direction

How much can you reasonably do for

Or $5,000
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Old 27-10-2012, 11:28   #12
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Re: Best Integrated Computer Navigation System?

Go to a boat show and play with the models from the different major competitors. That is what I did and I am glad I did. I ended up with a Garmin system adn a Raymarine autopilot

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