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Old 14-10-2009, 08:36   #1
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Big PC, Little Chartplotter

A long range cruiser has different interests; his need for a chartplotter in the open ocean can be met with far more economical solutions, consuming less precious amperage but still being capable of driving an autopilot and providing alarms.

A Garmin 441 uses 15 watts max at 13.8 volts, and provided N2K connectivity, AIS and DSC plotting, and XM weather in the US. It takes very little room at the helm but can be easily read in all weather conditions including direct sunlight. It can't display radar.

So I suggest that a navigation solution for a long distance cruiser with minimal demands for continuous power could include a small chartplotter, and an on-demand computer system.

Route planning can be done on the PC and transferred to the GPS with SD cards. PC and chartplotter can share AIS and DSC sources without resorting to a multiplexor, and both can drive an autopilot or trim some vane steerers.

With a rather expensive antenna, the 440 can display weather.
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Old 14-10-2009, 14:27   #2
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I think that out on the ocean, a single Maretron DSM250 display might be all that's needed, with the pilot in compass course or wind angle mode. For checking crosstrack, my Furuno GP-32 or Garmin GPS128 will do a nice job and would only need to be turned on when checking it a couple times a day. I probably wouldn't even use my AIS full time when energy was a concern.

My problems with Garmins like that for long distance cruising is the charts: you don't need them out there and they are to expensive when you approach land. When you're out on the ocean you don't need much and even have time for tuning in on SSB weather etc.
We have the Sea-Me active radar reflector/transponder which warns us when we are "painted" by another radar. As long as it's silent, it's all the collision avoidance we need from commercial shipping.

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Old 14-10-2009, 22:58   #3
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I use an old chartplotter that came with the boat for offshore use and then switch to PC as I approach shore.

Works for me.

I'm not sure what I'll do when the old chart plotter dies (not long now I fear - screen is on the way out). Probably handheld for position and a paper chart - I just need a waypoint to vaguely aim for for the next few days....
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