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Old 06-08-2010, 17:36   #1
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Electronics and Autopilot Advice Needed

Hi. We are currently building a 50' yacht and are at the point of selecting our electronics and autopilot gear. This yacht is a rugged, fast performance yacht built for ocean sailing in all conditions. It will be used on a continuous basis to cruise the world, both high and low latitudes for many years. Consequently, the gear we select needs to be very robust and very reliable.

We are interested in what other serious sailors have to say about their gear - which brands and products stand up to the test of long term, harsh offshore sailing? Which brands should be stay away from and why?
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Old 06-08-2010, 18:17   #2
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Raymarine works, but is junk. That much I know. Return to factory and 1-800-... does you no good on the high seas.
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Old 06-08-2010, 18:56   #3
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G'day, mate. Most likely, based on 50 feet, you are going to have be looking at a hydrualic driven arm. You can purchase the arm and pump independently, from the control unit, from a number of suppliers. We have a Comnav control until that has served us well over the years. Cheers.
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Old 06-08-2010, 19:15   #4
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Comnav and Hynautics is good for that. I have had a steering pump in commercial service for 15 years now.

I would look at Furuno. Its used by plenty of commercial mariners around the world. A less expensive alternative might be Garmin for your nav/radar system. Have an independent backup system of course. Raymarine has always seemed a little flaky and unprofessional to me as well...more of a toy. Look and see if Simrad has something suitable for a 50 foot boat.
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Old 06-08-2010, 19:21   #5
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How come no one has mentioned Simrad, NKE, B&G.

Out of my boat size, but Simrad was mentioned quite favorably on other threads here
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Old 06-08-2010, 19:28   #6
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Check who has the best tech support and customer service as well. Furuno wins in those categories.
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Old 07-08-2010, 17:14   #7
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i wouldnt knock raymarine its as good as the standard leisure furuno or simrad. te commerical furuno is very good but way more expensive
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Old 07-08-2010, 23:11   #8
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Raymarine might serve as a pretty decent back-up unit. Cheap, and can be deployed quickly...
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Old 08-08-2010, 00:25   #9
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Another vote for ComNav and Hynautics good commercial grade stuff . Works well with my Standard plotter/Vhf.
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Old 08-08-2010, 09:16   #10
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A lot of these commercial gizmos are geared for power boats. Can anyone speak to the quality of the software for sailboat tracking? On another thread Simrad was lauded highly for their algorithms.

Personally, all of these hydraulic internal gizmos are expensive and consume high electricity for my own use. I'm kinda stuck with RayMarine as an option.
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Old 08-08-2010, 10:02   #11
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Don't buy until the Miami boat show - that is when the new models are released. Raymarine is now owned by FLIR so expect all new stuff shortly. Right now, if money isn't a problem I would go for Furuno Navnet with MaxSea Time Zero for navigation and radar. Autopilot? I have a Raymarine with Giroscpoe - with type three hydraulic drive; has worked great for 7 years on a 65,000 boat.
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Old 08-08-2010, 10:07   #12
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I have real doubt you are going to see a RayMarine hardware refresh because of the FLIR purchase. FLIR primarily acquired so they could get the distribution channel for their own products via RayyMarine, not necessarily revamping RayMarine line.

I could of course be wrong, but thats my bet.
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Old 08-08-2010, 11:25   #13
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speciald@ocens. I like your idea re Furano and MaxSea. I'm going to look into it for myself as I cannot see buying a stand alone chart plotter as well as PC software for $$$$$$ reasons.

Might be mistaken though...looks like MaxSea Zero only works with FAR2XX series radar units which require plotter - very expensive.
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Old 08-08-2010, 11:40   #14
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The most recent I heard was that FLIR was going to push their infrared camera as part of the navigation suite. I'm using MaxSea Time Zero as a stand alone routing program. It was on about a $200 upgrade from v.12 from Defender. It does 3-D charting and will superimpose sat photos on the chart and still provides free worldwide grib files. I'm still with th RL Raymaqrine series as the new monitors won't fit in my nav station or on the pedestal.
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Old 08-08-2010, 11:56   #15
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Have you selected a steering system yet? If not, I would highly recommend the Whitlock Mamba system. It uses a torque-tube and a push-pull rod, eliminating cables and hydraulics. In addition, the autopilot motor bolts into the steering box. Use the autopilot electronics from any of the manufacturers. In tens-of-thousands of miles on our 40,000-pound boat, we've never had an issue.

When we were sailing from Mexico to Hawaii, the massive electric motor on our autopilot got a real workout trying to keep Rutea on course as she surfed down the trade winds-generated waves. When I got to Hawaii, I called PYI, who was the dealer for Whitlock at the time and inquired about a spare motor. "You don't need one," the rep said, "We've never had one fail." "How much are they?" I asked. "TwentyTwo NinetyFive," said the rep from PYI. I told him something was wrong because I had seen the motor and I knew it cost more than $22.95. "No," he said, "You don't understand." I bought the motor anyway, installed the new one and have kept the original as a spare.

Fair winds and calm seas.
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