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Old 12-12-2016, 22:06   #1
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Electronics update for cruising

So we are looking at possibly purchasing a boat, the current electronics package is this:

Two Raytheon radar systems, one antenna on mast, the other on a pole in the cockpit. Raytheon C120 GPS/plotter at nav station, C80 at helm, two Furuno GP-32 GPS's at nav station. Simrad AP 16 autopilot, Brooks and Gatehouse apparent windspeed/direction indicator, depthsounder, knotmeter/log, all (2006) mounted on pedestal guard. Ritchie pedestal-mounted compass. Icom IC-M700 Pro marine SSB transceiver, two Icom IC-M304 VHF radio transceivers. Icom CommandMike2 RAM. ACR Sat 3 406 mhz. EPIRB. Firdell Blipper mast-mounted radar detector. Backstay insulated for use as SSB antenna. Spare VHF antenna mounted on radar pole.

Looking at this setup, what would you recommend updating? The plan is to use this boat for cruising the next 5 years, hopefully extended cruising but for sure New England, the Bahamas, and Caribbean.

Is it worth starting what the boat comes with and upgrading the particularly antiquated parts, or is it best to tear everything out and start new?
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Old 12-12-2016, 22:49   #2
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Re: Electronics update for cruising

Add an AIS before you leave. Use the rest for a season then decide what would be best to spend your money on.
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Old 12-12-2016, 22:56   #3
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Re: Electronics update for cruising

What would you do with all the electronics you pull out?
Have you tested each and how they work with each other?
Even the Ritchie compass you would remove?
Think about the many new wires and installations and hours of planning and work and the holes left behind and new holes you may need to make.
Could make those trips with just paper charts, a depth sounder, a VHF radio and a hand bearing compass. Well, GPS and chocolate chip cookies would be a plus.
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Old 12-12-2016, 23:10   #4
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Re: Electronics update for cruising

As Paul said above. Use it all and make sure it all works. Then use it some more before deciding what to replace. The radios are good, as Furuno GPS' you won't gain much except a new look by upgrading those.

The Raytheon (wasn't it already Raymarine by 2006?) stuff was quite well built then, probably better than their current e series. The only thing that you will gain is some eye candy, some weather and AIS functions by upgrading the plotters. You'll get touch screen on most of the modern plotters too but personally I hate touch screen as it fails when you need it most (ie with wet mushy fingers). You will also possibly get more choice of cartogrpahy depending on what you want to go for in terms of upgrade.

Definitely add an AIS receiver. I think I'd just by on of the new VHF radios with integrated AIS or a Vespermarine watchmate for now if I was you.

Remember that changing out all that gear is not trivial. Most of the new equivalents will use NMEA 2000 (N2K) networking so none of your old cabling will be much use. It all depends of the route you want to take but you will have to factor in significant time/money budget to replace everything.
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Old 13-12-2016, 00:32   #5
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Re: Electronics update for cruising

The boat I just purchased has older raytheon. Im doing exactly what Paul has suggested, upgrading the AIS to a transponder unit but leaving the rest. With open cpn as well as navionics on the tablets phones etc there's no shortage of chartplotters/gps.
Depending on where your heading a second self steering setup maybe worth considering.

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Old 13-12-2016, 09:26   #6
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Re: Electronics update for cruising

I'm considering replacing my chart plotter with Open CPN on a Mac and a waterproof touchscreen monitor in the cockpit. Still have to do some research before I'm certain that's what I want to do. My boat's a 2006 with Raymarine electronics from that era - a little newer than yours, it seems.

By the way - the solution for wet fingers on a touchscreen would be a stylus. Just hang one on a cord from the binnacle! Also keep the screen covered to keep it from getting wet - remove cover as needed.
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Old 13-12-2016, 10:21   #7
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Re: Electronics update for cruising

Quote:
Originally Posted by travalab View Post
So we are looking at possibly purchasing a boat, the current electronics package is this:

Two Raytheon radar systems, one antenna on mast, the other on a pole in the cockpit. Raytheon C120 GPS/plotter at nav station, C80 at helm, two Furuno GP-32 GPS's at nav station. Simrad AP 16 autopilot, Brooks and Gatehouse apparent windspeed/direction indicator, depthsounder, knotmeter/log, all (2006) mounted on pedestal guard. Ritchie pedestal-mounted compass. Icom IC-M700 Pro marine SSB transceiver, two Icom IC-M304 VHF radio transceivers. Icom CommandMike2 RAM. ACR Sat 3 406 mhz. EPIRB. Firdell Blipper mast-mounted radar detector. Backstay insulated for use as SSB antenna. Spare VHF antenna mounted on radar pole.

Looking at this setup, what would you recommend updating? The plan is to use this boat for cruising the next 5 years, hopefully extended cruising but for sure New England, the Bahamas, and Caribbean.

Is it worth starting what the boat comes with and upgrading the particularly antiquated parts, or is it best to tear everything out and start new?
If everything works, if it ain't broke don't fix it. It seems you would have to invest a considerable amount and also you have more redundancy than most.
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Old 13-12-2016, 10:48   #8
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Re: Electronics update for cruising

Add a full AIS device: receiver AND transmitter. If you only get the receiver, you will regret your decision soon after.
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Old 13-12-2016, 10:51   #9
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Re: Electronics update for cruising

Quote:
Originally Posted by nathanielg View Post
I'm considering replacing my chart plotter with Open CPN on a Mac and a waterproof touchscreen monitor in the cockpit. Still have to do some research before I'm certain that's what I want to do. My boat's a 2006 with Raymarine electronics from that era - a little newer than yours, it seems.

By the way - the solution for wet fingers on a touchscreen would be a stylus. Just hang one on a cord from the binnacle! Also keep the screen covered to keep it from getting wet - remove cover as needed.
Isn't a chartplotter needed most urgently in violent storm conditions, when the boat may be temporarily out of control or off-course?

I sell and install boat electronics and always try to dissuade prospects from touch screen only displays on sailboats.

It is pretty hard to touch (finger or stylus) a screen exactly where on wishes, when all hell breaks loose, or even just during a spirited sail with some waves and gusty wind.
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Old 13-12-2016, 11:10   #10
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Re: Electronics update for cruising

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Isn't a chartplotter needed most urgently in violent storm conditions, when the boat may be temporarily out of control or off-course?

I sell and install boat electronics and always try to dissuade prospects from touch screen only displays on sailboats.

It is pretty hard to touch (finger or stylus) a screen exactly where on wishes, when all hell breaks loose, or even just during a spirited sail with some waves and gusty wind.
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Old 13-12-2016, 11:13   #11
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Re: Electronics update for cruising

I had a touch screen Garmin 740S I think on a center console, it worked fine with wet fingers, and if my sailboat ever gets airborne and slams into waves like that center console did from time to time, I will not be worried about a chart plotter.
I didn't think I would like the touch screen for exactly that reason, touching everything except what you wanted and touching when you didn't mean to.
The Army supposedly did not go with touch screens in the AH-64D for exactly that reason, but I didn't experience any problem on the boat.
The MPD's (multi purpose displays) on the AH-64D were the same MPD's that were on the Space Shuttle, they had VAB's or (variable action buttons) all around the screen, depending on the screen that was up, the vabs had different functions.
A modern touch screen is in my opinion, better
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Old 13-12-2016, 11:31   #12
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Re: Electronics update for cruising

I also have a nav system made up of various manufacturers. I get along just fine as it is setup but do feel like the primary navigation screen is best on a marine chartplotter - only for reasons of reliability. I also have a PC running OpenCPN but it is redundancy or for a wider view when the chartplotter is dialed in close. Radar is stand alone as well as he radios. Engine instrumantation is not included in my nav info but is displayed on both dedicated digital and analog instruments. PC navigation is reliant on three pieces of equipment working (PC, Monitor, and GPS) while a marine chartplotter is an all-in-one solution. My experience over the past 40 years is that they rarely go down while PC based navigation does from time to time - either the monitor goes out or a board in the PC shakes loose, or something minor. Can be fixed but who needs that at a critical time.
also, most dedicated Chartplotters have color screens that are much more sunlight readable. While I have a "marine" 15 inch PC monitor with high NITs and is supposed to be daylight viewable it is just marginal on an open bridge in the middle of the day.
Seems like the heart of your system is Raymarine so if you use these for a season and like the way the user interface works - why not one or two items at a time upgrade the other parts to match. Else do like me and stay as you are unless something breaks.
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Old 13-12-2016, 11:33   #13
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Re: Electronics update for cruising

I, too, would add an AIS transceiver to the boat.

I'm on the side that dislikes touchscreens in the cockpit -- I've never found any that work well with a good coating of half-dried spray on them.

The other things I would consider adding are as follows:

* mounting additional VHF antennae. In addition to spares, we run 3 active -- two for VHF radios and a separate AIS antenna. I have ours setup so that I can swap source/destination between them in a pinch. One is atop the mast, the others are deck level on the communications arch. I would like to have some communications even (especially) if I were to lose the rig.

* some means of receiving weather data at sea -- whether this be satellite or weatherfax. There are probably software/devices that can connect to your SSB to do it. We have a dedicated weather fax on our boat's electronic system, but there are other ways too.

* It is small money, and I enjoy playing with it at sea -- I carry a portable HF/MF SSB receiver. It is useful for entertainment (I must be pretty bored, huh?) while on passage. Yes, your SSB can do it, but you might not want to be perched in your nav station for hours on end. Just beware that most are not even remotely water-resistant. I advise a good (e.g. Pelican) waterproof case.

* If you're looking to spend money, I'm grateful that the PO of our boat put in a fully redundant autopilot system. The satellite broadband system he put in, I wouldn't waste my money on though.

* WiFi extender.
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Old 13-12-2016, 12:01   #14
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Re: Electronics update for cruising

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By the way - the solution for wet fingers on a touchscreen would be a stylus. Just hang one on a cord from the binnacle! Also keep the screen covered to keep it from getting wet - remove cover as needed.
It isn't a solution! I have over 100k Miles experience with touch screens. The problems go further than wet fingers. Dried salt at the opposite end of the spectrum of dampness is a major cause of problems with the touch response.

Many of the more affordable models including the ubiquitous Raymarine are way too bright at night even on their night settings at least when the contrast is high enough to see anything.

Parallax problems mean that they are difficult to touch in the right place if you are not in the perfect position in front of them; reaching across when on a heeled boat for example.

Difficult to touch in the right place, let alone drag and drop, when the boat is heaving and pitching all over the place.

The ergonomics when using the knobs and buttons on the devices primarily designed for use as touch screens is crap.

Stay with your old gear. It's proven and provided that it still all functions is probably nicely run in. Check the hours on the RADAR magnetrons with the expected lifetime marked in he book. I expect it is nowhere near the replacement mark.
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Old 13-12-2016, 12:10   #15
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Re: Electronics update for cruising

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[...]

Also keep the screen covered to keep it from getting wet - remove cover as needed.
No, don't do this!

If that screen is providing your AIS, radar, navigation and other data, you'll be glancing at it every few minutes for days. IMHO, keeping it covered would not only be impractical, but also unsafe.

If I came on-deck and saw one of my crew had covered over the radar display, I'd probably have to calm myself down before I talked with them about it.
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