I've mentioned this before, but how many people are tied to the actual helm
? It seems most are, even with larger yachts. I see the trend for these immense instrument pods at the helm and now plotter displays back there. Frankly, I don't get it. And it's damn ugly too. But perhaps my way of sailing is different. It suits me.
I have two plotters below,a Standard 170cp and a Raymarine
C80, but I rarely look at them when underway. The nav instruments (speed, wind
and NMEA) are on a panel above the companionway
and this includes a KVH sailcomp which does duty as a NMEA repeater. The KVH gets its waypoint info from the Raymarine
. I set waypoints down below and then rarely go there to look at the plotter. There are exceptions of course at night, bad weather
I also almost NEVER hand steer, ie using the helm. Shiva is equipped with a below decks Alpha 3000 auto pilot which has a compass dial to set the course. How instuitive! Tack? turn the about dial 100° The auto pilot controls are in the coaming port side at the forward end of the cockpit
in a recessed GRP box, and the engine
instrumentation is on starboard directly opposite.
So I typically position myself in the cockpit
to port where i can control the heading with the auto pilot dial, the engine
RPMs if we are motoring (on the pedestal), and see all the instruments above the companionway
AND be under the dodger
, out of the sun, spray and rain.
And now for my cockpit plotter. I use a Garmin IQue 3600 which has an amazingly bright screen, uses blue charts and is zoomable to any scale! The little PDA lives under the dodger
next to the companionway where there is a 12v plug
to recharge its batteries. The internal batts don't last long with the 12 channel WAAS and full brightness of the screen on.
The little plotter shows me where I am relative to reality. I can pick it up and look at it and face forward, to the side and even aft. It has a heading line and I can use my autopilot
control to "aim" at a mark. It does not support waypoints, but that is done by the Raymarine and the cockpit repeaters.
Since I single
hand 99% of the time, I have to do sail trim etc, tacking, gybing and the auto pilot does the helm. I have no need to stand behind the helm and having instruments there would be wasteful. Yet I have many instruments in the front of the cockpit where they can be seen from anywhere in the cockpit. Nav information is viewable from any place in the cockpit and it does not interfere with seating.
I can even sit in the companionway and see the below deck
plotters, but the little IQue's screen is fine for close work at arms length. And I have all the other features of a PDA and street navigation
too! So when we stop in some new town, I have a database and we don't need maps to find our way around... even when / if we rent a car... road navigation
for all of the USA. (separate chips)
This little IQue is the cat's meow and I love it on board. It does all it needs to do... give me a visual plot of where I am and where I am heading so I can compare it to my surroundings... what I see with my eyes. Cheap
, reliable, portable and easy to use. Plus it is a back up for the main GPS.
Think about setting up your boat's instrumentation and controls to accommodate the way you sail. I did. A laptop... insane in a seaway. End of story and a current hog of enormous proportions.
But people do give me with a quizzical look because I am rarely at the helm when I am sailing or underway. I am fully in control of the vessel and very aware of my environment
. The Alpha is one amazing pilot.