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Old 30-07-2010, 14:03   #1
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Location: St. Augustine, Fl
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New Electronics / Nav System . . . Smoke and Mirrors ?

Hi everyone. After an almost two year re-fit, my 37 Gulfstar, Scimitar, is sporting new awlgrip from stem to stern, with new wiring, bonding, and plumbing! I ripped out my antiquated analog instruments. The only one that still worked was depth. After looking at chartplotters, depth sounders, wind instruments, etc..., I am very confused. Obviously you don't need any of it, but I would like to hear from some folks on what a good electronics package for a cruising configuration might be. I am not looking at price as much as getting the right package for me. I like the Raymarine C/E series but the standard Horizon cp500 does a lot for the money. However you can't integrate (as near as I can make out) a wind instrument into their unit. What about the C vs. E series? I have read some criticism on the E-series and screen problems. Seems like it would be nice to use your laptop down below and have it talk to the chart plotter etc... My problem is weeding through the manufacturers descriptions. They tend to be confusing. What features have other users found useful? Unfortunately I don't have a knowledgable dealer in my area. I know this is a big open-ended question, but I'll take all the help I can get. Perhaps there are some other links on the site someone could steer me towards?



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Old 30-07-2010, 15:02   #2
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I would buy a single NMEA 2000 triducer, and either a single maretron, garmin or Raymarine display for the cockpit. Actually Garmin has a great deal with a triducer, GMI-10 display, and wind transducer. Depth, speed, temp and wind with three major parts.

Lowrance, Simrad, Raymarine and Garmin all make NMEA2000 chartplotters. THere might be others.

We have:
Lowrance Chartplotter at nav station
Simrad depth and speed.
Simrad Tiller Pilot
Maretron Wind
Maretron USB adapter - puts all of the data to USB for computer programs to see - as 0183 data
Lowrance Radio takes NMEA 2000 GPS for DSC functionality.
Garmin GMI-10 display in cockpit. Can show all sorts of info - depth speed (both water and GPS) wind, and routing info form chart plotter.

The newest 5" lowrance chartplotters are not too expensive, and have really nice software - wish we had one of these, but we are happy with our one generation old plotter.

The beauty of NMEA 2000 is the interoperability between manufacturers. They only gotcha is upgrading firmware and calibration. For example, if you don't own a Garmin chartplotter, and want to upgrade the firmware on the GMI-10, you need to buy a $80 Garmin card holder to do the trick on the network.


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Old 30-07-2010, 15:27   #3
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Depth and speed combo transducer to depth/speed/log display
wind speed & direction to dedicated display
NMEA adapter for laptop with MaxSea and open source nav software w instrument display for navcomp and saloon
Digital charts for navcomp
paper charts and cruising guides
Garmin 276C and 478GPS w output to navcomp and in cockpit
autopilot w fluxgate compass
wind vane (probably Monitor or Aries)
Standard VHF w DSC
marine/ham radio
magnetic compass
Capt. Douglas Abbott
USCG/MCA IV/M.I./C.I. 500-ton Oceans
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Old 30-07-2010, 15:32   #4
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Boat: Catalina 470
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New Electronics

About 7 months ago, I was asked the question regarding a complete electronics upgrade / re-fit, by a friend sailing a ssistership to mine....
So, I thought I'd post what I sent it applies to your questions very closely....
(Although, I'm NOT in the marine electronics business, I have owned/operated my own electronics firm for the past 28+ years, and have installed / repaired my share of marine some of my opinions are based on reliability and ease of service, as well as the products' features....)

Snce then Raymarine seems to be on firm financial footing, thanks to FLIR.....

Whether Raymarine, Furuno, or Garmin, they all work, the most important point is:

Here are my thoughts on what, why, and how for navigation electronics /

I'll get to my suggestions, but first a bit of background to better make a
decision from...
You gotta' get a few basics answered first...."who", "what", "why",
etc...and of course the real biggie: "What's your application / specific use....."

1) The recreational marine electronics market has but 3 major players....
Raymarine , Furuno, and Garmin.....

a) Raymarine has a significant share of the recreational marine market, and the E-Series is quite honestly a very fine product, and my personal experience with Raymarine and their customer service / tech support has been very good....

At the end of 2006, I did a complete electronics upgrade....
I installed the entire Raymarine suite.... E-120, E-80, GPS 125, 24"/4KW
radome radar scanner, four ST-60+ instruments (Wind, Tri-data , and 2
Graphics), wind, depth and speed transducers, S3G autopilot w/ ST-6002+
control heads, as well as my old ST-80 Masterview / navigator keypad.....
And, a little over three years now, all is well.....I love 'em....

Have a look at my set-up here
and here

I've never had a serious problem......(a few hick-ups with the old software
version, but nothing since...)
Radar is great......a quantum leap up from the old RL70RC w/ 18"/2KW
Chart plotter uses Navionics chart chips, and I've found the Navionics
Platinum Charts to be excellent.....
E-120 works great!!!
S3G autopilot is great....holds a course perfectly, and never a glitch.....
ST-60+ instruments are great, no troubles at all....

b) Furuno's NavNet 3D has some negative reviews, and a few
dissatisfied customers (boater's who spent big $$$$ and didn't get their
money's worth..) Primarily due to the charting....
But, the NavNet2 has plenty of positive reviews....
My personal experience with Furuno customer service / tech support has also been very good....

c) Garmin has been growing rapidly, and while I do love their small
handheld GPS (I have three Garmin GPS 76's on board....), I don't have much experience with their chartplotters / radar / etc....
And, now they've got instruments and autopilots, etc.... (but their
autopilots have gotten some bad reviews, and I think they've just now
introduced a sailboat autopilot...)
Garmin's radar seem good, but not as good as Raymarine or Furuno......
Some like their chartplotters, but I'm not a fan.....

{Except for the commercial offerings from Simrad, the Navico companies,
Simrad, Northstar, and Lowrance don't offer too much for boats in our
size/price range, and consequently don't have too much share of the
market.....Simrad's FMCW ("broadband") radar may find a niche for those needing extreme short range radar (50 yards to 4 - 5 miles), but it's unlikely that everyone will find it useful, and with the improvement of traditional pulsed radar, in the new "digital" and HD radars from the Big 3, the choice to stay with traditional radar is easy...}

Have a look at , the SSCA disc. boards and the SSCA Equipment Survey at, for more than you'd ever want to know about radar's /
chartplotters from all of the above three companies.....

2) If you're looking at standalone GPS units only......Garmin seems to win
hands down.....since Raymarine really doesn't offer too much in a standalone GPS (the Raystar GPS 125 is a fine GPS, but it needs a display such as an ST-60+ Graphic, which makes it a pricey GPS), and Furuno's GPS-37 is also a bit on the pricey side.....

3) But, if you looking at an integrated system, things get a bit muddy.....
First, you need to determine a few things about your application....

a) Are you going to be sailing in an area where radar is important????
(those who've spent time in the Bahamas, Caribbean, etc. can relate to the fact that radar is very rarely used by sailors down here.....visibility is
good, and in the Bahamas, the single most important piece of electronic
navigation equipment is a depth sounder.......but, if you're going to be
sailing New England, or the PNW, then a good radar is probably very high on your list...)
Choose Raymarine or Furuno (HD / Digital) for best radar performance....

b) What type of charts are you using now??? are you willing to change to a different type????

c) Are you interested in accurate electronics charts??? for your primary
charting, or secondary charting data????

d) Where you are sailing now, and where you're planning on sailing, what
are the most accurate / effective electronic charts????

e) What are your electrical power consumption restrictions????
(configuring the system correctly, is important here as well...)

f) Do you have, or will you have alternative energy sources to power new

g) What are you size and space restrictions???? are you willing to spend
an extra $50 - $100, and a day or two of your time to make sure everything you want/need on board will fit and be easy to use, etc????

h) What "extras" do you want to add, now or in the future???? Sirius
Marine Weather, AIS, fish finders, sonar, etc???

i) Are you not planning on changing your autopilot????....remember that
you'll need some fast heading data (at ~ 10hz) for effective use of
MARPA....but this is not available from older autopilots, so be aware that
you'll need to add an external fast heading sensor no matter what
brand/model radar/chartplotter you choose, should you choose to keep your old autopilot....

j) Are you planning on changing your sailing instruments, depth, speed,

k) Do, you wish to "integrate" your autopilot and/or sailing instruments
into your new navigation and radar equipment??? And are you willing to spend the extra few hours (and ~ $50) to wire/install them all correctly, so that even though integrated, they will also work separately/independently????

Heck the questions could go on and on.....but these are the more important ones.....

4) My suggestions????
a) the new C-Series (which can be networked together, like the E-series), or the E-Series Widescreens....
Regarding the "touch screen"....
A good piece of news is that according to a Raymarine sales rep (I did
not contact tech support for the exact procedure, I'll leave that to you),
you can configure the new E-Series Widescreens (w/ Hybrid-Touch) to NOT function as a "touch-screen"...
Meaning that you can simply "disable" the "touch-screen" function, and use it as you would an E-Series Classic, using the "soft-keys" and other

b) Go over the questions / data points above, and ask yourself the hard

c) Read and the SSCA Disc boards....and the SSCA Eq. Survey....

d) And, my most IMPORTANT suggestion....(While generalities are only
generally true, my suggestion is that you understand this
generality......since it is an almost pure facts.....)

It is the system configuration, installation (and wiring), and commissioning
that really makes or breaks the set-up....

Some prefer Furuno (mainly because of their rep with their commercial
products), and some prefer Raymarine (mainly because of their seamlessness and reputation), but it is an almost absolute that a perfectly installed and configured Raymarine set-up will beat a mediocre installed Furuno system everyday....and the reverse is also true.....

This fine point is SO important, and SO often not talked about, that I
should've led off this post with this fact.....but at least you can say left
the best for last.....

Sorry, I don't have the time to address each question individually right I thought the above would be helpful....
Perhaps, I can add more later...

s/v Annie Laurie
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Old 30-07-2010, 16:29   #5
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Boat: Catalina 470
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New Electronics

I forgot to point out three important issues....

a) Before deciding on a chartplotter, determine what chartogorpahy is the best for the areas you're planning on cruising / some work in some manufacturer's units and not in others.....

b) I, myself, use paper charts for my primary charting, and Navionics Plat or Gold, are my "back-up" charting.....
So, my decision on electronics was a bit easier than some....

c) My friend, who I wrote the above e-mail to) had all 10-yr old Raymarine electronics, that he was happy with, and hoped to use Raymarine, but had some concerns...
So, if it seems "slanted" twowards Raymarine, that's why....

s/v Annie Laurie
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