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Old 08-04-2007, 20:59   #1
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Raymarine or Furuno? Recommendations?

I am contemplating a major update to the navsystem on VALIS, my Pacific Seacraft 44 sailboat, and would appreciate some advice. In particular, I would like to get input on the latest Furuno and Raymarine systems.

Currently, I have a mixture of Raymarine and B&G gear: Raymarine RL80CRC chartplotters, radar, GPS, and fluxgate/gyro compass, and B&G "Network" Depth, Speed, Wind, Autopilot, and Data units. The chartplotters do not, and never will support AIS. Also, one of the chartplotters now goes intermittent when the temperature is up, so I *will* be getting some new chartplotters. I may keep the B&G stuff, since it continues to serve me well, but an upgrade here is also possible.

The likely contenders are the Raymarine "E" series (which will require a new radar), and the Furuno NAVnet vx2 system (also requiring a new radar).

Here are my current priorities:

* Charting - ease of use, good world-wide charts available, other important features?
* Radar - performance, chart overlay and dual-window modes. ARPA / MARPA
* AIS - on-chart display, flexible alarms, ease of use.
* Display of data from my other nav gear - Depth, speed through the water, wind.
* Autopilot integration - not necessary, bit nice.
* Networking - helm and navstation units must work well together, all features available at both locations.
* Display visibility - especially at the helm. Visible in full sun, fully dimmable for night operation.
* Power consumption - lower is better. VALIS is a sailboat, with solar panels and an engine-alternator.
* Reliability - of course.
* Computer interface - possibly nice to have?

Other features such as weather overlays on the chart are probably not so important, but I will have to play with this before I decide. I currently use a laptop for route-planning and weather-routing (and email WX publications) but if the chartplotter worked well for this I would consider it. At the moment, I consider these to be two different functions, and the laptop is better-suited for what it does.

So, does anybody have any experience with the latest Raymarine or Furuno systems? Are there other systems I should be considering? Any features I should re-consider?

Thanks!
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Old 09-04-2007, 18:18   #2
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Paul,
I just finished installing a Furuno 1734C/NT radar/charplotter on my Baltic 37. The mechanicals are always more of a pain in the ass than the electrical installation. I'm really happy with the radar/charplotter. The HMI is a pretty intuitive, the manuals are very thorough, and it all seems to work.
The difficulty that I have found with Furuno lies with the Maxsea interface if you're choosing to integrate the radar and instruments with your PC. If you have a "lessor" version of Maxsea (i.e. Navigator+), integration with your PC is impossible without a better than 1K investment and upgrade to Commander, regardless of the number of times that you have paid to upgrade the various modules (performance, weather, mobiles). Additionally, to integrate AIS with your Furuno radar requires an AIS i/f module should you want AIS targets to show up on your plotter. Just be warned, you're going to be nickled and dimed to freaking death. I can attest to it. I have a meeting scheduled with the Maxsea guy at Strictly Sail Pacific to discuss the pricing issues of Maxsea and can get back to you with the results of our conversation.

Regarding the B&G system, I also have a boatload of B&G Network components, and I'm sticking with them. Unless you're sailing a TP52, most of the features provided by Hercules or Hydra will be lost on you. For example, do you really need to calibrate the upwash effect on windspeed and angle? On the other hand, integration of a rate gyro vs a fluxgate sensor will really make your autopilot a lot happier, and you can't get that capability with a Network Pilot. Oh, I'm also trying to use the fluxgate output of my B&G network to provide the heading sensor input for the Furuno chartplotter so that the Overlay feature works. It's an attempt to keep from shelling out another 500 bucks to Furuno for their heading sensor. I'll let everyone know how that works out in this thread.
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Old 10-04-2007, 07:45   #3
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I have Raymarine and there are no problems with interface with Ray products or other NMEA compatable instruments. Any updates are downloadable for free from the Raymarine site.
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Old 10-04-2007, 10:30   #4
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No Strings and Randy,

Thanks for this info. I'm not too concerned with PC integration. I can do that now with my Raymarine system, and don't use the capability much. Perhaps a really good implementation would change my mind, but I doubt it. Anything I install *will* have AIS, so thanks for the heads-up on that.

I've been happy enough with my older Raymarine gear, but now one of the chartplotters is going bad, the product is no longer being manufactured, and even if repaired, it will never support AIS. My default plan is to install the latest Raymarine E-Series chartplotters and radar, but I do want to at least look at possible better solutions.

The Furuno marketing message seems to be "It has to be the best -- all the fishing boats have Furuno". This may very well be true, or it may reflect a feature-set that better meets the needs of the fishing fleet (but may not be very important to sailors.) I do see some chartplotter/autopilot features that I would really like if I were doing commercial fishing, and others that seem like they could be valuable to anyone. The "Furuno/Fishing Fleet" association could also be because this is where Furuno has concentrated their sales efforts. Or it could be simply that it is better gear. I have seen some comparisons of the latest Furuno vs Raymarine radar, and it does look like Furuno has a slight edge in performance. All of this is why I am looking for comments.

Then again, Raymarine does have a big share of the sailboat market. Are they better performing, or just better at selling into this market?

No Strings, would you mind sharing your reasons for choosing Furuno, vs all the other systems out there?

It doesn't look like either of the new systems are missing any of my "must-have" features, and I expect that either one, properly installed and configured, will do just fine. I wish I could spend some "quality time" with both systems, but that just isn't going to happen. Diddling the buttons at the boat show just isn't the same thing.

As for the B&G Pilot, not having the "gyrocompass" inputs has been a fairly minor issue, but it would be nice to improve the performance when I am pushing the boat under spinnaker. If we get too tired to hand-steer, we have to power-down before the autopilot can comfortably handle the swells (as we discovered during last summer's race to Hawaii). Most of the time, I've been using the Monitor, but we are in cruising-mode then.

Thanks again for the feedback. I would like to make a decision on the new system this Spring.
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Old 10-04-2007, 10:52   #5
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I use 2 E120 on my catamaran together with the 4kW Radar. I would strongly suggest to go for the bigger radar, not for range but for better resolution if you are in an area where radar is a big plus.
Besides that i think that most solutions are ok these days.
I run the E120 with the easy-ais integrated and it works fine as long as enough ais targets are around (which is true for the northsea anytime). If there are few targets and they are not moving fast or changing courses it sometimes gives a "ais lost" message.
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Old 10-04-2007, 12:41   #6
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For what it's worth.....

I've been cruising the Western Caribbean the past three years. As a retired marine electronics tech I get asked a lot to look at people's problems while cruising. In three years I've been asked to look at one Navman autopilot and one Furuno radar, the rest has all been Raymarine (units are usually,but not always, at or over the three year mark).

While you listed your priorities you should also consider to what level of customer support and warranty service you expect. While many Raymarine owners love their systems the service from Raymarine can at times be a pain, especially if cruising away from the US. Furuno on the other hand has an excellent support system, quickly answering the phone and emails. I personally have a Navman 3380 Autopilot (3 years old and still working great) and a JRC 1800 color radar/chartplotter (4 years old, no problems), soon to be upgraded to the Northstar M121 radar/chartplotter.

Just my thoughts.

damon
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Old 10-04-2007, 16:50   #7
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Damon,

Service and support is a good issue, and I have heard other people mention Furuno's good service network.

I also agree that Raymarine's service can be problematic. I was halfway to Hawaii last summer when the chartplotter at the navstation started randomly resetting. I tried sending email to Raymarine (via sailmail and via satphone), but since my "customer account" had been set up with my home email address, all I ever got was an automated reply saying I had to be signed up for email support. I sent multiple emails, with plenty of pleading and explanation, but I don't believe that any of these ever got through to an actual human being. Finally, I used the satphone, and had to stay on hold for a long time ($$$$$) before I could finally talk to someone. Fortunately, the chartplotter at the helm continued to work OK (and we had plenty of backup navigation options).

When I hear about high number of repairs for a particular product, I have to wonder if this indicates a real problem, or just represents the proportions of the number of different systems in service. I've never seen a Yugo or a Rolls Royce being repaired at my local auto repair shop -- does this mean that these are higher reliability than Ford or Toyota? Hell if I know!

When contemplating a significant (or even minor) purchase or decision, I tend towards "analysis paralysis", and as I learn more, I usually find more questions than answers. This goes on too long, until I get fed up, or approach a hard deadline, at which point I rely on gut-feel as much as quantitative analysis. Usually there isn't a clear "correct" answer, but through the discovery process, I hope that I have at least eliminated the less-correct ones.

Thanks to everyone for your input.
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Old 10-04-2007, 16:56   #8
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Paul, I don't have a boat right now so maybe I am speaking out of line, however I see a lot of complaints on this and the SSCA forum about Raymarine service. There has been some serious issues discussed regarding Raymarine autopilots suddenly steering the boat in unanticipated directions as well.

Try searching the forum to see if you can find those threads.

I think that the fishing fleet would be a pretty demanding market as far as product reliability and service goes.
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Old 10-04-2007, 17:02   #9
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As a full time and long standing service tech I would recommend Furuno hands down. I spend most of my working life repairing Raymarine and I am talking units right out of the box as well as older units. Many more issues with units less than one year old. Most issues can not be serviced outside of the manufacturers facility. we have been doing some serious cruising for many years and covered tens of thousands of miles. No Raymarine on this vessel.
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Old 10-04-2007, 18:12   #10
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I wanted to add another comment. When visiting my friends in Alameda, California I have noticed more Raymarine radomes than any other. I do have to give Raymarine credit for having the best marketing department around.

When I was at the Bocas Yacht Club here in Bocas del Toro, Panama I took a look at all the masts. Furuno out numbered Raymarine 3 to 1. And these are for the most part cruising boats.

One thing I learned about being in the marine electronics business is that many manufacturers offer spiffs to sales people in retail stores. One month XX manufacturer may offer a $300 bonus to each sales person that sells model X radar, while another manufacturer may only offer $100 for their unit. When you walk into a store and ask "What's the best radar you have", which do you think the sales person will suggest? Every month the spiffs change and every month the answer will change. Each manufacturer also offers year end discounts or rebates to it's dealers. If a dealer sells x amount of unit A then they will receive a 5% return at the end of the year. Raymarine has always exceled in having the best spiffs and the best dealer year end rebates.

Aside from minimal mark ups this is one reason I stayed away from selling electronics and stuck with installation, service, and consultations.


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Old 10-04-2007, 18:29   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Elliott

The Furuno marketing message seems to be "It has to be the best -- all the fishing boats have Furuno". This may very well be true, or it may reflect a feature-set that better meets the needs of the fishing fleet (but may not be very important to sailors.) I do see some chartplotter/autopilot features that I would really like if I were doing commercial fishing, and others that seem like they could be valuable to anyone. The "Furuno/Fishing Fleet" association could also be because this is where Furuno has concentrated their sales efforts. Or it could be simply that it is better gear. I have seen some comparisons of the latest Furuno vs Raymarine radar, and it does look like Furuno has a slight edge in performance. All of this is why I am looking for comments.

Then again, Raymarine does have a big share of the sailboat market. Are they better performing, or just better at selling into this market
I read all of the manufacturers literature and remained confused as to which was best. I then looked around the harbor where we keep our boat. We are the only sailboat along with 30+ commercial fishing boats. The vast majority of them use Furuno. I asked two boat owners why they chose Furuno. Were they part of a purchasing group that got discounts on Furuno?...they looked at me like I was crazy. Then why did they select Furuno? One said "I go out for two weeks at a time, we want something that won't break".

No, it is not scientific and I'm sure that the other brands are also good....but that did it for me. We replaced our old equipment with Furuno radar, plotter and sounder.

Roger
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Old 11-04-2007, 00:17   #12
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I've a brand new Furuno 1734C. You have to do some minor disassembly during the installation, and I have to tell you that the quality of the manufacture is beyond compare. The damn thing is beautifully built.
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Old 11-04-2007, 06:10   #13
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[quote=Paul Elliott]Damon,

When contemplating a significant (or even minor) purchase or decision, I tend towards "analysis paralysis", and as I learn more, I usually find more questions than answers. This goes on too long, until I get fed up, or approach a hard deadline, at which point I rely on gut-feel as much as quantitative analysis. Usually there isn't a clear "correct" answer, but through the discovery process, I hope that I have at least eliminated the less-correct ones.

quote]

Its called operating with "Bounded Rationality" in MBA speak, Paul.

Nice to have a term for it, isnt it? Shows you are not alone....
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Old 11-04-2007, 06:32   #14
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Old 11-04-2007, 07:51   #15
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Originally Posted by bruadair
One thing I learned about being in the marine electronics business is that many manufacturers offer spiffs to sales people in retail stores. One month XX manufacturer may offer a $300 bonus to each sales person that sells model X radar, while another manufacturer may only offer $100 for their unit. When you walk into a store and ask "What's the best radar you have", which do you think the sales person will suggest? Every month the spiffs change and every month the answer will change. Each manufacturer also offers year end discounts or rebates to it's dealers. If a dealer sells x amount of unit A then they will receive a 5% return at the end of the year. Raymarine has always exceled in having the best spiffs and the best dealer year end rebates.
This is very true, especially the old brick and mortor stores. I have a good friend at West Marine, and when a customer asks him about electronics, as in which is best, he will be very honest with the customer and say something like, "This month it's Raymarine, but next month it's Furuno", then a wink. It is a game they play.

Of all of the people in my marina, all those who have upgraded in the last two years went with Furuno, because of reliability issues.

Mark
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