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Old 14-11-2012, 09:29   #1
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Required or Optional?

Ok,

So I'm searching for our new boat, and making a list (like Santa Claus).....

Here are the things which I'm trying to decide if they are requirements or options.

SSB - Yes we do plan to cruise the Caribbean. But knowing my spouse and myself, we will probably try to not venture too far from land. Even then, a SSB would be nice to have. Also going with HAM would have some advantages. I haven't researched everything associated with this, so the jury is still out.

AIS - I do believe this would be helpful, but I read there are many vessels that do not have AIS. If with AIS, I can't decide passive or active.

Radar - This is more of a problem. I love the idea of radar, but the costs and power consumption are prohibitive.

The rest are pretty standard which we know we will have. EPIRB (definite), Autohelm/autopilot, GPS/Chartplotter, etc.

I would like opinions, for and against each item, if you can muster an argument against.

James L
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Old 14-11-2012, 10:01   #2
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Re: Required or Optional?

In my opinion are necessary, but that is without considering money into the question.

Radar should be the first priority... You will be traveling at night or you might need to confirm the electronic charts are accurate by overlaying the radar on the chart screen. You can also use the radar to navigate with. It is a useful tool when in the hands of someone who knows what they are doing. Radar, especially combined with a chart plotter does not burn that much power and can be reduced by doing timed sweeps or dimming the chart plotter screen when not looking at it.

If you are more than 35 miles from land your VHF and Cell phones won't work. That leaves Sat Phone or SSB. SSB in my opinion is still a better way to communicate in n emergency. Also there are lots of Caribbean Nets and several weather routers on SSB.

AIS is a great tool.... Basically, most vessels over 65 feet are required to have an AIS CLass A unit on board and working (there are some exceptions). We have a Class B unit which overlays on the chart plotter. We use it frequently to calculate CPAs and to contact other vessels. With a Class A or B AIS unit other people see you as well, which helps in the safety department.

With all that said you can purchase these items seperately for about $6-7K new and much less if you buy used. So wouldn't be so concerned about the electronics as the boat itself.
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Old 14-11-2012, 10:05   #3
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Re: Required or Optional?

Radar = Required for night or fog sailing or nasty weather
SSB = Optional, can get weather and e-mail from cellular or WiFi
Ham = Optional, can get weather and e-mail from cellular or WiFi
AIS = Optional, Nice to have if you have $800 to burn
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Old 14-11-2012, 10:15   #4
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Re: Required or Optional?

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Originally Posted by Cotemar View Post
Radar = Required for night or fog sailing or nasty weather
SSB = Optional, can get weather and e-mail from cellular or WiFi
Ham = Optional, can get weather and e-mail from cellular or WiFi
AIS = Optional, Nice to have is you have $800 to burn
Radar is very useful, and has 'saved the day" (night?) a few times for me.
For just the Carribean, you can probably get info from your neighbors to cross the gulfstream, Mona etc. or receive only SSB to listen to the weather nets.
With radar you can avoid thundersqualls, waterspouts etc , as well as navigation help.
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Old 14-11-2012, 10:25   #5
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Re: Required or Optional?

We dont cruise with the SSB or AIS though I can see that they can have great value for some. For our first thirty years of cruising we didn't have radar, but for the last ten years of cruising in New England for the summers, radar has become essenial. We rarely had visibility problems from Florida and south, but then we have always been "cockpit potatoes" taking the short passages and the best of weather. Much of these needs depend upon the manner and location of your cruising.
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Old 14-11-2012, 10:41   #6
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Re: Required or Optional?

My take, in order of your finances:1) Radar, unless you very rarely cruise at night (not much fog problem in the caribbean). Very nice to have anyway...you can see storms and such, and can verify your chartplotter with shoreline, etc.2) SSB receiver (only $100 bucks or so and you can listen in to weather nets and get grib files...wifi/mifi is not going to be reliable once you leave the U.S.)

3) SSB transceiver (instead of #2) (or HAM)
4) AIS (very nice to have if you're plying a lot of shipping channels, but most pleasure boats do not have AIS, so it may give you a false sense of security.)
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Old 14-11-2012, 10:55   #7
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Re: Required or Optional?

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We dont cruise with the SSB or AIS though I can see that they can have great value for some. For our first thirty years of cruising we didn't have radar, but for the last ten years of cruising in New England for the summers, radar has become essenial. We rarely had visibility problems from Florida and south, but then we have always been "cockpit potatoes" taking the short passages and the best of weather. Much of these needs depend upon the manner and location of your cruising.
We will be cruising from the Alabama Gulf coast (where the Florida panhandle ends) to the Caribbean.

Probably short passages, but do think the ability to do longer passages would be wanted.

I think at this point, we will go with radar, and possibly SSB/HAM. I need to research Chartplotters and interfaces to get my head around what is required for interconnection. I'm not up to date on the different communication methods (what can connect to what).

The SSB and/or HAM is where the interest really falls off. It's just one more thing I don't really want to learn at this point. I can learn it, no doubt, but think I'll put that off for some time. I know the basics of HF radio (Military training), it's the specifics about the other things the units are capable of that I'm not excited about learning.

More than likely at this point, we will try to go with used equipment, unless it just isn't feasible.

Yeay.......more research.........yuck!

James L
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Old 14-11-2012, 11:18   #8
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Re: Required or Optional?

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Originally Posted by propellanttech View Post
.............The SSB and/or HAM is where the interest really falls off..........................James L
I favor Mike's (Waterway Guide) suggestion of the SSB receiver. Gain the broadcast information without the big expense. As for the interfacing, I just don't do it. My radar, GPS, autpilot, depthsounder......etc. - everything is independant, purchased and replaced individually. I use the rational that leaves me and my own capability as the "interface". I might be fooling myself into believing that I'm better off this way, but we all adapt to our own customs. I feel better about my navigation when I am the determiner that all my devices are giving me compatible data. I'll remain eager to hear other opinions and expect some valid disagreements.
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Old 14-11-2012, 11:19   #9
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Re: Required or Optional?

If you’re looking for an easy to use Chartplotter, then you may want to look at:
Garmin GPSMAP 740 which is a stand-alone touchscreen chartplotter with built in GPS antenna.
It has the all US charts and the Explorer Caribbean charts built in.
Has tides and currents built in and easy to get to. Even my 1st mate likes using it.

https://buy.garmin.com/shop/shop.do?cID=148&pID=37721

Garmin GMR 18 HD Radar
https://buy.garmin.com/shop/shop.do?cID=151&pID=13489
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Old 14-11-2012, 11:28   #10
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Re: Required or Optional?

I guess I forgot about your real question; All those you mention are just optional, especially for doing the Carribean.
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Old 14-11-2012, 11:39   #11
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Re: Required or Optional?

Haven't had radar, have AIS and Ham radio. Really don't see a need for radar with the accuracy of GPS. Sure it would be nice to know all that stuff that's out there in foggy conditions but that's a nice to have feature. Think boaters would be a lot better off if they'd get head out of their ________ instruments and just look around. The DS in a planing power boat is still going to ram you whether you see him coming on your radar or not. The electron drain means a lot of engine/aux generator/solar/wind generator time to keep it running in addition to all the other electron gobbling gear on a boat.

AIS is nice to have because it tells large ships you are out there IF you have a transponder version. From experience, they don't always keep a good watch. Probably works way better than radar reflectors for the big boys. It won't help you with the fishing boats and other smaller stuff that doesn't have it. It also won't necessarily give you the information you need. Watched a tug with a big barge on a long tow go by and the only thing AIS gave me was speed and heading with no other information like ships name, whether it was a tug or where it was going. It's nice to know who the big boys are, their heading and speed but survived a long long time without it. For the most part, the large ships are lit up like christmas trees at night and hard to miss.

We were pirate ham operators in SoPac many years ago. Have now gotten the General license since they've dropped the code. Found the ham radio to be a mixed blessing. It's nice to be able to call up someone at your next landfall when you are still 500 miles out and get all the information about the harbor/anchorage, clearing with the officials, etc and checking in on passage. It can also be a pain checking into nets and keeping up schedules. Once, we were safely anchored in a secluded bay and went hiking one morning and just didn't feel like getting on the radio the next morning so missed checking into the morning net for two days. The net admin, who was a bit of a busybody, was talking about calling out the French Coast Guard because we'd missed checking in for a couple of days. On my solo TransPac, the SSB Email system let me keep in touch with my wife and she felt much better for it. The daily GRIB downloads confirmed the position of the high each day which made the Rhumb Line route to Hilo the fastest passage. Checked in on the Maritime Mobile Net on 14.300mhz which gave me someone to talk to each day. Found talking to myself got pretty boring real quick on the 15 day passage. Understand you can now get reasonably reliable email service via Ham radio without the very expensive. In your case, just cruising from Island to Island, the long distance coverage of SSB will probably be limited. Assume there are daily nets that may be of interest but not must have. Passing the General Ham License is relatively painless using the online practice exams. Ham radio is way cheaper than going with a Marine SSB. Had my ICOM 718, SGC 230 tuner, ground poise, and backstay antenna up and running for a little more than a boat unit.

To sum it all up, anything more than a self steering vane, boat, and sails is nice to have items. With GPS being so cheap, accurate and dependable, wouldn't leave home without it. The rest you can live without. Remember, each 'boat unit' you drop on toys for the boat can be two months less money you have for cruising.
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Old 14-11-2012, 11:46   #12
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Re: Required or Optional?

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Originally Posted by Cheechako View Post
I guess I forgot about your real question; All those you mention are just optional, especially for doing the Carribean.
You are correct, I could use a sextant, compass, paper charts, some luck, and probably go just about anywhere. I'm looking more for opinions, and not hard core truths.

I do value others opinions, it's why I asked.

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Old 14-11-2012, 11:51   #13
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Re: Required or Optional?

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I favor Mike's (Waterway Guide) suggestion of the SSB receiver. Gain the broadcast information without the big expense. As for the interfacing, I just don't do it. My radar, GPS, autpilot, depthsounder......etc. - everything is independant, purchased and replaced individually. I use the rational that leaves me and my own capability as the "interface". I might be fooling myself into believing that I'm better off this way, but we all adapt to our own customs. I feel better about my navigation when I am the determiner that all my devices are giving me compatible data. I'll remain eager to hear other opinions and expect some valid disagreements.
I just feel that having all the information on one screen makes for easier use. I personally could go with independent solutions, but I don't think the spouse would cosign that situation.

This is also to make things easier on her.

James L
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Old 14-11-2012, 11:54   #14
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Re: Required or Optional?

Quote:
Originally Posted by propellanttech View Post
You are correct, I could use a sextant, compass, paper charts, some luck, and probably go just about anywhere. I'm looking more for opinions, and not hard core truths.

I do value others opinions, it's why I asked.

James L
Paper charts and a GPS. forget the sex thing....
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Old 14-11-2012, 11:57   #15
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Re: Required or Optional?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cotemar View Post
If youíre looking for an easy to use Chartplotter, then you may want to look at:
Garmin GPSMAP 740 which is a stand-alone touchscreen chartplotter with built in GPS antenna.
It has the all US charts and the Explorer Caribbean charts built in.
Has tides and currents built in and easy to get to. Even my 1st mate likes using it.

https://buy.garmin.com/shop/shop.do?cID=148&pID=37721

Garmin GMR 18 HD Radar
https://buy.garmin.com/shop/shop.do?cID=151&pID=13489
Very nice, but at this point I'll just bookmark the units, and decide later if buying new is the way to go.

Also, I'm not too keen on radar due to the required mounting. The mast is usually the best place, but drilling holes in a mast is just an unattractive idea for me. Using a rear mounted pole or arch is quite limiting. Neither are screaming at me to be the best option.

James L
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