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Old 12-01-2009, 18:43   #1
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Starting from Scratch. Help!

Hi All,

I am getting ready to retire in 5 months and hope to take to the cruising life. Initially East Coast from Maine to Florida, then hopefully the Caribbean.

My boat is a ' 85 Sabre, in sound condition and well maintained, new sails, ground tackle, new dodger, bimini, cushions, standing and running rigging..new dinghy and motor..Liferaft....etc.

I've put together a list of electronics that I think I should add for extended cruising. I'm getting dizzy trying to piece together a system from all the options out there. There's so much collective experience here I'm hoping I can get some guidance, advice, opinions.

I currently have a Garmin 545 plotter at the helm, a 76cs handheld, an older version of Nobleltec ( with updated BSB's from NOAA ) on my laptop, as well as Mapsource, and paper charts. I'll probably upgrade my ships radio to one with DCS.

Here's my wish list:

1.) Radar
2.) Ais
3.) SSB.../pactor modem
4.) Solar or Wind? both?
5. Davits ? for inflatable dinghy and possible solar mounting location.

The backstay antenna is already rigged, the previous owner had an ssb, it did not convey.
I believe that I should have Radar, Plotter, AIS at the helm...?
My Budget is around 10k or so.

My initial thoughts re: radar mount is the backstay...Solar on top of the davits....Icom SSB...which model???

It appears that, Raymarine, Furuno, Garmin all have networked systems..But would I have to commit to one manufacturer? Or, will Furuno Radar, overlay on a Garmin Plotter with an ACR AIS? I'd like to get this right, as I probably won't be able to re-visit it anytime soon.

So I guess the questions are...if you were putting together a system from scratch what would you do today? did I miss anything?

Thanks,
Tempest
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Old 12-01-2009, 20:19   #2
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10k is a very tight budget for an 85 foot boat. It sounds like you need to stick to the bare essentials which would mean a low end radar, two handheld GPS's, maybe a cheap plastic sextant, SSB and a boat for rowing ashore..forget the outboard, it will put you over budget. Forget the plotter as well, you need more important things. Use the computer with the old version of Nobeltec and buy some paper charts as your backup.

That comes out to roughly $10k.
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Old 13-01-2009, 05:12   #3
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David, Soory..that's 1985 Sabre 34...not an 85 footer...I'd have to work a few more years to get that....

Tempest
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Old 13-01-2009, 05:46   #4
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Hello, Tempest.

In my ramblings in the eastern Caribbean, I have found my ICOM M802 SSB with Pactor III to be very useful, both for weather forecasts in various formats, and for staying in contact with family, friends, other cruisers, and the daily SSB nets that exist. I use the radar when sailing at night, and in the heavy rain squalls that invariable pop up when you're between islands and in the ferry routes. My Raymarine chartplotter is nice to have, but not essential. If you install a radar, you can get chartplotter capability for not a huge amount of additional money. A display at the helm is the way to go. I use my old handheld Garmin GPS48 more than the chartplotter, though. The CMAP-NT charts that the chartplotter uses aren't reliable for close in navigation down here anyway. Chris Doyle's sailing guides are better and more accurate, to the extent that I've never felt a need for paper charts down here. I don't have AIS, and would only spend the money for one if I did a lot of offshore single-handed passagemaking, which I don't.

Dinghy davits are a convenience for carrying the dinghy amongst the islands, and a good place to mount a couple of solar panels. I installed a large case alternator to charge my batteries, but solar and/or wind power would be an addition that I would make if I were still cruising.

So, here's what I'd install, in order of preference, until the budgeted money ran out:

ICOM M802 SSB with AT140 tuner, Pactor modem with Pactor III license
Handheld GPS (new color display model)
Wind generator
Dinghy davits w/ 2 Solar panels
Radar (24 mile model)
Chartplotter option in radar display

You didn't mention refrigeration. We have a Frigoboat freezer/fridge. It is a wonderful convenience, and means we can have our sundowners with ice wherever we are. It is also the reason we have a 600 AH house bank and the 210 Amp alternator.
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Old 14-01-2009, 12:40   #5
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Hud, Thanks so much. I appreciate your input. I do have refrigeration, but not a high output alternator. It's now on my list to explore. This is exactly the type of advice that I was looking for.

Tempest.
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Old 15-01-2009, 19:06   #6
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Upon further research, I may have set my budget too low. It seems $10k is a bit lite even for a 34 footer.

Hud et al. why 24 mile radar vs 36 mile...power draw?

Also, what capabilites would I lose if I went with an Icom 710 with an AT130 vs the 802 with the AT140 ?

Thanks,

Tempest
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Old 16-01-2009, 12:48   #7
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It's really just a matter of practicality. The 24 mile radar is plenty for both coastal and offshore cruising, in my experience. The only time I use the 24 mile scale is to look for squalls or large ships headed my way. Anything further out than that is pretty much meaningless information. You generally can't see anything smaller than a cruise liner at much more than 12 miles anyway.

When I use it for coastal navigation (e.g. picking up landmasses and aids to navigation), it's always six miles or less. Usually 0.5 to 3 miles. Same for picking up small craft or ships.

Bill Trayfors will have to answer the ICOM 710 question. I've never used one. I will say that the M802 is very user friendly, which is a good thing for me, since I'm not into the ham stuff other than listening.

And, yup, $10K is light.
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Old 16-01-2009, 13:17   #8
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Hello

I can identify with fitting out a boat on the cheap. I think you would find that there is a lot you can do without. I would keep it very simple and inexpensive at first, you will want to add things later. Save some budget for that.

SSB: I too think an SSB is very important. I would not spend the extra hundreds on a high end one, however. The ICOM M700PRO does everything, including HF email. I would also suggest the SGC-230 tuner or the icom...whichever you find at the best price. Forget the Pactor modem...they are very expensive and you will find many sources for doing email and net...wifi, net cafe's and of course any cell phone tethered to your computer. There is some new software that may do HF email without an expensive modem and Magellan has a new sat email device that is relatively cheap. I would wait on the pactor. So, $1100 for the SSB (saves you $600-700 over the 802) new and $500 for the tuner, new.

Energy: I personally like solar panels more than a wind gen. Two 125W panels will be around $1000. Maybe more now. You will also need a solar controller, a couple hundred more.

Dink davits: For your sized boat I am not sure i would consider davits. I have davits and really could have done without. Drag the dink inshore and keep it on deck offshore. Lift it on deck at night when anchored. GOOD davits are not cheap, $1000. And you need GOOD ones. Cheaps ones are worse then none at all.

Plotter: I really like having one, and I have a second as a back up. You can get a very good Lowrance chartplotter that takes Navionics chart chips for $500. Chips could be $200. 5 inch color screen. All you need.

Radar: Good to have. You can get an inexpensive unit for $1000 or so. Do not go crazy with this, once south of MD, you will rarely use it.

Grand total for the above:

ICOM M700Pro - $1100, Tuner - $500
Solar - $1000
motor - ??
Plotter - $500
Chip - $200
Radar - $1000
-----------------
Total: under $5000

Now...you have $5000 left over for other things you may need. Engine starter rebuild, high pressure fuel injector pump rebuild ($800), new batteries, filters on water tanks. Magellan SGC-100 satelite email device (?), EPIRB, new head (?)...whatever. You will need this money.

Anyway...just my 0.02. My personal opinion, try to spend less up front so you can get more after you are out there and know what you want or need.

Hope this helps

Best

John
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Old 16-01-2009, 14:11   #9
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Tempest, We are regulars on the seasonal Maine to Bahamas route. We find the radar most important in New England and we use it frequently in the 4 mile range. Strange equipment, but I'll mention my Schipperke too. He barks at other vessels that we can only see on radar during the fog.



Maybe best seen in the second photo are the two added stays that have adjustable tension at are fixed from the back/top of my davits to the masthead. That's just a bording ladder with line on the rungs stowed on top of the davits.
Regarding interfacing radar/plotter/gps,etc. , my personal preference is to keep my head in the mix and be the "interface"...or maybe that's just my rationalization. SSB is good, paper charts mandatory, 'best back up is a simple hand held GPS in the box w/batteries. 'take care and joy, Aythya crew Oh, almost forgot! My davits were ultra-cheap! I had a pipe fitter from a local papermill make them up from stock stainless steel pipe in his driveway!
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Old 16-01-2009, 15:40   #10
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Thanks all. All good info and lots of food for thought. As you can tell, I'm trying to get weigh all the option before I start writing checks.

On the 24 vs 36 mile radar...I've been told that more power equals better definition in close ..any thoughts on that? I agree that I'm not too concerned about seeing things out beyond 24 miles, weather excluded. Can I assume that if the incremental cost of 36 mile is not that great, It won't hurt me? I guess I'll also have to do the math on power consumption.

On the davits, I agree, I have been reluctant to add them up to now. I have an inflatable that I deflate and just lash to the foredeck between ports. They seemed like a practical place to mount solar panels..( muli task ) ..I'm open to other options for solar panel mounting.

I'm thinking that my primary uses of the SSB would be to obtain weather fax , long range communications. If I can do this without the Pactor, I can wait for that.
I have a big learning curve ahead with SSB. I've crewed on vessels with SSB, but never operated them.

I knew I should have taken that welding course!

The budget is a little flexible, but I find this value engineering is useful for me to flush out the must haves from the wish I hads. So thanks again for all the good feedback.

I have some time before I'll be running out to stimulate the economy.

Aythya...Thanks for the pics...see you on the water.
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Old 16-01-2009, 15:46   #11
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I've just bought a well fitted cat and done my first trip.
Radar is hard to decifer, practice I guess, but I hear good reports on AIS as anti collision.(English Channel). Radar also picks up bouys but not close to, usefull in fog on routes you know? Radar doesn't pick up everything.
Auto-pilot for single handing? Allows cooking and sail changing and charting.
Paper charts for route planning before depart.
I've got eight solar panels. UK domestic power is sufficient for extended anchoring.
Is a/c better off a quiet{petrol} genny to keep cost low(petrol?).
Dinghy or liferaft. Dinghy more useful if you fit liferaft equipment. Solar panel(s), hand held, suncover/sail, etc.
One manual(spare), one auto life jacket. Auto for working on deck always. Harness line if you want to get back on board. Is the swim ladder accesible from the water?
Can you use the boom to lift the dink? Outboard first of course.
Two handheld GPS's. Better than radar for position.
The spare one goes in the dink permanently. Press MOB before going ashore for the evening, you'll get back to where you left the boat.
Plan for the worst, and it never happens.
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Old 18-01-2009, 17:31   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tempest245 View Post
On the 24 vs 36 mile radar...I've been told that more power equals better definition in close ..any thoughts on that? I agree that I'm not too concerned about seeing things out beyond 24 miles, weather excluded. Can I assume that if the incremental cost of 36 mile is not that great, It won't hurt me? I guess I'll also have to do the math on power consumption.

.
Its not more power equals better definition. Look at the specs to see the beam angle, smaller angle better definition. It is more about the length of the array. As power goes up the angle usually gets smaller but not always.

Mike
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Old 18-01-2009, 19:04   #13
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Thanks Mike,

Just did some spec comparisons. Garmin vs Furuno
in the models compared, I can see what you have pointed out.
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Old 18-01-2009, 19:11   #14
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I just read "Eleven's" post about the autopilot. We did some cruising back in the seventies without a autopilot and that can be a real drugery, single handed of not. High on my list would be the autopilot! Aythya crew
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Old 18-01-2009, 19:32   #15
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as to the question of "more power"...

...you can pretty much equate "more power" to greater drain on the batteries. I'd much prefer "greater efficiency."

As to the question of wind vrs solar, ask yourself how often you think you'll be making night passages. The cool thing about a wind turbine is that it will work after dark, keeping the battery bank happy while you're monitoring the radar.
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