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Old 25-06-2015, 10:50   #1
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WHERE to Place Instruments?

OK, so here's the scenario....

We currently have 3 instruments - Depth, Speed, and Wind - on the front wall of the cockpit. Just to the left of the companionway door.

The autopilot control head is located beside the engine switch/fuel gauge/etc, in the Stbd cockpit side-wall. A full-function mike for the VHF radio is in the cockpit, at the helm seat.

Within a few weeks, I'll install a new chartplotter in a pod, on a new SS tubing "guard". I'm inclined to move the autopilot control head to a separate pod, above the chartplotter, along with a second wind instrument display and a single depth/speed/log instrument.

(Yes, the chartplotter shows both depth and speed, but I think a larger, single display at the helm might be more easily visible.)

I like the idea of being able to glance at the speed and wind from anywhere in the cockpit. (I don't intend to stand at the helm for hours-on-end while on autopilot) so I think I'll leave the 3 instruments on the front wall.

Adjustment of the autopilot, similarly, should always be done at the helm, I think, so it makes sense to have the control head there.

Sailing area would be the Gulf Coast of the US, both sides of Florida, out to the Bahamas, up the East Coast to Nova Scotia, and perhaps down to the USVI.

With all of that - where do you have your various instruments (and why)? Any suggestions that differ from the above? Any other instruments that might be important?

All thoughts appreciated, and Thanks in Advance!

PlumBob
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Old 25-06-2015, 11:43   #2
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Re: WHERE to Place Instruments?

Lots of folks install the mfd on the compass guard, then later regret it. The reason is that glare reduces the visibility of the unit, it is only available to to helmsman, and its in a vulnerable location.

An alternative you might explore is to mount the autopilot control on the guard, where the helmsman can instantly change course or jog. The vhf mike at the helm is equally handy in an emergency.

Mounting the mfd under the cover of the dodger is an excellent option (assuming you aren't foolish enough not to have one). That's where you will be while under autopilot, crouched behind the dodger, out of the spray and wind, day and night. Also, where anyone in the cockpit can see it clearly.

Because the cockpit wall mounted instruments may have someone leaning against them, they become useless unless the person moves out of the way. You can mount them in a coaming or mount on the cabintop, on the otherside of the companionway, opposite the mfd. Again, everyone can then see them easily, at all times.

Also, since the mfd is a valuable chunk of easily transportable gear, mount it on a yoke with removable (and protected) plugs, so you can stow it below when you are done playing with it. You can even make it so you can plug it in also at the nav table. This can be very handy for cruise planning or when the weather is god-awful.
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Old 25-06-2015, 12:06   #3
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Re: WHERE to Place Instruments?

when we fitted all new electronics, we opted for the 10 inch MFD to be in a pod mounted on the coachroof starboard of the main hatch this pod can be adjusted for angle and tilt but is easily readable from the wheel on our 36 footer. We also have two small single display size pods clamped on the pedestal guard rail, one for the Garmin GMS10 display that can show wind data, boatspeed and depth data, the other pod has the P70 Raymarine EV-100 autopilot control head which can also display user selected data on anything that is available on the network for it to read. The two pedestal rail mounted pods are fully adjustable and can also be easily rotated and tilted making for easy for viewing by someone lounging on the cockpit seats and facing aft.
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Old 25-06-2015, 12:36   #4
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Re: WHERE to Place Instruments?

I like it all on or near the companionway bulkhead, except the AP control high on the coaming reachable from the helm or forward of the helm is possible. I might consider putting a new one near the companionway though... if I need to take the helm (perish the thought!) I can turn it off on the way there. :>)
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Old 25-06-2015, 23:22   #5
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Re: WHERE to Place Instruments?

Perhaps you can get a remote control for the AP? Then it does not matter where you mount the controller.

I have the MFD next to the companionway, and after two years with my not so new-to-me boat, have decided it needs to be at the helm when I'm more likely to NOT be on AP. Your cruising area will be shallow and I would think that you'd want to zoom in to get a sense of the depth. I am thinking that I might also install the MFD on an adjustable arm so it can swing around, rather than on the fixed pod.
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Old 25-06-2015, 23:45   #6
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Re: WHERE to Place Instruments?

I have a 7" Zeus and I have it at the helm. I feel that when I really need to navigate with the radar and/or plotter I want it at the helm. I did think about putting it near the companionway or under the dodger but I just felt like with a 7" display I wouldn't be able to see the details well enough when I really need to be able to. The helm is under a bimini so I don't usually have any issues with glare.

For autopilot stuff, the Zeus can control it form the helm and there is also a secondary remote that sits next to a multipurpose display (T41). on the companionway. That pretty much lets me get to the autopilot from the usual places I sit in the cockpit.

I may (if a good deal comes along) get a second T41 for the other side of the companionway and maybe later on get a second Zeus or maybe a Vulcan for the chart table inside. Networked together it would be a great planning spot there with the paper charts and other stuff.

Summary I have a smaller chartplotter at the helm right where I can easily see it when I really really need it. The other stuff is at the companionway.
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Old 26-06-2015, 09:47   #7
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Re: WHERE to Place Instruments?

I can see why having a 7" plotter at the helm makes sense but radar is not an instant snap picture type device but much more importantly it is the changing picture , more like a video view, over time that needs to be studied, especially if no MARPA is available. For that Reason I favour having the radar display where it can be viewed by all in the cockpit or even below decks at the Nav Table with dedicated 'operator' watching it as his/her sole task. The person on the helm has enough to keep them busy without trying to play Pinball Wizard dodging (seemingly) static targets on a radar screen. Our present boat's network has radar with chart overlay and MARPA features but on earlier boats the radar was mounted below at the chart table, net to a secondary plotter display, but there was also a second autopilot control head mounted there so that the navigator come radar operator( usually me) could monitor and even make course changes from there whilst my lovely wife usually stayed out in the damp fogs keeping the primary visual and hearing watch. She was,and still is, as capable on radar as me but I always won the coin toss!
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Old 26-06-2015, 13:42   #8
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Re: WHERE to Place Instruments?

I strongly prefer the plotter screen at the helm. Under AP at sea doesn't matter but when at the helm entering a strange port, following twisty channels and looking for the next marker it's really nice to have all that right in front of you.

Depth, speed and wind can be anywhere but if you have a MFD it can all be on the same screen.

Radar, same answer, put it on the MFD at the helm. Person at the helm in bad viz, busy ports, whatever, is the one that needs real time information.
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Old 26-06-2015, 14:31   #9
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Re: WHERE to Place Instruments?

a radar picture in a busy area will show targets like they can be zig zagged through like a slalom course but the reality is that ALL of those targets like you are moving relative to each other and your own boat. That instant single snapshot picture view is misleading and IMO probably dangerously so for collision avoidance. Each time the helmsperson makes a heading change the screen and all it's displayed targets will all re-arrange differently. You cannot safely simply follow the heading line between target blips. The plotter screen is different and shows the ship's position on the chart, useful and useable information to the helmsperson but not for collision avoidance except perhaps for avoiding shoals and rocks when following a channel. The primary use of radar is for collision avoidance and it's use needs to be clearly understood .


Many many years of crossing the English Channel's busy shipping lanes in all kinds of weathers and visibility, day and night in small boats gives me a healthy respect for the advantages of radar, when used and interpreted correctly.
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Old 26-06-2015, 14:37   #10
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Re: WHERE to Place Instruments?

With most newer plotters and MFD s being WiFi capable where it goes is no longer an issue. I mounted mine inside at the Nav table and can broadcast to an IPad or what have you anywhere I want.
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Old 26-06-2015, 14:44   #11
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Re: WHERE to Place Instruments?

I never stand behind the wheel anymore. Now a days I steer standing in front of the wheel , with a hand behind me on the wheel or sitting beside it. Depth and chartplotter is on the cabin wall adjacent to the hatch.
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Old 26-06-2015, 15:39   #12
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Re: WHERE to Place Instruments?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robin3 View Post
a radar picture in a busy area will show targets like they can be zig zagged through like a slalom course but the reality is that ALL of those targets like you are moving relative to each other and your own boat. That instant single snapshot picture view is misleading and IMO probably dangerously so for collision avoidance. Each time the helmsperson makes a heading change the screen and all it's displayed targets will all re-arrange differently. You cannot safely simply follow the heading line between target blips. The plotter screen is different and shows the ship's position on the chart, useful and useable information to the helmsperson but not for collision avoidance except perhaps for avoiding shoals and rocks when following a channel. The primary use of radar is for collision avoidance and it's use needs to be clearly understood .


Many many years of crossing the English Channel's busy shipping lanes in all kinds of weathers and visibility, day and night in small boats gives me a healthy respect for the advantages of radar, when used and interpreted correctly.
This is all correct and I don't think there is any disagreement on this thread on any of these points.

However I still maintain that the person on the boat that will benefit the most from seeing the MFD including radar will be the person at the helm.

I do not deny that useful information is derived from plotting the courses of targets on radar. Also the person at the helm could not and should not try to do this in a heavy traffic area. However, I do not see plotting courses and tracks of all the ships in the vicinity as essential for avoiding collisions or even close encounters with those ships.

I confess I have not crossed the English Channel but I have been in and out of NY Harbor, Norfolk and every other port on the US east coast as well plenty of time in busy shipping channels where traffic is funneled into limited space like the Straights of FL and Gulf Stream off the FL coast, the Windward Passage, Old Bahamas Channel. Prior to my current boat I never had radar and only a few times ever came within half mile of a ship (outside of port areas) and then only because that was the space available and the passing was comfortable to all concerned.

Even with a dozen or more ships in close proximity I have never found it difficult to avoid running into or even coming dangerously close to one.

I have done the math for a worst case scenario. I determined that even if you found yourself directly in front of a freighter moving at 20 kts it would only take a yacht going 6 kts 20-30 seconds to pass completely across the ship's bow to the other side.

Of course I'm not advocating coming that close to a ship or adopting anything like this as a standard collision avoidance practice. The point is the only way for a small boat to come too close to or collide with a ship is for the small boat to be disabled or for the person on watch to not be watching.

Perhaps it is just that I have some ability to form a reasonably accurate mental picture of the traffic around me, their courses and how they project forward in relation to my boat, course and closest point of approach. Certainly not down to seconds and feet but quite close enough to avoid close encounters.

So again I emphasize AIS, MARPA, plotting radar and all the other tools can be useful. I will add at least AIS transponder to my boat in the future but so far I have never had a problem using the Mark I eyeball. Radar and a MFD are just gravy.
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Old 26-06-2015, 15:45   #13
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Re: WHERE to Place Instruments?

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Originally Posted by sailorchic34 View Post
I never stand behind the wheel anymore. Now a days I steer standing in front of the wheel , with a hand behind me on the wheel or sitting beside it. Depth and chartplotter is on the cabin wall adjacent to the hatch.
So how come? No soft spot to sit behind the wheel? Need to stand up and move forward to see where you're going?

I have steered from the side or in front of the wheel at times. From the side for long periods (when no AP available or working) but in front of the wheel got awkward after a few minutes.
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Old 26-06-2015, 15:49   #14
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Re: WHERE to Place Instruments?

I'm with the crowd that likes the chartplotter and auto pilot at the helm for ease of steering when maneuvering entering a port , in a channel, etc. My depth, log and wind gauges are in a pod over the companionway. Easy to see and does not have the problem of someone leaning against them and obscuring them.
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Old 26-06-2015, 17:35   #15
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Re: WHERE to Place Instruments?

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Originally Posted by sailorchic34 View Post
I never stand behind the wheel anymore. Now a days I steer standing in front of the wheel , with a hand behind me on the wheel or sitting beside it. Depth and chartplotter is on the cabin wall adjacent to the hatch.
Pretty much my mode also. Frankly, I think they should turn the pedestal around 180 degrees for a couple or a single hander!
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