Originally Posted by Peter Cronk
If you are comfortable with PC's and are willing to maintain a backup PC on board I would make Nobeltech the brain for navigation and autopilot control.
With the nobeltec
system, what were you using as a monitor at the helm station? or could we use the E120 (I guess a real expensive monitor if that is what its function will end up) as a waterproof monitor at the helm. Also the only way of controlling what is on the monitor is from the computer so infers that you need to control this from the nav station and not from the helm. Pleasae excuse my ignorance here and I continue to confuse my pilot timeline experiences with the longer time frames of sailing. Is having control of the displays etc important from the helm?? Could the E120 be used for control of the computer functions??
I don't think the E120 would act as a computer moniter to display another chartplotter's picutre.
Your mileage may vary but here's a piture of what I did.
I would do all my planning and plotting of waypoints on my PC. Doing it on my Raymarine multifunction display was slow and time consuming. So much so that I think it totally changes how you use waypoints. I used to set a bunch of waypoints and would even put waypoints inside channels and harbors and over the anchor
. I would always put waypoints an appropriate distance from any potential hazards including channel markers or shipping
lanes. With the autopilot in track mode I'd simple need to "Ok" the waypoint arrival alarm
and the boat would steer to the next waypoint. I did all of this from the Autopilot head
. From time to time I wanted to change my route
and would go to the touch screen
display in the cockpit
and move waypoints around while keeping the autopilot disengaged from the chartplotter tracking mode into auto mode.
I was not able to get the waypoints to upload into the Raymarine system but perhaps this was because I didn't buy the seatalk
interface and only had a nema interface. Raymarine is a bit of a pain regarding playing well with the other manufacturers but I still like them regardless. Having said that, I'm not sure I would have used the upload feature anyway. I only wanted to upload for backup purposes.
I would typically spend 15-30 minutes looking at the weather overlays, the current
overlay, route planning and setting up all the waypoints for the voyage. I would also use the ETA calculator to determine better windows for departure. Much more valuable than just waypoints.
In a monohull
it was very nice to have a touchscreen in the cockpit
. Running downstairs in a tight situation can be risky, especially if you're shorthanded. If you have the ability to make changes to your route while keeping an eye on traffic and conditions it's a big plus. My touchscreen was supposedly watertight and appropriate for my application. It broke 3 times and was a real pain to get serviced. I became so dependant on it I didn't enjoy cruising in new places without it. There is an incredible peace of mind to know that your boat is +/- 3 meters from where you planned to be on your chartplotter. It's even nicer to see your boat right on the middle of a high quality, appropriately scaled, heads up display of your chart.
Some will argue the merits of this approach and I would agree with the cautionary tails about trusting your computer over your eyes and good judgment. However, as a primary input into your decision making I found the quality and depth
of information from a PC based chartplotter dramatically better than a special purpose chartplotter burned into a marine monitor.
Looking at the 420, I might forgo the PC monitor at the helm and put in a larger monitor on an articulating arm at the nav station. Maybe a nice 21" lcd if I could see if from the helm. To justify the huge expense it would double as my TV/Audio/Entertainment center. I'd also get a cheaper smaller laptop
computer and plan to use the big screen
as the monitor for all of the computer work. I'm just a little worried about how much battery
power the monitor would suck, hence the LCD over plasma.
I haven't looked at the radar
overlay that the Nobeltech folks sell but I would consider buying
theirs if I was confident enough that radar
overlay was useful and that the antenna
similar quality to the Raymarine. I really liked the MARPA features on the Raymarine radar and I think you probably need another dedicated display for the radar anyway so I'm unsure of the benefits of combining the two. Even though I had 2 PCs I really liked having the Raymarine as a backup that would accept manual waypoints and track to it in the case of a failure of the PC based system. The Marpa feature may have saved our lives one nite in Italy
when a fast ferry
going 40 knots changed course and passed within 100 feet. It also let me sleep when my wife would get worried about that dot on the radar 20 miles away. She quickly learned to Marpa it and let me sleep until we were on a collision
course and within 5 Kmiles. I think Nobeltech has this feature but it's highly dependant on the quality of the signal and the algorithm and for some reason I trust Ratheon to have a better algorithm. I'd put the Raymarine radar wherever you plan to be on watch at night. My guess would be at the nav station? I did find that in modes when you really want to use the radar you typically don't look at the chartplotter and vice versa. However, I didn't shoot a lot of approaches into tight harbors at night or in fog
In 18 months, I never ran aground, I never got lost
, I was never late on arrival. Once or twice I plotted a course over a reef but noticed quickly as other indicators became apparent. The PC crashed a few times. Once approaching the southernmost harbor in Grenada
with 35 knots on the nose 8 - 12 foot seas. My PC froze up and I had to dead recon into a channel with a critical first marker missing that could have put me on a reef if I cut the corner. Luckily I had entered the harbor a week earlier in good weather and noticed the missing marking when my waypoint alarm
went off and I marked the missing marker for future reference. I question if I would have even noticed if I was using paper chart or the Raymarine chartplotter.