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Old 19-11-2014, 16:36   #1
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Should screens be at helm or forward facing nav station?

If you had your choice, where would you place your instrument screens? At the helm position or at a forward facing nav station in saloon, and why?

I am considering this choice taking into consideration preserving night vision on passages where, for example, spotting local unlit fishing boats would be a navigation hazard. The current trend seems to be to have the multifunction screen(s) up at the helm steering but surely that would ruin your night vision?

Could I please get some feedback on keeping the helm position "dark" with just wind & engine dials and depth sounder, and then putting all other screens at the forward facing nav station such as multifunction screen, radar, AIS, computer(s) etc. We will be able to see the nav station from the helm seat by just bending over and looking through the saloon.

Given that screens can be repeated onto iPad (not sure about radar though?) and used at helm, why would you put screens at helm where they are vulnerable to theft and/or vandalism?
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Old 19-11-2014, 16:54   #2
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Re: Should screens be at helm or forward facing nav station?

There is a negative having everything at the helm if the hardware and resources are needed for route planning. It's really nice to have mapping, meteorological forecasting, tide tables, etc. below for extensive route planning, departure timing, and backup/bailout planning. It makes it easy to coordinate with written materials and guides.

Consequently, I like dual displays for both helm and chart table access.

On our two year trip we ended up with all the displays and resources at the chart table and just a handheld Garmin mapping GPS at the wheel mounted on the pedestal gaurd. We used the GPS at the wheel with the speed and course display for the watches and nav. Used the GPS at the helm mapping function for harbors and near shore. The Garmin handheld mapping was much better and higher res that the Navionics maps we used.

Our resulting setup was OK but could have been much better. There were nights when we made many trips below and above when there was traffic to see the AIS overlay and radar. This setup could a real downside in heavy weather with traffic.
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Old 19-11-2014, 16:54   #3
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Re: Should screens be at helm or forward facing nav station?

Many of the new electronic displays are extremely good at preserving night vision. Gone are the days of simply turning them red and giving you a 1-2-3 level adjustment. Many of them are now full color and high contrast, which allows them to use night color pallets and brightness levels that you can stare at and then see perfectly out into the black. You really have to see these in action to understand.

Why would you not want your wind/depth/speed display at the helm - as well as your radar and AIS? Doesn't make sense to me to run back and forth trying to understand a crossing situation or adjust sails at night. Unless your boat is very short, I don't see you reading a radar or AIS crossing situation from the helm through the saloon.

You can always turn the screens off until you want to take a peek at them. How do you think your night vision will be preserved if you go below, stare at a screen, then come above and look for boats? Or if the screens are lit up below where you look at them from the helm?

The iPad apps (I have used many of them) are FAR worse for night vision than the new generation bonded instrument displays are. I can never find palette colors or brightness setting on my iPad that lets me see the info and not blind me at the same time. This could be more a function of the applications than the iPad, though.

Try to find some people with new generation instrumentation and see if you still think these cannot work at the helm.

As for theft and vandalism - just remove the instruments when you are not aboard if you are in places where this is a large concern.

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Old 19-11-2014, 17:06   #4
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Re: Should screens be at helm or forward facing nav station?

On a mono with a typical helm, I prefer the chartplotter/radar and AIS to be at the companionway. No one sits behind the helm for long periods while on passage. Putting the radar by nav station is a waste and a through-back to the days of CRT radars.
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Old 19-11-2014, 17:07   #5
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Re: Should screens be at helm or forward facing nav station?

Mark is correct - again.

I've had plotters at both stations for over five years and would not do it any other way if I had to do it again. The helm station is especially important for high traffic (with AIS) or close in conditions. On passage offshore night vision is not an obstacle as I don't need to look at the plotter undimmed because there's usually not anything to see - and what's the difference between looking at a plotter at the nav station vs one at the helm if night vision is a concern?

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Old 19-11-2014, 17:15   #6
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Re: Should screens be at helm or forward facing nav station?

I agree with Dave and Mark. Once you have had one at the helm it would be hard to go back!
As my boat is run by PC, it's easy and low (ish) cost to have the main system below, but duplicate screens at the helm. Oh, and the helm screen rotates and faces fwd if you want, so if the AP is driving, you don't have to be behind the helm to see it. Plays movies while anchored as well... :-)
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Old 19-11-2014, 17:21   #7
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Re: Should screens be at helm or forward facing nav station?

I seldom steer except in traffic or docking. I want to see depth and speed from the cockpit though. Preferably forward under the dodger. Radar and Gps are fine below for me. I like to be able to see the radar screen from the companionway. if I want to... even if the detail is hard to see.
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Old 19-11-2014, 17:22   #8
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Re: Should screens be at helm or forward facing nav station?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul L View Post
On a mono with a typical helm, I prefer the chartplotter/radar and AIS to be at the companionway. No one sits behind the helm for long periods while on passage. Putting the radar by nav station is a waste and a through-back to the days of CRT radars.
Well...we no ones hand steered for 20,000 miles around the North Atlantic. The auto pilot was like new at the end of the two year trip.

The idea was that if you were on watch you might as well steer the boat and remain situationally aware at 0300 hrs for example.
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Old 20-11-2014, 05:34   #9
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Re: Should screens be at helm or forward facing nav station?

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Originally Posted by LakeSuperior View Post
Well...we no ones hand steered for 20,000 miles around the North Atlantic. The auto pilot was like new at the end of the two year trip.

The idea was that if you were on watch you might as well steer the boat and remain situationally aware at 0300 hrs for example.
OK, that puts you in the .01%. Fine, but it has little to do with the typical cruiser on passage with a Mom & Pop crew. Back to the OP question, so while handsteering across the N. Atlantic you probably didn't want/need a chartplotter/radar at the helm????
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Old 20-11-2014, 05:53   #10
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Re: Should screens be at helm or forward facing nav station?

Thank you all for the advice on placement of screens. Some very good advice, exactly what I was hoping for, so much appreciated everyone.

I am heading off soon to see the new Raymarine e and A series gear and it seems the dimming goes all the way to no light, so that sounds much better than what I've used before.

I've worked out a solution to the instrument security issue at the helm position without removing them, so after a discussion with the Admiral this evening about it, we will probably go with a redundant multifunction unit at the helm, with master unit at the nav station. The reasoning for the main units being at the nav station is that the cabinet holding the electronics will be a Faraday cage as part of the lightning mitigation system of this boats design, so hopefully we won't lose both units in the case of a lightning side flash event.
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Old 20-11-2014, 05:58   #11
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Re: Should screens be at helm or forward facing nav station?

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..... The reasoning for the main units being at the nav station is that the cabinet holding the electronics will be a Faraday cage as part of the lightning mitigation system of this boats design, so hopefully we won't lose both units in the case of a lightning side flash event.
Are you planning to disconnect all cables to the unit during risky lightening times while it is in the Faraday cage? Not sure how practical this will be. With those cables disconnected, will the secondary unit at the helm still function?
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Old 20-11-2014, 06:16   #12
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Re: Should screens be at helm or forward facing nav station?

Well, for better or worse I hand steered a friend's boat across the Atlantic this past summer. By the end of it we were basically working off a handheld GPS, paper charts, and the compass after the self steering and instruments quit early on in the trip and eventually the engine died later on.

Didn't have Radar or AIS, can't say I minded not having them. We just compensated by paying attention to what was going on around us, made it across okay without them.

I guess you can tell I'm not real big on do-dads. Probably a good thing because I tore out my wheel and installed a tiller on my own boat and so don't have any place to put do-dad displays at my helm anyway.

I do have two nice bulkhead mounted compasses mounted on either side of the companionway. I can see them easily no matter where I sit in the cockpit.

With a tiller and tiller extension you can basically sit anywhere you want and still drive the boat, including up under the dodger by the companionway where you can look down and see the nav station. Works for me.

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Old 20-11-2014, 06:20   #13
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Re: Should screens be at helm or forward facing nav station?

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...... I do have two nice bulkhead mounted compasses mounted on either side of the companionway. I can see them great no matter where I sit in the cockpit.

Cheers
There you go. The question shouldn't be where to put the chartplotter, but where to mount the compasses. At the helm, on the bulkhead.......
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Old 20-11-2014, 06:24   #14
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Re: Should screens be at helm or forward facing nav station?

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Originally Posted by Paul L View Post
On a mono with a typical helm, I prefer the chartplotter/radar and AIS to be at the companionway. No one sits behind the helm for long periods while on passage.
I started out thinking I wanted everything at the helm, but have come to the realization that at least on my boat, I'm pretty much only at the helm when docking and or anchoring, not on passages.
I don't want to have to lean over the helm or get behind the wheel to see anything, plus having them out in the open means other people see then too, At least a couple of times I've had the wife mention depth, when I hadn't realized it was that shallow, if it had been behind the helm, she wouldn't have seen it.
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Old 20-11-2014, 06:30   #15
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Re: Should screens be at helm or forward facing nav station?

What system allows one MFD to display radar, charts and AIS, and allow multiple screens, like two screens? I don't mind having these on separate pages, but do not want separate screens for each function
Will a Garmin 741 do this? or any Garmin? I can get a good discount on Garmin is why I ask.
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