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Old 07-05-2014, 07:37   #1
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Nav Station Design Ideas

I am in the process of mocking up a new nav station on our boat and I am curious to know what elements or features people like the most about their nav stations?

Our intent is mainly to create a comfortable workstation for using our laptop but am curious to know what others think makes for good design? Pictures are always appreciated.

Cheers!
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Old 07-05-2014, 07:41   #2
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Re: Nav Station Design Ideas

If it's opens like a desk, have a couple of blocks so that you can block it open level, that way it can be used as a table as well, remove the blocks, back to a desk.
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Old 07-05-2014, 07:57   #3
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Re: Nav Station Design Ideas

TN's chart table I built to take full-size, unfolded charts. This makes it useful for large projects when in port, too. Its sea rail is wide enough and angled to be comfortable to lean your arms on. Above it are open shelves for large books. Beneath the table is room for chart drawers, chart nav plotting tools and hanging file drawers to keep ship's papers and equipment manuals.
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Old 07-05-2014, 08:34   #4
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Re: Nav Station Design Ideas

Regarding TN's nav station, did you build it? or did it come that way? Any chance you could share some pictures?

Also fiddle's? Seems like they would be a bit uncomfortable on your forearms/wrists while working on a laptop, suppose I could leave them off the front edge and add them later if needed.

Angled top? or flat? I don't think I have sat at a desk with an angled top since grade school and haven't missed it. Seems like an angled top is more of a bother than a benefit.
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Old 07-05-2014, 08:46   #5
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Re: Nav Station Design Ideas

We have a FLAT nav station. Find that really helps, slopes are for skiing! It hinges up on a piano hinge, but I installed a spring hatch holder which is great to keep it from crashing down. It's 4 to 6 inches deep and I used kitchen utensil dividers to keep stuff separated. I keep tools in mine, makes them handy, the Admiral hasn't complained except for suggesting that I clean it regularly. Others with the same arrangement keep charts, etc. there. Tiedowns for a laptop would be another idea.

Here's the chart table: Home Page Brochures┬* Contribute Cool stuff Database FAQ Fleets For sale┬* Gallery┬*┬* History JOIN Links Mailing List Manuals Message

Once the top is down, there's a good sized vertical face for instruments (used to have an AutoMac, replaced with a LINK 2000, voltmeter, ammeter and recessed VHF.

Above that I have a small library magazine rack, reply #1: Library There's plenty of counter space up there. I keep a small wooden tray with odds & ends, like pens, pencils, staples and a stapler, magnifying glass, post-its, etc. A pencil holder is helpful, too.

Our arrangement is the nav station faces aft, off the end of a settee. In 16 years I've never felt the need for a seat back or a forward facing separate station. But I'm not a full time cruiser. I do use the saloon table for full sized charts, but that's for planning or used short term for underway navigation.

Good luck, happy planning.
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Old 07-05-2014, 08:47   #6
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Re: Nav Station Design Ideas

From David Burch Navigation Blog-

Several things will come to mind after a trip across the ocean in a small boat. First the seat. A curved one like this (A) is easy to build and then you are sitting up when heeled, but you still need the foot rest (B) so you can pin your thighs against the bottom of the chart table to stay in place.

The idea of a bungee cord across the top of the table (F) was discovered as a last minute rule beater in an ocean race safety inspection, but turned out to be a great solution i use all the time now. It not only holds the chart table lid down but you can put books and charts or a laptop under it to hold them in place. To get into the table, just pull it aside. It would seem to be in the way, but it is not.

Pencils and tools holders (D) and (E) are essential. We need our tools outside of the table where they are easily accessible. Put another way, make a rule that absolutely nothing goes in the nav station except your stuff. Then when it does fill to overflowing with random stuff from everyone, just forget about it. But most of all, do not depend on that space. Let folks use it for whatever they want. You won't be able to find what you need in there, not to mention the lid blocks the light when you lift it, which is a good reminder that you need to always have a pencil flashlight in the pencil holder for reading instruments at night and so on.

A roll-up screen (C) is valuable for blocking the light at night and also for keeping the water off the chart table in rough conditions. I have seen one rig that had two, one transparent plastic, the other solid for night work.

One could image using low lights or custom lights for this night work at night, but often a lot of work has to be done at night and good lighting helpsů. but still we do not want to risk getting any light into the eyes of the helmsman. Sometimes light will get out of the port light and reflect off of the hull, so the port light has to be covered. (Red lights are useless for navigation. You can't see anything and colors are distorted. It is a myth that red protects night vision. Intensity is the main factor. Red is just usually dim. An equally dim white light would be just as protective.)

And a small fan (G) is a nice luxury in the tropics, since everyone else can be out on deck when the poor navigator has to sit at the table and work, sometimes in very hot conditions.

Not shown is a set of head phones for listening to the radio without disturbing the rest of the crew. Very valuableů as is a piece of rubber non-skid for under the laptop.

We have an extended article on the navigation station and its related tools and nuances in both our Celestial Navigation and our Inland and Coastal Navigation textbooks.



David Burch Navigation Blog: The Ocean-going Nav Station
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Old 07-05-2014, 08:49   #7
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Re: Nav Station Design Ideas

Nav station aboard a C-130
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Old 07-05-2014, 08:57   #8
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Re: Nav Station Design Ideas

How about swing out stools? Seems like a nice space saving idea but I am not so sure about long haul comfort.
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Old 07-05-2014, 09:07   #9
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Re: Nav Station Design Ideas

I built TN's nav station. Will have to take photos.

The chart table is horizontal. The sea rail needs to be wide and angled slightly, so you can lean on it. I left a small space under it so the edge of the chart slips under and the chart won't slide off on the wrong tack because its curled edge lifted over the sea rail.
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Old 07-05-2014, 09:09   #10
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Re: Nav Station Design Ideas

I don't want to distract from this thread, but I would point out to readers that this is a design for offshore passages. Many, like myself, cruising closer to shore, inlets, rocks, traffic, etc. would more likely elect to have most of the communication and information devices at the helm. This is particularly true for VHF, radar, sounding, GPS, chart plotters, etc. Once again, I don't want to change the direction of this interesting thread. 'just a clarification.
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Old 07-05-2014, 09:11   #11
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Re: Nav Station Design Ideas

Instruments? I assume chart plotter, radar, AIS if you have them. Radio(s). Compass, in my case I have dual read compasses mounted in the aft bulkhead of the cabin top I can read by looking behind me when seated facing forward.

Do people who have depth and speed repeaters at their nav stations actually use them? Unless single handing this doesn't seem essential if someone in the cockpit can just call them out.
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Old 07-05-2014, 09:18   #12
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Re: Nav Station Design Ideas

Also, I'm curious to know what people do for cord management for all their "devices"? I am considering including an compartment below the top for a power strip and will likely use a grommet as pictured for passing cables through the top.
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Old 07-05-2014, 09:26   #13
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Re: Nav Station Design Ideas

While we only have so much space to work with, I am very tempted to allow myself the max possible legroom within the available limits as I would hate feeling like I am trapped in coach seating on an airplane at a desk I imagine we will be spending a fair amount of time sitting at.

On the other hand, design is all about compromise and that legroom comes at the expense of storage which is always in demand. On the user side of things I am interested to know how many find themselves wishing they had more legroom?
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Old 07-05-2014, 09:29   #14
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Re: Nav Station Design Ideas

Quote:
Originally Posted by Delancey View Post
Also fiddle's? Seems like they would be a bit uncomfortable on your forearms/wrists while working on a laptop, suppose I could leave them off the front edge and add them later if needed.
I have fiddles on my nav station ... hate them for just the reason you describe. They are always in the way, making it difficult to work with anything on the desktop. On the to-do list is to remodel the nav station and the fiddles will go for sure. For that matter, I'm not even sure I want a nav station any more. I find I rely on the chart plotter exclusively and it does its job perfectly. In the increasingly rare event I need to lay out a paper chart, I just use the salon table (I do keep paper charts as back up, it'd be crazy not to if you ask me).

I think I'll find some better use for the big area the nav station takes up. Maybe a washer/dryer - the admiral would think I'm king of the ocean if I got her one of those. It would still leave enough room for SSB, VHF, AIS, etc.
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Old 07-05-2014, 09:32   #15
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Re: Nav Station Design Ideas

Drawers always seem like a waste of space to me. In addition to the thickness of the drawer boxes, you lose space to the required clearance for the drawer slides as well as the drawer front overlay, if there is any. I always liked cubbies and have been on boats that had them, but I have never really lived with them. Anybody have them and hate them?
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