Please don´t think I´m being facitious when I say that the Integrated Computer Navigation
System that you will need to rely on while doing a Circle is between your ears and not available on a shelf. If you are like 99% of us who are out doing extended cruising
, you will not have enough money
for all of the boat
, all of the gear
, and all of the along-the-way expenses that you might want...which by necessity means you need to sort out what is essential from the nice-to-haves. Your ICNS is a nice-to-have.
Assuming you are a mere financial mortal, here would be my suggestion for what you will find essential, based on our last 5 years.
Radar (which comes with the legal
obligation to use it whenever conditions warrant, so don´t overlook the commitment you make when installing it; see Rule
9 I believe)
Fixed GPS, external antenna
and a self-built NMEA
data buss to/from which you´ll be transferring data; back-up handheld GPS with data cable and antenna extension so you can maintain the connectivity and NMEA
buss should the mainunit fail...OR simply buy a spare fixed GPS and store it away.
Chart Plotter - usually not a necessity but especially helpful when singlehanding
; we´ve found using a laptop
and free navigation software
to be very cost effective and navigationally effective, but then we have a chart table that protects the laptop
from exposure yet offers a view from the cockpit
. If that´s not your option, then a value priced unit capable of cockpit
mounting is probably worth considering. Still, before you jump for the box (which is sold close to cost) price
out what the digital charts
will cost you for a Circle; you may be surprised (as in disappointed)
Paper charts, at least for enroute navigation, along with free downloads of NIMAs Pilots; consider Bellingham Chart Printers as a cost-effective source of paper charts
Basic instruments in case the rest packs up; speed and depth are sufficient; masthead wind
instruments are expensive and fragile and clearly nice-to-haves given the inexpensive handheld units now available
Before you add add´l bells and whistles to these basics, consider having a SSB
and-or sat system that can provide real-time weather
information, something like Winlink´s weather
file catalog that is worldwide in coverage (and free, by the way). A broad, relevant supply of weather information will supplement your navigational safety
far more than more electrons zipping around the boat.