We consider our electronics to be essential cruising gear, and we have a nice selection of gear from various manufacturers. I’ll tell you what I like or don’t like about all this gear. Most of the electronics are Raymarine and the following is a list of that equipment.
Raymarine ST60+ Wind, Depth and Speed – we like these instruments as they are easy to read, easy to calibrate, and adjust, but I don’t like the multiple function buttons. There are so many options linked to multiple button pushes that I can never remember them all. That’s a nuisance, but I heartily recommend this gear. I had a rail custom built to house the ST60+ sailing instruments. The instruments are easy to read from the helm with nice night lighting. This rail, as shown below, is also a sturdy handrail.
Our below decks Autopilot:
Raymarine ST 6002 Autopilot Control with S100 wireless remote; this gear is reliable, robust, easy to use, and the remote is a true wizard.
Raymarine Type II linear drive, short throw; powerful, quiet, and efficient
Raymarine Type 3G, gyro-enabled course computer – a short story here. After the lightning strike we jumped up two sizes to a Type 3 computer to handle higher amp loads than the original. The new computer allowed the boat to wander a bit where the old, Type 100 hadn’t, so I complained to Raymarine. They checked it out under warranty – no charge, found nothing wrong, but they said I might want to consider the 3G, the gyro stabilized version, for increased functionality, etc. etc. So I bit, spent the bucks, and installed the 3G computer. No more wandering. Hmmm.
Chartplotter and Radar
Raymarine C80 multi-function display with a 2 KW radome – the display is awesome, intuitive, and user friendly. I find the chartplotter cumbersome though, and I rarely use it. The Navionics charts are often inaccurate outside of US waters. Many of our friends use this gear as their primary source of navigation, and they often seem to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. I can tell you many true life stories about this stuff.
The color radar display tied to the 2KW radome is supposedly limited to 24 miles, but I can actually see out to 36 miles and track a ship all the way from 36 miles to an intercept. I’m not sure how that is, but it is. The color display allows for easy identification of different types of targets. The MARPA function is useful, but not perfect.
Raystar 125 WAAS GPS coupled to the C80; reliable and accurate. All the Raymarine gear was easy to install and worked together right out of the box.
Our communications equipment consists of :
Icom M504 VHF Radio with a cockpit remote – the ICOM is a marvel; it is tied to heavy coax and a Metz antennae mounted upside down at the masthead. Yup, upside down, and insulated from the mast with a piece of starboard. No loss of signal; less chance of a lightning strike. You can ask me about this little trick and where I heard about it if you’d like
Globalstar 1700 Satellite phone with Docking Station and 12 volt powered external antennae. This device is connected to our laptop for email and data. We use Global MarineNet’s X-Gate compression software for email and data, and find this system works well for us. We are able to download GRIB weather files, NWS offshore weather reports, and surface pressure charts for any given area. With these three pieces of weather data we are able to assemble a pretty complete weather picture.
The satellite phone connects to a Dell e5540 Business class rugged laptop using Windows 7 Pro. We moved to this laptop in 2014 with its solid state hard drive and 16 megs of RAM. It is lightning fast
We have a Sangean SSB portable receiver to listen to weather and other stuff, but we rarely use it.
Our primary navigation system from 2004 to the present has been the MaxSea Professional navigation software for our laptop. As with all software, the versions continually change, and we currently are running Time Zero with weather data and weather routing. This navigation software is unbelievable; nothing else comes close to the capabilities of MaxSea. You have to see it in action to understand what it can do. Our current version, Time Zero, displays Mapmedia MM3d Electronic Navigation Charts or ENCs and NOAA Raster & Vector charts. Accuracy is unparalleled.
I do not have a helm station mounted chartplotter, and don’t want one. More stories to tell.
We have a stand alone Garmin 152 WAAS GPS with external antennae that can supply NMEA 0183 date to the laptop, and
A Garmin 76C GPS installed in 2013 serves as a backup that can also drive the software. This older Garmin equipment is bullet proof. I have not heard such glowing reports about their newer stuff.
In 2015 we added a Vesper Watchmate Vision touchscreen AIS (Automatic Identification System ) with its own independent antenna. This NMEA 2000 device now drives our Maxsea Navigation software on our new Dell laptop. This new system is awesome.
Most of the electronics were installed in 2008, but a few are newer.