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Old 01-05-2013, 12:19 PM   #21
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Sam, let me suggest something different from what the guys above have suggested.

Drive to Rogers Marine Electronics on the Portland side of the Columbia River and spend some time with them. They'll make recommendations to you based on what you need a system to do for you and what you want to spend, etc.

They won't oversell you on a system that has more bells and whistles, nor will they undersell you just to meet a price point and get the sale. They do installations as well, and do an excellent job of it.
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Old 01-05-2013, 05:32 PM   #22
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Man, what a neat thread! Enjoying all comments. Check out this time warp, way the hell out of the envelope idea from an old fart: Buy yourself a servicable cathode ray tube 4kW radar for between $500-$1,000. Plenty of those on the used market these days. I've used them in commercial vessels for 35+ years now. If you're handy, you can install one yourself with an owners manual, a screwdriver and a pair of wire cutters. Buy a chart, a pair of parallel rules, dividers, maybe a hand-bearing compass. Then learn to navigate. After you've mastered that, I suggest you splurge with a modest little Garmin 541 for about $500 and install it yourself. For the limited cruising you've described you can be safe and satisfied with plenty of dinero left over to buy lots of fuel, or throw one helluva party. My principal point is this: Learn to navigate! There are far too many yahoos out there who's intelligence is, not between their ears, but in some little black box filed with wires and lights. Take away the little box and they couldn't find their butts with a base fiddle. Someday, if my pal Murphy is still around, and I'm certain he is, that approach will come back to bite you in the ass. Good luck amigo!
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Old 01-05-2013, 06:20 PM   #23
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Man, what a neat thread! Enjoying all comments. Check out this time warp, way the hell out of the envelope idea from an old fart: Buy yourself a servicable cathode ray tube 4kW radar for between $500-$1,000. Plenty of those on the used market these days. I've used them in commercial vessels for 35+ years now. If you're handy, you can install one yourself with an owners manual, a screwdriver and a pair of wire cutters.

Buy a chart, a pair of parallel rules, dividers, maybe a hand-bearing compass. Then learn to navigate.

My principal point is this: Learn to navigate! There are far too many yahoos out there who's intelligence is, not between their ears, but in some little black box filed with wires and lights. Take away the little box and they couldn't find their butts with a base fiddle. Someday, if my pal Murphy is still around, and I'm certain he is, that approach will come back to bite you in the ass. Good luck amigo!
Oh man, Captain you nailed it. +1
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Old 01-05-2013, 11:33 PM   #24
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....learn to navigate.
If we assume the OP doesn't currently know how to navigate that is the best advice yet.

GPS, plotters, radar overlays and so on are just tools to make the job easier, faster, and more accurate. But I've observed, even in our own case, that boaters who got into boating before the advent of GPS navigation, and in some cases even Loran, are as a broad generality better at understanding navigation and how their boat fits into the "big picture" than boaters whose understanding of navigation is based on keeping the little boat-shaped dot on the line on the screen.

The good news is that the fundamentals of navigation are not going to the grave with the old farts. As Captain K points out, the tools and the knowledge of how to use them are all still available today.

We navigate our boat with electronics. Radar, two dedicated GPS plotters, an iPad, etc. But both my wife and I know how to plot courses on a chart and how to follow them with a compass and a current atlas, and we have all the stuff to do it with on board. We will probably never have to do it other than as fun exercise. But I think knowing the real basics of navigation allows us to make that much better use of our electronics.

Good on ya, Captain K, for bringing this up.
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Old 01-06-2013, 09:44 PM   #25
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My vote goes for Simrad NSE's and G4 radar. Easy menu's, clear display, easy to integrate, great looking........
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Old 01-07-2013, 06:54 PM   #26
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Geez, the guy asks for opinions on some electronics and gets an idiot lesson implying he doesn't know how to navigate. Was that any part of his question, or did it infer he didn't know how to navigate?

And in that case, what do you need the old CRT radar and paper charts for, don't you know how to navigate? Guys went around the world without any of that fancy pants stuff.
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Old 01-07-2013, 08:17 PM   #27
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Geez, the guy asks for opinions on some electronics and gets an idiot lesson implying he doesn't know how to navigate. Was that any part of his question, or did it infer he didn't know how to navigate?

And in that case, what do you need the old CRT radar and paper charts for, don't you know how to navigate? Guys went around the world without any of that fancy pants stuff.
Go back and read the initial post...as a lifelong instructor...and someone said that to me...I'd have a pretty good idea where to start.

What do you think?...oh...we already know...

So far he's getting the advice he paid for.....

Anyway...many posts get responses assuming the original as well as other posters are all morons...it's the nature of these forums.
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Old 01-07-2013, 08:27 PM   #28
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Anyway...many posts get responses assuming the original as well as other posters are all morons...it's the nature of these forums.
It doesn't have to be!!!
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Old 01-07-2013, 08:33 PM   #29
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Geez, the guy asks for opinions on some electronics and gets an idiot lesson implying he doesn't know how to navigate. Was that any part of his question, or did it infer he didn't know how to navigate?

And in that case, what do you need the old CRT radar and paper charts for, don't you know how to navigate? Guys went around the world without any of that fancy pants stuff.
Boy, I'm with Caltexflanc on this one. My short time reading posts on this forum tells me 99.9% of members either do chart prep prior to making an electronics supported trip or know enough to stay put till whatever improves. Personally, I don't want to run around with my hand bearing compass and pencil all day. I would rather ensure my systems are redundant and reliable so I can enjoy my trip. Maybe Magellan enjoyed sailing toward the earths edge but I prefer to rely on modern equipment. As far as what system to buy, buy what you like and are comfortable using. I prefer Furuno systems so I don't have to swap out electronics every few years. But that's a preference. All the manufacturers make great stuff, you just need to match your electronics budget to your boat and cruising style.
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Old 01-07-2013, 09:14 PM   #30
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I will completely admit to being an electronic boater. We know our way around charts for sure (and have the Explorer chart book on the bridge on longer trips). Bess can chart basic courses, but I doubt we could "navigate" with them (in the way the old guys think we all should). Besides... it's the Neuse River. You have to try really hard to get in trouble out there. We went three years with an old Raytheon plotter we never looked at and a chart book.

I think the summary of this thread is that everyone generally likes what they have and recommend it. Every major brand seems to be good. I would be very aware that you will not use 90% of the features you have available. Just get a good plotter and don't sweat the tiny details over the minor difference between models. Just pick the major features you want (touch screen, screen size, etc.), find a good price, and call it done.
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Old 01-08-2013, 12:05 AM   #31
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I think the summary of this thread is that everyone generally likes what they have and recommend it. Every major brand seems to be good. I would be very aware that you will not use 90% of the features you have available..
I agree.....There are bells & whistles on my radar and chart plotter that I have never used. The same is true with the fish finder.
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Old 01-08-2013, 12:56 AM   #32
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Personally, I don't want to run around with my hand bearing compass and pencil all day.
I don't think anyone was implying we should.

Over the past bunch of years there have been some newsworthy boating accidents here and in BC in which upon investigation the boat was found to be equipped with the electronics bells and whistles but person driving knew little other than the very basics. Mark a line on the plotter from here to there and follow the line, that sort of thing.

No knowledge of chart symbols, no knowledge of the Colregs/rules of the road, no knowledge of much of anything other than how to put a "here" point in the plotter and a "there" point, and then drive the little dot down the line.

Given that some of these accidents killed people, in one case a lot of people, it raises the question, "is a rudimentary knowledge of how to program and follow the electronics sufficient for navigating a boat?"

And I think that's what the posters who brought up paper charts and compasses and whatnot were after. Is a working knowledge of how to operate the electronics enough? Will that cover all the challenges a boater can face in getting a boat from A to B via C without hitting anything that's not water? Does that boater have sufficient knowledge to modify a navigation plan if weather or bad visibility start taking Plan A apart?


The old way of navigation is the basis for the new way. The new way just makes the old way more accurate and user friendly.

If you learned how to write (articles, books, scripts, whatever) using a manual typewriter and then someone gives you a laptop with Word on it, it can make you a better writer because you are more inclined to make changes and improvements and try different things because it's so easy.

But if you don't know how to write and someone gives you a laptop with Word on it, having that fancy electronic "writin' machine" isn't going to make you a good writer because you have no foundation in the skill.

Not sure if that's a good analogy.

But the original poster did not say what his background in navigation is. Perhaps he's really up to snuff with charts and dividers and compasses and he simply wants some suggestions as to how best to bring his boat up to a good electronic capability.

Or perhaps he's bought a boat with a lousy or no radar and he's loaded Navionics on his iPhone and he's trying to learn navigation with them.

If it's the latter the suggestion to get a solid foundation in the basics of navigation is, I think, a good one. If it's the former then the suggestions to forget all this other crap and get a good Furuno setup right off the bat is, of course, the best one.
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Old 01-08-2013, 03:47 AM   #33
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[QUOTE=caltexflanc;124697]Geez, the guy asks for opinions on some electronics and gets an idiot lesson implying he doesn't know how to navigate.
Hey Buddy...RELAX! No need to get abusive and start calling people "idiot." I suggest we keep these exchanges civil, regardless of how we may disagree.
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Old 01-08-2013, 06:47 AM   #34
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[QUOTE=Captain K;124837]
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Geez, the guy asks for opinions on some electronics and gets an idiot lesson implying he doesn't know how to navigate.
Hey Buddy...RELAX! No need to get abusive and start calling people "idiot." I suggest we keep these exchanges civil, regardless of how we may disagree.
that's not what he was sayng.... in fact he was sticking up for the guy saying those who said "learn to navigate" were the problem....

Man this place is entertaining....
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Old 01-08-2013, 07:01 AM   #35
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Amen brother. Just hope civil discourse prevails. Much more enjoyable and useful. Otherwise that other kind of entertainment is best left to Jerry Springer, ha! Anyway, maybe it's time to start a new thread on the importance of navigation basics, or some such?
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Old 01-08-2013, 07:07 AM   #36
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Amen brother. Just hope civil discourse prevails. Much more enjoyable and useful. Otherwise that other kind of entertainment is best left to Jerry Springer, ha! Anyway, maybe it's time to start a new thread on the importance of navigation basics, or some such?
With the dozens of basic Nav courses on line I think they are the best place to start as they are pretty well standardized on the basics...

There are so many ways and experience levels of navigating by those most active here...I think would confuse and scare most newbies...

Just agreeing on what and how to use basic electronics will confound most reading this thread....
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Old 01-08-2013, 09:38 AM   #37
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Not just bells and whistles

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I agree.....There are bells & whistles on my radar and chart plotter that I have never used. The same is true with the fish finder.
I would normally agree -- if features and quality were the only differentiators. In this case however, the 3G/4G radars operate quite differently than any other radar for the recreational market. I didn't buy the Simrad because it had some questionable chart plotting feature, or because of Navico's pathetic attempt ride the coattails of cellular marketing hype (i.e. broadband and 4G) I bought it because it can show me things within 10-20 feet of the boat. With this radar, I can easily navigate a narrow channel or pass in the dark, or fog. I could even navigate to my slip in the marina with it. It's that good.

To me, the performance difference between FMCW radar and pulsed radar is like the difference between modern depth sounders and the old flashers. The pulsed radars may work better for longer distances, I can't yet say, but I don't have any problem seeing the shore many miles away. The 4G is supposed to be better than the 3G in this regard.

For bluewater cruising I might offer a different opinion, but for rivers and inland waters, as described by the OP, I think the Simrad radar is worth a look.
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Old 01-10-2013, 06:46 AM   #38
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Personally, I don't want to run around with my hand bearing compass and pencil all day.

However if you dont do it on occasion the first fog with a blown fuse may be a lot less fun!
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Old 01-10-2013, 08:33 AM   #39
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All such great stuff, and funny too at times.*

Martin says; *"forget all this other crap and get a good Furuno setup right off the bat is, of course, the best one."*

As far as what to get - get the best you can afford. My opinion (everybody has one) you can't get any better than Furuno. I am currently right in the middle of a complete electronics upgrade. In the 60's and 70's my boating was central Florida rivers and lakes. 1% of the time electronics of the future would have been helpful. Since the late 80's the Florida west coast opened my eyes.*

Standing in a West Marine store looking at charts one day a guy next to me says; "excuse me, but can you tell me what all those little numbers in the blue area mean?" He told me how he came under the Tierre Verde Bridge (Tampa Bay) heading east and saw the Skyway bridge to his right, ignored channel markers (like he had a clue anyway) turned his newly acquired 28-footer toward the 'scenic view' ran about 200 yards at 30 knots before skidding onto a bar 6-inces below the water line.*

My own experience with Raymarine... I believe in redundant systems. In my previous 40-ft sedan I had an E-80 and E-120 at the helm. One goes down I have the backup, right! Until one day running back from a trip I've entered Tampa Bay and punch up a trusty waypoint exactly in the middle of the skyway bridge. Halfway between the gulf and the bridge I'm hit with a heavier than expected rain. Saw it coming and could also see that it only covered about 400 sq yards (gotta love Florida weather). As soon as I hit the rain I saw my radar start going to a complete white out. Why am I now installing Furuno? You should have been at the helm with me while I tried to recall the 4-button menu series to declutter my radar. At that moment I said never again. Sure seemed easy to find while sitting at the dock.*

We have only had our trawler a bit over a year now. But we plan to make great use of her 3,000 mile range and use previous experience for upgrades. We are outfitting as follows; Two Furuno chart plotters in pilot house and one at fly bridge. All with overlay 12kW radar. Plus Nobeltec backup in pilot house with Koden stand alone radar. Furuno AIS transceiver, Icom and Furuno VHF's in pilot house and two icom's on bridge and SSB. Not to forget having on board every well worn chart of everyplace I've ever traveled.

The compass and pencil comment was a bit tongue and cheek... After days or weeks of trip planning, I'll paper chart plan the night before and early morning of my planned day of that travel segment. Then make sure every twist, turn, etc., is charted in plotter. Then, and only then, do I relax and rely on my systems. I will follow my paper chart continuously while relying on my electronics to accurately get me from A to Z.

Does any serious boater not do the same? I don't have the knowledge or experience of many on this forum, but damned if I'll allow myself to get caught in god forsaken nowhere with my pants around my ankles.
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Old 01-10-2013, 09:06 AM   #40
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In the rain situation as outlined above, the new generation Raymarine has a much simplified buttonology- touch menu, touch rain, and you're in business. I believe any of the new MFDs function in a similar fashion.

IMO, there will be a continuous learning curve on any MFD- it's the price to pay for so much functionality packed into small footprints. The key is to have a good grasp of the basic buttonology for normal steaming.
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