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Old 05-17-2016, 09:47 AM   #21
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That said, my first recommendation would be more about whatever kind of user interface you're comfortable with. Not just touch/non-touch, but the whole GUI paradigm.

The second recommendation is that you source almost everything from the same manufacturer. That should reduce the potential for finger-pointing at "the other guys" is something on the network doesn't function as expected... and it also often means the GUI paradigm is similar on each of the components.

A third is about back-up systems, not just plotting software (for instance) but also the charts. For example, we chose a laptop application that is exactly the same as our plotter software... and uses the same (NOAA) charts. The existence of that laptop application influenced by choice of plotter. Then we also chose a couple tablet apps, one that uses the same raster charts, the other that uses different vector charts (C-Map) from what we have on the plotter and laptop. On-purpose redundancy, but with on-purpose similarities, and at the same time with on-purpose complementary data.
The above is excellent advice.

You are fortunate in that you have lots of experience with using plotters. I would try to identify what it is that you have used your plotters and electronics for. For me, I set waypoints, create routes, and then use the AP to follow those routes. I have a few routes that get used and refined a LOT. So for me, I would be looking for an interface that made that quick and intuitive. I have been using Raymarine plotters for 6 years now and my new boat is also Raymarine. I am used to it but there are a few things about the interface that bug me. If I was starting from scratch, I still might go with Raymarine again but I would definitely go with a touch screen interface.

So find a unit, and mess around with it for a bit, doing the things that you would do. Boat shows are a great idea.

The other issue that I think is important is being able to plan routes at home on a computer, then transfer those routes and waypoints to the plotter on your boat. There are all kinds of wireless systems that will do that, but even using an SD card is fine as long as it is easy and seamless. My current RM system is NOT easy and seamless, but it is 15 year old technology. While computer or tablet systems are fine, I really like a dedicated chart plotter.

Finally you are going to start out from scratch, here are a few ideas to consider based on my recent move from sail to power.

  • Consider two plotter screens at your primary helm station. My sailboat didn't have it, my power boat does. The extra screen real estate is incredibly useful and is something that I never would have considered.
  • The AT has better aft visibility than my boat, but still consider a camera aimed aft. You likely will be using the fly bridge more than I do in your part of the country, but the aft camera helps more than I could have imagined.
  • I believe that all new Cummins engines come with a data feed that can be fed to a chart plotter. This will give all kinds of engine information that can be displayed on the chart plotter. This was never connected on my boat, and while it seems lazy, I have to lean forward to view my oil pressure and temperature gauges when driving the boat. Because of this, I find that they don't get included in my visual instrument scan. If that data was fed to to the plotter display, it would be part of that scan continuously.
  • Wind speed and direction. My current boat doesn't have either of these and it drives me crazy. After 50 years of sailing I am so accustomed to wanting to know wind direction and speed. Sitting inside a pilothouse, it is hard to tell either. The wind direction and wind speed indicators on my sailboat were something that I always was scanning. The PO didn't care, but the new boat is significantly affected by wind and that information is helpful when maneuvering.
  • Likewise is boat speed. I live in an area with significant tidal currents. Since I go slow most of the time, a 2-3 knot current makes a big difference. Again, the PO didn't care. He had the SOG that the gps gave him. I want to know both SOG and boat speed. That info when fed to the plotter and AP also make the AP more efficient and smooth. Speedos are problematic, they foul, they need calibrating periodically, etc... but I really wish I had one.
  • AIS transponder. Get it. Not just an AIS receiver.
Just my $.02 on features that will end up costing another 15-20 boat bucks.
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Old 05-17-2016, 10:01 AM   #22
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The manufacturers' web sites and YouTube have instructional videos on many products. A good place to start without leaving the comfort of your boat.
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Old 05-17-2016, 10:12 AM   #23
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I'm on the Raymarine Pro Staff, so I am a bit biased, but I can say that the current generation of MFDs across the board are really, really, good. I love Furuno, as I used it in the Navy and am very familiar with the capabilities and complexity of Furuno gear.

My main challenge with Garmin is the proprietary charting system ($$) and costs for software upgrades if you're a Mac user without access to a PC. I think the Garmin units are pretty slick overall.

As Walt (post #19) stated, the current RM gear is simply outstanding. The gear is plug n play (including FLIR cameras), and very intuitive to use. Further, RM offers free chart and software upgrades, and great support.

Agreed that the best thing to do would be to go to a local chandlery or a friend's boat and push the buttons and see what works best for you.
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Old 05-17-2016, 11:06 AM   #24
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I'm on the Raymarine Pro Staff, so I am a bit biased, but I can say that the current generation of MFDs across the board are really, really, good.
I have had Raymarine, Northstar & Furuno gear in the past. Probably the NorthStar was the most intuitive but as Peter mentioned, the new RM electronics is fantastic! (Probably the result of Flir acquiring RM.) Each plotter )Es127 & 128) can display 10 IP cameras!
Think about that...you can go nuts with digital monitoring!
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Old 05-17-2016, 11:17 AM   #25
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...
  • Consider two plotter screens at your primary helm station. My sailboat didn't have it, my power boat does. The extra screen real estate is incredibly useful and is something that I never would have considered.
  • The AT has better aft visibility than my boat, but still consider a camera aimed aft. You likely will be using the fly bridge more than I do in your part of the country, but the aft camera helps more than I could have imagined.
  • I believe that all new Cummins engines come with a data feed that can be fed to a chart plotter. This will give all kinds of engine information that can be displayed on the chart plotter. This was never connected on my boat, and while it seems lazy, I have to lean forward to view my oil pressure and temperature gauges when driving the boat. Because of this, I find that they don't get included in my visual instrument scan. If that data was fed to to the plotter display, it would be part of that scan continuously.
  • Wind speed and direction. My current boat doesn't have either of these and it drives me crazy. After 50 years of sailing I am so accustomed to wanting to know wind direction and speed. Sitting inside a pilothouse, it is hard to tell either. The wind direction and wind speed indicators on my sailboat were something that I always was scanning. The PO didn't care, but the new boat is significantly affected by wind and that information is helpful when maneuvering.
  • Likewise is boat speed. I live in an area with significant tidal currents. Since I go slow most of the time, a 2-3 knot current makes a big difference. Again, the PO didn't care. He had the SOG that the gps gave him. I want to know both SOG and boat speed. That info when fed to the plotter and AP also make the AP more efficient and smooth. Speedos are problematic, they foul, they need calibrating periodically, etc... but I really wish I had one.
  • AIS transponder. Get it. Not just an AIS receiver.
Just my $.02 on features that will end up costing another 15-20 boat bucks.
Dave,
We are on board with all of this! Two screens, AIS. Engine info, Wind, depth, speed, all of it! Then add a third screen in the Flybridge, a pilot, VHF, FLIR etc.,etc... It is going to get expensive but hopefully I will not be replacing it all for awhile...
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Old 05-17-2016, 11:19 AM   #26
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The manufacturers' web sites and YouTube have instructional videos on many products. A good place to start without leaving the comfort of your boat.
What a resource YouTube can be! You do at least get some idea of the function of the various systems...
Not exactly the same as hands on but very helpful non the less.
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Old 05-17-2016, 11:30 AM   #27
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When we bought our boat in late 2014, we were faced with deciding on every piece of electronic geat at once. I did some basic research on the manufacturers' websites justto figure out what questions to ask, then found the closest major West Marine I could find. In my case, it was Ft. Lauderdale. We have four within a few miles of our boat, but they don't compare with the FLL store.

So, we flew to FLL and spent most of a day in the store talking to the experts and seeing every piece of equipment hands on. It might seem like a lot of time and expense (which it was) but we learned more in one day than we could have in weeks of research. The sales people's depth of knowledge was amazing. (Tip: go midweek, late morning. Less customer traffic)

We decided on Garmin for everything except autopilot (Simrad) and VHFs (Icom). I love the system. Very intuitive and integrates seamlessly.
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Old 05-17-2016, 11:33 AM   #28
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My Raymarine plotter was bought with a deal where I got every chart from the Great Lakes
To the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico for free.

Those charts alone from Garmin cost more than the Ray unit or might be included in the Garmin unit, but the price is reflected accordingly.

I love Garmin for many things...I hate their proprietary BS and they screw the small businessman from decent discounts or even carrying stock. The love to sell through large outfits....unless something changed since I was in the business...but based on what I see small marine electronics guys pushing..,I don't think so.
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Old 05-17-2016, 12:16 PM   #29
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I understand the appeal of running a pc based system but I think I will pass on that one. I have been a Windows user for 20 years now and although I appreciate everything it has allowed, I am simply not interested in introducing that wildcard to my boat. I can just picture the thing initiating a reboot as the fog descends or something like that.

I understand that manufacturers use some form of operating system in all of these units but the scaled down versions seem to run more cleanly...

Thanks for the input though, you did get me thinking!
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We have used PC based navigation for over 12 years. Won't suggest it is the best but we have learned a few tricks over the I would like to pass on. Given the cheapness of low end computers today we totally dedicate the navigation computer to navigation. There is only the operating system and the navigation program. Nothing else not even a web browser. Currently we are using a net top from Asus. Price around $300. Connected to a sunlight viewable monitor.
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Old 05-17-2016, 12:20 PM   #30
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My $0.02

Furuno hardware is as close to bullet proof as you can get. That is why you see so many Furuno units on work boats. But their user interface is terrible. Do as many have advised go "hands on" at a boat show and test drive.

Simrad in my opinion has the best UI. However I have not found their equipment to be as reliable as Furuno.

Garmin, I have only used their hand held units. Just fine for that purpose.

Raymarine, I have only used one radar. A true POS but it was a low cost unit. You get what you pay for.

Lots of good advice here. Think about how and what you want to integrate. How you want to do your route planning. Also think about service and support for your cruising area.
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Old 05-17-2016, 01:00 PM   #31
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My $0.02

Furuno hardware is as close to bullet proof as you can get. That is why you see so many Furuno units on work boats. But their user interface is terrible. Do as many have advised go "hands on" at a boat show and test drive.

Simrad in my opinion has the best UI. However I have not found their equipment to be as reliable as Furuno.

Garmin, I have only used their hand held units. Just fine for that purpose.

Raymarine, I have only used one radar. A true POS but it was a low cost unit. You get what you pay for.

Lots of good advice here. Think about how and what you want to integrate. How you want to do your route planning. Also think about service and support for your cruising area.

I will take it point by point, from both a professional captain and marine electronic tech.

Furuno has made good stuff through the years but no more bulletproof than anyone eles...Simrad had a bad fogging issue but that was over 10 years ago. Furuno was a favorite amongst commercial guys because they kept spare parts longer than anyone else. Longer than most recreational guys own their bosts...so they never needed that parts bin. Commercial guys will run 30 year old equipment if it can be repaired.

When Raymarine came out with the Pathfinder radar series...I blew all 4 kw and under units off the water...it was the first to incorporate different pulse widths for different ranges. Even their cheapest unit was better than the pack. That started around the year 2000.

Other radars have caught up and have different tweaks on tech...so I would say the field has flattened out.

Simrad has had its issues and joining Lowrance has made a difference...but hardly much different than anyone else.

As I posted before, unless you have a particular need or like....many people will say whatever they have is great...which is probably true. And like many things, if a person has had an issue, and feel the customer service stinks...then of course the company isn't worth a crap.

I have heard the praise and trashing of every company out there....I have plenty of experience with all brands and would be hard pressed to pick a favorite.
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Old 05-17-2016, 01:20 PM   #32
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Head down to Dania Florida and take Oliver(member here with a 47 Nordy) shopping with you. He knows what everything does and why

Seriously though reading the link to Tanglewood's blog provided up thread would be worthwhile. Caveat emptor electronics do not necessarily talk or play well with each other even within brand families.
Thanks Craig, i try.
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Old 05-17-2016, 06:48 PM   #33
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Personally I'd recommend NOT going with a single vendor. Once you get sucked into single vendor proprietary stuff, you are stuck with them. Instead, I'd suggest picking best-of-breed for each component.

For radar I think Furuno is best with their dedicated radars. They really are outstanding. The radars that are paired with their MFDs are missing some features that I would consider important for a cruising boat. OK for casual boating, but I think lacking for any serious cruising. Garmin is similarly lacking. Raymarine has good features on paper, but I can't say how they work in practice. Simrad also had good features on paper, but I can say from first hand experience that they work poorly in practice.

I had a Raymarine AP a number of years ago and it worked well. I have had Simrad APs that worked well too, though when I paired it with a bunch of other Simrad stuff I had problems that I had not seen previously. That, by the way, is a great example of how going with a single vendor can actually make integration worse/harder that using different vendors. I'm now using a Furuno AP and am very happy with it. I have no experience with Garmins AP.

If you use the dedicated AP control panel, then integrating an AP with another vendors products is easy. If you insist on controlling the AP from your MFD then you will get sucked down the single vendor path, and you will have nobody to blame but yourself.

For chart plotters I think Coastal Explorer is the clear winner provided you can run off a PC. Open boat's cannot and require some form of weather proof device. But most cruising boats can. CE can work with pretty much any chart published on the planet, and interface with pretty much any device. As for windows, I'm usually at the head of the windows-bashing line. I simple hate the freaking thing and thing it's been a net negative on world productivity. That said, if you run windows and CE and nothing else, it can be remarkably reliable. I fire up my nav computer and it runs for months on end without skipping a beat. One irony is that I think windows runs more reliably on a MacOS with Fusion that directly on a PC.

I like many Furuno products, but I am not a fan of their chart plotters - at least not the ones that run MaxSea which are the NavNet3D, TZTouch, and TZTouch2 product lines. I think MaxSea is fundamentally a POS, and that contaminated the Furuno Chart Plotter line.

I really like Simrad's product line in theory, but think that implementation has been a total disaster. Bugs, bugs, and more bugs. And HW reliability seems questionable as well. Just read TheHullTruth and you will see what people are dealing with. If you buy a product, it looks like you can count on about a year before it all works, or mostly works.

I haven't used Garmin other than at a trade show which really doesn't count. Most people seem pretty happy with them, but as I mentioned earlier, their radar features are lacking, and I expect it goes beyond just radar. But their most recent SW updates have created a lot of problems for people. Again, take a look at thehulltruth and read some of the complaints. The big issue I have with Garmin is that the only chart source is from Garmin. I have a real problem with that, but I also cruise all over the place so am more sensitive to having diverse chart availability. There always seems to be one supplier who's better than the others in any given area, and it's different for different parts of the world.

Raymarine I haven't used for a while either, so really can't speak to them.
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Old 05-17-2016, 08:51 PM   #34
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Raymarine I haven't used for a while either, so really can't speak to them.
Raymarine's Es127 & 128 plotters run Lighthouse, Navionics and C-map. Just load them up and take your pick! Actually, I've grown quite fond of RM's lighthouse. With WiFi included on the MFDs, Updated charts and software can be automatically updated.

Electronic Marine Charts | Raymarine

If you haven't experienced Raymarine for awhile, you're really missing out!

(No I don't work at or for Raymarine nor do i own stock in FLIR.)
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Old 05-17-2016, 09:46 PM   #35
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This is very good advice!

When I bought my trawler, it had fairly new Garmin electronics on it. Was planning to replace it all with Furuno which is what I have on my charter boat. My electronics guy was pushing me toward Simrad. After a 1,200 mile trip up the ICW and the boat show, decided to add some more Garmin and upgrade the radar antenna. Just didn't see enough meaningful difference to pick one over the other for my intended use.

Look at the different manufacturers' offerings based on YOUR intended use.

Ted
When we bought the boat we're currently on, factory new installed Garmin but deep in my thoughts I figured I'd try them but probably replace with Furuno. Something happened on the way. I like the Garmin. I think in some ways because it's three years newer than my Furuno, I like it better. Probably a year from now I'd like someone else's new better. I haven't found enough difference brand to brand to give any a huge advantage.
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Old 05-18-2016, 05:55 AM   #36
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For a new owner it might be better ton purchase the back up goodies first.

A marine hand held GPS and a hand held VHF will work just fine for most ICW boating.

Once you have used a simple system its time to consider what should be spent (if anything) for a bigger and "better" setup.

The last generation systems have all the bugs out , so the commercial versions are good and reliable, Furuno seems to work well.
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Old 05-18-2016, 06:49 AM   #37
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There is an lot of good thought in the answers in this post! I am certainly learning things here...

One of the issues I will be facing is whether to hire a company on the West coast to install electronics or wait until I get home to do it myself. This would normally never be an issue (I'd do it myself) but we want to take delivery at the factory and cruise there for a month.

I love projects and I have the luxury of not having to perform at speed to make my living so I simply take whatever time I need to get things done. I am happy to take the blame when I make a mistake but I tend to get things done to a fairly high standard.

Here is a picture of one of the last big projects I completed on our current Sabre sailboat, a generator installation...and they said it couldn't be done without lifting the deck!
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Old 05-18-2016, 07:01 AM   #38
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I like many Furuno products, but I am not a fan of their chart plotters - at least not the ones that run MaxSea which are the NavNet3D, TZTouch, and TZTouch2 product lines. I think MaxSea is fundamentally a POS, and that contaminated the Furuno Chart Plotter line.

Curious about why you have that opinion of MaxSea?

I haven't found it not able to do something I want to do... but then I don't really do all that much with it, probably haven't exercised 80% of the various features either on the NN3D plotter or the computers.

And I don't have much comparative experience with other brands; last was a Raymarine something or other from about 12 years ago...

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Old 05-18-2016, 07:17 AM   #39
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Curious about why you have that opinion of MaxSea?

I haven't found it not able to do something I want to do... but then I don't really do all that much with it, probably haven't exercised 80% of the various features either on the NN3D plotter or the computers.
I have the same question. I've run MaxSea/Nobeltec on a number of boats and it work great.
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Old 05-18-2016, 08:01 AM   #40
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Furuno radar sent to factory for repair after 10 years, it came back good as new.


For chart plotters the chartware is perhaps more important than the hardware. How you get area coverage, price and ease of updates need to be considered.


Separate radar and plotter with a graphing separate depth finder are my preference instead of multipurpose displays.


Was well satisfied with a 12" garman touch screen plotter with a remote control. Touch screen is a bit difficult when bouncing around but removing the buttons makes more space for screen size if space is a consideration. At that time Garman offered all us charts factory installed at no extra charge..
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