Originally Posted by Aquabelle
... Its founder, Jeff Seigel, has just been through a complete electronics replacement and helm upgrade. This is a guy who really, really knows his stuff and I get the strong sense he didn't just go out and buy the most expensive of everything. He did, however chose predominantly Garmin gear & when he explains why, it makes a lot of sense...even to a Furuno-dominant owner like me....
I'm sorry I missed this a month ago. I would have been happy to give more detailed info about the decision.
I also think "really, really" is an exaggeration. One "really" would have been sufficient.
I took about 6 months of investigating everything available. I have a lot of inside contacts at every marine electronics company and did get some "this is coming next" info from some. I wish I would have known more about Furuno's TZ Touch. It's a fantastic development and met the requirements that Furuno was missing for me (although it wasn't available and I'm not sure I would have waited - at some point you have to pull the trigger because there is always something better coming).
And I think that's the big thing I learned. It's all about requirements. I started with a blank text file and put down everything I wanted if I was going to rip out all the electronics in our trawler. We had been cruising on her for 8+ years so I had a good feel for what was missing. Then I compared that list against the available products. That's much different than many people who start by looking at what's available - you tend to forget about the important things.
I eventually narrowed everything down to Simrad, Garmin, and Furuno. Raymarine was close but had some issues for me moving forward. I honestly don't think you can make a mistake by going with any of those 4 today. And for my requirements, any of my main 3 would have been fine.
Garmin was not the most expensive at all. They had some integration that no one else had especially with AIS and VHF. It solves an ongoing issue for offshore, overnight passages that my wife, especially faces. They were the only ones to really get the whole touch user-interface too. And I knew about their iPhone/iPad developments coming and wanted to know that I could get onboard and offboard access to all the charting/planning from my iOS devices if I wanted. Now Furuno has the onboard iOS products too - they're new. You can assume offboard solutions are coming as well.
I think there's one thing important about the new electronics that we put in that's universal too. Only half the display technology is Garmin. The other half is made from normal PC's, iPads, Android tablets, and our mobile phones. I think that having only MFD's isn't a good idea today. I like the full redundancy of PC and iPad charting along with the other connected capabilities those devices provide now (connectivity is coming to MFD's in the future too but never like PC's). MFD's excel for Bahamas sunlight readability and full waterproof protection. It's the mix of electronics that's important IMHO.
There's still more to install - this year we'll put in engine room video and bilge area video (rear and side video are already installed), and a new Microsoft Surface tablet PC (W8/Metro). I'm also testing a wide variety of WiFi, NMEA 2000, and other Ethernet solutions that allow easy integration of all this stuff on the boat.
I made a quick video showing an overview of the Garmin setup last May. You can see it here:
We plan on making many more videos over this next cruising season to show how all of this works and some of the newer things that are available. I'm also happy to answer questions about any of the setup. I'm exceedingly happy with the installation.