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Old 11-10-2018, 06:28 PM   #1
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Essential Electronics

I am considering the purchase of a 1978 Grand Banks with very limited navigational aids.

It has a compass and a depth sounder that only works from the lower helm.

Here are some items I am considering. Please give your insight on priority:

Depth sounder that works from both helms;
Chart Plotter;
Radar;
Fuel flow meter;
Knotmeter;
Wind instrument;
Other?
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Old 11-10-2018, 06:49 PM   #2
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I would want an auto pilot also. You wonít need the fuel flow meter if it has Lehman 120s, they donít burn enough to matter. You will figure out what they burn quick enough and it wonít vary much in that boat.
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Old 11-10-2018, 08:01 PM   #3
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Great list so far. If you expect to run from both helms you will want a chart plotter at both helms. Some people opt for tablets at their lesser-used helm, and some plotters will even let you repeat and control what your plotter shows on your tablet. I personally have found Garmin's such system unreliable. The good news is, as you will learn through your research if you haven't already, modern marine electronics are network-based so data from all of your instruments (radar, depth, wind) will display on all of your displays. You won't need a separate "knotmeter" as your speed will appear courtesy of your GPS. And while I'm busy spending your money , I encourage everyone upgrading electronics to learn about and strongly consider a class B AIS transceiver. For some it's hard to swallow the extra expense but, in my opinion, it is a priceless tool for situational awareness. And the first time a freighter hails you to avoid a "situation" you will be grateful you didn't settle for a receive-only unit. That said, receive-only is certainly better than nothing.
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Old 11-10-2018, 08:26 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SailorGoneBad View Post
I am considering the purchase of a 1978 Grand Banks with very limited navigational aids.

It has a compass and a depth sounder that only works from the lower helm.

Here are some items I am considering. Please give your insight on priority:

Depth sounder that works from both helms;
Chart Plotter;
Radar;
Fuel flow meter;
Knotmeter;
Wind instrument;
Other?
Really depends on where you intend on cruising, but certainly:
Chart plotter, use tablet for secondary helm and backup
Radar with depth sounder, GPS
VHF radio
Auto Pilot, setup to hold a heading
AIS B transceiver, only $600, well worth the added safety, with GPS

Optional
Wind instrument
speed thru water

not needed, any engine stuff or flowmeter
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Old 11-10-2018, 10:38 PM   #5
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Really depends on where you intend on cruising, but certainly:
Chart plotter, use tablet for secondary helm and backup
Radar with depth sounder, GPS
VHF radio
Auto Pilot, setup to hold a heading
AIS B transceiver, only $600, well worth the added safety, with GPS
fixed vhf for lower helm, handheld for upper helm or dinghy
backup depth sounder, one w/ transom xdcr, one epoxied xdcr

I have AIS receiver, useful but optional unless you run at night or encounter a lot of fog. Very few pleasure boats transmit or receive so you really must glue your eyes to the radar screen
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Old 11-10-2018, 11:55 PM   #6
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My minimum would probably a new MFD/plotter at each helm. Go with the largest that can fit and will be enjoyable to use. One sounder module will display depth on both MFDs, and one radar can be displayed on both as well. You can add more hardware as your budget/needs/time permit.

I put a new Raymarine outfit on our last boat. It was really easy to network and update via wifi, and it was a joy to operate.

Good Luck
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Old 11-10-2018, 11:59 PM   #7
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On our previous boat, with upper and lower helms, we had:

MFD's at both helms, with the lower being the master.
These gave us Radar/plotter/depth/weather info at both stations.

Interconnected autopilots at both stations.

Two completely independent VHFs at the lower station with a connected remote mike at the upper helm. (We initially went with a handheld for the upper station but found that although it has limited transmit ability, which we expected, it also had limited receive ability so missed a lot of incoming reception.)

We used a Furuno (rebranded Airmar) weather station for weather, which was very useful; true wind speed and direction, air temp, etc.

We have a fuel flow meter on our current boat but don't use it.

One measure I would like is speed through the water. Comparing that to SOG would be very useful for reading actual tidal currents and getting some indication of hull growth and perhaps engine health.

I do feel that redundant VHFs are important for some of the remote areas we cruise.
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Old 11-11-2018, 07:16 AM   #8
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Quote:
Depth sounder that works from both helms;
Chart Plotter;
Radar;
Fuel flow meter;
Knotmeter;
Wind instrument;
Other?
Your chart plotter will read your speed so no need for a knot meter.
Fuel flow is not necessary, you will quickly learn what you burn.
Wind is nice to know but other items are more important IMO.
As others have said, autopilot is a biggie with a slow boat.
A VHF with a fog horn takes some tension out of running in the fog.
Don't have AIS so can't comment though I don't see the need where I have boated.
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Old 11-11-2018, 07:37 AM   #9
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Don't forget a bunch of flash lights.
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Old 11-11-2018, 07:42 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SailorGoneBad View Post
Here are some items I am considering. Please give your insight on priority:

Depth sounder that works from both helms;
Chart Plotter;
Radar;
Fuel flow meter;
Knotmeter;
Wind instrument;
Other?

Depth at both helms, separate transducers
VHF (with GPS source, and with hailer/fog horn) at both helms
Plotter (with GPS source) at both helms
Autopilot control at both helms
Radar at both helms

Probably in that order. Some of this is much more easily accomplished these days with NMEA 2000 networking... and perhaps with some wireless networking.

And then you can also augment with (remote) Command Mics, tablet apps for back-up, etc.

Radar last on the list implies I'd be willing to delay for weather when necessary if that didn't make the budget cut. In the case of heavy fog, assuming I'd be willing to move at all in those conditions, I'd also want an AIS transponder. In fact, our recent trip up Delaware Bay absolutely needed both radar and AIS.

Fuel flow in that boat with those engines will be what it will be; no gauge required. Weather will be what it is; tablet apps aren't perfectly specific to your immediate conditions, but they can come close. A knotmeter might help you compare SOG to STW for current/tide info... but in the grand scheme of things, if you're out in it, you're out in it. And the paddlewheel becomes yet another thing to maintain (clean).

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Old 11-11-2018, 09:13 AM   #11
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From my perspective a lot of it depends on how and where you will use the boat. I have two boats. One is much more of an all weather boat and the other is primarily a day cruiser with a few overnights a year (avatar picture).


Both boats have a compass, depth sounder and VHF radio(s).



The more all weather boat also has a multi-function display (chart plotter) and radar. I also keep full charts and a chart book as well as a bearing compass, quality marine binoculars with internal compass and there is even a sextant aboard. I seldom turn the radar on except to test it. In fog the radar is on mostly to keep my wife happy since you can't look away from the water for long because of the lobster gear. Consequently the radar only gets an occasional glance when I am in high traffic areas (near buoys and in narrow channels). I never use the more complex radar functions because I would certainly foul the prop with lobster gear if I was futzing around with electronic bearing lines or marking specific targets rather than keeping a sharp eye on the water.






The day cruiser has no permanent navigation equipment other than charts and binoculars. If I am going somewhere that I don't often visit I take my laptop with Open CPN on it and a usb GPS puck.


Neither boat has an autopilot because I boat exclusively in Maine where running a straight line course is a just stupid. I also do not have AIS because there is little to no commercial traffic other than lobster boats and almost no local boats have AIS.



Also my day cruiser is a 1936 wooden boat that I try to keep looking original and mounted modern electronics are not in character with the boat.


If I was in a location with lots of commercial traffic I would consider AIS.
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Old 11-11-2018, 11:46 AM   #12
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Welcome aboard SG! Minimum would be a Muti-Function Display (MFD).

I won't recommend a brand as they are all basically the same. What I will recommend is what ever brand you choose that the rest of your electronic be the same brand. Why? As you add to your electronics you will find it easier to expand if they are the same brand.
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Old 11-11-2018, 12:15 PM   #13
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As a former sailor, I would recommend a water speed indicator. I don't have one and miss it terribly. Don't need it, but certainly want one.

Wind instruments are sometimes else I wish I had.

Finally, if you are equiping the boat now with new instruments, get a Class B AIS transceiver. Something else I wish I had.
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Old 11-11-2018, 12:26 PM   #14
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MFD v laptop? I prefer the size of the laptop display. I use 16" chart display. That alongside a dedicated Radar display and a dedicated depth display gives all the info displayed at once in a size that can be easily seen wherever you are in the wheelhouse.
AIS is nice, but depending on whether you will be cruising away from cell sevice or not, an App for AIS is just as good. Marine Traffic is getting better, but Boatbeacon is still the most up to the minute of the apps. I check out the freighters and towboats passing my house to see how close to real time the app is. Only rarely is Boatbeacon more than a couple of seconds behind.
A remote mike on the VHF is plenty for the upper helm.
Must have a good quality VHF, like Icom or Standard Horizon, with multi channel watch, so that in a busy harbour like Vancouver, you can watch 16 and 12 at the same time.
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Old 11-11-2018, 03:23 PM   #15
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Thanks. Great input.

I am wondering if Radar is really all that important. We have a lot of ship and barge traffic on the Patapsco and Chesapeake which is the main reason I was thinking about Radar. I hate it when those big fellas sneak up on you. For that purpose would an AIS transponder be cheaper and easier to use? What is the main use for Radar?
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Old 11-11-2018, 03:36 PM   #16
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Thanks. Great input.

I am wondering if Radar is really all that important. We have a lot of ship and barge traffic on the Patapsco and Chesapeake which is the main reason I was thinking about Radar. I hate it when those big fellas sneak up on you. For that purpose would an AIS transponder be cheaper and easier to use? What is the main use for Radar?
I'm guessing you will get a lot of responses to this but the short version is AIS does not replace radar. Unless you can guarantee you will never be out at night or when visibility is poor you should have radar. I found AIS particularly wonderful in the Ches given the incredible speed at which those enormous freighters move. It will give you a much clearer picture of AIS equipped boats and their movements/intentions but without radar you may not be able to pick out the untold hazards not equipped with AIS when visibility is poor or non-existent. In a one-or-the-other choice many would say radar is the more important tool overall. Both will compliment each other very well where you boat.
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Old 11-11-2018, 05:06 PM   #17
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“One measure I would like is speed through the water. Comparing that to SOG would be very useful for reading actual tidal currents and getting some indication of hull growth and perhaps engine health.”

Our new boat is the first boat we have ever owned without a paddle wheel. Miss it terribly. With a 7 knot boat 1, 2, or 3 knots of current is a big deal and something that I like to see / compare with speed over the ground.
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Old 11-11-2018, 07:32 PM   #18
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My minimum requirements:

VHF at both stations. The second is backup as a minimum.

Depth at both stations, either NMEA 2000 or two separate units.

Chartplotter/laptop/tablet at least one station with the ability to move it to the other with a second mount and power cable.


A low power use anchor watch capable gps. Could be a smartphone with an app. You need something that can stay running 24 hrs without sucking the battery bank down. A big chartplotter uses 2-4 amps.

Autopilot with control at both stations.


Radar at a weather protected location. You don't have to move when you wake up in poor visibility. But heavy rain can come at any time. The primary role of radar is collision avoidance.
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Old 11-11-2018, 08:39 PM   #19
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Essential Electronics

I would add an independent depth sounder. I have an integrated Raymarine system on my boat with MFDs on the fly bridge and down below. I have a stand alone Lowrance sounder on the fly bridge. If my Raymarine dies I still have my charts, compass and depth sounder
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Old 11-11-2018, 09:45 PM   #20
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Thanks. Great input.



I am wondering if Radar is really all that important. We have a lot of ship and barge traffic on the Patapsco and Chesapeake which is the main reason I was thinking about Radar. I hate it when those big fellas sneak up on you. For that purpose would an AIS transponder be cheaper and easier to use? What is the main use for Radar?

Sure this has already been answered, but I donít see AIS as replacing Radar. Radar will spot all kinds of targets, not just the ones that are broadcasting on AIS. Very important in the dark or foggy conditions.
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