Your backup navigation computer
Right before* I left on my latest cruise, the nav computer developed a
problem. Haven't fixed it yet, but it appears to be a bad serial card.
However, that's not the topic. I used my backup laptop for navigation and it
worked fine, after a little tweaking.
As you've heard me say before, if you have spares on board, install them.
This goes for the backup nav computer as well. You'll:
A. Know how to do it
B. Know it works
C. Know what you need to install it
My first "almost" problem was the length of the serial cable. I* made it up
to run to the nav computer, but didn't leave much extra length. I hadn't
thought to make it long enough to reach somewhere else, e.g. the backup
laptop. Luckily, it reached, but just barely.
I have Nobeltec on both machines, and they were almost in sync. I had to
make one route on the backup, and modify a couple of others, but hadn't
transferred the data to the backup recently. Also, the new data I put in the
backup now needs to be synced up with the old nav computer, once it's up and
running again. Make sure you keep these in sync with some sort of plan.
Little things like alarm settings, tones, screen display types, etc. also
need to be kept in sync. For instance, every time I'd hit a waypoint I'd get
two alarms...the "trash can cymbal" from Nobeltec and the Windows "ding".
None of these are major, but it's something to distract you once you get
I was lucky my laptop screen was bright enough to be seen in the daylight.
The first day I hooked it up to the daylight viewable monitor that the nav
computer usually uses, but the resolution was low compared to the laptop.
After that I just unhooked it and used the laptop monitor. I also brought a
mouse from home to hook up to the laptop. I could have used the one from the
nav computer, but it would require unbundling all the wires I had so neatly
in place. The mouse allowed me to use the laptop from farther away than if
I'd have had to use the touchpad every time.
So again, I'd recommend hooking up your backups occasionally just so they're
ready to go when you need them!