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Old 08-04-2008
CapnRon47 CapnRon47 is offline
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My first electronics upgrade - questions

I recently purchased a 1990 35 ft Holby Marine sailboat and have sailed her from CT to MD (as the first leg of our trip to NC) and found the boat to be everything I hoped for (see other threads). It handles and sails well and is very comfortable for the two of us. I am preparing to make my first (one of many I am sure) major upgrade in electronics and looking for general comments on my choices.

The PO generously outfitted the boat with a new compliment of B&G instruments (wind speed, direction, water speed, depth and fluxgate compass) all on a NEMA 1083 network. The instrument displays are above the companionway


as well as on the pedestal


The displays are a mixture of analog and digital. The digital are multi function H1000 displays that can be switched between a number of settings. For example, the depth display can contain a trace of recent depths, nice to know which way it is going, and the speed display can integrate both the wind speed and water speed to produce speed over ground.

What I am looking to add are an autopilot and a GPS chart plotter at the wheel. My current planned usage of the boat is coastal cruising and lots of singlehanded day sailing in coastal waters. The autopilot is to assist me in the day sailing for the most part. My selection is, no suprise, the Raymarine S1 wheel pilot, for its reasonable (if any of these prices are reasonable) price, ease of installation and appropriateness for that use. From looking at the manual it appears I can use the existing B&G fluxgate compass on its NEMA network and do not have to install a second compass just for the autopilot. I believe if I add a GPS chartplotter also on a NEMA network, it will use the GPS input to further assist the autopilot, but I have not confirmed that.

My selection for the chartplotter is a Garmin 3206, also no suprise other than the model. I think a 6" diagonal display should be sufficient at the wheel and I hate to crowd an already busy area. It also is an older model, so its price has come down some, but still maintains some future upgrade capability. The 3206 comes with all the US charts and offers the ability to add radar, weather, and additional charts.

In principle, all of these instruments will behave together on the NEMA network, but I would like to hear other's experience with mixing vendors. I have read thru the threads on instrument reviews, chartplotters and autopilots; but naturally not found mentioned the particular equipment that I have and intend to get. So I am looking for any comments on these selections and any input on other things I should consider before making the purchase.
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