Originally Posted by JimMcGee
Rick, that picture actually scares me. My experience on the Delaware was conditions didn't get as lumpy as I see on the Bay, but I'd be afraid of falling into the laptop in rough conditions or in a lot of confused wakes - which wouldn't feel good for me or the laptop.
And what about spray?...
After 2 seasons of using the netbook in the cockpit, most of those concerns have disappeared. What you don't see in the pic is the wheel, which is directly below the netbook and creates enough of an obstacle that it forces me to maneuver around the pedestal with enough clearance that I don't come close to the netbook. Also not pictured is the split backstay that angles in from both sides, and encourages me to keep my body low as I shift from side to side in the cockpit. Especially in rough conditions, I will typically slide from the center helm seat to one side or the other without even standing up. This keeps me from colliding with the backstay, and keeps me well away from the netbook.
I can only recall a couple times when we got a drop or two of water on the keyboard. Anytime conditions raise the risk, I take the netbook below and use the handheld Garmin for GPS/charts, and my cockpit RAM mic shows a crude display of AIS targets. It's not as graphically rich as my primary setup, but it works in a pinch. If the netbook is driving the Autopilot through a pre-plotted route, it continues to do so via Bluetooth from inside the cabin. (I did actually have the boat auto-navigate all the way up from Delaware City during a rainstorm last September. I sat on the perch seat up under the bimini to stay dry, and kept a lookout while the computer steered the boat under motor power.)
The netbook is 4 or 5 years old, so if some accident were to happen it's close to its end of life anyway. I'll regret losing its incredibly bright daylight viewable screen, but since the whole system is based on Bluetooth broadcasts from the boat and free software/maps, it could easily be replaced, probably with a Windows 8 tablet running OpenCPN.