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JohnnyReb 03-14-2008 11:40 AM

Recommendations on multiple purpose radar/plotter/GPS.
I am going cruising from FL to CT this summer with my family in a Hunter 37 cutter. Boat is well outfitted but I am going to add a radar unit. I have cruised and sailed offshore without it but only with a well seasoned crew. My family ranks from experienced sailor to novice ( 4 children-24,17,16,14yrs old and my wife who is the least experienced of all).

I would appreciate the benefit of your experience:
Hoping to spend no more than 3.5K;
multi-function screen in cockpit mount;
What size screen?
Color vs. mono?
Chart overlay of radar image?

We will be doing night sailing so I am looking for navigation aid, assistance in ship location and a heads up on local squall lines.

I have used the search tool but not many posts on multi-function units and several of the posts are out-dated. It is my intention to purchase from sailnet store, so references to the particular equipment on said site would be the most helpful.

Thanks in advance for your assistance.
Robb Kiker

camaraderie 03-14-2008 02:21 PM

I would get the Garmin 4208 chartplotter and combine it with their 18" radome for your plans and budget.

Valiente 03-14-2008 03:22 PM

I would consider keeping the radar separate from the plotter, but having both able to speak to a PC. I dislike combo-plate navigation electronics on principle, and consider a stand-alone radar a greater priority than even a chartplotter, as with a paper chart and a compass bearing, you can determine location and distance off, and can, with practice, do the same with a radar. Soundings are equally helpful, even in total fog.

As for brand, you're saying that your style of sailing would be essentially coastal (all the more reason for a full set of charts for your trip). I suspect a 2 KW would suffice, and I guess you have to figure if your going to navigate exclusively from a deck helm....something else I would discourage, particularly at night, because you spend time staring at a screen instead of keeping your night vision and your ears open.

Ideally, you have the radar and plotter below and you receive bearings from someone trained to navigate below at the nav station. In most situations, this is point to point stuff, which can be input into a handheld GPS on deck once you've determined from the chart that the way is free of obstructions. Then you just set the radar on guard alarm, and you can navigate alone, from the deck, looking only once every five minutes at the GPS and instead following the compass bearing, corrected for V and D, naturally.

Anyway, good luck with that. Having a video game at the helm isn't the way forward, in my's too easy to regard pixels as authoritative!

camaraderie 03-14-2008 04:05 PM

My computer burped before I had a chance to finish my prior post. I agree with much of what Val says but I LIKE combination chartplotter/radars as they really help you visualize what is going on around you at sea. I would ALWAYS have a cheap GPS running at the same time to insure a valid position on your paper charts as well and provide backup.
I like the size 8" screen for mounting at the helm where you can make much better use of it than down below and all the charts are pre-loaded so there is extra value there as well. You can either overlay or go side by side with the radar/chart. Because it is a networkable model, you can add on other modules down the road and integrate them into the display OR add an extra display down beow.At the price, I think it is an excellent value but I don't see the Garmin 18" dome on may have to call them to order it.

Check the ICW threads for comments on the trip north as you will find many tips if you have not done it before. Welcome and good luck with your planning.

chucklesR 03-14-2008 04:30 PM

I just read a review on radar units, I believe in Practical Sailor - unforunately I can't find that month laying around (hint to the Admiral to find it and put it in my binder).
Anyway - the single unit won hands down over the combined MFD display ones, both in readability of the radar and price.
Besides, if you use a MFD for everything and it (the MFD) goes down you've got nothing. Would you plan for a single point of failure anywhere other than electronics, heck no.

sailingdog 03-14-2008 04:57 PM

One other thing... having the radar and GPS chartplotter screens next to each other or overlaid, can make it much easier for a novice radar operator to learn how to interpret the radar images. Remember that radar should not be relied on for bearings, but can generally be relied on for range to an object.

JohnnyReb 03-14-2008 06:08 PM

Thanks for the information and advice. Not sure if I was clear but we are going outside and not up the ICW. Does that change any recommendations?

camaraderie 03-14-2008 06:48 PM

Not mine on the electronics. Just be careful out there...that is a lightly built boat for going well offshore and around Hatteras. Make SURE you can get good offshore forecasts and don't miss any. We lose boats bigger and better than yours every year due to not being vigilant on the changing conditions off the Hatteras area but t sounds as if you are experienced and have some good help along for the ride. Suggest Dodge's guide to SE US inlets if you need to bail out somewhere along the way.
I disagree about the need for separate units BTW since neither the radar or the chartplotter is an essential navigation device. What is essential is your GPS, your paper charts and your eyeballs! I used a combo radar/plotter for 6 years of cruising from Maine to Grenada and found the combo to be much easier to use and understand than my prior stand alone radar without plotter. There is the additional expense as well to think about.
Anyway...good luck with it all and yell if we can help.

JohnnyReb 03-14-2008 07:02 PM

Thanks for the words of wisdom. I am still debating turning the Cape. It will depend on weather and other conditions such as the confidence of the crew, any mechanical problems, etc. I will not hesitate to bail out if necessary.

I will have a full set of paper charts, a handheld chartplotter with GPS and a handheld GPS only unit. The equipment I am planning on adding to the boat is to create another layer of safety without making it do or die on the function of the system.

As the old saying goes: A good skipper has the skill to get out of any situation he/she encounters; a Great skipper never has to demostrate such skill.

JohnnyReb 03-14-2008 07:34 PM

Not to hijack my own thread (is that possible?), but I am interested in the opinion of the Hunter 37 cutter as a lightly built boat. I owned a 1991 Hunter Legend 375 and would most certainly agree that it was not an offshore capable vessel. However, the 1984 Cherubini Hunter cutter is a very different boat. Heavier constructed with more substantial glass, etc.
In addition (and there is no way you could have known), this boat has been upgraded in some of the area most commonly viewed as weak points of the general production boats: thru hulls fittings upgraded, portholes installed in place of plastic pretend windows, etc.

It has been my experience that most boats can take much more punishment than the crew. Boats are lost when the crew is too exhausted or demoralized to care about survival. I have always found it interesting when a crew abandons ship and is picked up by the Coast Guard only to have the vessel found adrift days later....

If you feel the Hunter 37 is truly unsafe for this voyage...I would much rather hear it now than to prove you correct later!


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