Join Date: Jun 2006
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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 view...it's too easy to regard pixels as authoritative!