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  #21  
Old 04-19-2014
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Re: Chartplotter at the nav station

Quote:
Originally Posted by TakeFive View Post
I think this thread highlights how greatly our use of chartplotters differs with our sailing range and objectives. An ocean sailor says, "Why would anyone need a chartplotter at the helm?" because there's almost nothing to bump into out there and he only needs to check it infrequently. Yes a shallow water sailor (like on the Chesapeake) needs it at the helm to avoid underwater obstacles.
I don't agree at all.

Perhaps I'm just easily distracted. *grin* ** -- oh look something shiny -- }

A chartplotter or paper chart (both are based on the same survey data after all, and resolution and accuracy can be no better than the survey) makes us aware of what we can anticipate. Neither is any substitute for a depth sounder, which should be visible from behind the wheel and from the principal watchstander spot in the cockpit. Heck, I have a repeater in the aft cabin next to my head which is useful at anchor, cruising the Chesapeake with Janet while I nap (I love Janet) in the afternoon, and offshore.

The chartplotter should NOT be at the helm for a couple of reasons: in most installations it blocks the helmsperson's view forward; and current generations (including mine, and I'm old) get distracted by the perceived reliability of the machine and fiddle with it too much.

Placing the chartplotter under the dodger (preferably to port) puts it in the spot most accessible to a watchstander (formal or not) while the autopilot is steering. It is more visible to other crew. It is protected from weather by the dodger. Unless your vision is even more awkward than mine you can see it from the wheel (I use 6 nm range for general sailing, 3 nm (usually) for inlets, and 1-1/2 nm (usually) for close quarters); it is best to keep your head outside the boat and pay attention to marks and landmarks and not the 'video game' that is the chartplotter.

I'm definitely an offshore guy. No question. We spend a huge amount of time gunkholing in the Chesapeake and I have never regretted putting our chartplotter under the dodger. I do plenty of deliveries and have a lot of personal opportunities to compare navigation instrument positioning. The "stack" (as Jon Eisberg calls it) at the helm is about the worst I can think of whether inshore, coastal, or offshore.

I know some boats don't have dodgers (which gobsmacks me). In that case, the swing out mounts in the companionway are probably the best solution.

My, hopefully educated and somewhat experienced, opinion.
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  #22  
Old 04-19-2014
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Re: Chartplotter at the nav station

My boat does not have a dodger because it's not big enough. There's not enough width to protect, and no side decks to step around a dodger.

I also dislike instrument pods. In addition to blocking your view with unnecessary fiberglass, they make it even harder to get around the wheel on small boats like mine. I have an 8" tablet mounted at the helm on a RAM mount. It's all screen area with no buttons, so its profile is minimal. When I am sitting, it is above my line of sight. When standing, it is below my line of sight. I'll snap some pictures at some point. And it is quickly removable if I ever do want to get it out of my way. I can also rotate it to view from astride the wheel or forward of the wheel.

Everything is a tradeoff, and in my case having the chartplotter close enough to see AIS icons and informational text, and to tap the screen to turn off collision warnings, is very important to me. If there are large ships close enough to set off alarms (which is unavoidable on a busy river), I cannot be leaving the helm to acknowledge alarms. I've positioned the tablet so that it does not block my view makes it a no-brainer. But that's just for my own situation, and I continue to believe that there is no single answer that is optimum for everyone.
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Old 04-19-2014
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Re: Chartplotter at the nav station

I've been using GPS (in place of Loran) with paper charts from the early days of GPS, then GPS with a laptop chart plotting software, then chartplotters. I've found them to be totally reliable - period. I've experienced making mistakes with paper charts while plotting positions more often than any electronics glitches or failures. I am completely comfortable navigating with paper charts, but they just do not compare. Maybe someday my chartplotter will fail me, but so far it has not.

I like mine within easy reach from the helm.
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Old 04-20-2014
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Re: Chartplotter at the nav station

Quote:
Originally Posted by TakeFive View Post
My boat does not have a dodger because it's not big enough. There's not enough width to protect, and no side decks to step around a dodger.
What is the canvas in the pictures that are part of your signature?

Quote:
Originally Posted by TakeFive View Post
I also dislike instrument pods. In addition to blocking your view with unnecessary fiberglass, they make it even harder to get around the wheel on small boats like mine. I have an 8" tablet mounted at the helm on a RAM mount.
The RAM mounts are convenient, and there are a number of options to clip to the bows of a dodger.

I'm not familiar with the Catalina 250. The Catalina 22 in all it's manifestations, including the Capri, has plenty of room to walk forward on side decks. Do you have to step up from the cockpit seats all the way to the cabintop?

Quote:
Originally Posted by TakeFive View Post
Everything is a tradeoff, and in my case having the chartplotter close enough to see AIS icons and informational text, and to tap the screen to turn off collision warnings, is very important to me. If there are large ships close enough to set off alarms (which is unavoidable on a busy river), I cannot be leaving the helm to acknowledge alarms.
I agree with you about acknowledging alarms. PITA. I'd love to be able to set a mode that is "no alarms" - in good weather and lots of visibility I can see the 8-story slab of steel I'm passing. Sometimes I just turn the AIS off completely (New York Harbor, Annapolis anchorage, Thimble Shoals Channel, Charleston, Ft Lauderdale, Miami, ...) because the alarms become a bigger problem than the value-add of the data. I can always turn it back on.

Deliveries are easier as I'm likely to have a crew member that can be dedicated to hitting the acknowledge button.

I'd love to have a simple flashing indicator in the databar rather than a beeping indication with a pop-up that blocks the screen. The next meeting of the USCG GMDSS Task Force is coming up - I'll talk to my colleagues about whether we can encourage manufacturers to support that sort of mode.
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  #25  
Old 04-20-2014
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Re: Chartplotter at the nav station

Quote:
Originally Posted by SVAuspicious View Post
What is the canvas in the pictures that are part of your signature?
That's the C250 version of a pop top. It requires pivoting the hatch up, which fully blocks the forward view and makes it unsuitable for sailing. It's strictly for on the hook and at the dock.

I have considered fashioning a dodger-like cloth that uses the stainless sub-structure of the pop top, but haven't come up with anything that wouldn't interfere with the winches.
Quote:
Originally Posted by SVAuspicious View Post
...I'm not familiar with the Catalina 250. The Catalina 22 in all it's manifestations, including the Capri, has plenty of room to walk forward on side decks. Do you have to step up from the cockpit seats all the way to the cabintop?..
Yes. In rough seas I crawl.
Quote:
Originally Posted by SVAuspicious View Post
...I agree with you about acknowledging alarms. PITA. I'd love to be able to set a mode that is "no alarms" - in good weather and lots of visibility I can see the 8-story slab of steel I'm passing. Sometimes I just turn the AIS off completely (New York Harbor, Annapolis anchorage, Thimble Shoals Channel, Charleston, Ft Lauderdale, Miami, ...) because the alarms become a bigger problem than the value-add of the data. I can always turn it back on...I'd love to have a simple flashing indicator in the databar rather than a beeping indication with a pop-up that blocks the screen...
OpenCPN, which is the chartplotter I run in my tablet, has highly configurable alarms which can greatly reduce the alarms. You can set limits on CPA, TCPA, audio/no audio, acknowledge timeout, distance of vessels, anchored vessel suppression, etc. You can even turn off the alarms completely. I have tweaked it to minimize the false alarms. But I do not want to turn it off completely because a couple times a year I will get a an alarm for a vessel coming directly behind me with a 5 minute TCPA, and turn around to see it there.

In my case the most common false alarm is a vessel coming "around the bend" whose 5-minute vector crosses my stern. I know he's not going to hit me because when he completes the turn to follow the channel he's headed another direction, but OpenCPN does not know that. That's an acceptable tradeoff for the benefits of the alarms, but I still need to have the tablet close enough to me to see what's going on.

The single greatest benefit of AIS for me is to show me that the vessels 2-3 nm away are actually anchored (as the vast majority are) and not moving. And to show me when they start moving (as they always eventually do).
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  #26  
Old 04-30-2014
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Re: Chartplotter at the nav station

We currently have navigation equipment below and sailing instruments above. We'll be changing this and installing navigation equipment at the helm and in the cockpit. I think much of this decision is how you sail, where you sail, your budget and personal preference, I don't think there is a right or wrong answer. Radar and AIS is a compelling reason for us to have chart plotters in multiple locations, we'll probably add AIS instrument below where they can be read while in a bunk.
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