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Location: Tampa, Fl
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GPS Chartplotter/Autopilot selection
We're thinking of adding a relatively fixed-mount chartplotter/sounder and a tiller-controlled autopilot to our Olson 30, but having a little trouble deciding. It seems this technology changes significantly each year, but it also appears that the current philosophy is that you are best off by sticking to one maker for both pieces of equipment. I was really leaning toward the Garmin GPSMAP 740 until I found out that they only make a below-deck autopilot. The more I've been reading about mixing manufacturers between the two (any number of threads on here and on the cruisers forum) it appears that this only brings up a whole bunch of problems of each system not talking to the other.
Since my wife and I sail short-handed quite a bit, and I'm wanting to do more solo-sailing, I think an autopilot is becoming more of a must rather than a "nice-to-have" item, but the selection narrows quite a bit for what we would like that isn't overkill. We will never need radar for this boat, and all we really would like is gps and chartplotting capability (with a display larger than the 5-5.6" that are right at one price point for the Garmins when you jump up form the 546s to the 740s). From what I'm getting out of the people at West Marine, Garmin and Raymarine are the best choices, but he favors Garmin because "Raymarine never answers their phones when you call for customer support". I am probably going to buy these through WM so I have some form of customer support, but the features and complexity of the comparable Raymarine unit (e7d) is just unreal... There's a great review from Practical Sailor that I was reading last night, so other than the complexity (much of it I'll never use, not just radar, but neither will I make use of the scanners or monitors until we move it to the next boat in 5 or 10 years, if it's still functional). We like the larger displays of this model, which is the reason we are looking at this level and not the smaller ones, since it will be supported by a Ram mount inside the companionway and swing into view when in use. For the moment, I'm leaning away from Garmin (unless I find all sorts of compelling evidence that different brands of tiller-pilots work smoothly with them) and more toward a Raymarine system.
Any help would be appreciated!
Last edited by Irunbird; 07-30-2012 at 01:55 PM.