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Go Back   SailNet Community > General Interest Forums > Gear & Maintenance
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  #1  
Old 08-01-2006
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Radar / GPS Unit

I recently puchased a new (old) Tartan 34C. The boat has had little modification since it was built in 1972 providing a clean slate for me to install electronics. I have noticed that a lot of changes have happened in the world of combined units, so I wanted to get some input.

First:
I am looking primarily at Furuno and Raymarine. Does anyone have feedback regarding the two companies?

Second:
How much convergance is actually useful on a sailboat?

I do not believe I have any need for the sounder / sonar functionality. A simple transducer with a depth reading suffices for my purposes.

How useful / important is a chart plotter? I am used to finding my waypoints on a paper chart, and plotting my position on a paper chart. Do people find that having a chartplotter is a tremendous help? Do they feel it makes them rely too much on the electronics and not keep a paper plot of their position?

What are my power concerns? Does a multifunction unit drain more power than a standalone GPS and Radar?

Am I being foolish at this point in the game if I purchase a non-integrated GPS w/o Chartplotter and a stand-alone LCD radar? Or am I saving both money and limiting my power consumption?

Any feedback is most appreciated.
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Old 08-01-2006
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I'd say you're being a bit foolish. Having an integrated GPS/RADAR gives you more information, in a more easily available form, than having a non-integrated system. The faster you can identify where you are, the better off you are, especially in bad weather.

Having the two integrated allows you to double check your location, with some degree of accuracy, very easily.

I don't believe that the integrated setup would actually draw much more power than separate systems. You have to power the screen regardless of whether it is integrated or not... and the power draw of an integrated system is probably not significantly different from a non-integrated system.

With most integrated systems, they will work if either the GPS or Radar are turned off—you'll be able to use one with out having to have both turned on.

Paper charts are still a must. I use them all the time, even though I have two Garmin chartplotters aboard my boat.
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  #3  
Old 08-01-2006
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Radar & CP

I have an Raymarine E80 dual helm system (color). It is all integrated. Before that I had the RLC 80 dual helm by Raytheon. It was ok, but its refresh was a little slow. The new Raymarine is top notch.

Go with the integrated unit. Are you really spending that much more money? It is a one-time budget/expense/right arm. I would definitely go with the chartplotter over just paper. If you are making a passage, it wil account for Cross Track error, instantly tell you where you are (or are not!!), and if you have an overlay, point out things that are there that should not be!! Many, many, many times I have been out at night in the ICW and found markers and signs that were not on the paper maps. An overlay will show you real-time distances and point out things that you cannot see at night/fog... easier than separate systems.

People have been cruising without CP & radar long before you or I were born and did just fine. However, once you have them, you will wonder how you ever got by without them. Don't lose your map skills though. Electronics can go out. A prudent sailor will always make 30 minute to 1 hour written observations on a paper map and plot his course to correspond with electronics. God forbid you ever have to go back to your last plot and dead reckon to port. Not having a last plot and doing it from guess work could be a whole lot worse though!!!!

The new E80 system can also track and map collision avoidance (with the proper autopilot and radar) for up to 10 vessels at a time. Other systems may have this availability too. In addition, you can get really cool 3-d shots or harbors and satellite photos of what you are going into.

The system is not THAT much of a power drain, all things considered. Set one unit as a master and you do not have to turn on the second (I think... might have to double check that one as I always have it on). Unless in a crowded harbor or out at night, I typically put my radar on an automatic timer to scan about once every 5 minutes or so. Saves juice. Also, I will tell you from expereince, that your autopilot will draw more than your radar ever dreamed of in a storm... so keep an eye on your batteries if you are letting the computer fight the seas.

There is also an option on Raytheon and Garmin for instant weather (realtime) downloads from Sirius and XM Satallite. Really cool stuff. Supposedly good to 200 miles offshore and shows you where the cells are and where they are moving. It is about 50 dollars/month for subscription.

I have used a small Garmin CP and FFinder on my little fishing boat, but that is the extent of my knowledge on those so I will withhold any comments other than to say I never had any problems with it.

Hope that helps. Keep your paper in a place where you can easily find them, but my guess is that you will hardly use them once you get used to the digital system.

Fair winds...
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Old 08-01-2006
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Correction,

Sorry, the old unit I had might have been called RL70CRC... I think that was the name... I am not sure now. It was the precursor the the E series. One was color the other monochrome. I will never buy another momchrome. Ever. Color is wayyyyyy better.
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Old 08-01-2006
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Radar/GPS

Integrated systems are really nice, that is until the display goes out. Then you have nothing. Raymarine is known quite well for it's poor customer service. Their stuff is good until it goes haywire, and it will just like everyone else.

Fair Winds

Cap'n Dave
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Old 08-01-2006
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Raymarine Tech Support

Capn Dave

Interesting you say that about their customer service. My first unit went out 6 months after install. They paid to have Raymarine cert tech come out and fix it. Their was some irriation as to whether it was install failure or equipment failure, but since then they appear to have gotten better. I had my VHF go out on my new boat a month or two back and they issued me a brand new one within a few days turnaround.

I am not defending them and do not own stock in the company. However, I have had positive experiences with them. They have seemd extremely knowledgeable in tech issues.

When did you have your negative experience? Was it when they were Raytheon or Raymarine?
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Old 08-01-2006
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Okay, now I will give you some advice you can actually use.
First of all Raymarine products stink for several reasons. 1. The programming is not intuitive in my opinion. In other words, if you can't figure out how to use it by just pushing buttons its way too complicated. 2. They are not reliable and have a very poor reputation. 3. They are very expensive.
I would definitely go with Furono. Just look around at the commercial fishing boats for your answer. They almost all have Furono. It is very easy to use. Yes you can figure it out by just pushing buttons.
As to whether or not you need Radar it depends on several factors. You need Radar if you: Live in New England, (fog, nasty stuff); You will be sailing at night; or, you will be sailing off shore. If the answer to these is No, you don't need it.
GPS-Chartplotter, Furono, again, very easy to use. When I cruised extensively, I had a Chart Plotter at my Navigation Desk that intergrated with my laptop and a monochrome Radar that gave me GPS coordinates at the helm. This told me exactly where I was and was very accurate. (You dont need a color Radar Screen, its pretty but a rip-off...). I found this set-up to be a nice compromise.
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Old 08-01-2006
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Sailingdad

The last Raymarine product I had to work on was a ST4000 about 5 months ago. The customer installed the new autopilot and tested it. The boat would follow the course set for about 5 min. and then got hard to port. I was asked to check the unit and all seemed ok. I went out with them and it did the hard to port thing. I had to call Raymarine tech support about 8 times. I kept getting a message they were all busy (no suprise to me) and would return my call. This took a week. They then said the autopilot had to be installed by their trained installers and it would cost $300. We got a rep to come out, I watched him and he could not get it to work either. He sent it back to the factory and they said nothing was wrong with the unit. The rep came back and reinstalled, guess what, it didn't work. This took over a month and the customer was heading to Grenada, I was up against the wall, I talked him into a Simrad unit and he returned the Raymarine unit to West Marine. Thank goodness he bought it there. Then Raymarine had the balls to send the customer a bill for the install. The customer was savy to the ways of the world and disputed the charge to his credit card.
I felt bad for the guy and didn't charge him my usual fee. He gave me the 300.00.
This is the latest runaround with Raymarine. I can go on with 3 more this year alone.
Oh by the way I am a retired EE and have worked in the marine industry for 26 years. I never had problems with any other suplier. Rayethon, Ray Jefferies, Data Marine and the list goes on with the one exception.

Fair Winds

Cap'n Dave
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Old 08-01-2006
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I would be interested in hearing what you have to say about what I posted Dave.
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Old 08-01-2006
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Ahoy Surfesq

I am with you 1000000000%. I just didn't decide to go there. There are less expensive instruments that work better and are way more reliable.
I don't knlow if it is a Florida thing with Raymarine (lots of boats and lots of problems) I just dont find these problems with other Mfgs. For the life of me I cannot figure out why so many retailers are selling the stuff. Could it be Raymarine gives them good markup? They are OEM for many boat mfg. and give the units away and then nail the consumer? Beats me.

JRC also makes a radar unit for under 1k. Monocrome but like you, I feel a color display is way to costly for any benifit.

Fair Winds

Cap'n Dave
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