Picking on people for their boat's setup is really going to be helpful, now isn't it? He obviously enjoys his boat. Why shouldn't he put into it that which he so wishes?
At any rate, I made a trip to Fawcett's in Annapolis today to pick up a seemingly simple cable connector. On our Bayfield 25, the NavMan cable runs through the hull with no connector, so the wire is simply twisted together - not very smart in my book. Fawcett's didn't have what I needed, so they referred me to Electronics Marine, Inc. 'round the corner (see Electronic Marine
). The part I needed ended up being $40 (B.O.A.T. part & MILSpec on top of it).
Anyway, whilst there, I asked the gent for the rundown on the electronics scene. Here's what he said (paraphrased of course).
NavMan isn't a bad system. It works pretty well. 'Tis a British organization. They made stuff for some other names for a while and decided to bring their own line out. When they did so in the states, they weren't recognized and so did poorly. As a result they've scaled back their operations. Hence the trouble getting service and parts as they aren't distributing much anymore. From what the gentleman said, NavMan is exiting the states and is being replaced by Northstar.
Northstar is taking over NavMan (at least here - they've either bought the company or something else). They are releasing new equipment later in February/March based upon the NavMan stuff but apparantly much improved. They'll be cheaper than Raymarine and should give that company a run for its money.
Raymarine is a good name. Good stuff, fairly reliable, middle range pricing. A good size product offering.
TackTick is also a good name. Wireless, which makes for easier installations nice instruments. However, the range is limited to 50' (according to Electronics Marine), so larger masts won't benefit from the wireless technology. Good for smaller masts/boats however. Not inexpensive - I'd say upper middle range.
B & G seems to have the best name and a price to match. The products are alleged to be the best on the market.
As far as the GPS/chartplotter goes, I am partial to stuff that uses the CMAP technology - the blinking bouys are very handy and also the ability to overlay, etc. I haven't looked into what Navionics-based stuff can do, but I gather it is a little more limited in functionality (though not necessarily lacking quality where it really counts - in the data itself).
My recommendation (and it isn't worth much considering I haven't had much actual experience with the equipment) is to wait until Northstar's offering has come out to play and compare that to Raymarine's offerings. Unless you've the money to afford the B & G products (none of which I've looked at as they are out of my price range). There are others on the market (Simrad for instance - although I didn't ask about them) that have some neat things, so that bears looking into as well.
Hope this helps.
/s/ Jon C. Munson II