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post #1 of 6 Old 10-02-2011 Thread Starter
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thoughts on electronics

I recently puchased a 1983 28ft sloop...a Sirius 28...great boat but the elctronics are fried. We will be investing money in the boat over the next couple of years (bimini, dodger, cushions, new stove - already replaced the head at my wife's direction!). My prioirty is to replace the depth sounder which is not expensive but wondering about the rest. I would like to get a wheel auto-helm and a chartplotter, but am thinking I can get by using my handheld GPS with nautical charts loaded for the time being. Would really llike an autohelm for those long days though. Is the autohelm a totally separate system from the chartplotter? If I was to find a used autohelm would I run into problems putting in a chartplotter later if it wasn't compatible? Obviously I am a newbie to this!
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post #2 of 6 Old 10-02-2011
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The autopilot is separate from the GPS/chartplotter, but most today can be interfaced. Absolutely no reason why you can't install an autopilot now and use your handheld GPS and paper charts for navigation.
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post #3 of 6 Old 10-02-2011
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Stu Jackson, C34, 1986, M25 engine, Rocna 10 (22#)
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post #4 of 6 Old 10-02-2011
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Do you have a laptop of the previous generation in the back of the closet? Load some variant of Linux on it (Ubuntu being most popular) which will make it fly. Then choose OpenCPN, SeaclearII, or PolarNavy with free charts from NOAA and there you have a chartplotter that will drive most any autopilot. Guess with the money you saved you could buy a TackTic depth and start building a kitty to handle the follow on projects
Just sayin....

s/v Nemesis
Niagara on the Lake Sailing Cub

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post #5 of 6 Old 10-03-2011
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Raymarine ST40 series instruments are affordable and work well. The bi-data is a great way to econnomize when purchasing speedo and depth. MAtching wind instrument not quite as good due to rotovecta transducer but very affordable and works reasonably well.


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post #6 of 6 Old 10-03-2011
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You didn't mention your sailing area or type of sailing you plan on doing. IMHO, if you will be daysailing on a small body of water your needs are usually different than if you plan on making multi-day passages, week-long trips, or other such journeys.

Regarding depth finders, the cheapest units are usually around $100. For $300 or so you can get a decent chartplotter with a depth finder (fishfinder) built in. The screen on chart plotter like that would be relatively small (3.5") but would be adequate for many people. For $500 or so you can get a high resolution 5" display, again with integrated fish finder.

As previously mentioned, autopilot is totally separate from the chart plotter. Every AP today can be interfaced to just about every plotter. The 'old' way is NMEA 0183 and the new way is NMEA 2000 but both are fairly simple to do.

My last point is that IMHO there is not much benefit of integrating the plotter and the AP. On my boat, if I'm going somewhere and I don't want to steer I turn on the AP and 'aim' the boat at the destination. By checking the plotter I make the course match the bearing and I'm all set. Every few minutes I might have to make a slight course correction, but that's no big deal and you need to keep watch anyway, right?

Some affordable brands of chart plotters are Lowrance, Eagle, Humminbird, Standard Horizon, Garmin.

Good luck,

Barry Lenoble
Deep Blue C, 2002 C&C 110
Mt. Sinai, NY

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