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Old 07-27-2008
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Perfect Chart Table ...

One thing I want to have on my dream boat is the perfect chart table. I'd like your thoughts and advice on the subject. I have a few questions too.

Q: Are all charts approximately the same size ?

I have a number of charts but they are all from the same manufacturer, so I don't know if they are all the same size. I would hate to build a chart table and then find out that most of the world's charts wouldn't fit on it!

Q: What characteristics would you want in the perfect chart table ?

By this I mean is there a perfect slope, a perfect size, features that make it the perfect chart table, built-in storage, what would you want in the perfect chart table ?

Thank you for your time.

I thought what I would do is mock up a chart table in cheap plywood and use it for a while and see what I like and don't like about it, then build something nice on the boat. But I need a place to start and some ideas for what features I should include.
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Old 07-27-2008
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If you can find a picture of the chart table on a Pearson 365 - it's the best I've seen. You can sit at the chart table and easily talk to the helmsman, it's got good storage above it and in drawers below and the top lifts up for storage of big charts.
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You need more than room for the chart. You need a little room for the other 'stuff'. Dividers, pencils, whatever, and room for a straightedge to overhang the chart a bit.

I know it's ugly, but a piece of thin, soft plastic or rubber is helpful so you can stick the point of your dividers into it without damaging a fancy piece of wood. I've had to flog the owner a couple of times on Breeze for poking holes in my varnish work.

Make sure it's near the electronics if you have repeaters below. We've got a radar/gps/fishfinder repeater at the Nav table. That does a couple of things: it keeps your 'official' navigator/tactician/'wherethefugawi' person away from the main unit at the helm, and gives him position, wind, depth, etc. at his fingertips. (It also keeps those same fingertips away from the unit the captain/helmsman is trying to use to keep from going aground. )

Finally, make sure there's storage underneath the table for charts, dividers, rulers (OK--scales), pencils, sharpeners, pens, grease pencils and all the myriad other things that find their way into the nav table. We keep our guest flags, Oscar flag, and a dive flag there so we don't have to hunt for them. We also keep a flashlight and a multi-tool there so everyone knows where to find it in a real hurry.

Finally, we keep a neat, printed (in very large type) Mayday form that I routinely printed out just before we shoved off. Some of the information remains the same, but the Souls on Board, position, etc., change on each trip. The whole idea in this was that even someone who isn't familiar with radio procedure could read the printed form and pull the position numbers from the GPS repeater, which was directly next to the Mayday form.

Hope this helps a bit.
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Old 07-28-2008
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Consider placement of a laptop. I have a swing arm mount about a foot above the chart table for my laptop. Wireless keyboard/mouse on the chart table. I wish I had more clearance but I'm limited by the electric panel above the table. And printer? Mine will go under the table at my feet on a yet to be installed shelf.
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You folks have some excellent ideas, I hope you keep them coming, they are really helping me to think through what I want in my own boat.

I like the idea of having a non-slip surface, I hadn't thought of that.

There are a lot of good ideas here.
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Old 07-28-2008
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Mine would face forward not aft so I could sit and converse while working there with others in the saloon at anchor or quite times under way..( I am not a racer I dont need a tactician to bark back and forth to me at the helm)

It would have all ships systems information routed to it..and be far enough away from the companionway as to not have to worry about being down flooded from it. lots of Halogen lighting would be a plus if only in this area...lets face it our eyes ain't going to get better with age. Some sort of ventilation with air constantly moving over me would be important...I cant concentrate if im sweating like a hog.

Id also want to either be able to stand or sit so Id want the chart table at about waist hight...so some sort of retractable adjustable swivel/lockable reclining chair with a back rest and appropriate feet rests & arm rest ... ( Think high quality executive chair )

OH...Bar bouy beer holder for sure
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Old 07-28-2008
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Windy,

Do you prefer a stand-up or a sit-down chart table? Your answer is the departure point for discussing desirable features. Also, are you merely asking about "the perfect chart table", or are you also asking about the overall nav station?

We have a stand-up chart table arrangement on our boat. It is very convenient and cleverly organized. Many experienced sailors prefer this arrangement. Having used both styles a fair bit, I do not.

I view the nav station/chart table as more than just a location for conducting the ship's navigation -- after all, the ship is underway only a very small percentage of the time. So my feeling is that on a small boat, the space needs to be designed with other purposes in mind, otherwise it is being used inefficiently.

The definition of "other purposes" may depend in large part on your circumstances. Do you have kids that need a homework/coloring nook? Will you need to sit side-by-side with your kids to help them with their studies? Does your spouse need a business center with computer, printer, comm, etc? Likely all of these activities will compete for the nav station when the boat is at rest.

So I guess for me the "perfect chart table" has a different connotation than whether it can merely fit an unfolded admiralty chart! Your requirements may vary.
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John...Exactly as I think...I didnt put it into words but by design thats what I was after...Some place to escape to for personal work or even reading whomever it may be rather 3 years old or up..yet still feel part of the conversation if desired...not looking over your shoulder or craning your neck..
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Old 07-28-2008
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We have an aft facing nav station that has a nice, large, flat table and a bench seat. The table top opens and we keep all the pens, pencils, dividers etc in there. The bench seat also opens and that is where we store the bulk of the charts (couple hundred?) as it is quite large. There is also a compartment next to the bulkhead that the table joins that allows for storing rolled charts, we keep the ones we are going to need here. The SSB and weatherfax are above the table and I plan to have a small GPS mounted on the wall also. There is good lighting and also a red light for night use and a deck prism for natural light. A book rack for reference material and a couple of cabinets for "stuff" are really helpful. The table is just down two steps from the main salon/pilothouse so you are away, but close enough for conversation and sight out the companionway. I think Ted Brewer did a great job designing it. It would be nice to have a full size table that would hold a full chart, but I wouldn't want to give up that much space for it.

Sorry the pic is so small, it's from the listing on Yachtworld.



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Old 07-29-2008
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Now have but don't like stand up.

Big thing to consider is that in this day and age chart table is as much a desk/electronic nerve centre as anything else. How you want to use the thing will determine what's perfect or less than so.

Me, I like to use a paper chart for plotting and gps for lat/long. Probably as I get more into electronic chart plotters I may change but that's how it is right now. So sizewise, as long as table can comfortably hold a folded standard size admiralty chart (and yes they do come in various sizes but most are standard) then I am content. Electronic gear is hopefully up out of the way.

Apart from that I want to be able to have computer available to use, mainly in port for writing, correspondence, music, downloading nekkid wimmin, basic necessities and all that. Prefer not to have to use the main saloon table.

Pearson 424 also does a nice line in CT but if you look at such venerable designs as Hallberg Rassey and the like you will find many that would suit any application. Only thing I don't like about the Pearson type is that a CT that faces into the saloon allows you to write and chat at the same time. With the facing in type you never know who might be looking over your shoulder (see downloading nekkid wimmin).

Oh yes, and the perfect boat would have two of the buggers so me and the dear Ms Wombat won't have to fight over the one.

I'd need to find the link but the couple who cruise in that Van de Stadt 49 aluminium thing. Damn, cannot remember their names. She is fabulous . Writes great books. Damn. They have two desks/chart tables. Sensible folk. She's definitely a keeper. Stay with me, I'll get it eventually and get back to you.

Ta Da.......

Beth & Evans

check it out.
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Last edited by tdw; 07-29-2008 at 12:37 AM.
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