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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I just got my first chart plotter. It's a Raymarine touch screen. I am trying to decide where to mount the darn thing.

I would like it to be right in front of me on the companionway bulkhead, since that is the easiest place I know of to look at it and use it, but I am reluctant to cut any holes in my boat.

Sure, this plotter may be new technology now, but what happens in five, ten years? I don't know how long they stay working for, but I don't really want a hole that big.

Are there any other options that may be a little unorthodox but you have got to work?

I have seen a few mounted on swivel arms in the companionway, but that seems like you could forget and break it going in and out, and you also can't shut the hatch to keep water out and still use the plotter, unless I am mistaken.

I'm sure there is a solution, I just have not thought of it.

The boat is tiller, so no binnacle.
 

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A friend of mine was faced with the question about a year ago........solution he made a half height companion board and mounted it on it. it is a little awkward to go below since you have to steep over it, but not to bad. His wife doesn't complain.
 

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Where you can see it. This is only a little tongue in cheek. In the United States the charts are, by and large, so good that you can navigate (as the student pilots learning instrument flight rules do) "under the hood." Frequently the unit is not a "chart plotter" it is a multi-function display. Mine also shows the output of the radar. Thus I want mine right in front of me at the helm - particularly if I am trying to get somewhere in the middle of the night. It is also the display for all my AIS targets, shows me depth, course, speed, heading, distance to destination etc. Everything I want to know at the helm.

I see a number of people who have their chart plotters in a place where they have to run back and forth between the chart plotter and the helm. To me this is not a very useful location. Try going into Galveston harbor at night avoiding all the oil platforms and crew boats while running back and forth from the cockpit to the chart plotter. Not my idea of a good time.

Now, I admit that I have dual chart plotters: one a the helm and one at the chart table. The one at the chart table I use for planning and to keep track of things when I am inside the boat. Contrary to what others may do on a 10 - 30 day 24/7 solo ocean crossing I do not live in the cockpit. I live inside the boat and pop my head up every 30 minutes or so to do a visual scan - primarily for the local weather conditions and to verify sail trim. [Yes pundits, I know all about "keeping a proper watch" so don't bother to post your advice unless you have made an offshore passage of at least 1,000 NM solo. Then you might have some cred.]

As far as the mounting goes - how much value will you lose by cutting a big hole? None if you sell the chart plotter with the boat. My experience is that after about 7 to 10 years the new generations of plotters are sufficiently advanced that one might choose to purchase a new one with a new (to them) boat. If you choose to take it with you I honestly don't think a new owner would refuse to purchase the boat because of a hole in the bulkhead. You can always patch it with a nice cover of the same material as the bulkhead.

Fair winds and following seas :)
 

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I had this same debate last Spring when I aquired a Raymarine CP...

Seems there are two camps, neither wrong...at the helm on the pedastal or under the dodger on the port side.

From what I read and the many people I inquired with about the topic...think about how you will likely use the boat most of the time.

Ultimately I went with at the helm, since I wanted be able to adjust it while at the helm, being mostly a Chesapeake Bay sailor that seems to work best for me. If we sailed offshore more I would have put it under the dodger...also would have been less expensive than mounting it at the helm as I needed to get a new guard and Navpod.

I doubht I would go cutting a hole in my bulkhead for a CP, rather do like jones did or something similar if not at the helm
 

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Just picked up a Lowrance 5M HD so having this debate now. We currently have a Garmin handheld. Our autopilot control head is mounted on the pedestal guard. I've learned to reach blindly and control the AP when handling jib lines near the companionway. Will likely mount new chartplotter on other side of pedestal guard. It has a Ram mount so might set it up to swivel of easy viewing throughout cockpit.

The thought of cutting a large whole in the companionway hurts. I don't think I could do it. Also there are moments when you need all/maximum control and info in one spot and the helm is the natural choice. In a tense moment, do you really want to dash forward to adjust zoom on a chart or hit an AP button.

I do like companionway mounts of other instruments like wind, speed, compass, etc.

Josh
 

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When you got a binnacle, I think the answer is easy, but the OP has a tiller steered boat.

If you have a dodger, bljones has a solution we've used successfully in his post. Depending on the boat, when you sit as far forward as you can and still reach the tiller, you are pretty darn close to the companionway, and can reach the buttons. Besides, in the fog and rain, this is where you want to be anyway, with your head in the plotter.

With a small display, I've also had success with mounting just inside the companionway on the side opposite that I normally sit while steering (depending if you are right tiller handed or left). This depends on if the display and your bulkheads are such that you can mount it away from the companionway passage, but still get a good view.

Even when you've got a binnacle mounted display and a wheel, in bad weather you might rather be sitting snug up against the dodger with the autopilot in your hand, wishing the display was under the dodger rather than stepping back into the weather at the wheel.

Everything is a tradeoff....yea, and I wouldn't cut a big hole in the bulkhead either for electronics that will be obsolete before the boat is. Good luck with figuring this out....I'd get on the boat, sit where I sit, and try it before committing.
 

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I'm a big believer in having the chart plotter at the helm position.
THE BIANKA LOG BLOG: WHAT THE HELM?: Part 2
The bulkhead is to far away (at least for my aging eyes) plus the less I leave the helm the better when underway. Don't really want to have to move just to change the zoom. Though if you usually sail with crew it might not be as much of an issue as they can change it for you (if they are not busy). I usually solo sail and want as much info available at the helm as possible. I'd try an find a place nearby in your side coaming. If you don't want cut a big hole to make it flush make a bump out frame to mount it. You'll need much smaller holes than a flush mount.
 

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You are correct, do not cut big holes in the boat.

You want to be able to see it from where you usually are. I am rarely at the helm. I've made thousand mile crossings without ever spending more than a minute way back there. I sit in the companionway, or on the cockpit seat immediately adjacent, or at the nav table. In fair weather I sleep on the cockpit sole, feet forward, and would like to be able to see the plotter and all instruments while there. Presently the plotter is at the nav table. Only when threading some pass or rounding some danger is this a negative as I can just barely see it from the cockpit. Its about 12 feet away. I think I'm going to move it to a bulkhead that is a few feet forward of the companionway. That just happens to work on this boat. Maybe on a long wire so I can move it back to the nav station for intense study. I had an arm holding in the companionway for a while (the PO). That was terrible. It was always in the way. It was a head banger from below.

My advice, even if you put it on the cabin top next to the companion way (which is a reasonable place) is to mount it temporary, but secure, until you get it just right.
 
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I see a number of people who have their chart plotters in a place where they have to run back and forth between the chart plotter and the helm. To me this is not a very useful location. Try going into Galveston harbor at night avoiding all the oil platforms and crew boats while running back and forth from the cockpit to the chart plotter. Not my idea of a good time.
Why are you running back and forth? Hardly ever is the a reason for zooming in and out when running an inlet. Further out you can be close to the plotter, under the dodger, and steer with the autopilot. If you do any passagemaking at all you will be tons (actually tonnes) happier with a watch station under the dodger where you can reach the plotter, radar, and control the autopilot.

we mounted ours on a swivel on top of the house. no companionway clutter, and always visible to the skipper.
Best place to be.

Even when you've got a binnacle mounted display and a wheel, in bad weather you might rather be sitting snug up against the dodger with the autopilot in your hand, wishing the display was under the dodger rather than stepping back into the weather at the wheel.
My point exactly.

For daysailing, weekending, and infrequent jaunts the binnacle is okay, but for passages of any duration and frequency it should be under the dodger, port-side preferred.
 

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I am absolutely flabbergasted by many of the responses on here.
We have our 10" display chartplotter on the binnacle and could not imagine having it out of reach.
In inclement weather, though it might be nice to snuggle up under the dodger, that is NOT where a watch stander should be sitting. Possibly on a long offshore passage this might seem acceptable, but how many days of offshore ocean sailing do any of us do, in comparison to coastal or interisland sailing?
Interisland in the Caribbean or coastal continental sailing, the person on watch should be at the helm, keeping watch, IMO; that is the job!
Therefore, why would one want the plotter some distance away from the helm, under the dodger?
Entering a bay or harbor, or sailing through a reef strewn area like the Tobago Cays or North Sound, Antigua, I am constantly changing scales (different scales have different information displayed; radar, sat info/accuracy, extended forward view, etc) and checking out the water ahead and to the sides and making adjustments to the chartplotter so I have a clear picture in my head of my next tack or turn, or a fallback course, should there be a wind change. I am not straining my eyes to see the chartplotter (depth markings, obstacles, notes, etc.) rain or shine; it is right there, close at hand. I would not be as comfortable doing any of this under sail, if the chartplotter was out of reach, under the dodger.
Nobody can obstruct my view of our chartplotter at a critical moment, nor can anybody change settings or views by accident or otherwise.
If I were installing a chartplotter on any boat, it would be at the helm, in a pod or on a mount that made it convenient to the person on the helm.
 
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But mbianka the bulk head is the helm of a tiller boat if you read the op
Doh! You are absolutely right. My mistake. It's been so long since I have had my hands on the tiller of my old Bristol 24 i forgot about the different logistics involved. :eek: That makes mounting somewhere on the companionway bulkhead a preferred location. I would just try and make in convenient enough to be able to change settings on the unit without much moving about. He might want to be able to swivel the unit slightly to see it depending on which tack one might be on. Rather than just have installed flat on the bulkhead.
 

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Somewhere along the line the original post was forgotten. The boat doesn't have a binnacle and thus is tiller steered. FWIW I fabricated an articulated arm out of Sched 80 PVC threaded fittings that I mount my Garmin on. Cost about $10 and swings into the cabin so it doesn't seem to be in the way and away from thieving eyes. Can be shaded with the companionway hatch and out of the rain if you don't have a dodger. You can also buy articulated arms with ball joints for $100.
 

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Why are you running back and forth? Hardly ever is the a reason for zooming in and out when running an inlet. Further out you can be close to the plotter, under the dodger, and steer with the autopilot. If you do any passagemaking at all you will be tons (actually tonnes) happier with a watch station under the dodger where you can reach the plotter, radar, and control the autopilot
Dave and I usually agree so I was surprised by his response to my post. I am old. My eyes were never good at 16, a lot worse at 68. I was careful to make the distinction between a chart plotter and a multi-function display . What is the point of displaying information if the person at the helm can not see it? Why bother to spend the money? Get out the paper charts. Run up to the bow with the lead line. Get out the signal flags to talk to other boats. (How does one signal "can I make a slow pass on your port side" in hoist?) Take the aluminum foil hat off and listen for the radar pulse emissions from the other boats. :D I am a belt and suspenders kind of guy so in addition to my multi-function display at the helm I have a backup stand alone multi-function display without chart capability. I can bring up depth, Course, Speed, etc. The kind of data available before the advent of chart plotters. Its there for when (not if) the chart plotter/multi-function display craps out - or when I need to conserve power after several long rainy days.

What really motivated me to respond was Dave's assertion that one could sit under the dodger and steer with the autopilot. I came in Ft. Pierce Inlet a couple of nights ago after a five day solo very tiring transit from Nassau. The wind was doing 20 to 25 knots. The current was 2 -3 knots out of the inlet. The waves were 4 - 5 feet going into the inlet. About as close to the edge as I would go rather than waiting for better conditions. Better conditions were not forecast - rather the opposite - it was going to get worse. Do you think I was going to trust my autopilot buttons to steer?

Oh, yeah. The engine crapped out. Thank you Towboat US. You saved my boat and most likely my life.

It is a tiller boat. That does not change my basic equation - put it where you can see it while steering.

Fair winds and following seas :)
 

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My boat is equipped with a tiller. I also have a revulsion to cutting holes in the boat. The compass and hopefully soon to be acquired chart plotter will have to be mounted. One idea I've been considered is to build a box in which the items are to be mounted then mount the box to the bulkhead using screws inserted from the cabin side of the bulkhead. Don't know if the chart plotter generates a magnetic field that would interfere with the compass. The downside to this is it pretty much eliminates the ability of using the bulkhead as a back rest.
 

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Interesting to read the various responses as all have great merit. There is clearly times its good to have it under the dodger and others when its best placed at the wheel. Especially when the chart is lousy and you are following the color of the water or avoiding junk in the water. Still nice to have 12" screen in front of you and a paper chart laid out on the nav station table when charting a transit.
However, the OP is on a tiller boat and apparently has one and only one MFD. Like most its reasonable to assume he will not be sitting low watching the slot but high bracing with his feet in the front of the cockpit. Putting it off to one side makes for poor vision on one tack if mounted on the house. Assuming MFD is E9 size or bigger and his eyes are good under the dodger amidships may actually make best sense IMHO. He can stand in the steps of the companionway looking forward when its icky outside and be warm and dry. Steering with the AP. If out of his gear he can stay in the boat and just slide the hatch open to take a peak. If he is at the tiller he can still see it.
With only one all placements are suboptimal in certain circumstances. Most boats I travel with have two or three MFDs. I've even seen four on a race boat with two helm stations. Now with hotspots and LANs on boats feeding I pads and smartphones you can see the chart on the throne or in your berth.
 

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My Cal 30 is also tiller steered and I wanted the versatility of clearly seeing when I'm in the cockpit and inside the cabin (out of the weather).

I bought a small TV mount from Amazon (about $15.00) and mounted my Lowrance Elite 5 on a small piece of Star Board and then mounted this to the supplied holes in the mount.

By carefully locating in inside the cabin on the bulkhead on the starboard side, I can use it inside in inclement weather or swing it 180 degrees so it is on the starboard side of the companionway just into the cockpit.

This is a very good system!

Murph

S/V Amalia
1965 Cal 30
Muskegon, MI

Doing the Great Loop in 2015/2016
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Some good ideas. Thanks. I guess I'm not the only one looking for that perfect place.

Do brand new sailboats come with the chartplotters? I could see them being included and a special place built into the boat for them, depending on the size and type of boat.
 
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