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Wednesday, December 14, 2005


GPS Position: 30° 50’ .220 N 86° 44’ .270 W

Since the Thanksgiving holiday, things have been progressing well on the boat. Most of the time we’ve spent on board has been devoted to the installation of the navigation electronics.

For what is to be our boat, we’ve chosen RAYMARINE brand, E-Series chart plotters (E-80 & E-120 joined by a SeaTalk link), GPS receiver, 48 mile RADAR, Autopilot control system, Depth Meter, Wind Speed Indicator and Boat Speed Indicator. All of these units integrate to form a complete network that monitors and displays everything relevant to the operation of the vessel at both the helm and at the nav-station down below. In the event the navigator is visually challenged (like me) the chart plotter will display all data on the 23” flat screen TV that is mounted on the forward bulkhead in the main salon.

Additionally, the RAYMARINE units use NAVIONICS®, Gold and Platinum, electronic charts. The charts are issued on a SANDISK compact flash card and are available for all US and most foreign waters. The NAVIONICS electronic charts are supposed to be the best available, but we shall see whether that’s true or not. Just in case, however, we’ve backed up the NAVIONICS charts with MAPTECH electronic charts and the full version of MAPTECH OFFSHORE NAVIGATOR® electronic charting software.

We’ve also downloaded the raster charts for the entire US coastline from the NOAA website, which display seamlessly using the MAPTECH software. If this fails, we still have paper charts for all destinations and a sextant that we’ve had (and used) since the mid 1980’s. If it takes more than that to navigate this boat, then I guess we’re lost.

The only thing left to complete the electronics and navigation systems is a LEWMAR MAMBA DC motor for the Autopilot Steering System. This particular motor, which is the only motor that will work on the 45cc steering gear, is in short supply and will take at least six weeks to get here. Once we have the motor, which is on order from the UK, we’ll be able to take the boat out and test all of it’s systems on Choctawhatchee Bay. We’re looking forward to seeing how the boat will handle under sail, power and using the automatic navigation systems.

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