Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Sailing electronics

January 20, 2010 3AM
Position: 16°12' N 084°37' W
YTD: 384 nautical miles

Underway sailing from Cayos Vivorillos toward Guanaja, Honduras

A comfortable sail for a change. Winds are a little light at 12 knots from the ENE and seas are minimal around 1.25 meters. Our course is 285° and we are running (Wind at 5 o'clock) with boat speed of 6-7 knots under mainsail only.

Just spotted a ship ahead, adjusted course a bit, verified the Closest Point of Approach (CPA) on the AIS and now maintaining a visual from inside the pilot house where I just updated my log book with an entry on the sighting. By the time this is done it's time to adjust course again with a turn of the wheel on the auto pilot inches from my computer keyboard. I love the convenience and safety of the pilot house.

Electronics I'm running while underway.

Autopilot: Older Simrad AP300 system with hydraulic drive, fluxgate and three Robertson AP300X control heads (one at out side helm, one at inside helm and one at nav station). Autopilot is integrated with GPS and wind instruments.

Wind, Depth, Speed and Heading: Older KVH Quadro system with three displays at outside helm, three at inside helm and one at Navigation station. Of the seven displays five are two line multi displays that can repeat any data on the network the sixth is an analog apparent wind indicator and the seventh analog wind speed. I like the system a lot, but KVH is no longer supporting the units. When we bought the boat the anemometer bearings were frozen and I was able to nurse them back to life in lieu of spending $250 for a new after market bearing! I even have new in the box spare speed and depth transducers, but I think we are going to move away from the system incrementally over the next year. Just ordered a total replacement system from Tacktick, but will be initially only implementing the mast head wind transducer and wind display. Other elements will need to wait until our next haulout maintenance cycle.

GPS: Nothstar 952X GPS chart plotter. We don't have chart chips for the device so it basically a fancy GPS, but suits our needs for a GPS signal out to our PC running MaxSea.

Navigation Laptop: Averatec 1050 with a 10" screen new in early 2007. It's about at the end of the road as it a tough life for a PC in the salty marine environment. A solid little machine that has miserly power needs and runs MaxSea 10 reliably. My normal practice is to sell laptops when the get to be about 1 year old as after that reliability drops as does resale. I waited to long on this one and now the CD/DVD drive is dead.

AIS transponder: ACR with integral GPS. I really like the idea of the AIS transponder, unfortunately this one is not working so well right now. Contacts are only 3-4 nm out in lieu of the 15-20 they should be

VHF radio: I-COM M422. Has very powerful speaker and works great overall. We run this radio 24 hours a day everyday on channel 16. Yes, all night every night. I wish every one would do the same.

Mast head Tri-color: Orca Green LED one of the first and one of the best (1/2 amp per hour and very very bright).

We have plenty more to discuss, but this is what I run underway. Radar is getting replaced so I don't list it here.

At the moment I'm composing this email on my newer HP Mini Netbook computer with a 10" screen. It has a six cell battery than can go for 7-8 hours and is overall very efficient.

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