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BHamster
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Joined: 8/8/18
Posts: 17
Radar/chartplotter recommendations

Hello All, ​My wife and I cruise in northern Puget Sound and southern BC.  As we are retiring soon, we’re planning to extend our range north through the inside of Vancouver Island and possibly to SE Alaska.  In preparation, I’ll be doing an electronics upgrade this winter.  That includes replacing what appears to be the original 1995 Autohelm radar, and a 10 year old Garman GPS Map 440 chartplotter.  There are so many nice, new options out there that I hardly know where to start. Anything new will be heaps better than what I’ve got.   I’m thinking about a 7 to 9” MFD with a modern 18-20 inch radar post mounted on the stern.   Since most of our cruising will be on relatively protected waters, I’m more interested in using the radar to see things floating nearby like boats and buoys rather than long range.   I’m wondering if anyone has a brand, or model that they are particularly happy with… or unhappy with.  Any words of wisdom about this upgrade will be appreciated.  Thanks    

Steve Bogert / Bonnie Sprague
"Wild Spirit"
1995 Catalina 36 Mk II, Tall Rig, Fin Keel, Hull #1412
Bellingham, WA

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Ray Taylor
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Joined: 9/11/19
Posts: 36

Congratulations on your upcomming retirement.    

I’m no expert on Radar or Instrumentation but I’ll share what I can.    Our 36 Mk2 has reasonably receint  (2018) Raymarine (wind, depth, speed, radar, ais).   Our last boat had Garmin.  I was happy with either system.   IMHO Garmin had better customer serivce, Raymarine is a little more difficult.  That said, I only needed support during installation. 

Radar has been a game changer for us in the Sound and it’s a safety upgrade that we should have done earlier.  The newer digital radar seems to be energy conservative and reasonably easy to use (with a learning curve).     Our radar is mast mounted which works fine but the cable was not installed in the mast conduit.   This makes rolly anchorages noisey.   I like the idea of a stern post mount, but our boat with davits doesn’t really have the room.

We prefer to split the MFD screen, with radar/ais on one screen and nav chart on the other.  Of course there are multiple other options, like radar/chart overlay, but this is what we’ve settled on.  For this option a larger screen chart plotter works better.     I’d also urge you to consider AIS.    

Good luck,

Ray

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Chachere
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Joined: 10/27/10
Posts: 694

   No expert on radar, either, but like Ray, I'll share what I can, FWIW
Three years ago we replaced our somewhat ancient (early 2000s) Garmin chartplotter and a JRC radar with a B&G Zeus 2 MFD (chartplotter and 3G broadband radar).   While we find the Zeus somewhat less intuitively easy than the Garmin, the display and functionality are great, particularly the radar.   And compared to our old pulse radar, the broadband radar uses FAR less power when operating, comes on instantly when needed, and is supposedly safer (in terms of emissions).   We perfer to split the MFD screen when both are operating.
   Not sure what you mean by a "18-20 inch radar post" at the stern -- that would be rather low!  We added an Edson stern pole (I think its 90"), the only downside for us is that it sometimes shades our bimini-mounted solar panels....

BHamster
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Joined: 8/8/18
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Thanks for your input.  To clarify... I meant an 18-20 inch diameter radar dome mounted on an Edson stern pole. I'm also wondering how important you think it is to have buttons and knobs (Like B&G Zeus) vs an all-touch display (like B&G Vulcan).  It seems that the buttons would be pretty handy at times.  

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Chachere
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   Since you indicated your are retiring soon, I assume we share approximately the same age demographic.   So, lemme just say that my view is "the more buttons the better" (although i could speculate they probably increase the risks of water infiltration from a design point of view, supposedly the reason why Apple has eliminated almost every button from their phones); the dexterity one needs with touch screens in general becomes more acute with age -- particularly on a rocking boat in a seaway.   But then, I miss analog dials and buttons on many other devices as well (phones, radios, and so on -- don't you miss just twisting the FM radio knob to the left to find all the interesting stuff?)....  
     That having been said, my understanding is that the Vulcan is more-or-less the same as the Zeus from a software perspective, and the touch screen on the Zues is quite responsive and sensitive. But for things like tweaking screen zooms and so forth I find the dial is more user friendly.   But that's just me.
   For the same reason, the larger the screen the better!   I do find the 9" works well enough for our purposes, even in split screen mode (I think in a 7" display that might be marginal), if money were no object I certainly would have gone larger.
 

BHamster
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Joined: 8/8/18
Posts: 17

Ray, Thanks for your help.  Yes, AIS is important part of the big picture.  I'm mainly focused on choosing the radar and MFD right now.  I appreciate your comments about split screen.  That makes sense.  

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Backwater
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Joined: 8/10/14
Posts: 15

Hi,

I have a Raymarine Axiom Pro 9" installed at the helm (in a purpose built Navpod). Above this I have  triple gauge Navpod with wind (i60), multi (i70) and autohelm. All connected by a new NMEA2000 backbone. This allows me to add toys as and when I can afford to. Installed an Aimar UDST800 speed, depth temp sensor to replace the paddle wheel. About to add AIS, and an external GPS aerial. The axiom Pro allows you to use sonar - very good for spotting floating logs, containers or whales! The transducer will be another hole in the boat though. Obviously it also connects with radar, stereo, drones etc. The list goes on. Hope this helps.

Lanealoha
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Joined: 2/13/20
Posts: 23

I dont know much about Chartplotter/radars, however I too am in the process of upgrading the electronics on my boat.  B & G just came out with a newer model of the Zeus 3 called the Zeus 3 s.  From what I understand it is just a faster processor.  With that being said I got a good deal on the Zeus3 9" MFD, look around if that model interest you you may find a good deal on one.  Now how about the radar, thats next on my list too.  Also wondering I think I should replace my wind/ depth/ speed instruments as well.  Does anyone know if a new B&G transducer will fit the same thru hole as a raymarine or do the sizes all vary amoung the different manufacturers?

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