Shiny new gadgets that talk to each other are just too much to resist for Jonty Pearce, as he gives into temptation once more
I can’t resist it. I keep getting tempted by new electronic wizardry. As new technology comes on the market the sales teams sprinkle the shiny new units with magical fairy dust that whispers ‘Buy me!’ directly into my inner ear. I have little immunity.
Aurial has a perfectly good electronic system. I’ve chosen Raymarine as the main brand: with autopilot, smart heading sensor, instruments, Lifetag MOB, MOB button, AIS, sonar, and with a C70 chartplotter to link all together, the system integrates well. All the instruments talk together in a highly satisfying and clever way to reassure me that I am truly where my eyes tell me. However, my ‘upgradeitis’ started with a non-Raymarine item; the VHF. I bought a dual handset RAY240 unit (off eBay as is my habit) that would enable us to both hear and use the VHF in the cockpit. After the Cruising Association MOB seminar in November 2015, Carol and I learned the value of being able to send a DSC Mayday call when sailing two up: if one of us went overboard the other would not want to lose touch by going below to the navigation table to send a call for help. The VHF will now also place a DSC alert’s position onto the chartplotter. But, for all this integration to work at its best, each component needs to be using the latest software. My C70 chartplotter does not have the capability to facilitate upgrades throughout the system; components using outdated software would have to be taken in to a dealer or sent to Raymarine. A later chartplotter would be able to update the instruments in situ via an SD card…
And so I started looking at later model chartplotters, and ‘accidentally’ bought a E90W multifunction display at an irresistable price off eBay. But when I proudly took it down to my boat, I discovered that the unit was too wide to fit inside my binnacle grab hoop. It is, after all, labelled as a ‘wide’ unit. Rather than extensively modifying the binnacle and cockpit table, I researched MFDs a little more carefully. A Raymarine e9 series might just fit, but the eS7, albeit hosting a smaller screen, would sit best in the limited space.
A secondary reason for an MFD upgrade is to facilitate a potential future radar installation. The e90W uses digital radar, but cannot support the new Quantum unit; the e9 series can. Then I learned that whilst the e9 could connect wirelessly to the Quantum radar, it could not also simultaneously link the data through to a chart table iPad. This has made me shift my lustful eyes across to the eS7 series. This, currently the newest Raymarine MFD series, is sensibly able to wirelessly link to a Quantum radar while also maintaining a wireless link to an iPad. And, rather than going to the expense of a second ‘repeater’ MFD below decks (if so I chose), the idea of being able to use my iPad to monitor radar, chart position, and AIS anywhere on the yacht appeals.
While perusing the eS7 manual, I discovered that these MFD’s can also control a Fusion MS-AV750 Marine Entertainment System. As the CD radio on Aurial is rather ancient, the Fusion seemed an appropriate unit to upgrade to. Not only could it display DVD’s if I installed a monitor, but I could relay all the music on my iPhone and iPad through it. And guess what? A bargain new, boxed unit came up on eBay!
So where does it all end? I am a true believer in being able to sail without electronics, but I do like my toys. Once I learn that a link can be made between units, I cannot resist purchasing the equipment to make the possibility reality, even if I don’t really need it. And then when, in the future, the integration fails, I will start to stress. I need help, counselling, and an eBay ban. I will phone the Samaritans and enrol in eA (the compulsive shopper’s equivalent to AA – eBay Anonymous), and get myself under control. But in the meantime I will have endless fun installing my purchases, reading the manuals, and setting it all up to work seamlessly together. Happy days.
Tom Cunliffe podcast: The Three Wise Men found their way to Bethlehem by astro- navigation. What would they make of our chartplotters?
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