A few pictures and a quick update on what we have accomplished aboard "Footloose".
Upon bringing our new old boat home several things were immediately on my wish list. A working depth sounder first on that list. We tried repairing the ancient Brooks and gatehouse unit to no avail and finally bit the bullet and bought a new Raymarine st60 unit. Rather than haul the boat I bedded the transducer in resin hoping for the best. Luckily it works wonderfully well and we can add the through hull transducer if we wish at the next routine haulout.
Second on my list was a navigation system. I used a Garmin GPS and paper charts on the trip from Port Townsend and while it worked it was nerve racking for me to constantly be peering at the tiny chartlet on the Garmin screen and hoping my translation of position to the paper chart was accurate. Initially I aquired The Rose Point/Maptech Coastal navigator program and used my laptop for navigation. this worked well and with the addition of a laptop mount to the nav station bulkhead was secure. With the addition of a Raymarine x-5 Autopilot this spring , aswell as A.I.S. it became a bit cumbersome to be plugging and unplugging cables and resetting com ports. The solution? A dedicated computer onboard. We went with an Acer Veriton L460 which has a very small footprint and is pretty much overkill as far as speed and capacity goes. A 19" flat screen monitor mounted to the bulkhead on a swing mount affords good visibility and the added benefit of being able to swing the display toward the salon for videos.
We now have a system that integrates GPS, A.I.S, Autopilot and electronic navigation. All at a fracton of the cost of what a proprietary system would cost. The hardest part of the installation by far was the cabling for the autopilot fluxgate compass, control head, course computer and drive unit. The computer end of things was basically plug and play. We used a Noland Multiplexer to bridge the USB computer ports to the NMEA and Seatalk components and it works like a charm. The Rose Point/Maptech program is intuitive and laying out routes is the work of seconds. Need to edit your course while under way? Just drag and drop your waypoints and re-send to the GPS and you are good to go. Best of all we are free from the tyranny of the wheel. It is a blast to watch the boat steer herself while one attends to the other pressing matters onboard.