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Legacy is a thoroughly modern lady, which is to say that she is burdened with complex and inter-connected systems.  When they work, these systems make life a pleasure making navigation, sailing, eating, and living aboard easier.  The downside is that when they fail or don't work as expected they create difficult to diagnose problems and interesting repairs.  While we enjoy our high tech gadgets, we always have in the back of our mind a fall back system that does not relay on high tech equipment.  So we use electronic charts extensively, but we always have paper back ups available.  Since the laptop is a critical element we carry two one in use and the second configured with all the same software, but totally disconnected from ship's systems.  It can be plugged in as a substitute if the main system unit fails.  We also carry a complete autopilot system as a back up in case of failure of parts or pieces of the autopilot.  And of course we have both spare handheld GPS receivers and a sextant and tables for true total systems failures.  That said, we do enjoy the benefits of technology.

Sailing Instrumentation
We use Autohelm ST60 instrument connected via a Sea-Talk network.  We have depth, wind speed and direction, water speed, GPS, and fluxgate (compass) sensors.  This data is displayed on both dedicated and multifunction displays.  We have water speed, water depth, windspeed and direction, and closehauled dedicated displays mounted on the aft of the cabin house.  The autopilot head is to the starboard aft in the cockpit, and we have a multifunction display and GPS control head in the nav station.  We use the Raytheon RN300 GPS receiver which will utilize satellite differential corrections when they are available to significantly improve accuracy.  We also have an ST 6000 Remote unit which controls the autopilot and can bring up data from any of the other instruments.  Although we currently have only one outlet for this unit, we are planning to add another in the pullman berth forward so one can check the data when in the berth.  At present we use it mostly for lounging forward on deck and steering around debris in the water.

All of these instruments are connected to a Sea-Talk to NMEA interface through the network.  This bidirectional interface allows NMEA data to be passed to the laptop computer running Nobeltec navigation software and for the laptop to pass steering corrections to the autopilot.

Communications Iridium phone
In addition to an ICOM IC-M59 VHF radio for routine communications, we also carry an Iridium satellite phone that lives in a docking station which keeps its batteries charged and allows it to be connected to an external antenna and to the laptop.  Although expensive on a per minute basis, the phone can literally call almost any number in the world from anywhere else.  It also gives us a slow data rate internet and email connection.  By limiting our high-seas email to text only and working fast, we are able to send and receive email messages and update our web log in a little less than three minutes.  Since we usual do this only every two or three days the expense is pretty reasonable.

During our first season cruising we had a ICOM PCR 1000 SSB and FAX receiver.  We found that listening in on the nets and weather forecasts was fun, but often wished that we could ask questions and pass traffic to boats far away.  In the fall of 2004 we upgraded or SSB radio to a ICOM 802 transceiver.  This radio has allowed us to communicate with folks as far away as Michigan and to participate regularly in the cruiser nets.  Definitely a worthwhile addition.  Many cruisers use Sailmail and Winlink over their radios for email, but we continue to use the Iridium phone for email.  To add email capability to our radio we would have to purchase an expensive Pactor modem, so the additional expense does not seem warranted at this time.  Although our radio covers the ham bands as well as the Marine SSB frequencies, we are not currently licensed to transmit on ham frequencies but can listen in.  We were able to mount the control heads for the radio in the nav-station and put the radio itself in the aft cabin close to the batteries, antenna tuner, and far enough from all the other electronics to minimize interference. We use a 23 foot vertical whip antenna mounted on the starboard stern quarter and supported by the radar arch.

Electronic Navigation
We use Nobeltec Max-Pro software running on a Dell Latitude D530 laptop.  Using both the Max-Pro vector charts and other raster charts we have found the Nobeltec software to be quite usable and reliable.  One needs to remember that navigation information is very critical so must be backed up with paper charts, tide books, and light lists.  We have seen several examples of charts where the charted GPS position is significantly different from the real world position,  This can happen when the GPS data is wrong, when the datum used by the chart and the GPS differ, or when the chart is based on old and inaccurate surveys. 

Mexican charts in particular are quite inaccurate being based on surveys from the mid-1800s.  Depending on where in Mexico you are the charts are between 1/4 and 1 mile offset.  The relative position of objects shown on the chart are accurate, but the absolute position is wrong.

Using the radar overlay (see below) we have built up a large number of waypoints and routes for Mexico that represent the ACTUAL position of critical objects.  Using information recorded on previous trips means that we can approach and enter anchorages that might be too risky otherwise.

Before using electronic navigation for critical navigation one needs to confirm its accuracy at this location and at this time with comparison to the real world.  (Most of the maps and charts that you find on this site are created from edited screen shots from the Nobeltec display.)   We also use Nobeltec Radar, which is a repackaged version of the Seitech Radar PC.  We have found this to be a great system.  The radar image can be overlaid on the chart so it is easy to discriminate land and fixed objects from those that might be boats or other objects.  We have found that running a large scale chart view in one window and the radar in another window makes a great way to keep track of targets and keep in touch with the overall navigational picture.  Radar makes running at night, around boat traffic, or in unfamiliar locations much more comfortable.  To be useful, though, one must practice with the radar in good conditions to learn how to interpret and adjust the radar for when you really need it.  We almost always run the radar when we are underway.

watermakerInstalled by Sound Rigging is a Spectra Newport 400 watermaker.  After agonizing for several months over installation location we elected to install it on the forward side of the watertight shop bulkhead.  This gives easy access to all of the parts of the watermaker for maintenance and inspection.  All of the other alternatives required shoehorning the many parts and filters into a locker, making future access problematic.  Another benefit is that this frees up a large locker for more storage, always a good thing.  The Clark Pump and reverse osmosis membranes are mounted on a heavy metal frame, making quite a weighty block.  Since we have the large bookcase on the other side of the bulkhead we were able to through bolt the heavy components.  We also modified the workshop shelf to take a portion of the load as well. TheMPC300 Control Panel Newport 400 is highly automated, producing water and flushing itself with only minimal attention.  We installed the remote control panel in the kitchen where it is easy to see and where its alarm can be heard in the cabin and cockpit.

The Spectra Newport 400 produces about 15 gallons per hour drawing about 20 amps.  Having a watermaker means that we don't worry about using water to wash dogs or ourselves.  We have found that the watermaker is usable in almost any anchorage.  The biggest issue is filter life in high particulate areas.  We have found that we can rinse and reuse filters several times to extend their life and minimize the numbers we have to carry.

Electrical Generation, Storage, and Monitoring
All of the technology on board creates a need for large battery banks.  Although we carry a house bank with 2 eight-D batteries, we would be happy with more capacity if there was an easy place to put it.  We charge the batteries from four sources: the regular engine driven large frame alternator; an Ample Power Genie 12v diesel 175amp alternator; five solar panels totalling 250 watts installed on the radar arch; and a shoreside 120v battery charger.  Care of batteries is important so we use a Xantrex Link 2000 battery monitor which both monitors electrical consumption and controls the Freedom 2000 inverter. 
Almost everything on the boat operates on 12v power, but we carry a Freedom 2000 inverter to provide 120v AC power for the microwave and TV/VCR., as well as for the chargers used by tools, radio, and digital cameras.

Page update 10/05/2008