Garmin System Extensions ~ Complete February 2016

Whenever you buy a boat one of the key questions is, "How modern are the Electronics?". With Rua Fiola we found that most of the existing Garmin System was circa 2012. As we all know, Garmin has a product refresh cycle that seems to be annual, but the 2012 on-board equipment was well cared for and fully functional. This is what we had:

This refit was done while the boat was on the Chesapeake Bay, by a new Australian owner who intended to take her to Freemantle, Australia, and is the reason for the GPSmap750s which is the export model of the US GPSmap740 version. The next part of the list is what we decided to add, while keeping the whole system Garmin, and building out the NMEA 2000 backbone

The large GPSmap 7215 Chartplatter was literally "shoe horned" into the space in the Nav Station where the original JRC 3000 radar display had been. As both the GPSmap 750s and 7215 are Touch Screen and interconnected through the port expander they see the same informaton, with the exception that the 750s only supports a dedicated Radar input. The AIS 600 tranciever replaced an old recieve only ACR unit that was NEMA 0183, USB and VGA computer output, thus not compatable with the new system. The wiring in of all these new additions and finding room to extend the origonal NMEA 2000 backbone was "testy" but done, in cupboard space and recess adjacent to the gslley sink. All tested out well with the exception of bring the XM satellite weather live. Breakers were allocated in the main Nav Station panel and dedicated fuse blocks place adjacent to the new equipment grouping.

XM Satellite Weather Install ~ To be Commissioned

It is an ongoing argument as to when enough is enough. If you have Radar why do you need AIS? If you have a variety of apps or SSB for weatherfax why do you need XM satellite weather. The answer in my mind is easy. AIS and XM cost less than $1,200 to buy the parts, and they deliver real time information which is really good in a 25 mile radius. You can see while sailing what is immediately ahead, and the AIS means big ships moving at speed can see you - VERY IMPORTANT. XM is a monthly fee for service buut includes the music channels as well.

We were first made aware of XM by a couple who are part of a Medical Mission that deliver supplies to areas hit by Tropical Storms and Hurricanes to islands in the Carribean. They had used it extensively on their 47 and 62 foot boats to get around weather when delivering medical supplies or even rescuing people. They said they would not go to sea without it during their 6 month duty periods Novenber to April in these tropical waters. THe XM service covers all of the US including the Great Lakes, Hudson Bay, West Coast and up to the Gulf of Alaska.

Absolute reliance on these devices does not a good sailor make. Trip planning, Weather Windows, knowledge of On-shore and Off-shore winds in the morning and evening is critical to the Captain, but it is amazing to see the confidence of the 1st mate (or Admiral) that comprehensive on-screen information gives - especially when alone for their watch periods. So we are doing it, and will update this page with results or failures.