Affordable Instrument Packages
When looking for instrument displays to receive data from the various navigation, communication and security devices on our vessels, many of us install all manner of dials, LCD panels and color graphics into an awkwardly managed mélange above and below decks. This is more than likely the case if we own an older yacht that has gathered electronic equipment as we have gradually matured as sailors and invested funds in our instrument array.
If you own a relatively new production yacht, chances are your steering binnacle is already fitted with an instrument panel array including depth sounder, anemometer, wind direction indicator, speed and heading indicator, digital compass and VHF radio.
On the other hand, if you have a vintage cruising yacht with a stand-alone wheel or tiller, along with a magnetic compass, your instruments are most likely mounted to the coach roof under the dodger or below decks. For this type of retrofitted installation, electronics manufacturers offer marine instrument packages to fit virtually every vessel and budget.
One popular instrument array is the Garmin GNX Wireless Sail Pack 43, an affordable navigation package comprised of a gWind Wireless 2 transducer with mast bracket, a thru-hull speed and temperature transducer, and a variety of adjustable user settings enabling you to configure the screen layout according to your preferences.
The display configurations include more than 15 important marine parameters for wind, speed and navigation. Included in the package is the GNX Wind, which offers wireless connectivity up to 50 feet with the gWind Wireless 2 transducer at the masthead, eliminating the need to run a cable through the mast.
Another key feature of the GNX Wind is its ability to connect to a Garmin quatix 3 GPS Marine Smartwatch via ANT technology to provide key data streaming directly to your wrist, where you can check it while lying in your bunk. The quatix 3 is NMEA 2000-compatible for GPS charts and waypoint downloads, autopilot control, wind speed, compass course and more.
Within this same capability and price range is the Raymarine i70s System Pack, featuring wind, depth and speed readouts, along with NMEA 2000 connectivity for engine, fuel and navigation data.
Raymarine’s i70s Multi Display claims “maximum visibility and maximum versatility” to display instrument and navigation data crucial to your voyage. You can opt for the i70s as an addition to your existing Raymarine instrument system or assemble a network of i70s displays and sensors to fit the needs of your vessel. With this system in AIS repeater mode, you can visually track nearby vessels on the display screen.
The i70s network accepts input from Airmar DST800 transducers and the new in-hull P70s smart transducer, both of which communicate through NMEA 2000 networks. Equipped with an attractive, bold, bright display, the i70s is easily customizable with digital, analogue and graphic displays of depth, speed, wind and more. The Raymarine i70s integrated panel comes with a black gunmetal bezel and a protective, UV-resistant dust cover.
Committing to a new, all-inclusive instrument display for your floating palace should be a deliverance from the potpourri of sensors and viewing screens you may have endured in the past. Select a comprehensive sensor and display package meeting your needs and those of the vessel before setting off on your next ocean-cruising adventure.
Circumnavigator-author Bill Morris believes the best strategy for succeeding as an offshore voyager is to keep systems simple and, if possible, manual. Key to survival are a windvane self-steering system, a basic array of electronics and an aggressive alternative energy battery charging matrix. Bill is a frequent contributor to Ocean Navigator and the author of The Windvane Self-Steering Handbook (International Marine, 2004); Sun, Wind, & Water: The Essential Guide to the Energy-Efficient Cruising Boat (Seaworthy Publications, 2017), and The Captain’s Guide to Alternative Energy Afloat (Seaworthy Publications, 2019).