Commodore 64

Most of you reading this blog probably have no idea what the Commodore 64 really 'is'.  It isn't a sailing term.  It is actually one of my first computers when I was in high school.  Over the years I've continued to be into technology gadgets, and admittedly can at times go 'overboard'.

There are two items on our boat that have proved themselves to be the 'best technology gadgets' we have aboard.  After sailing more than 2,500 miles on Field Trip, anchoring in a variety of different conditions, and navigating through some tricky harbors, the best two pieces of technology on our boat are Furuno MaxSea and the VesperMarine 850.  Let me explain.

Vesper Marine Anchor Watch
There is no bigger sleep killer than worrying about 'dragging anchor'.  We've all been there.  It isn't fun.  It sucks.  With the aid of our nifty 'all in one' AIS plus 'world class low power anchor watch' - we've had many nights of deep sleep on the hook.  We can look at our nifty screen and rest assured we are not dragging.  The alarm is loud enough to wake me up from sleep if we drag, and gives us assurances when the wind picks up to see our swing, and peace of mind all is 'OK'.  It's cheaper than the Furuno AIS, works better, integrates seamlessly with Furuno chart plotters, and gives you an independent method to keep track of your boat vs. burning energy by keeping a chart plotter on anchor watch.

Antares did an excellent job in integrating the VesperMarine to the existing nav station and NMEA backbone.  Very pleased with the quality and overall look.

Field Trip Nav Station with VesperMarine, Autopilot, VHF, SSB & Pactor Modem
Planning your route, plugging in waypoints, and navigating the boat via GPS and chart plotters is typical in today's relatively 'high tech' world of navigation.  Integrating laptop, weather reports, custom points of interest, sophisticated routings based on polars, waves, current, and wind in real time with your Furuno chart plotters is -- exceptional.  After weeks and weeks of use, I am more and more impressed with the integration of MaxSea to the Furuno NavNet 3D plotters.

When I originally signed the contract for our boat, the standard plotters were Raymarine.  After a lot of research and analysis, I told Antares I wanted Furuno because I felt like overall it has the best integration of marine instruments, world class radar and seamless MaxSea integration.  Jeff's eyes lit up as he informed me that Antares was moving to Furuno as well.

Let me give you some scenarios on how we use this on our boat:

Scenario #1 - Weather Routing

1.  Once or twice a day I download the weather report via SSB or V3.  The reports are loaded in MaxSea.

2.  I navigate to the planning section of MaxSea, click on our current route, and update the optimal sailing path based on the latest weather report.

3.  Once updated, I click on the new optimized route, and transfer to the Furuno chart plotters in a click.

4.  I then 'activate' the new route in MaxSea, and the autopilot and chart plotters sail the new course.

I never have to leave my nav station inside.  All of this occurs instantly since my laptop is part of the Furuno network via an ethernet cable at the nav station.  The new route pops on the screen at the helm, and away we go.

Scenario #2 - Detailed Route Planning

Most of our navigation involves meticulous planning and a lot of waypoints.  Nothing is more painful than keying in GPS coordinates on a chart plotter for each waypoint.

1.  Open MaxSea and plan all our routes on the charts.  This includes boundaries, custom icons for points of interest or hazards, custom comments, colors, etc.

2.  Once complete, we simply click on the route, and transfer all the details, including custom icons, etc to the Furuno chart plotters.

3.  We can activate the route in MaxSea or activate the route directly on the chart plotter.

Scenario #3 - Chart plotters die

It happens.  It's technology.  They will die or malfunction at some point.  MaxSea on a laptop provides a redundant, independent method to navigate.  100% without needing to use the helm plotters.

1.  Plug in a handheld GPS via USB, and you have a fully working navigation aid.

2.  If the network is still 'up', you can gather all navigation data (wind, SOG, VMG, etc, etc) within MaxSea, and customize the view to suite your needs - including controlling the autopilot.

In conclusion, if you have Furuno NN3D plotters, you should absolutely integrate them with your MaxSea software.  It's a no-brainer.  If you don't have MaxSea, buy it.  It has consistently been ranked the best laptop navigation software on the market.


My captain, Martin, who can be skeptical on newer now a BIG believer.  He is always on my case to get the latest weather so we can update the chart plotters and optimize our sailing route....grin.


  1. I can imagine how the SSB_pactor or satellite GRIB download turned into an optimized route utilizing the boats polars would make Martin smile : ) ....


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

My Diving Class!

Roncador Reef - Part I

Mortlock Islands, PNG