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What does a navigation system include?

It is hard to believe the evolution of navigation technology from the reliance on stars to the advanced digital screens onboard today. Modern-day navigation would not be possible had the brilliant minds of scientists and engineers not developed the satellite. With the implementation of satellites in space, GPS, or Global Positioning Systems became possible. As satellites orbit the earth, our vessel's position is easily tracked to safely and efficiently guide us to our destination. 

Today, it is a rarity to find a vessel lacking an onboard GPS. A global positioning system can come in varying sizes to match anything from an 8-foot kayak to a luxurious mega yacht. Additionally, each unit can vary in options ranging from a black and white screen to a high-resolution display with all the bells and whistles. 

While the most basic units are capable of getting the operator from point A to point B, many captains and owners prefer a far more versatile system capable of multiple functions. Two of the best marine navigation manufacturers are Furuno and Garmin. Each of these offers a wide range of adaptable accessories to maximize onboard navigating and monitoring capabilities.  

Each Garmin and Furuno offer different mapping programs. However, each is highly accurate, and the selection is merely a matter of preference. Most importantly, it is best to consider what compatible accessories best suit your desired operation. Let's explore many of the adaptable features.

-Onboard Camera Systems- Both Garmin and Furuno link onboard camera systems to monitor multiple streams. Some common camera mounting locations include the engine room, passageways, and clear fore and aft views to assist the captain in docking. Lastly, forward-looking infrared cameras or FLIR for night vision purposes are easily integrated and provide an increased level of safety and most importantly security for guests and crew.   

-Autopilots- Reduce fuel expenses and maintain a sharp lookout by eliminating hand steering. Autopilot is excellent for both lengthy deliveries and serious fishermen. Additionally, with a pre-programmed route in the chart plotter, the autopilot can be set to navigate the course line automatically. 

-Fusion-Link Entertainment- To control onboard entertainment at the touch of a screen, Fusion-Link Entertainment is a must. Fusion-Link allows the ability to manage four zones independent of each other. The system is easily interfaced with an iPod, and when combined with a subscription and tuner, allows for SiriusXM integration. 

VHF Marine Radios- Furuno and Garmin feature Marine radios with built-in AIS (Automatic Identification System). When the radio is combined with select chart plotters, an AIS overlay appears on the screen. Additionally, often the radio includes a built-in GPS. The inclusion of GPS provides an excellent backup source. 

Radars- Depending on the application, radar selection can vary. First is the style of radar, which comes it two options an Open Array and Pedestal. Secondly, another essential factor is output power—the higher the output power, the greater the range. Additional factors come into play, such as space constraints for mounting radars. Lastly, while the maximum ranges vary from 36 nautical miles to 96 nautical miles, the operator's skill level to properly tune the radar has a significant impact on the radar's actual ability. 

Sonar- While most chart plotters come standard with built-in sonar, both Furuno and Garmin offer the most advanced sonar upgrade. CHIRP or Compressed High-Intensity Radar Pulse utilizes a sweep pattern of many frequencies, which transmit a long-duration pulse from the transducer. CHIRP is so powerful; the sound energy is 10 to 1,000 times stronger than standard marine fish finders and can read up to 10,000 feet deep. CHIRP can be combined with other Black Box Sonars, such as side-scanning devices. Side scanners offer the ability to view underwater structures and fish for an extended range of up to 750 feet on each side of the vessel from the transducers mounting position. To maximize the scope of view, the correct transducer must be installed. 

Charts- While most plotters come pre-loaded with charts, they may be limited in capacity based on your voyage plans. Furuno and Garmin each offer the capability of adding additional charts by region.  Either brand accepts upgrades via an SD card or through a wireless internet connection. It is crucial to note that the standard chart may not contain navigational data in your desired destination. Additionally, when purchasing charts by region, they will include greater detail such as satellite imagery, Raster charts, and below and above surface 3D elevation changes.

Chart plotters can span from the most basic system to sophisticated, all-encompassing onboard resources to manage many aspects of the operation. Utilizing marine electronics to its full capacity by including cameras, an autopilot,  a VHF radio, chart plotter, sonar, radar, and entertainment controls, is a challenging installation and must be done professionally due to its complexity. Yacht Gurus specializes in integrating these onboard systems.    

It's often overlooked how many components are mounted either below the surface or in highly exposed areas; these include hulls, radar decks, and exterior helms. The interior also provides its own set of unique challenges. Hundreds of feet of cable are run in confined spaces, helms often require alteration to receive the new equipment which is why Yacht Gurus utilizes REAL carbon fiber for new dashboards, and advanced wiring must be completed to sync all systems to one control point. 

Through hull, transducers offer the most exceptional ability to read subsurface structures. Utilizing a high-quality transducer will provide greater satisfaction while underway. When installing a transducer, it must be done carefully and precisely. The location, angle, and hole size must all be adequately gauged. Most importantly, the transducer mounts between the inside and outside of the hull; proper measures must be taken to seal the opening appropriately. The Yacht Gurus team will complete the transducer installation to maximize its performance. 

When selecting or upgrading onboard electronics, it is often more cost-effective to consider a comprehensive combination. Here are a few reasons to buy and install the proper electronics package all at one time. Limit the out-of-services time, reduce expenses by eliminating the potential for an additional haulout, and, most importantly, investing in a chart plotter with all of the accessories as a one time purchase will come at a reduced cost as opposed to incremental additions. The professionals at Yacht Gurus consult with clients to better understand needs. Once the client presents goals, Yacht Gurus carefully and accurately installs the desired equipment. Here at Yacht Gurus, we are your professional navigation equipment experts. Call us at 954-348-4894; we look forward to working with you on your next chart plotter installation. 

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