Night navigation in the 21st century

It took five nights to get from Palm Beach to Norfolk, and friends have asked whether we might have gotten lost or tired.   We were considerably aided by the devices shown below, on this picture taken on our first night.  From left to right, foreground row:

  • Raytheon autopilot keypad (green screen), partially shadowed by steering wheel. This redundant system was not used on this trip.
  • Magnetic compass.  The only analog instrument on this photo.
  • Keypad to control the B&G chartplotters above and below deck.
  • Bluetooth Simrad VHF extension.  This wireless handheld mic/speaker/screen duplicates the VHF radio installed below deck.

Background row:

  • B&G ZT7 chartplotter, showing a wind rose with our possible tacking angles and histograms of wind speed and direction for the last hour.
  • B&G Z12 chartplotter extension (dumbscreen duplicates the unit installed belowdecks) showing navigation chart, radar, and AIS targets on the left and traditional radar on the right.
  • Three B&G Tritons, showing from left to right: wind rose, histogram of GPS speed for the last 30 minutes, and target, actual, and rudder B&G autopilot performance indication.

The critical information could be shown in a fraction of these screens, but we are glad that Peregrinus' systems have room for redundancies.  We had one chartplotter reboot after four days of continuous use and we had a touchscreen go haywire once due to device overheat –the underlying device remained operational when accessed from an iPad.  We also had a depth sounder show 27 feet depth for a few minutes when we were 1200 feet above sea bottom.   These glitches sorted themselves out, but we were never relying solely on any one piece.

 Peregrinus  offshore on the Gulf stream, 10:05 pm 9 Jun 2014.  iPhone 4.

Peregrinus offshore on the Gulf stream, 10:05 pm 9 Jun 2014.  iPhone 4.