In a previous progress report, when I wrote about our choices for navigational electronics, I described myself as “old school”. Having been a recreational boater for more than 40 years, I’ve experienced the transition from using paper charts, depth sounders, radio direction finders and having no radar, to the world of fully-integrated, redundant, digital electronics–GPS, chart plotters, sonar, weather receivers and HD (high definition) radar.
Back in the day, the helm of a vessel was designed around a wheel and a compass, and basic engine instrumentation. As navigational electronics made their way into recreational boats, the components were mounted on brackets somewhere on the helm console. They stood out as a status symbol, as if to say, “look at me!” I remember the AM marine radio on our family boat in the early 1970’s was the size of a toaster oven and weighed as much as a microwave!
When you step aboard a new, semi-custom yacht today, the navigational electronics should blend seamlessly with the pilothouse layout, and reflect the specific wants and needs of the owner. At first, it might seem like a daunting task to decide not only what systems to have installed, but also to know where the heck to put it all! That’s why Tom taps the expertise of our marine electronics vendors (who are the experts of the ever-changing world of marine electronics), Dave (our naval architect, who provides detailed joinery drawings), and our boat yard (excellent craftsmanship and implementation) to produce a great-looking and functional helm every time.
I had several conversations with our electronics vendor, which resulted in a specification report and a helm drawing done by Dave. Upon sign-off of the specification, I made a deposit to Kadey-Krogen Yachts and all the components were purchased. As I like to say, “easy peasy”.
On a rare occasion, an owner may want to install his own electronics, or desire a brand that needs to be installed once the boat arrives in the United States. While I am somewhat of a geek and would love to install the electronics myself, Janet and I have decided the best course of action is to have everything installed at the yard as the boat is built. The thought of spending time opening the wire chases throughout the boat and running hundreds of feet of cable, seems like a delay to getting out on the water!
The components we ordered were delivered to the electronics firm, and once the system completed its “bench test”, it was packaged and sent to the yard with all the cables and antennas, and a complete set of cabling/installation drawings. Additionally, Dave developed custom joinery drawings for the yard that show where each component is to be perfectly placed. Of course, the system will be tested by yard personnel to ensure basic operability. So, all that will be left to do when our baby arrives (in terms of electronics), will be to have our vendor go aboard to verify the installation and perform all the initial start-up activities, such as loading the latest charts and software.
Designing the flybridge helm was straight forward for us. We rarely ran our Krogen 42’ from the flybridge because we preferred the comfort of the pilothouse and its proximity to the galley. So, we kept our 50’s flybridge helm simple, with just a single chart plotter, autopilot control, depth sounder and VHF radios. You can see in the two drawings below, that I made sure the thruster controls were next to the engine control, and that the VHF microphones were not on the starboard side of the helm. While I am right handed, it is better to have the mics centrally accessible on the flybridge.
The pilothouse required much more thought. Just as we drew upon our home remodeling experience when we designed our galley, for our pilothouse, I considered my vehicle. Yes, my vehicle, which has a heads-up display (a wonderful invention)! Instead of taking your eyes off the road for a quick check of the speedometer, your speed is illuminated right before your eyes on your windshield. Taking that inspiration with us for our pilothouse helm, we accomplished my goal of having as much information visible while looking forward as possible.
In my opinion, far too many operators spend too much time looking at screens, instead of looking out their windows. To keep our controls in line-of-sight, our engine panel with temperatures and pressures, our generator panel, the navigation screens, autopilot, depth sounder, and even our rudder angle indicator, are all in the same horizontal plane. We will have no instruments in the overhead panel, and have only controls (engine, thruster, wipers, etc.) in the console, and all will be arranged with related items close together. For example, the thruster controls, anchor and throttle, are all located to the right side of the wheel since all three will be used together when anchoring.
The electronics and drawings are on their way to the yard and by July, I should be able to show some of those pieces being installed. Currently, the yard is preparing for engine and generator installation. In the photo below, you can see that the fuel tanks, with their large inspection ports, are in place, as is the pad which will hold the generator. To offer perspective on the overall size of the engine room, the cutout for the engine room door is six feet!
That wraps it up for my fifth progress report. In my May installment, I’ll share more about equipment installation. Until then, fair winds and following seas.
Did you miss Progress Report #4? You can read it here.