Saturday, November 21, 2015

Helm Setup Under Way

Everyone has probably customized their helm setup in some way. We would like to share what we've done on LUX.

We do a lot of ICW traveling, which requires constant vigilance to prevent running aground in the frequently narrow and thin waterway. Below is a picture of our help setup under way. There are the normal engine instruments and controls and a new Raymarine a75 chart plotter in the middle. We recently had to replace our old Raymarine 435 chart plotter and the a75 was the largest that would fit in the space between the ammeters. We could have moved the ammeters and installed a larger chart plotter, but that would have thrown off the rest of the setup.

To the left of the Raymarine a75 chart plotter, we have an iPad 2 running iNavX. The Raymarine instrumentation is transmitted to the iPad via a ShipModul Miniplex 2Wi wireless repeater. It translates the Raymarine SeaTalk instrumentation into NMEA 0183 sentences. The iPad is connected to the Miniplex WiFi hot spot and receives the NMEA 0183 sentences over the network.

You can see that we have the a75 zoomed in to show the detail of what's just ahead of us, while the iPad is zoomed out to provide situational awareness. We can see which way the waterway is turning or what AIS targets are around us. The iPad is fast and easy to use, allowing us to quickly do "what-if" analysis of our track. When on the ocean, we can see AIS targets many miles away and take avoidance action early. We can also track our position relative to our destination or waypoint with out losing sight on the a75 of local details. Team Vestas in the Volvo Ocean Race would have benefited from a zoomed-in view of their immediate surroundings to avoid running aground.

This year, we installed a new VHF radio with remote mic at the helm. We can now hear conversations that are further away than our hand-held VHF can handle. The hand-held VHF may still be positioned at the helm, depending on the situation. It is in the small box to the right of the a75 chart plotter. At the time of this picture, we were traveling with Fifth Quarter and using Ch 17 as a quick intercom between boats when needed. It also has a whistle on the lanyard, making it easy to grab to sound an alert.

The bright orange thing next to the hand-held VHF is an Shoreline Marine manual horn, powered by blowing into the hold on the side. It is very loud! And yes, we've had to use it.

Above the VHF remote mic and above the engine throttle/shifters, you'll see a red triangle and a green square. These remind us of the side on which the respective marks should appear. Southbound ICW shows red on starboard, except in some of the rivers. Northbound is reversed. It helps us remember which side is the preferred side as we approach marks. The symbols are made of foam and have velcro backing so it is easy to switch them.

Across the top are the regular Raymarine instruments. From right to left are the autopilot, compass, ST60 Graphic (set to display depth, SOG, COG, and DTW), and the ST60 Wind instrument.

Just above the binoculars, which themselves are essential on the ICW, is the handle of the fly swatter. You can't do the ICW without a fly swatter. Actually, you shouldn't try to do the ICW without at least four of them. Black flies and green-head flies are worse than mosquitos because they are out in the day and they hurt when they bite.

We did a similar post about our setup for running at night. See Rigged for Night Running.


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