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There is a truly be­wil­der­ing range of elec­tronic equip­ment on the mar­ket and for any­one with­out ex­ten­sive off­shore ex­pe­ri­ence it must be very dif­fi­cult, if not im­pos­si­ble, to make the right choice.

In the case of Aven­tura IV, I seem to have made the right choices re­gard­ing elec­tronic equip­ment and would make the same choice if I were to equip another boat now. The B&G Zeus MFD (Mul­ti­func­tion Dis­play) com­bines in­puts from charts, in­stru­ments, weather, radar, au­topi­lot, GPS, AIS and depth sounder with two 12in dis­plays – one at the navs­ta­tion, and one in the cock­pit. The cock­pit dis­play is backed up by a smaller 8in dis­play at the port­side wheel.

In spite of its com­plex­ity, the sys­tem is sim­ple to use and very re­li­able. The two au­topi­lots are en­tirely in­de­pen­dent of each other, each with its own com­pass, rud­der in­di­ca­tor, and GPS in­put. For com­mu­ni­ca­tions I use the Irid­ium Pi­lot broad­band, and also an ICOM M802 SSB ra­dio. Any­one who has never made a mis­take has never tried any­thing new.


Al­bert Ein­stein

This is why it is so im­por­tant to learn not only from your own mis­takes, but also from those made by oth­ers. At one re­cent rally it struck me that many of the par­tic­i­pants’ boats were well pre­pared, yet they them­selves were not. Too much seemed to have been ne­glected or left un­til the last minute, from on­board email ca­pa­bil­ity to es­sen­tial spares, not to speak of a backup for the au­topi­lot.

I dis­cussed this sub­ject with an old friend whose com­ments per­fectly echo my own views: “We have the great ad­van­tage of hav­ing started off by sail­ing on sim­ple boats with no so­phis­ti­cated equip­ment. Once you have sailed on such a boat you can eas­ily ad­just to a more so­phis­ti­cated boat, but not the other way around. ”

There is cer­tainly a be­wil­der­ing choice of yachts and equip­ment avail­able today, but if you con­sider the es­sen­tial fea­tures listed here and then pre­pare your­self and your cho­sen yacht as thor­oughly and as early as pos­si­ble, you will be in bet­ter shape for com­plet­ing long voy­ages in greater safety and com­fort than we were when we first started off. Jimmy Cor­nell founded the At­lantic Rally for Cruiser (ARC) and has or­gan­ised 30 transatlantic ral­lies, five round the world ral­lies and one round the world race, with over 3,000 boats and 15,000 sailors hav­ing par­tic­i­pated all told. His lat­est book, 200,000 Miles, is avail­able from cor­nell­sail­ing.com

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