INTEGRATED NAV SYSTEM
Testing the pure sailing B&G Vulcan 7 and networked instruments
The chart plotter on our boat was ancient and our instruments didn’t ‘talk’ to each other. It was time not just for a new chartplotter, but for a complete overhaul of our instruments with a modern NMEA 2000 network.
WHAT IS IT?
We opted for the B&G system because it is made purely for sailing. The heart of our system is B&G’S entry-level Vulcan 7 touch-screen multifunction display and chartplotter. We chose Navionics cartography as we are both used to using this on our mobile phones and we liked the functionality it offers. We mounted it on deck where the sunlight-visible and waterproof screen comes into its own. Next to this we mounted a Triton 2 instrument display to give us wind, speed, depth and a host of other information on display while using the Vulcan 7 as a chartplotter. Data was provided by the Airmar DST 800 through hull transducer (depth, speed and temp) and the WS320 wireless wind sensor. THE TEST
Installing the system was done with the help of Sean Hunter from Greenham Regis Marine Electronics in Chichester, which significantly reduced the time and effort involved in laying out the system, routing wires and getting it correctly powered up.
The Vulcan 7 and the paired Triton 2 display are powerful bits of kit with an array of functions, so learning exactly what they can do takes time. The basic data was incredibly easy to locate and display. On the Triton 2, scrolling through the pages gives you a choice of data, including depth, depth and speed, autopilot control (if fitted), route navigation, wind and depth log and B&G’S Sailsteer display. In a circle around a virtual yacht, Sailsteer shows a full compass card, as well as angles off the vessel’s head, with indicators for true and apparent wind direction, tidal set, waypoint bearing and laylines. We most often used Sailsteer or basic display underway, and depth plot when entering shallow water and at anchor. We always used the depth and swing circle alarms at anchor.
All the data available on the network could be displayed, and it was almost infinitely configurable as to what data to display. The Vulcan 7 has a 7in display and an integral GPS receiver, which we used for our trip, making it suitable as a stand-alone unit, though it doesn’t have compass data without an external sensor. It is Wifi enabled, so can connect to ipad or iphone, giving you a complete mirror and control of everything that is on the network. VERDICT
Conveniently, the Vulcan 7 just fitted into the existing instrument panel above our companionway. The highquality colour screens on both units were visible at all angles and in all lights, even with polarised glasses. They used very little power (Vulcan 7, 1A; Triton 2, 0.1A). I was skeptical about not having any buttons on the Vulcan 7, but the touch screen worked well in both the wet and dry, though our test was only in summer. An intuitive menu structure means I still haven’t opened the user manual. B&G isn’t the cheapest brand, but I felt given the quality and functionality offered, the £790 price tag represents good value for money.
The touchscreen worked perfectly in all conditions. Use the virtual buttons or pinch to zoom The chartplotter screen can be flush or bracket-mounted and the front stands less than 1cm proud A side bar can be added to the home screen and the data configured how you like it. The single view or split screen allows you to view any combination of pages and data Sailsteer is B&G’S signature feature for sailors, allowing you to see all the vital information graphically on a single screen
Choose the cartography you prefer, and update it on board using wi-fi in a marina or through your phone
Navionics cartography was clear, detailed and easy to view and use, even on a 7in display