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.
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