Sola Instrument Changes

When I purchased my sailboat I knew that I was going to want to make changes to the instruments. It had a Garmin Chartplotter and a Garmin AIS receiver. The chartplotter was several years old and all of my recent experience has been with B&G chartplotters designed explicitly for sailing.

Before dealing with the chartplotter I spent a lot of time understanding the existing platform. What I found was that the chartplotter and ais reciever were connected via a NMEA 2000 backbone, but not connected to anything else.

The boat was configured with raymarine wind and speed instruments, as well as a raymarine autopilot but they were not connected together.

Raymarine Original Connections

There were two switches on my breaker panel, one for instruments in general, and a separate one for the autopilot.

Reading the manuals for the smartpilot controller I learned that if it was connected to the wind instruments I could sail to a wind angle as an alternative to sailing to a magnetic compass heading. Because I planned to do a lot of single handed sailing, this was definitely something I wanted to implement, and was the first change I made to the boat wiring.

Raymarine Smartpilot Connected to Instruments

The only drawback of this connection system is that when the autopilot is turned off and the instruments are left on, the smartpilot controller alarms and reports loss of communication with the controller. This mainly happens in the evening when I want to turn off the autopilot to save power but leave the instruments on to monitor depth and wind speeds.

SmartPilot S2 connects to the compass, rudder position sensor, and rudder drive unit

The next change I made was to add a Raymarine Seatalk-Seatalkng Converter A06064 to connect the legacy Seatalk network to the NMEA2k network. The Seatalk-Seatalkng converter allows the old seatalk instruments to communicate with seatalkng instruments. Seatalkng is essentially the same as NMEA 2000 (NMEA2K).

I replaced the Garmin GPSMAP 740 with a B&G Zeus3S

I replaced the Garmin AIS 300 Receiver with an em-trak B954 AIS Transceiver

I replaced a Sony Stereo and CD Changer with a Fusion Apollo MS-RA670 Stereo

My current set of interconnected instruments are as follows.

I’ve been thinking about changing my speed and depth instruments to newer models, with the possibility of using newer depth transducers that work with the B&G and look forward to provide a 3d view of the ground surface forward of the boat. The big question that I’ve not been able to come across an answer yet is if the Seatalk-Seatalkng converter communicates both directions, and if the apparent wind and water speed data were to be moved to the Seatalkng side of the converter, would the autopilot still be able to steer to the wind angle.

B&G Zeus™ 3S 9 Tracks Truncated

I’ve been extremely happy with my new chartplotter when I’m actively using it. I’ve been frustrated by some of the features.

I wish it would automatically start recording a new track every time it was turned on. It seems that this should be an option in the settings, but I’ve not been able to find such an option.

The bigger issue is that it seems to reduce the size of stored tracks. This may be related to whatever it’s doing to synchronize with the online map, but the behavior is extremely annoying as it means I don’t have the true logged data of where I visited on my two week trip to the San Juan Islands over July 4th.

Tracks on return from trip

The image above shows the track that had been running from my leaving of Odlin County Park on Lopez Island on July 5th, going north to Orcas Island, then sailing south to Mackaye Bay on Lopez Island on July 6th, and finally motoring south to Shilshole on July 7th, arriving a little past 3pm.

Tracks after the boat has not moved for two weeks.

The second image was taken on July 22nd. You can see that the number of points for the Leave ODLIN track has reduced from 16063 to 178. Even stranger is that the Spencer Spit log has increased from 124 points to 134, and Deer Harbor has increased from 56 to 61.

Synchronize Settings

I had the plotter set to automatically synchronize settings with the mobile app and the web site, but have disabled it as of today to see if future logs will not be truncated. The auto synchronization was a very nice thing initially because I was able to create a series of places at my desktop using the full keyboard and mouse, and then the next time I turned on my chart plotter they appeared on the plotter with my intervention.

Waypoints

I realized that the waypoints I’d created all had the default icon. I went in and changed the icon on the chart plotter for each if the locations and something also truncated the names. I don’t know if it was the synchronization with the online service, or the chartplotter itself, but losing data is never a good thing.

Another feature that would be extremely nice would be if the time at the top of the screen included the date and UTC offset or timezone.