Sailboat Radar, Smart Screen, Chartplotter- Pretty Easy

First, I’m NOT an electronics guru or a mechanical guru but I’m learning fast, as hiring my favorite electrician is getting expensive.   In a previous post, I talked about how me and Michelle found a GREAT deal on a package deal for a RayMarine A-Series RayMarine Digital “24” Mile Radar, Chartplotter, GPS- with integrated smart screen at West Marine a bit over a month ago.  We were able to figure out the San Diego Store had the package deal and were able to buy the package deal for just about $2000.00.  This was great, but it still had to be installed and the old analog system taken apart, while the boat was in the water.    Be careful when buying this same package deal for a decent size sailboat or powerboat,,,,as the box set only come with radar cable that’s approx 24 feet long,,,,my mast at halfway is 33 feet and the cable still had to reach the cockpit of the boat.  So, like me, you probably will have to purchase longer digital radar cabling through the West Marine website and for good measure, I bought an additional Raymarine Installation Smartpack, which was smart, because we used it.

Knowing I didn’t have the requisite technical knowledge alone, I hired my favorite electrician from Oceanside Marine Center.  But, as great as he is,,,,the company charges $103.00 per hour, so his time on the boat in precious and we work to get things done quickly, but I learn along the way.

For this installation, my friend Ronnie Berner showed up to help me out, and successfully got me up the mast to start the work to get the old system down, while the electrician started looking at the cable run.  I was pretty nervous about the old system, but it unscrewed and then I simply cut the old cable, after I duct taped it to the mast to keep it up.  I used a large duffel bag to put the old dish into, sent it down the mast and then the new one was sent up the mast with the parts.  Prior to getting the new dish on the mount, I attempted to run the new cable down the mast taped to the old cable,,,,but that dog didn’t hunt.  So, down went the old cable and we tied the pull rope to the new cable and sent it down the mast, although I had to push it through and he had to pull on it, the trough was pretty small for it.  When done and as I was working on the new dish, the electrician and Ronnie Berner started running the cable through the boat, which proved to be challenging, but doable.

After applying the glue to the screws, I managed to get the new dish on the mast on the previous mount.  Scared the crap out of me till I hooked it to the cable since I thought I was going to lose it a few times, but I got the screws in and got it done.  Ronnie got me down the mast safely and I started to help get the cable through the boat.

After myself and the electrician finally got the cable through to the cockpit, he found the right stuff in the basic package I had bought and he managed to get the system hooked up to power and working.  I don’t know if I would have been able to do it, but I’m pretty happy with it.

The system has it’s own organic GPS inside the smart screen, so this means the separate GPS and antenna already on the boat act as a backup for position and lat/long, which gives me peace of mind.  On getting ready to leave, the electrician also hooked up our 16 foot HF antenna for our SSB, which now means we can actually hear the Sonrissa Net and others, which is awesome.

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