It was way better in back in the days, no wiring, no plotters, no phones or VHF just the ocean and sailing. But when traveling towards distant shores if feels good to know were we are and being able to communicate with fellow boats and marinas.
When we left Sweden we brought some navigational paper charts with us to allow us to “plan ahead” and make proper routes and as backup in case the plotter with our digital charts died on us. We never used the paper chars so we binned them all at one point and went 100% digital.
Today we use a Garmin 722xs plotter connected to our NMEA2000 network at the helm and for planning our routes we use Navionics with input from Navily, Windy and PredictWind all on our iPads and iPhones. When the route is planned and ready we push it to the plotter using its built in wifi network. The network also allow us to connect remotely to the plotter at the helm to check its status etc, that
In case of a failure we can also use one of our Navionics installations as backup to our plotter (we actually had to do that when we had a power failure in the middle of the Bay of Biscay killed our Garmin plotter). We use a phone holder with a suction cup that also allow permanent power below the dodger for our phones that can be used for our secondary devices just in case.
And if all hell breaks loose we also carry an old fashion sextant from 1922…
Our communication devices consist of 2 VHF devices, one stationary Garmin 215i AIS with DSC and a mast top antenna for long range communication and a handheld Cobra HH600 this little one also comes with DSC. The latter one comes handy when communication with locks from the helm or when using the dingie.
Using space and satellites as a tin can phone
Since we haven’t really been “that” far away from shore yet we haven’t been in a real need to get a satphone alá Iridium thingie. Sure, there have been times when the 3G/4G coverage was way gone and the urge to download the latest grib-files been strong as the force within Luke Skywalker. But unless we cross the Atlantic or other big oceans we wont get one. Or maybe we’ll get one when the need one to update our trading positions from a nice island in the middle of nowhere but not before then.
To ensure that our boat can be tracked we installed an Garmin AIS 800 Transponder and hooked it up with out NMEA2000 network. That allow us to both see other boats (with transmitting AIS) and be seen by others with AIS receivers. It’s super handy when we share space with big ships or gadzillion fishing vessels during night (when they have their devices enabled).
Another nice feature with the AIS receiver is that it allow us to use Man Over Board (MOB1) devices that we have attached to our life jackets that automatically transmit the position of the person that fall over board to our AIS who will then relay the information to the plotter. The little gadget also ping our VHF with a regular DSC call to alert whoever is onboard and below deck when we do night sailing.
Our landlubber friends can of course also benefit from the AIS Transponder by using one of the available applications (Shipfinder, MarineTraffic, Vesselfinderto) or our site ( https://yachting.earth/map/ ) to track us in almost realtime.