What is the issue?Whilst making passage, off-watch skippers tend not to rest easy as they are anxious about the crew maintaining a true course, the surrounding dangers, and conditions. This causes a tendency to regularly rise and check the navigation station. Similarly, at anchor concerns about an undesirable wind shift can cause restlessness.
Why address this?Both of these lead to skipper exhaustion and ultimately to bad decision making.
How to address this?Traditionally marine electronic systems, onboard pleasure boats and commercial ships, have used
NMEA0183 and more recently NMEA2000 data standards to share data between marine devices in a closed loop. You can plug a gateway into the vessel's NMEA compliant backbone that can read all the data and, in real time, convert it into Signal K that is an open data format built upon standard web technologies. Once this is done all the vessel's NMEA data can be streamed over a local wifi network to any smartphone or tablet that has any of the hundreds of appropriate applications capable of displaying the data. With this enabled an off-watch skipper need only check on an interfacing application to have everything that is on the NMEA backbone in the palm of your hand e.g. AIS data, wind speed, COG, bearing, engine revs etc.
Photo: Courtesy of iKommunicate
An example of such a gateway is the iKommunicate that is a small black box, that connects to an NMEA2000 network and/or a series of NMEA0183 devices. It converts the data and makes it available on its Ethernet port for distribution over your boat's wired or wireless network.
If the high-tech route is not available you can still get a lot by tucking in with a hand bearing compass. Particularly one that includes a night light. Having this available at a glance for an off-watch skipper provides a major level of assurance that the course is on track or that a wind change has not swung the boat around on its anchor at night.
With thanks to:Michael Harpur, Yacht Obsession.
Discussing NMEA sensors and iKommunicate
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