This forum is all about navigation questions and answers.

If you’d like to submit a question, click on “Cruisers Q&A” in the sidebar, whereupon you’ll find a form you can use.

Making the Modern Integrated Nav System Easier to Use

Join Steve Dashew aboard FPB 78-1 Cochise and find out how the Dashews solved one of the major weaknesses of modern integrated navigation systems.

Read the rest »

Posted by Steve Dashew  (August 19, 2020)    |    Comments (2)

Furuno Sonar Flange

Dear Steve, I am following your gear review used on your new boat carefully as I am building 54’steel sail boat (Bruce Roberts). I am interested in the Furuno Sonar that you have recently installed. In your review you are praising Furuno for designing the flange to fit a 6" pipe.

"Furuno’s engineers were thinking ahead here, as the pipe is a standard size, as is the flange."

From what I can determine the standard flange for 6" pipe is not exactly the same as the flange supplied with the sonar.

My questions are:
Did you accept the difference between the two flanges and just bolted them together?
Did you have a metric flange installed instead of 6" one?
Or is there US model of the Sonar that comes with a 6" flange on its housing?

Read the rest »

Posted by Steve Dashew  (November 16, 2006)    |    Comments (0)

Integrating Nav Equipment

Hello, We have just discovered your site and are very excited about it. With your help we may finally be able to figure out our best options for integrating a laptop, electronic charts, gps (none of which are yet purchased) and our existing auto pilot (Autohelm 4000). We have a 30ft Catalina sloop and are somewhat electronically challenged. We plan on using charts from Maptech, NOAA, Explorer and maybe The Captain. Anything you can suggest will be of great benefit. Thank you.

Read the rest »

Posted by Steve Dashew  (November 9, 2006)    |    Comments (0)

Navigation Course

Hi Linda & Steve: We have recently purchased your four-volume series and find them extremely helpful. We are just beginning our sailing career and are using your books to get that 10-20 year jump (as you say). The message that stands out more than anything else is the seriousness of sailing and being prepared.

Navigation seems to us to be the most important subject (at this point). We haven’t gotten to the weather book yet, however, I know it’s just as important but one thing at a time. We live in Phoenix and keep our boat in Seattle. Can you recommend a school that offers a good navigation course in Phoenix? We wish to keep our boat on top of the water unlike Jubilation and others ( very sad).

Thank you for your help and sharing of invaluable information. Cheers, Larry

Read the rest »

Posted by Steve Dashew  (April 3, 2006)    |    Comments (0)

Raytheon R40X Radar for World Cruising

I currently have a Raytheon R40X unit but it is an old unit (while very good) that is "dumb" and cannot talk to anything else. I can’t decide whether to replace it outright or add a 20 mile Foruno on a pole at the stern. I intend to world cruise the boat beginning in 18 months. Any thoughts? The boat is Gulfstar 50 Sailmaster that I have been updating for the voyage, and while she is older, she is a very beautiful heavy cruiser. Thanks again, Jim

Read the rest »

Posted by Steve Dashew  (November 23, 2005)    |    Comments (0)

Combining GPS with Older Instruments

I have B&G autopilot circa 2000 at the pedestal (in the network series…i.e. network PILOT), network DATA at the nav table, wind, and a repeater at the bulkhead. I also have network WIND. I have an old Raytheon (as was) chartplotter(not working), and there is an old Raytheon plotter/radar (RL9) mounted on the pedestal reading from a Raytheon antenna mounted on a pole. It gives a reasonable radar signal.

My yacht is a classic 1970 Swan 40 Sp&S. design. She is now in Antigua.

My B&G instruments work perfectly. They are all Network B&G instruments I have an older Raytheon GPS antenna also mounted on the pole. I do not know if it gives NMEA(0183) output. My nav station is run by my laptop running Maxsea software and connected to a Globalstar satphone.

I propose to buy a small fixed GPS reader to be mounted at the nav station to give position…I assume it might be able to read the signal from the existing GPS antenna though if not I can replace it with a suitable antenna, and give a NMEA signal to my laptop computer. Ideally I should like this to be a B&G GPS (if there is one in the network series). Please advise if you know of one.

Should I buy Networknav? Any info comments? Where can I buy…any second-hand from upgrades? I need a good GPS receiver as I understand it.

I want to keep the B&G instruments I have. I want to make a system from what|I have that will speak thru NMEA to my laptop. Will Maxsea read any NMEA signal and overlay it on any of the charts loaded electronically. What output signals will MaxSea give to autopilot? Do you have any observations/advice?

Read the rest »

Posted by Steve Dashew  (November 8, 2005)    |    Comments (0)


Dear Steve, I am thinking of installing the Interphase forward-scanning sonar on the steel 55′ sail boat that I am building. It would seem that every sail or power boat should have one of these in order to be able to see what lies ahead and to be able to avoid any obstacle. But so far I was not able to find anybody that has had any experience with it. So I am writing to you with a hope that in your research of the new electronics for your FPB you may have looked at Interphase sounders, or you may have heard from someone that used it. Would you please share your thoughts regarding this gear? – Remek

Read the rest »

Posted by Steve Dashew  (August 4, 2004)    |    Comments (0)

Raster Scan vs Vector Charts

I would like to know what a raster chart is when speaking of GPS navigation. What is the alternative? Eddie

Read the rest »

Posted by Steve Dashew  (July 30, 2004)    |    Comments (0)

Nav Instrument Integration

I’m building a 65′ Cruising Cat, and am at the beginning design stages with my designer. While he’s working on that, I’m doing the research for the nav functionality. I’m somewhat perplexed by the array of nav equipment available from the 6-10 major suppliers and how things will fit together along with the MaxSea software, so as to get maximum coverage AND integration. Should all the items come from a single source and, if so, which would you recommend in terms of reliability and repairablilty
considering the number of places one can find ones self while circumnavigating?

Read the rest »

Posted by Steve Dashew  (November 30, 2003)    |    Comments (0)

Chart and Radar Integration

Hi Steve, I don’t know if you covered this anywhere (couldn’t find it in your books, SetSail or in MaxSea) but I have to renew/upgrade my Radar. Obviously want to get one with Mini ARPA output for overlaying targets on MaxSea/charts. However, in addition, sailing mainly shorthanded, would like (need) to have chart, radar and overlays (if possible) on a repeater in the cockpit.

All the main Radar/Chart Plotter suppliers (Raymarine, Furuno etc.) don’t have any protocol for third party suppliers of chart software to repeat via their screens either main or repeater. As far as I found out so far, only RayTech Navigator (with additional Racing module upgrade) allows their propriety software to connect via their "Seatalk" or HSB and one (or more) of their Radar/Plotter displays.

In other words, it seems to me only Raymarine, if you buy their chart software cables, HSB or Seatalk etc. is able to achieve this desirable requirement. That would mean dumping MaxSea (of which I have an investment already) and going all RayMarine? (coincidentally I have all RayMarine ST 60’s instrumentation in the cockpit). All the other systems are capable of Radar/Plotter as main screen with repeaters (Furuno’s NavNet for example) in cockpit, but then you have to buy their cartridge Rom’s with the charts again and that would cost a fortune.

Any suggestions on how to "get repeated" in the cockpit without costing a fortune in waterproof tablet computers? Also, are there any Radars on the market which give a signal to operate on a PC/Laptop which could then be duplicated somehow to a screen in the cockpit (along with the chart plotting of course)? (what about using a PDA as a dumb terminal via wireless? bit small I know, but thinking of cost).

Appreciate your views/advice/knowledge on this subject. Kind regards/George W

Read the rest »

Posted by Steve Dashew  (November 22, 2002)    |    Comments (0)

Prioritizing Electronics for Cruising on 42′ Cat

I found your web site today and was fascinated with all the possibilities. We are in the process of buying a 42′ cat and will be sailing from the US East Coast through the Panama Canal and out to the South Pacific and points beyond. The boat does not have anything other than self steering and basic instruments and we would like to equip with radar, gps, plotter, etc…running into a PC and of course not spend a fortune. What would you suggest as someone who obviously has a great deal of experience? The route plotting seems like a great idea and we will have a sat phone but are unsure about a SSB. Thanks, David

Read the rest »

Posted by Steve Dashew  (October 16, 2001)    |    Comments (0)

Log Pages

Could you…let me know what info should be included in a ship log, or send over an example? Lisa P.

Read the rest »

Posted by Steve Dashew  (March 21, 2001)    |    Comments (0)

Storing Charts

Steve: I’m installing a tube for storing charts. Looking at West Marine it appears the small dimension of “large charts” is no greater than 36″. Does this reflect your experience? I have room for a tube up to 60″ but don’t want to end up with charts lost down a ridiculously long tube. Thanks, Chip

Read the rest »

Posted by Steve Dashew  (November 30, 1999)    |    Comments (0)

Sextant Backup

Dear Steve and Linda: Have your Encyclopedia and am now on my second reading to really start nailing down the key points you make…what a great book…couple of quickies I have now…Do you navigate with GPs with celestial as backup? Thanks, Richard

Read the rest »

Posted by Steve Dashew  (November 30, 1999)    |    Comments (0)

Radar Choice

Steve, How much radar does a cruising sailboat need? 2 kw or 4 kw? And any other aspects of knowing about radar that you think might be interesting? Mac–(52′ Schumacher being built in New Zealand).

Read the rest »

Posted by Steve Dashew  (November 30, 1999)    |    Comments (0)

Sight Reduction Tables

I have several books on celestial navigation and various references such as H.O. 229, 214, etc. Haven’t yet found out which is the most practical reference for an average yacht in open ocean. I have a GPS, of course, and wondered how frequently cruisers are using their sextants and if so, in what way and how often? It used to be a line of sight in the morning, a noon sight, and evening star sights. I suppose it’s now just a daily noon sight, if that.

Read the rest »

Posted by Steve Dashew  (November 30, 1999)    |    Comments (0)

Navigation Book

Could you recommend the best coastal and ocean navigation textbook available? Thank you. Simon

Read the rest »

Posted by Steve Dashew  (November 30, 1999)    |    Comments (0)