Designing our Nav Station – v2.0


With the big decision made to go ahead with Raymarine electronics on Starry Horizons, my previous mock up of our interior Nav Station was now out of date.  So I set out to get the dimensions of the new electronics and came away with a pleasant surprise.  In spite of the Raymarine screen  being larger than the Furuno plotter (9″ vs 8″) that I’d looked at previously, the overall dimensions of the Raymarine unit were smaller, which I believe is going to allow for a more efficient use of the nav station space.  After some playing around, here is my latest mock up:

Interior Nav 2.0 - Raymarine

Interior Nav 2.0 – Raymarine

From top left and moving clockwise:

Raymarine e95 MFD

Replacing the Furuno MFD from my last mock-up, the e95 is less wide overall, which will allow for more components to be fitted.  The larger screen will also allow more options to customize the screen layout, so we can easily see vital information such as wind speed, wind direction, boat speed and depth.

Raymarine p70 Autopilot

A backup to an additional p70 that will be located up at the helm, this will allow us to make course adjustments from inside if needed.

Vesper Watchmate Vision (AIS)

I still really like this AIS unit from Vesper, and after briefly visiting with them at the Miami boat show, I came away even more impressed.  The tracking and prioritization of AIS targets is by far it’s best feature, but the anchor alarm will be quite handy as well, letting us sleep better at night knowing our boat won’t drift off without us knowing.  It’s wifi feature won’t be quite as vital now that our Raymarine system will include wifi as well, but it never hurts to have multiple backups.


When I did my last mock up, I wasn’t quite sure what these gauges were for.  This time I know.  For Helia’s that don’t have the EcoCruising Monitor, these gauges display Fuel, Water and Voltage levels, which I suppose is pretty handy information to know.

Digital Multi Control Panel

Generating enough power will be critical to ensuring all systems on Starry Horizons work, and that our enjoyment level remains high.  This control panel will help us monitor batteries and other power generation so we can make sure we always have enough power.

Standard Horizon GX2000 VHF

I’ve stuck with the Standard Horizon VHF unit as they have worked well in my past experience, and the Raymarine VHF appears like it will be a bit too large to easily fit in with the rest of the equipment on this panel.  This is one area where there may still be some flexibility depending on what Fountaine Pajot offers as part of the Raymarine equipment package.

Icom M802 (SSB)

Having an SSB on board is something we’re quite interested in for the ability to listen in to various cruiser nets, as well as listen to weather reports.  Paring with the Pactor Modem would allow for us to receive emails while on board as well.  I’ve read that they’re a bit tricky to install so this may be an item that waits until we’re back in the US before obtaining.

Pactor PTC-III Modem

This modem combines with the SSB to allow for us to download email on the boat.  The speeds aren’t nearly at the level we’re used to on land, but it is a tried and true method and would work well to get weather forecasts as well.

Fusion Stereo

Rather important to have music aboard.  The Fusion stereo comes standard with the Helia and should work just fine for our purposes.


The one piece of equipment not shown here that we’re also looking at would be a satellite phone.  There is another panel to the right of this nav station on the boat where we could mount a cradle for the phone and so far that seems like the best solution.  Apparently, there isn’t a lot of room behind this additional panel to install deep components, but mounting something on the outside would work.

The next big question is what equipment will be installed at the factory vs what will be installed in France before we leave vs what will we install once we reach Florida.  Depending on what ends up falling into each of those categories, we may have to re-do this panel a couple of times, which would make for all kinds of fun.

  1. Matt Reply

    What do you think about the “Iridium Go!”?
    Wouldn’t it be able to replace the “SSB + Pactor” combo?
    They have a 125 USD/month plan that includes unlimited (slow) data, as long as you use their approved apps. There’s an app for e-mail, for weather-data and one, that turns your iPhone into a satellite phone. Also an SOS-app.
    I found a good description of all the features here:
    I had the feeling that this would be much simpler than the SSB, Pactor, SailMail/AirMail combo. The initial costs and power consumption would be a lot lower with the Iridium, but the monthly costs would be higher. What is your take on this?

    • He Said Reply

      Hi Matt,

      One of the main attractions I hear about the SSB is it’s social function among cruisers. Lots of cruisers use it to organize meet ups and other social activities. For the time being we’ve elected to go with an Iridium Sat Phone that will allow us to get email, and thus weather data. We’ll evaluate how effective it is during our crossing, but we’ll likely not go with the Pactor modem even if we do get an SSB.

      Iridium Go had just been announced when were looking at communication options for our crossing, so it wasn’t out yet. Given how slow the internet connection is, I don’t really view it as a viable “internet solution”, but the lower up front costs could be attractive. Other than that, I haven’t done a lot of research into it, but I’m sure it would work well as an alternative solution to SSB if don’t mind the higher monthly costs.



  2. Dan S. Reply

    Hi. We are also in the process of purchasing a Helia 44 and looking at similar issues. Your blog is well done and helpful. We are also going the Raymarine route and are happy with the way it worked out on our last cat. A couple questions about your layout: given that the Raymarine system will talk to an Ipad or other much cheaper tablet through the Raymarine app, why did you decide to go with a second E95 in the interior instead of using something like an iPad that you could use there or anywhere else inside the boat. Also, doesn’t the AIS interface with the Raymarine system? Why the need for a separate AIS receiver at the console?

    • He Said Reply

      Hi Dan!

      Thanks for reaching out to us and congrats on your boat! I’m glad you’re finding our blog useful, and here are my thoughts about the layout mockup:

      1) I like the duplication that the interior MFD would offer. Since we’re planning on eventually doing some extensive passages, that’s important to me. The iPad app is a great set-up and is one of the things that convinced us to go with Raymarine, but it will only work if one of the plotters is on and functioning. If you lose the plotter at the helm, the iPad won’t work.

      2) For the AIS, Raymarine does have a unit that would work and I’m sure would be more than adequate. I like the Vesper WatchMate Vision AIS unit for a few reasons, including it’s ability to sort through AIS targets and show and prioritize those targets that have a risk of collision as well as offering a lot of customization for the various scenarios you find yourself in. While we were at the Miami Boat Show, Vesper also told us that the next software update for the Vision AIS should include an anchor alarm similar to their 850 unit. I really like the ability to set a good anchor alarm (haven’t had much success with ipad/iphone apps yet) that has a minimal power draw compared to the Raymarine plotters.

      I’ll also send you a quick email. I’m always glad to get to know other Helia owners so we can share more information about our boats!


Leave a Reply


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Next Post