What's wrong with digital navigation
Denis Korablev
  • 13.10.2021
  • 200

What's wrong with digital navigation

For those who at least once went to sea under sail, the feeling of freedom and boundless space multiplied by a unique delight will remain in the memory forever.

A standard classic beach excursion tour cannot be compared to a sailing yacht cruise. Comfortable living combined with the right to independently determine the route - this is what a sea trip gives. Emotions and impressions from visiting coastal cities, cozy bays and marinas with restaurants, scuba diving (snorkeling) in any place you like - a sailing cruise gives the traveler complete freedom and peace in the palm of his hand. The most beautiful tan is a cruise tan. The water around you reflects the sun's rays from different angles, ensuring that your tan is evenly distributed throughout your body. If the yacht's draft allows, you can go into some hard-to-reach bay, and at least for a while try to return to childhood, feeling like a discoverer of unknown lands. Believe me, the feeling of admiration and anxious but pleasant expectation of miracles will remain in your memories for many years.

There is no binding to one point on the map where you need to return to eat and sleep - yachting gives you freedom of movement. Comfort and safety on a yacht can be compared to a five-star elite hotel, and the level of comfort in cabins on a yacht is comparable to an apartment, and all this can be obtained for reasonable money if you take yacht for rent.

Sailing yacht, today, is the safest type of sea transport, the cruise route is carefully worked out and studied. The safety of navigation is constantly monitored by experienced crew members and the most modern electronic devices. Electronic navigational instruments fall into this category. Many yachtsmen, to facilitate their journey, equip their boat with additional navigation equipment.

Typically, this list includes:

  • AIS. This device allows you to calculate the position of other vessels, and, if necessary, transmit your coordinates;
  • VHF radio station. Used to communicate with shore services in ports and marinas;
  • Electronic system status dashboard;
  • Facsimile. This device provides accurate weather data: cyclones, anticyclones, wind speed and direction.

Modern navigation equipment allows you to safely and comfortably cruise on a yacht. The rapid development of technology allows the skipper, even outside the yacht, using a tablet, iPhone or smartphone, to receive all navigation and weather information, makes it possible to work with maps and plot the upcoming route. It is possible to "download" different versions of maps for many areas, there are professional and light versions. The lighter version allows you to work with a specific quadrant of the map. The fact that mobile devices have taken over not only the market for personal computers and the Internet has already become a fact, just like the fact that they have become a part of yachting life.

The first acquaintance with yacht radio electronics took place among domestic yachtsmen in the 70s, when cruising yachts from Poland began to enter the Union. Equipped with the most modern (for those times!) Equipment, these analog logs, echo sounders, meters of wind speed and direction, albeit not very accurate and not always reliable, these devices seemed to our yachtsmen to be the limit of technical equipment. Each device worked autonomously, giving information on its functional affiliation. The yachtsman collected and analyzed data. But the rapid technological progress quickly made analog navigation devices a rarity, the time has come for new navigation systems.

A navigation system is usually called a set of devices that perform one (or several) tasks of information support. That is, unlike the analog version, the system produces one general result, having previously processed data from all devices included in the system. The need to record readings from all devices, with the subsequent calculation of the data, disappeared by itself. This greatly facilitated navigation, because if, for example, had to navigate the ship in limited visibility conditions, all attention was drawn to the radar, there was no time to observe the echo sounder readings. And, in the case of walking in shallow water, the echo sounder became the center of attention, and the radar receded into a secondary role. The navigation instrumentation system not only reduced the number of different sensors on the control panel, the system eliminated the possibility of missing important information that could affect the correct decision of the skipper. For the safety of the yacht and, accordingly, everyone on board, this is very important. It became necessary to create a system of navigation devices that would allow the navigator to receive the information he needed anywhere on the yacht, with a minimum amount of information sources. The issue was effectively solved by the well-known company Autohelm, which created Sea Talk.

This is a kind of concept for building navigation systems of all sizes and configurations. The undoubted advantage of Sea Talk is the presence of functional links between devices, an information exchange device with a single exchange language. Measuring devices connected to Sea Talk (logs, echo sounders, GPS receivers, etc.), which include input-output devices, can not only work autonomously, performing their direct functions, but also exchange information with other devices connected to the system ... This is facilitated by a common language of communication between devices operating under a single communication protocol. Thus, the radar, for example, may well combine the functions of a repeater, showing on its display the data it receives from any measuring device connected to the Sea Talk.

In such situations, the yachtsman can, for example, watching the radar screen, if desired, can immediately see the echo sounder readings, control the speed and direction of the vessel, its coordinates. Repeaters in Sea Talk can combine the radar image with the graphics of the GPS receiver. The lack of a central processor in Sea Talk makes it possible to combine all devices into a single system, regardless of their number. Moreover, the system can increase power by connecting new devices to it, using a daisy-chain connection.

The Sea Talk system became so popular that Autohelm began producing navigation devices, which, despite their compactness, surprise with their versatility, excellent visibility of displayed data, ease of operation and a high degree of protection against external influences. The demand for such devices was very high, and Autohelm produced several series of such devices. The first was the ST30 series.

The ST30 series has a nice feature for yachtsmen - it includes relatively inexpensive and compact instruments with sufficiently high capabilities for small boats. The devices are equipped with contrasting, clearly visible displays, day and night, convenient control, functional design. All instruments in the series comply with the SeaTalk standard and are fully compatible with autopilot and navigation instruments of other series, as well as with equipment using the NMEA protocol.

The most popular devices are:

ST30 Speed / Log (lag)

Fully corresponds to its name - it is used to measure the speed and distance traveled. The measurements are characterized by high accuracy and stability of results even at low speeds. Ease of operation differs in that the buttons on the device perform only one function, and each is designed for a separate action. Fully waterproof housing, wide operating temperature range and high reliability allow them to be used even on open yachts and boats in the harshest conditions.

The device has several functions - it can measure the current (instantaneous) speed of the vessel, average and maximum speed for a period of time within 0.4-45 knots. The total distance traveled is measured up to 9999 nautical miles and the distance traveled during the voyage is up to 999 nautical miles. Such technical data make it possible to use the device on yachts of any purpose.

ST30 Depth

The echo sounder measures and displays depth values from 0.8 to 120 meters, with a reference setting from 0 to 4 m. This allows measurements both from the surface of the water and from the keel of the vessel. During sailing, the memory block memorizes the minimum values after turning on the device. The device has the setting values "Stranded" (from 1 to 10 meters), and "Depth (from 3 to 120 meters). If the preset values are exceeded, the echo sounder gives an alarm" Stranded "or" Depth ".

ST30 Wind (wind direction and speed indicator)

The instrument is equipped with an analogue and digital LCD display showing wind direction and speed in knots or meters per second, as well as a unique rudder-to-wind bar graph for boaters who need precise control while racing. An irreplaceable thing in extreme situations. A special feature of the device is the Rotavecta wind sensor, which takes all measurements with just one meter. The device measures the direction of the apparent wind in the range of 0-180 degrees for each side and the speed in the range of 1-50 knots (0.5-25 m / s).

ST30 Compass

Compass ST30 is designed to measure the compass heading. Installed in a convenient place, away from large metal objects, a small magnetic sensor, even in rough seas, is able to steadily and accurately display the value of the yacht's course. One press of the button gives the opportunity to fix the momentary value of the direction of the yacht's movement. Further, the device memorizes the data, and the display will show the deviation from the fixed course. Moreover, in case of deviation, a graphical representation of the rudder direction will appear, which is necessary to return to the previous course.

ST30 Bidata-R

The device, in its characteristics similar to those of ST30 Bidata, has become a more modernized replacement of the previously widespread navigation devices. The cylindrical body matches the mounting hole of previously used analogue indicators in diameter, making it easy to install. The ST30 Bidata-R can be used as a repeater displaying the readings of multiple instruments.

Analog repeaters

For those who are accustomed to pointer instruments, Autohelm produces analog repeaters for log, echo sounder and wind direction and speed meter. Their large, softly illuminated at night, round scales give a more visual representation of changes in measured values than displays of digital instruments. Analogue repeaters are especially widely used on cruising racing yachts, making it much easier for the yacht to steer and thereby achieve top speeds.

ST50 Plus Series

Instruments from the same manufacturer (Autohelm) - the most common instruments for all ships of any class and tonnage. The range of various products in this series for marine navigation is so extensive that any, the most incredible imaginations of the shipowner can be embodied in a navigation system.

The ST50 Plus series has several distinctive features:

  • First - ease of connection. The devices are installed according to the PLUG - IN - AND - GO principle (plug and play), therefore, no special settings are required. Rigid binding to a single exchange protocol, which has already been mentioned, makes it easy and quick to mount devices, pairing them with other elements of the system.
  • Secondly - all devices of the ST50 Plus series have a housing made of extruded ABS plastic. This makes the case extremely durable. The back wall of the device, filled with glass, ensures the water resistance of the product and makes it possible to use the device on open yachts and boats in the worst weather conditions.
  • Third - the devices of the series are distinguished by their simplicity of operation and an extremely clear interface. The three-level backlit displays make it possible to clearly distinguish the displayed measurements at a glance, day and night.

What amazes the ST50 Plus series devices is their functionality. By their purpose, navigation devices of the ST50 Plus series perform the same functions as the previous ones from the ST30 series. But there is a significant difference. The use of innovative technologies has increased the functionality of the ST50 Plus series devices many times over compared to the previous series, while creating, in addition to the usual echo sounders, logs, electronic compasses and indicators of the direction and speed of the wind, completely new and unique devices that combine incredible possibilities.

ST50 Plus Tridata

The ultra-modern powerful device embodies the tendency to reduce the number of equipment, combining repeaters and combined devices in its composition. Tridata can provide the yachtsman with complete information about depth and speed, can indicate the distance traveled, give information about water temperature and time. In addition, the instrument can be used to set the “MEL” and “DEPTH” audible and visual alarms that will turn on when the vessel reaches the previously set depths. And all this is done by one device!

ST50 Plus Multi

Connecting the multi-functional repeater ST50 Plus Multi to the system allows the navigator to immediately call up the data of all devices connected to the system on one screen. Speed, depth, direction, distance traveled, direction and wind speed - all in one device and on one screen. And that's not all the "surprises" from the ST50 Plus Multi. The processor of the device allows for complex (one might say intelligent) processing of information received from other Sea Talk devices.

A modern yacht provides safe sailing throughout the water area, provided by the constant operation of various navigation devices, created using the latest innovations. Navigation equipment is a must element of any yacht's equipment to ensure safe navigation. Modern manufacturers have developed various devices for both small pleasure boats, boats and yachts, and for large ships. Navigation equipment from the best world and domestic companies: JRC, Alphatron Marine, Raymarine, Icom, Furuno, Samyung, Navcom, Garmin, Lowrance, Simrad, Cobham, Humminbird, Raytheon, KVH, Radioma, MT-Group, have RMRS and PPR certificates, which proves the compliance of navigation devices with safety requirements established by the legislation of the Russian Federation.


ECDIS is a cartographic navigation information system, the development of a navigation cartographic system used on all types of ships. With the installed and operational Electronic Chart System (ECS), it is now easier for the crew in charge of navigation to determine the location. The achievement of the directions has also become much easier. ECDIS are available in different versions.

There are two different types of ECDIS and both are used in different sectors despite the same technology.

  • Vector ECDIS: The vectorial variation of the electronic mapping system is more commonly used by government naval vessels. Vector ECDIS adheres to the standards set by the International Hydrographic Organization. The system is so advanced in technology that it can be preprogrammed to detect a threat to a ship's position if other ships are on the waters in a similar location. For the Navy, this function of the system is very relevant.

According to the experts 2yachts, for yachting, the most acceptable option would be to use an application based on vector maps of S-Mar. commonly used in chartplotters. The Plan2Nav application allows you to build and save yacht routes, while a compass can be projected onto the surface of the map, which will show the speed and course over the ground, latitude and longitude. Plan2Nav's capabilities allow you to find out the weather forecast for the desired location, wind speed and direction, and even wave height.

  • Raster ECDIS: This is a more traditional type of ECDIS. Navigational charts, which are marked on paper, are scanned and converted into the format of an electronic cartographic system. For the purpose of displaying navigation charts in this particular electronic cartographic system, raster chart display system (RMS) technology is used in the absence of electronic navigation charts.

The raster map is an exact reproduction of the paper map and is viewed on the screen without changes, but the vector map produces the result of compression in electronic form of data obtained from various sources.

In any case, even if you are not the owner of a huge superyacht, a wide variety of mobile applications and entire navigation systems are available to you to help make any trip comfortable and safe.