Total Electronic Integration – Just Say NO!

Disclaimer: I am not fond of change and many may say I’m a technophobe. But the phobia is really a mistrust which is rooted in experience. Some technologies are absolutely wonderful…WHEN they work.

What is your experience and opinion of bundling your telephone, cable TV and Internet? If one goes they usually all go- kaput. Same on this boat.

Integration was the hot word for a few years in the boating industry. Now it is called the Backbone. This is the new term for a data highway in your boat. Each reporting item has a sensor which connects via the Backbone. You can tap into the backbone to retrieve information anywhere on the vessel. Primarily we think of this as it connects the upper and lower helm station displays but it can also include another display/alarm in the master stateroom or even data from the engines.

While in theory this is neat-o, in practice it still has many kinks to work out before I would rely solely on this backbone to stand straight…or cruise with confidence. MFDs- Multi-Function Displays- should be used with caution as well.

I am currently aboard a boat that has the latest and greatest electronics installed and we are experiencing gremlins in the NMEA Backbone data system. Integrated electronics are blacking out taking down other systems and we are concerned about our MFD going down permanently and leaving us in the dark…literally.

We have a factory warranty but have to travel in the opposite direction over 75 miles to get the service. Did I mention we were heading south to Florida and we’ve backtracked for the backbone repair twice already.

If our depth gauge worked – it doesn’t- we could continue south on the ICW with paper charts, magnetic compass and binoculars. We teach basic navigation just for these reasons. You should reacquaint yourself with these basic building block skills before your navigation suite goes BLACK.

Consider what your back-UP will be when your back-BONE slips a disc. Yup, it could happen to you!

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