Back To The Future Page 2

Electronics May 2001
By Tim Clark

Back To The Future
Part 2: Electronic Chartplotters continued
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 Part 1: Back To The Future
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Both the Yeoman Navigator Pro and the slightly smaller, all-weather, and portable Yeoman Sport XL (both of which list for $710) come programmed with chart libraries that recognize reference points now printed on Maptech’s ChartKits and on the new British Admiralty small format charts. When using these charts, initial orientation is even faster.

Once “in,” you’re free to plot a course. You can sweep the mouse (or, if you like, pick it up and put it down) anywhere over the chart, and the LCD will read out the position at the center of the plotting circle. Mark and enter a point in one place and move the mouse to a waypoint at another, and the LED will give you your bearing and range.

When you connect a Yeoman to a GPS (the units are NMEA 0183-compliant), you can plot your position on a chart to within 0.08 inch. Four lighted arrow-shaped indicators arranged at 90-degree intervals around the mouse’s plotting circle point the way. As you near your position, the direction indicators go dark one by one, guiding you with ever greater precision by a process of elimination. When all indicators are dark, you have pinpointed your position. This takes just seconds.

With the GPS interface you can also upload waypoints from the chart simply by moving the plotting circle over the point and pressing a button. Other capabilities as a result of the interface include course and speed, ETA, and dead reckoning.

When you connect the Yeoman to a radar, you can send over positions—which will appear as “lollipops”—from the chart to aid in identifying and tracking features on your radar screen. By depressing the enter key for five seconds, you can put a lollipop on the radar screen that will move in real time as you move the Yeoman mouse over your chart. In this way you can relate on-screen targets to chart features.

In short, the Yeoman has most of the capabilities of a basic electronic chartplotter, only instead of working with an image of a chart on a screen, you handle “the real thing.” This melding of the old and the new results in some noteworthy rewards.

No manufacturer of electronic navigation systems claims its products are substitutes for established practices of navigating with paper chart, and no responsible boater cruises without paper charts as backups to the onboard electronics. The Yeoman can fail just like any other electronic device, but when plotting with it you’re likely to produce a hard copy of your progress as a matter of course, not as a redundancy. And while the screens in your wheelhouse can go black due to a power failure, your chart never has that problem—it stays put.

There is also the issue of view and perspective. While you can keep a wide perspective on even a tiny plotter screen by zooming in and out, you also have to readjust your sense of scale. Many boaters with screen-equipped plotters still keep a paper chart at hand for broad, constant orientation in challenging waters. With the quick positioning possible with a Yeoman, the “wide-angle” paper backup is all the more valuable.

To some boaters such advantages may not compare to the innovations that seem to multiply day by day on the latest fully electronic chartplotters, but others will agree that Yeoman plotters deserve consideration for combining the best of the old with valuable modern conveniences. Benefits lie on either side of the bridge that a Yeoman makes between paper and electronic charts. It may nudge some paper-chart Luddites toward more sophisticated electronics. And it may urge a few boaters who are perhaps a little too dependent on their gadgetry back to some important navigational basics.

Weems & Plath (800) 638-0428. Fax: (410) 268-8713.

Next page
> Electronic Plotters, Part 1 > Page 1, 2

This article originally appeared in the May 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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