Re: Should I Refit a Furuno or choose a B&G plotter?

Joerg Esdorn

Joan, I have the Navnet TZ Touch 14 plotter on my boat (#53 from 2016) integrated with a laptop at the chart table running the Time Zero Professional software.  The laptop uses the same charts as the plotter - so you don't have to buy separate licenses.  The TZ Professional integrates very well with the  TZT so I do all my course work and navigation at the laptop with a mouse and send the courses to the plotter at the press of a button.  This is much easier than working on the plotter or a second plotter down below.  I have the B&G 5000 system for sailing instruments which are great.  I like the overall system very much but I don't like the Furuno autopilots - they are made for fishing and motorboats, not sailboats.  I find it impossible to adjust the sensitivity to my liking  and the "learning" function seems to have no brain for sailing at all.  for example, every time the wind speed changes by a few knots and the balance of the boat changes as a result, the pilot initially will keep the old rudder angle for a few minutes rather than keeping the course to the apparent wind constant.  Eventually, it "learns" but it takes way too long and meanwhile the sails are flogging or way overtrimmed.

Recently, I had occasion to install a complete B&G 5000 system including autopilot and Vulcan plotter on another boat and I now have the direct comparison.  The Vulcan plotter has a bunch of very good functions for sailing that the Furuno doesn't have - like laylines, etc - but many of these functions are mostly for racing.  I would find them useful on the Amel as well but that's personal preference.  The Vulcan also has very good software which brilliantly integrates with the H5000 system.  But I'm not aware of a navigation software package that integrates with the Vulcan and enables me to navigate on a laptop - maybe Deckman is that system but I've heard it's no longer being updated.  

Based upon my initial, limited experience, the H5000 autopilot is better at holding a course to the apparent/true wind than the Furuno which generally moves the rudder too much and always takes a long time to adjust to changes in conditions.  It has a bunch of other things, like gust response, which are very useful for a sailboat.  But, the Furuno autopilot integrates brilliantly with the plotter and I'd have to confirm how the H5000 autopilot works with the plotter.  

So, if I were to upgrade my system, I would likely:

*.  strongly consider a B&G plotter (probably Zeus rather than Vulcan) if I can find navigation software for a laptop that integrates with the plotter; failing that, I'd stay with the Furuno/TZ laptop combo
*  Keep the H5000
* get the H5000 autopilot as the main autopilot but if I stayed with the Furuno plotter, I'd have to get comfortable with the integration with the Furuno plotter.  I'd keep the second Furuno autopilot as a backup. 

I hope this helps you in your decision.  Cheers Joerg

Joerg Esdorn
A55 #53 Kincsem
Currently in La Rochelle

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