B&G How to Prepare & check your electronics for the season
We have been talking to some of our experienced sailors here at B&G and asking them for their top tips on what to do with your electronics ahead of the new season. We want to make sure you are well prepared and can ensure your equipment is working properly. Knowing your kit is in good working order is a big part of keeping you safe on the water and ultimately adds to the enjoyment you get from your boat.
Before the boat is relaunched:
- Check network terminators, especially with the Triton system if you have unstepped the mast over winter. NB 508/608 wind sensors contain the network terminator
- Check the boat speed and wind sensor for any mechanical damage or wear
- Clean the paddle wheel and apply silicon grease to speed and depth sensor o-rings; this will ensure units can be removed easily in the future
- Measure the depth offset – from the depth sensor to the bottom of the keel to accurately calibrate the depth offset. This ensures your depth sounder can give you the information you need.
- + value = depth from waterline -> distance depth sensor to waterline
- – value = depth under keel -> distance depth sensor to bottom of keel
The following 3 steps can be done out of the water or once launched before your first sail.
- Check the radar function, if you have one. Particularly if the mast has been down over the winter.
- Test the VHF using the appropriate channel for the area or use a local station which allows this. Alternatively work with a friend on a ship-to-ship channel.
- When the electronics are on, use the chartplotter to check the status of your GPS signal – you will require a “satellites” page which allows this:
- You need at least 4 satellites for a valid position. Nowadays it is likely you will see 8-12 or even more satellites being used for position calculation.
- Do not forget to switch on the WAAS/EGNOS function of your GPS if it has one. It will typically improve the position accuracy to < 3 metres!
- Your HDOP (Horizontal Dilution of Position – a measure of accuracy) value should typically be 1.2 or lower when using WAAS/EGNOS.
Before your first sail:
- Check battery voltages and the NMEA2000® network voltage
- Update software on all units: Check you have the latest software on your units. Visit the Support & Downloads page of the B&G website. Vulcan & Zeus products will check your system software for you if connected to the internet.
- Are the electronic charts up-to-date?
- For Europe these are mostly C-MAP® or Navionics®. You can purchase and download online, straight to your B&G chartplotter. (If using a Zeus2 you will need a WiFfi-1 to create the connection.) Vulcan & Zeus3 can connect directly to the internet using your marina Wi-Fi or using a smartphone as a hotspot.
If using GoFree make sure your subscription is valid and you can make an internet connection.
- Check autopilot & re-commission if needed. Also replace the batteries and check the remote pilot controller connects to and controls the pilot.
- Check the depth sensor, note that this will only work when afloat.
- If you use PredictWind: Do not forget to enter the polar data on your account on the PredictWind website. Ensure your username and password are entered in your unit.
On your first sail:
- Calibrate the log, swing the compass and check the wind sensor offset. Note that the Precision 9 sensor will continually calibrate when sailing.