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MFD upgrade from raymarine
I'm in the process of buying a sailboat that came with an outdated raymarine c80 plotter. Charts no longer can be updated and I'm looking for a replacement. Natural upgrade would be to another raymarine but i was told other brands like B&G, Garmin make MFDs that are more designed for sailboats. Wanted to hear people opinion. Also if it is not raymarine, would i have problems connecting existing ais and pilot?
I'm not a sailor so I'm not as well versed on the sailing specific features but I do know that Raymarine's most recent software release concentrated a lot on sailing specific features. In fact the release notes have an entire section on the sailing specific features that have been added:
- SmartStart™ Start Line
- Race Timer
- Race Start Side Bar
- Racing Data Dashboard
- New Vessel Polars
- New LightHouse Apps for Sailing
In general when it comes to modern marine electronics I'd strongly recommend you go get your hands on the units you are considering and shy away from relying on others' opinions. B&G products are aimed specifically at the sailing market. I don't usually hear Garmin's products described as being particularly strong in the sailing market.
Whatever brand and products you pick are going to have tons more functionality -- sail and otherwise -- than the C80 you're replacing.
When it comes to AIS and autopilot you're fine to mix and match brands. AIS has no brand specific compatibility issues. Autopilots might give up a few route sharing features but you're likely to be able to do everything you'd want with mixed brand equipment.
First make sure that your other devices (sensors, AP, etc) are N2K and not 0183/SeaTalk otherwise you'll also need to replace them or add a 0183 to N2K gateway. Raymarine does indeed have a proprietary connector, but a conversion cable isn't very expensive - make sure you get the connector sexes right.
AIS should not be a problem. I'm less sure about autopilot.
Over the past several years I've used Raymarine, Garmin, Furuno, and B&G MFDs. I prefer B&G for sailing due to both sailing-specific functionality and general configurability. I also like that the Zeus and Vulcan line have WiFi gateways allowing connectivity to nav apps on phones, pads, and laptops (Raymarine Axiom will have this eventually).