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Monday, November 21, 2022
HomeCaribbeanReplacing the Chart Plotter

Replacing the Chart Plotter

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During the global pandemic I was stuck aboard Guiding Light, a Lagoon 410, in St Lucia for over a month. During that time I worked on the boat and started by doing a spring cleaning in my spares locker and finding some parts and material that I forgot I had. As soon as I saw them I knew they would be perfect to build a bracket I wanted at the helm to hold my tablet that replaced my chart plotter.

Many people have asked why I am replacing my charter plotter with a tablet using Navionics software and the answer is simple.

My chart plotter is a Garmin 4212 which came with Guiding Light when I bought it 11 years ago. I figure the Garmin is probably 13-15 years old and the screen has started to go dark and pixelize in the middle. I tried for a couple months to find a new screen, since the rest of the chart plotter worked great, but I was told this model has not had parts available for years. This left me with buying new as the only option. Well, comparing a GPS enabled tablet with a waterproof case at around $300 and a new charter plotter at $4000-5000 it did not take me long to decide which way I wanted to go….In fact I bought two tablets and still saved SO MUCH money. The added benefit is that the tablet saves me a ton of battery power.

Now I needed a place to hang the tablet as I sailed the seas.

That is when I found the L shaped aluminum angle iron in my spares. As soon as I saw it I knew it was perfect for what I had in mind and with that said I was off. It took me about eight hours total as I used a hacksaw to cut the aluminum to the lengths I wanted and then sawed one side down on the three pieces to the proper depth. I even used one of the sawed off pieces as a backing plate. Next I used my vice grip and slowly bent one of the L shapes to form a curved lip. Once done I used a grinding wheel on my cordless drill and smoothed out all the edges and corners and then drilled holes to rivet the whole thing together.

All I had left to do now was take two aluminum bars and bend them to the right length and angle so I could attach the bracket to the bulkhead. The first one went great, but the second one was more brittle and kept snapping every time I bent it using the vice grip and I ran out of material. Also one of the butterfly bolts I had used to attach the old charter plotter to the bulkhead broke. At this point I had to stop until I could get to shore to get some new material.

Rivets… What Kind to Use on your Boat AND How to Replace

Turns out aluminum bar is harder to find in the islands than I expected and I was shot down after visiting 4-5 hardware stores. That is when it dawned on me to check the metal shop at the boatyard. I should have gone there first (and will in the future) because what I needed was sitting right there. As soon as I got it back aboard I fixed the broken bolt with parts I did find at one of the hardware stores and bent the new bar perfectly. I drilled holes in it, grounded it down, and riveted it all together.

It turned out exactly as I had hoped and the only thing I wished I had done was use a GoPro on time lapses to document the work I put into the creation.

Captain Shane is sailing the Caribbean and loves to share stories about the islands and life aboard. Check him and the Guiding Light out at svGuidingLight.com

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Shane McClellan
Shane McClellanhttp://www.svguidinglight.com
Visit www.svGuidingLight.com to read more from Captain Shane about the Bahamas, Caribbean, life aboard, and more.
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