Installed a A50D at the chart table inside, mainly to be able to view basic data when my kid is outside and I am inside. The A50D comes with some limitations, some that were clear when I bought it, and some that became apparent after I installed it. I installed the A50D on the upper right side from the table and installed just the power and the SeaTalkNG into my backbone network.
The A50D has its limitations, and I knew that it cannot replicate the C90W or use my Navionics upgraded charts while in use in the C90W. I can of course move the flash card Navionics map inside and temporarily use them in the A50D, however this is a detail since my use is for an overview, and more important was to be able to display speed, wind data, depth, and general direction on a quite zoomed out map (then the pre installed European maps are ok).
I also planned to show AIS data fed from the AIS500, since the A50D is able to do that. To my surprise the brand new A50D cannot use AIS from SeaTalkNG, but you need to use the old NMEA. This left with a few options, and none of them were good; since AIS500 can only use SeaTalkNG or NMEA at the same time, using NMEA would cause the cabling to my C90W to be redone, and further I would need the C90W to repeat the AIS NMEA to the A50D, which required further cabling and the deal breaking fact that the AIS to the A50D would only work when the C90W is on. Another option would be to buy a NMEA multiplexer, with further cabling and complicating the setup. I resigned with the Raymarine AIS, and luckily my VHF M-tech MT 500 has AIS output, which I connected to the A50D NMEA 38K input. That worked and the A50D is now displaying AIS data. However, before buying the AIS500 I noticed that the M-tech MT 500 at times looses track of some AIS targets (even large ferries just 500m away) and may take 5-10 minutes before they reappear, and this was one of the reason for choosing the Raymarine AIS500. Now, this being a second display, mostly showing an overview this randomness is less critical.
The lack of attention to details from Raymarine is disturbing, or it might just be that I chose the less expensive equipment and I should rightly suffer from limitations by marketing marked segmentation design.
The installation of the Raymarine RFU (Rudder Feedback [reference sensor transducer] Unit) on one of the Bavaria Cruiser 45 rudders had a number of challenges.
As the Bavaria Cruiser 45 has twin rudders, which are tilted about 30 degrees, my first toughs was to install the RFU around the Lewmar drive motor or on one of the linkages. This turned out to impractical due to space or other constraints. I eventually built a support plate and installed this on the side of the starboard rudder. There are very tight limits on the RFU installation, and it has to be installed perfectly parallel with the rudder shaft. This was hard since both the rudder shaft and the mounting wall are at different inclination, and moreover changing as the distance from the shaft increases. Cabling was straight forward, stretching it below starboard aft bunk then below and trough the starboard aft head. The attached cable was adequate long and easy to install.
Commissioning and calibration
Using the ST70 panel the commissioning was hard. The port side setup of the rudder sensor just failed with no explanation, beyond the error message “invalid results”. The ST70 manuals were to no help. I eventually downloaded the ST6000 manuals which explained the limits a little further. As it turns out the maximum allowed offset of the installed RFU is 7 degrees, and it turned out that mine had 9 degrees. I repositioned the sensor, now using the manual ST70 rudder offset to verify what the offset was. In addition the older manual explained how to reverse two of its cables to counter the sensors mirror installation. This can also be set in the ST70 software, however if the ST70 is reset it will get confused before this is then set correctly (which is not obvious).
Performance with the RFU
I have not done any empirical comparison with and without the RFU so my observations are subjective. It appears that the autopilot oversteers less with high heave, and the ST70 autotack also oversteers less. This could be compensated by using the “response level” on the ST70, but it appears that using the RFU is superior.
The problem with excessive rudder in situations with insufficient propulsion has gone away, and the autopilot can be safely be left engaged in all situations. A great relieve since my 16 year old son is quite absent minded at times.
Before buying my boat I was not impressed by the way Bavaria located the cockpit chartplotter (in my case the Raymarine C90W). It looked cheap and flimsy. However after using the setup for six months now, it appears that its simplicity actually has its advantages. Compared to the ones that are encased, the default flip-out naked solution has these advantages:
- you can turn the chartplotter 360 degrees, which is very useful if you want to watch it under cover of the sprayhood while the autopilot drives the boat. Similar it let you use it facing the table, making planning and waypoint setting more comfortable (as opposed to standing in front of it).
- you quickly drop it inside the cockpit table, and it is out of the way. This also makes the cockpit less cluttered while in port.
- it allows for easy and quick troubleshooting, including less than a minute to remove it (which is a drawback in case theft is a concern)
My boat has a standard fixed propeller. The propeller choice was not high on the agenda when I bought the boat, and even with hindsight I do not think it would made a difference. Now, after using the boat for about six months, an upgrade to a folding propeller is moving up the list of wanted upgrades.
Volvo documentation states that the D2-55 should be in the neutral position when sailing with the motor off. When the D2-55 is in neutral the propeller and the shaft will turn, creating a humming noise and some vibration. This is only noticeable when sailing in far conditions (breeze). You can stop the propeller by setting the gear/throttle leveler to the reverse position. Several posts on message boards mentions that this is not recommended and may cause the gear to be stuck in reverse – complicating restarting and operations of the motor. Many other posts indicate that the risk is overstated and many do this normally with no apparent consequence.
I have been doing both. The other drawback with setting the D2-55 in reverse and blocking the propeller is that there is a slight speed loss. Unfortunately the speed impact is at the same conditions when the noise is noticeable, and that is at light conditions with a breeze. In my boat the speed drop by blocking the propeller spin is about 0.3 – 0.5 knots, and it is clearly noticeable in all light wind conditions. So if speed is not important I block the propeller, and if speed is important I let it stay in Neutral accepting the humming from the D2-55. Due to this it appears credible to me that the speed advantage by installing a folding propeller could be close to 1 knot in fair wind conditions.
Factory installed autopilot option for the Bavaria Cruiser 45 is the Raymarine SPX-30. If you buy the SPX-30 yourself it comes with a Rudder Feedback transducer Unit (RFU, also referred to as Rudder Reference Sensor, Rudder Angle Sensor, Rudder Angle Transducer, or Rudder Reference Transducer), which is also strongly recommended by Raymarine for a boat of this size – to get optimum and safe performance. Curiously Bavaria has elected to throw away these RFU, and installed the SPX-30 with no rudder sensor at all. The RFU helps the SPX-30 to avoid oversteering, especially with high heave. However, the safety aspect is far more important if you sail singlehanded. Without the RFU the SPX-30 will continue to apply rudder if the boat does not respond, until it reaches the rudder stops. The Lewmar autopilot motor is so powerful that when the rudder stops is reached, it will not shut off but continue to apply force until the steering pidestalls actually are bending. When this happens you will hopefully be quick enough to turn off the autopilot by pressing “standby” before something breaks. Situations that can cause this are:
- Raising sails in strong changing wind, overpowering rudders with the set direction
- Taking down the sails with no engine thrust, loosing forward drive
- Rapid changing wind gusts, causing sails to overpower rudder
- Running with insufficient motor power
Using ST70 depth measurement is painful in Norwegian fjords, with its rapid depth changes. When the St70 depth measurement goes out of range, its latest depth is still displayed – but flashing. The problem is that its algorithm gets confused when it goes out of range (ca 200m) and that it often calculates a shallow depth reading when this happens, typically 4-20m. The results is that the out of range depth displayed flashing is a shallow depth, which occasionally jolt you before you realize that the value is flashing. More troubling is that this invalid shallow depth reading sets of any shallow depth alarm on the ST70, rendering the whole shallow depth alarm useless since it goes off all the time that the measurement goes out of limit.
Bavaria Cruisers have unfortunately continued leading upper deck water trough the cockpit. This would be OK if it went with a better design leading the water down the side of the cockpit doors. As it is now, a slight tilt on the boat will lead the water to find a path over the teak on the side of the doors, eventually going inside the boat. My boat have in addition a likely uneven finish at one of the door hinges, creating a path for the water over that hinge and leading the water down the stairs over the motor to the inside floor. Some silicone has fixed this but it is not esthetically appealing.
It is unfortunate that this has not been given more attention, as it is a constant nuisance in wet environments, and a designed solution leading the water down the sides before entering the cockpit would seem like an easy task. You will now have water flowing in the cockpit, even with a full cockpit tent, when it rains.
The less than stellar ecstatically fix can be shown below, it works and you only notice when the doors are closed (when you are inside or away). I will probably make a better looking fix next year.
AIS is a significant safety system when sailing offshore, especially at night or in fog. While a radar would complement and enhance this, AIS is cheaper and allow for automated alarms. I chose the Raymarine AIS500 for two reasons; its built in VHF antenna multiplexer and that it supported SeaTalkNG so I did not need to add more cables to my chart-plotter located in the cockpit. The drawback initially is the strange choice of the obsolete RS232 instead of USB as the interface to a PC, which require a special USB to RS232 cable if you bought your laptop after ca 2005.
The dumbed down Raymarine software supplied only allow for basic AIS info to be changed (MMSI (once), name, calling sign, length, etc), and cannot be used for safety messages or to control the NMEA lines. Since the AIS500 comes with its own GPS receiver, I tought that it would be a good idea to use this one to feed my VHF, since it had multiple NMEA output cables. I was wrong, and after days of troubleshooting, Raymarine finally told me that the AIS500 would either use SeaTalkNG or NMEA, not both simultanously. This would obviously defeat one of the reason that I chose the AIS500 in the first place.
This limitation became more bizarre when I three months later bought a A50D to be installed at the chart table. The A50D supports the SeaTalkNG, and also support AIS data. To my surprise it only supports AIS over NMEA, leaving me with the option of stretching NMEA cables to my C90W and then use this as a repeater, which would overly complicate cabling and defeat the idea of using the A50D as a backup. So Raymarine has made it impossible to make a clean setup of three of their 2011 units (A50D, C90W, and AIS500). I succumbed to get the AIS500 data only to the C90W.
I requested Raymarine to update the firmware, and also update their marketing documentation that does not mention the following flaws:
- AIS500 cannot use SeaTalkNG and NMEA simultanous
- A50D can only use AIS input from NMEA and not SeaTalkNG
Apart from that the AIS500 works fine and is very stable.
The main problem has been the new window design on the hull. All my 8 windows have now had problems, and these problems have not been minor. The insulation material, or the design, or the workmanship during the manufacturing process, have resultet in leaks in most of the windows. The leaks range from just getting drops in, to significant leaks of 2-3 liter per hour of salt water when going up against the wind (25 deg heeling) in moderate 2-3m heave. The first attempt of repair of repairs by the dealer did not work, and I suffered another trip with significant saltwater entry. Making it worse the main leaks where over all the electronics, causing corroded cables and connectors (including the pathetic AIS500 RS232 interface) and possible causing my SPX30 autopilot to fail. New attempts to fix this will be done shortly. No feedback from Bavaria still.
One of the last Cruisers with Raymarine instrumentation was received and put on the water in Stavanger February 2011. The boat was bought from Lunde Båt Vest in Stavanger. This blog is about the experience of owning the boat and its equipment, and will naturally focus on challenges and problems. I will try to mix in some real sailing feedback as well, to counter all the equipment focus, which tends to be rather negative as the effort and focus is normally towards fixing what is not working well. The name of the boat is Santa Cruz, from my wife´s hometown in landlocked Bolivia, and you can track it on Marine Traffic using MMSI 258088080. The specifications of my boat are:
- standard sails and in-mast furling main sail
- Volvo D2-55 with fixed propeller
- All Raymarine with C90W, ST70, A50D, AIS500, wind + tridata
- Raymarine SPX30 autopilot with Lewmar Mamba drive
- Bowtruster – Sleipner
- 4 cabin version – blue interior – ocean liner floor
This blog will include topics around: sailing in Norway, Scandinavia and the North-Sea, Bavaria Cruisers, especially the new Farr design, my own is a 45 but most topics should be of interest of owners of Bavaria Cruiser 50, Bavaria Cruiser 40, Bavaria Cruiser 36. Equipment discussions, tests and reviews, will include Raymarine SPX30 SPX-30 AIS500 AIS-500 ST70 ST-70 C90W A50D Selden rig Lewmar winches Volvo saildrive D2-55 engine Elvstrøm sails.