I spent mothers day weekend at Muskegon Lake with the folks from the Mariners Center. (www.marinerscentre.com.) The first thing I learned is they call it Muskegon Lake and be sure not to flip flop the words and call it Lake Muskegon. The weather was cold and windy but spirits were high, being this was the first weekend that the marina was launching some of the big boats that had been in storage all winter. Folks were out, ready to prep their boats for the boating season.
Raymarine had their mobile showroom out and I had the opportunity to work with Chris Melena the regional sales manger for the great lakes. It was nice to be able to spend some time with him and learn all about chart plotters and radars. I was most intrigued with the new, high definition radars. When I spoke with Greg and Bill , we spent most of our time talking about the weather in Muskegon, and I did not get to share all the cool things I learned about high def radar. So I will take a moment here and share what I learned. Of course if you have any questions about marine radar, I am the boating guy, so feel free to ask. If I do not know the answer, I can always track it down.
I have been use to analog radar and over the years grew accustomed to what most people call noise, and seeing targets blur together the more you scan out. Now with HD digital, that mostly goes away. We set in the harbor in the Raymarine Mobile showroom, which has active radar, and shot out across the marina and lake. I was amazed at the clarity, and the ability of the radar to paint target separation at ranges of several miles. I could make out the actual slips in the marine and could see which had boats and which did not. With the map overlay interface, I could easily see the channel markers and jetties. This could be priceless coming into port with fog, rain or other visual problems.
According to Chris the difference is, older marine analog radars produce 4 packets of info for every sweep they make, while HD digital radars produce about 16,000 packets of info every time they sweep. With all this additional info the multi function displays can process it and produce a much crisper image. The good news is, now you can make out the rock outcropping from miles away in the complete dark, but the bad news is, if you have an analog plotter, then you may have to upgrade it to get the full effect of the HD radar. Now I did check out the new touch screen displays for the plotters, but that is another story. All I can say is, if you are a fan of the iPhone then you will really like the new E-series wide screen displays.