what's the "right" dashboard layout?



what\'s the \"right\" dashboard layout?

All boats have a different dashboard layout. And boats from the same manufacturer have a different dash. You'd have though that by now, they'd each have settled on a standard layout. For example, in cars, a Mercedes dash is always the same - cos they believe that they've got it right. So you can leap in and drive off, knowing that main guages and indicators and lights are in a familar layout. So which boat has the best dashboard layout?

For myself, I'm mainly interested in radar right in front of helm for worrisome fog driving. Then, paired dials. What else?


Re: what\'s the "right" dashboard layout?

I have a very useful chart area immediately in front of the wheel which takes a full width folded to about 1/3 depth chart. I have a full size chart table on the opposite side of the companionway, over the dinette.

The engine instruments are housed in a console immediately in front of this, along with fuel, water and trim tab gauges. All nav instruments are overhead, in a console fixed to the ceiling. The engine instruments are typical Volvo and, as such are not paired which would be useful - it spots differences between engines much more quickly. Everything is mounted on black glare free leatherette - may I say more practical than high gloss wood!

The nav instruments work quite well but

a) Radar hangs from a bracket and everyone on my boat sooner or later hits their head on it on coming up from the galley. There is no room to move it further over but it is very easily visible to helmsman, without impeding forward view.

b) Some instruments are too far away for my ageing and failing eyesight e.g. I have a Garmin GPS120 which I have to wear my glasses to read.

c) The original log and echo sounder were Incastec. A couple of years ago the sounder gave up and I had to replace it. Fortunately the model (at least same shape) is still produced by Echo Pilot (Maxi range) but the back lighting has changed to make the instrument virtually unreadable in the dark.

Engine levers are well placed as are trim tab controls. The anchor winch on the other hand is mounted on the bulkhead behind the wheel so that you have to reach through the spokes to get it - not very well thought out. Fortunately the flybridge controls and the deck pad switches are OK.

Which brings me to the flying bridge. I only have rev counters up there - why would people think I am only interested in what is happening with my engines from the lower console. I have the usual audible alarms but by the time they are going off its a bit late. Likewise only my sounder and log are repeated to the flyingbridge but I have no control over them, only a display. From what I have seen at the boat show, most manufacturers adopt this approach and especially for boats aimed at warm climates, it really is not good enough



Re: what\'s the "right" dashboard layout?

I actually took the opportunity a couple of years ago to have custom instrument panels with paired instruments made by Taplin in Southampton. Very nice they were too. The changes I made was to put the Radar screen, VHF and chartplotter controls on the navigator side of the helm seat. At least that way someone could operate them leaving me to concentrate on helming. Chartplotter display, echo sounder and log were mounted above the windscreen just above my normal eye line. I also tried to apply a little bit of logic to the switches and grouped them as appropriate. Wipers, washers and blowers all together. Instrument lights were hooked up into the nav light switch etc.etc.
BTW I had the Cetrek Chartpilot which was brilliant. Four cartridges, two big screens and control units meant I could operate chart plotter/autopilot from either helm.



Re: Mercs all the same...

mercs all the same?

My old E280 (only 1994) has the indicator stalk on the wrong (RH) side. Thought I'd get used to it, but it drives me bananas. 'specially if i drive another merc.

so if you get fed up of us target-on-the bonnet brigade not using hand signals, you know why!

BTW my father's got a manual merc (don't ask me why) and because they use foot parking brake instead of a handbrake, he's got four pedals! Flippin 'eck, i ain't got enough feet!


Well-known member
16 May 2001

1. Two massive (14 inch if space, else 10 inch) colour TFT screens right in the middle between nav chair and helm chair. One radar, t'other plotter. Radar nearer the helmsman.

2. Other engine gauges paired, fitted maybe in a line above the TFTs, or wherever convenient

3. Autopilot and log tridata in the middle (these are small anyway)

4. Autopilot must have a big chunky clicky turn knob (like the vol control on a good hifi), one click means one degree. That means Simrad. Not just a few red buttons for "10deg left" or whatever, like Raytheon. Clicky knob must be reachable by helmsman from his seat without a big lean forward.

5. There should not be any space for paper charts directly in front of you, if that would increase the distance between you and the TFT screens, because it gets too hard to hit the right buttons when wacking on waves. The TFT screens need to be close to you so you can brace your hand/elbow while pressing the buttons

6. Stuff like Navtex, genset panel, domestic water gauges, holding tank crappometer, should be somewhere else, not on the dash. The navtex should be paper printer type interfaced to GPS so it prints a deck log every 15minutes on paper.

7. There should be fuel management LCD display fully interfaced. Measures fuel flow and speed, so can compute fuel consumption and range. Somewhere on the dashboard

8. The 12/24v switch panel should not be on the dash. It takes up too much room and is not mission critical. See for ex the F Phantom 46, it has a huge switch panel right in front of the nav seat, that's crazy, who needs to turn on the saloon light isolater or the fridge when you're trying to drive the boat?

9. So there should be 2 dashboards on a sports cruiser. All the mission critical stuff at the helm, then a separate place round the corner for genset, 12/24 isolaters and other non mission critical

10. All softly lit red at night, matching shade of red

Furuno do a nice radar where the screen and control panel are separate bits. So you put the screen in the dash and the control panel can go anywhere else. It's a bit industrial looking, unfortunately. See pics of Lep24 in this month's big yacht mags (Yacht magazine has it) they fitted this model in that boat, although was a bit pointless cuz they put the control unit right slap bang by the screen anyway!