B&G and Dufour, when electronics enhance the onboard experience


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B&G electronics
The Zeus 3S plotter station on the Dufour 41

What is the purpose of electronic instrumentation on a sailboat? At one time this term was used to refer to the wind station, the log, and at most a gps. Electronic instrumentation, however, is one of those areas that is constantly evolving, which is why over the past 20 years the proposition for the boating market has become increasingly efficient and capable of pleasing different markets, from cruisers to racers in the case of sailboats. Today, electronic instruments not only serve to guide us in navigation, providing us with wind and course data, but also improve our experience on board overall and help us better manage the boat through their functions.

When we participated in the sea trials for the Dufour 41 in Palma de Mallorca (watch the VIDEO of the trial) the instrumentation installed on board was provided by B&G, it was a first time of the two brands together. B&G is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of electronic instrumentation for racing boats (as we tell you in this VIDEO), suffice it to say that it is the supplier of the F50 flying catamarans for Sail GP, but it has long since entered the cruiser market as well. On a cruising boat, priorities change, and more than meticulous monitoring of performance data, ease of use and management are also needed. This is why B&G decided to install on the Dufour 41 not an electronics package with a new model, but the tried-and-true Zeus 3S, one of the company’s workhorses also designed for the recreational market.

Zeus 3S – An ally for the cruise passenger

What is the basic feature that an electronic instrumentation suitable for a boat dedicated to cruising must have? First, ease of use, and this starts with the chartplotter screen, which must be visible in all possible conditions. The one in the Zeus 3S has a 9-inch touchscreen coupled with a rotary dial, but the most important thing is perhaps another. The SolarMAX IPS screen has been tested in possible boundary conditions of visibility and water splashes, from tropical sunlight to southern ocean and polar winters. The screen can be seen through polarized sunglasses, and the responsive touchscreen works even if the surface is wet in rough seas. There is basically no condition in the cockpit where we will not be able to consult the chartplotter.

The Zeus 3’s processor has been programmed to be able to use nautical charts, radar, all boat numbers and other functions at the same time without the instruments going “ballistic” with drops in performance, another prerequisite for ease of use.

Zeus 3S – How instrumentation improves sailing

Zeus 3S in laylines mode. P indicates the time to sail starboard tack before waypoint, S the time as well to port.

If we never forgo raising the sails when cruising from anchorage to anchorage, some functions of the Zeus 3 come to our aid to make our sailing efficient. In Laylines mode, the B&G instruments practically act as our “tactical” instruments: set a given waypoint to be reached, they will tell us the appropriate time to tack or gybe in order to cover the shortest possible path to the target, while also taking into account currents, tides and wind swings.

Zeus 3S in Sailsteer mode

Instead, using Sail steer mode we will display crucial information on wind, speed, tide, heading, course relative to bottom, layline and waypoint, overlaid on a single screen to have the information we need at our fingertips.

Zeus 3S – From anchor alarms to connecting with other instruments

Setting anchorage alarms will be one of the other functions that the cruiser really likes and allows him to sleep soundly at anchor, being warned by the instruments on board if the boat plows or if worse we lose anchorage.

Another important feature is Zeus 3’s ability to connect to other B&G instruments such as the autopilot, which can be steered directly from the chartplotter, as well as radar monitoring. Lastly, speaking of connections, it will be possible to have Zeus 3 screens on smartphones and tablets as well, so we can always have boat data under control even if we are resting in the cabin.

Not just “electronics in short, but something more, tools that enhance our experience of living on board and help us navigate at our best.




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