Electronics manufacturer B&G plans to introduce a lower-priced, 7-inch chartplotter called Vulcan into its lineup of sailing instruments this spring. Used as a standalone unit, Vulcan offers all the features of a chartplotter (waypoints, routes, etc.) and will display cartography from a number of third-party vendors such as C-Map and Navionics.
By adding wind and speed sensors, sailors can tap into B&G’s SailSteer, a software overlay that can show you when to tack, monitor and predict wind shifts, gauge the effect of current and provide other valuable navigational information. Another add-on, B&G’s DownScan Imaging transducer, provides a picture-like view of what’s under the boat (think sophisticated fish finder).
The price for the Vulcan display is just under $800, considerably less than B&G’s Zeus 2 MFD systems that start at about $1,200. One big difference is that the Vulcan unit does not have a port for connecting radar. On larger boats, Vulcan displays can be added to any NMEA 2000 network as repeaters throughout the vessel. They are Wi-Fi enabled and can tap into B&G’s recently announced GoFree Shop that lets you download charts on the fly and obtain software upgrades any time you’re connected to the Internet. Vulcan will also pair with your smartphone, and can function as an autopilot controller. Look for units starting in May.