Installing a Helm Pod

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Our 1987 Pearson project boat came with an elderly but functioning Raymarine chartplotter, located belowdecks at the nav station. Since I usually sail solo or doublehanded, it was of little use down there—it needed to be near the helm. When I decided to update the plotter along with all the other vintage electronics, I had little choice but to mount it on the steering pedestal.

Most modern helm stations have molded pedestals with room for MFDs and instruments, but that wasn’t the case in 1987. The 32-year-old Edson pedestal gave me two options. I could replace the pedestal guard with a much higher one that would allow me to position the new MFD right in front of the wheel, or I could opt to have it mounted lower on one side of the guard.

I dislike having to peer over or around a glowing screen—there’s nothing like it to ruin your night vision—and nor do I like having to stand behind the wheel in order to see the display. I wanted to be able to turn the MFD so I could sit beside or forward of the wheel, instead of being trapped behind it. After checking out the offerings from the various makers of instrument housings, I chose one of Navpod’s Railmount swiveling waterproof housings, which mount on a stainless steel arm that bolts to the pedestal guard. You can order these housings as blanks and cut out the hole yourself, or you can do what I did: specify the MFD model—in my case a Raymarine Es75—and Navpod will send you the housing with the right-sized cutout.

Installation involved drilling holes in the pedestal guard, which would need to be unbolted from the cockpit floor in order to pass the new cables into the boat. The cables also needed to be connected—the Raymarine eS7’s Seatalk NG data cable had to be hooked up to the system backbone, and the power cable had to be connected to a circuit breaker in the 12V distribution panel. All in all, you can count on a pleasant, leisurely day’s work for this nice, clean project, with frequent breaks to admire your progress. The only hiccup for me was waiting for the epoxy to cure after I had over-drilled and filled the holes in the cockpit sole, which I should have done in advance.

After unpacking the box, I got right to work. 

Photos by Peter Nielsen

September 2019

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