Skip to main content

Gear Test: Ten Years with Tackticks

Look ma, no wires

Look ma, no wires

The British-made Tacktick line of wireless instruments arrived on the sailing scene in the early oughties with the Micro Compass, a standalone, solar-powered GPS and heading sensor, and soon expanded to encompass wind, speed and depth instruments. The main selling point of this Micronet instrument system was ease of installation—speed and depth transducer cables were connected to a hull transmitter, which communicated wirelessly with the solar-powered, battery-driven instrument displays. An optional NMEA interface allowed the instruments to link to other displays and chartplotters. Not even the masthead anemometer needed a power or data cable.

I installed a set of these instruments on our Norlin 34 project boat in 2007, and they are still working much as they did 10 years ago. Installation was as easy as it gets—the hull transmitter can be located anywhere in the boat, avoiding the need to snake transducer cables all the way aft, and since the displays don’t need power or data cables you can put them wherever you want. I hard-wired the Standard Horizon chart plotter and VHF radio to the NMEA box, which sent the relevant data to the multifunctional, two-line T111 display.

One thing that some users had trouble with was initializing the system, which required all the instruments—including the masthead wind sensor—to be placed next to the hull transmitter and then turning on one display. This “master” display then turns on the other instruments. The procedure has to be repeated each time you add a new display.

I’ve found the instruments both easy to read and versatile, able to display a whole grab bag of info along with depth and speed—cross-track error, bearing to waypoint, VMG, heading, speed over ground, wind direction, lifts and headers. Despite being shaded by the dodger, the batteries in the displays have never failed, even after a succession of overcast days. The backlighting is kind of gloomy but at least it doesn’t affect your night vision.

Yes, there have been some issues—sometimes the depth display is erratic, showing nonsense numbers or blanking out altogether for a few minutes. Replacing the hull transmitter made no difference to this, so I suspect the malfunction is within the display, but it has never been consistent enough to warrant replacement, and in any case the plotter at the helm shows depth. The wind transmitter’s anemometer stopped working two seasons ago—the bearings had seized up—and was replaced. I plan to replace the bearings in the defunct unit and keep it as a spare. Otherwise, I’ve had no problems.

Raymarine purchased Tacktick back in 2011 and has not only kept the range alive but added to it. There’s a smart-looking line of racing instruments and the good old Micronet cruising system, now called the MN 100-2, is still available. There were many times this past fall, as I wrestled with upgrading the instruments in the current project boat, that I wished I’d gone wireless all over again.

December 2017

Related

00-LEAD-210918_11HR_AZIMUT48HRS_AMO_00411

11th Hour Racing Team's Green Mission

“I’ll admit, it’s still hard to watch the boat leave the dock sometimes,” says former Volvo Ocean Race sailor Mark Towill. Since meeting during a Transpac campaign over 15 years ago, he and his teammate Charlie Enright have sailed thousands of miles together aboard two Volvo ...read more

D61_JKELAGOPIAN-3

Boat Review: Dufour 61

Dufour, long one of France’s most well-respected builders, has been producing sailboats in La Rochelle since the dawn of fiberglass boatbuilding. Having recently merged with another La Rochelle-based builder, Fountaine Pajot, Dufour has now joined other European mass-production ...read more

m138123_14_00_210609_TORE02_SE_2152_2504-2048x

The Ocean Race to be “Climate Positive”

The 2023 Ocean Race intends to be one of the world’s first climate positive sporting events, offsetting more greenhouse gasses than are produced. The two-fold effort means cutting emissions by 75 percent and investing in ocean projects that sequester carbon and restore ocean ...read more

01-LEAD-Ancients-3-2048x

Cruising Lake Superior

Almost anywhere a sailor drops the hook someone else has been there before. We are hardly ever the first. That remote Maine harbor without a soul in sight: there’s a lobster trap. The south coast of Newfoundland: the crumbling remains of a fisherman’s cabin lie hidden among the ...read more

01-LEAD-Tablet-Holder-4

Fabricating a Tablet Holder

During the pandemic, I was stuck aboard Guiding Light, a Lagoon 410, in St. Lucia for over a month. During that time, as I worked on the boat, I started by doing a spring cleaning in my spares locker and finding some parts and material that I forgot I had. As soon as I saw them, ...read more

00-LEAD-AdobeStock_486335954

A Catamaran for a New Era

Anacortes, Washington, is an unassuming sea-salty town near the San Juan Islands of Puget Sound, and the Betts Boats yard is easy for a passerby to miss. But within Betts’ facilities, the dawn of an era in Pacific Northwest production boatbuilding could be breaking with the ...read more

X5_plus_slide-01

Boat Review: Xquisite X5 Plus

The Xquisite X5 Plus is a major update of the boat that SAIL awarded Best Large Multihull and Best Systems titles in 2017. The changes were not just cosmetic, but genuine improvements to an already fine boat, making it lighter, faster and less dependent on fuel. The builder’s ...read more

01-LEAD-AdobeStock_40632434

Cruising: Offshore Prep Talk

When I began preparing Minx, my 1987 Pearson 39-2, for extended Caribbean cruising, I had to balance my champagne wish list against my beer budget. Every buck spent on the boat before leaving would be one less frosty can of Carib down in the islands. On the other hand, I had to ...read more