My Tech Gear: Capt. Tom Petersen

An experienced cruiser offers electronics picks and tricks.
Capt. Tom Petersen headshot
Courtesy Capt. Tom Petersen Capt. Tom Petersen cruises throughout California and Mexico aboard his Sea Ray. He uses a variety of Raymarine electronics to navigate and fish along the way.

Capt. Tom Petersen’s primary vessel is a 2018 Sea Ray L650 Fly named Valkyrie, powered by twin 1,100 hp Cat C-18 diesels and based in Oxnard, California. Along with his wife, Anita, he spends the majority of his time exploring the Channel Islands in Southern California. The couple has also voyaged north to San Francisco and cruised throughout Mexico.

Radar is the single most important electronic tool I have; it tells me everything that’s out there, including rain clouds.

– Capt. Tom Petersen

Raymarine Axiom XL Displays

Petersen’s four 16-inch Axiom XL displays—two on the flybridge, two on the lower helm—give him the perfect blend of power and features, plus they integrate well with his other electronics. On the open flybridge in full sunlight, he can still see the screens easily, he says. “I enjoy fishing and scuba diving, and with chirp DownVision, the fish don’t stand a chance. Even if you don’t fish, it’s helpful to know if there are rocks or cables down below that could foul your anchor. It’s also critical to know the exact depth for setting your anchor or crossing an area prone to shoaling.” MSRP: $7,000 each.

Raymarine Magnum Radar

“Radar is the single most important electronic tool I have; it tells me everything that’s out there, including rain clouds,” says Petersen, who opted for the 12 kW 6-foot open-array Magnum. “Size matters. Compared to the 4 kW units, the larger 12 kW array gives me better transmission and range up to 96 miles.” Petersen uses the dual-range feature when cruising, setting one screen or one split-screen for coastal cruising (toggling between 3 and 6 miles), and one for harbor mode, which lets him see small targets such as kayakers. He uses the Tracks feature to make sure his anchor is set. A circle means his boat is swinging, but a straight line indicates the anchor is dragging. MSRP: $7,000.

Electronics collection from Capt. Petersen
Courtesy FLIR and Raymarine Petersen uses radar and AIS when conditions require it. He has four Axiom XL displays — two on the flybridge and two on the lower helm.

Raymarine AIS700 Class B Transceiver

Petersen has two AIS transceivers: one on his Sea Ray and another on his 14-foot Zodiac dinghy. “Not only does the receiver give me information about the traffic around me, but the transmitter broadcasts my position to others and also allows me to find my yacht in a crowded mooring at night in zero visibility,” he says. He uses the AIS on the Zodiac to let him know where friends and guests are at all times when they go on day trips. MSRP: $1,050 each.

FLIR M364C LR Stabilized Color Camera

Cruising with the FLIR camera on is usually not practical, but being able to see in total darkness can be critical at times, such as when entering unfamiliar ports at night or facing a man-overboard situation, Petersen says. MSRP: $21,995.

Raymarine Evolution Autopilot

“It’s very mentally draining to always keep a boat moving in the right direction,” Petersen says. “Without a visible landmark, most boats wander, and then you’re forced to focus on a compass, which then means you’re not looking ahead as much, which is unsafe.” MSRP: $3,000.

Raymarine Ray260 and Ray90 VHF Radios

Petersen uses two VHFs aboard because, he says, it’s always important to monitor Channel 16 for emergencies or important information. At the same time, he frequently travels with others, and for chatting, they use Channel 72. While many better VHF radios can monitor two or three stations, Petersen says that transmitting sometimes disables the monitor mode, and he has to reset it after each transmission. MSRP: $1,000 each.

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