Do yachts have sat-nav? 05-04-2017

Tom and Jeff are keen sailors and are working toward their qualifications. Their aim is to rent or own a sailboat. So one of the conversations that came up in the office - can sailing boats be like airliners and sail point to point using a sat-nav? We know that modern boats have a lot of electronics onboard, with radar and GPS systems. And there are autopilot systems which will steer a given course and compensate for wind and tide. And they will have depth sensors to prevent embarrassing groundings.

But we wondered if there is a system that allows you to decide where you want to go and the system computes the appropriate course, sets the proper time to leave according to the tides. Imagine I want to sail from the Solent to Dublin for the weekend. How automatic would this be, could I just request 'Dublin' as the destination and the system would direct me there?.

This drawing shows how we see the system working. You would need sails that can furl and tack automatically. We found the design of the Windfoil decribed here particularly interesting. It then needs computer control to allow complete ability to tack, alter sail area, navigate around fixed objects like land and moving objects like other vessels.