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6/30/2012

GPS woes - what this skipper thinks he wants and reality

inexpensive chart plotter and gps lap top
I mean inexpensive


     I need some help, (opportunity knocks) I know our last cruise had some gps problems but I don't remember the specifics.  All I really remember was that I decided I should get a new gps because my old Magellan could not be trusted or was failing somehow. Being a frugal boater and not having unlimited resources makes it difficult to shell out $400+ for a hand held battery eating device I only use in the fog or to measure distance to my next anchorage. I stopped by a web site or fifty and came away more confused after reading reviews from techies, hunters, hikers, and arm chair skippers.  I wish I could just rely on someone to tell me what to buy after hearing my list of wants.

  1. it needs to be battery powered, aaa or aa with a 12V helm plug in
  2. rugged enough to be dropped once in awhile (water resistant too)
  3. day light visible display about 2.5" or bigger (ok a lot bigger)
  4. on board chart for my area (duh) and not an extra $200 fee, and they must include Canada's Vancouver and Gulf islands.
  5. it needs to display nav aids at a minimum, just like my chart
  6. I want a speedometer and bearing readout
  7. I want it to work inside the cabin, or at least by the windows
  8. it needs to boot up in less than 5 minutes
  9. I like my nav aids in color, especially the red ones, but not if it's too many $$$
  10. I want to have local level streets shown for hikes
  11. it should fit in my pocket
  12. it should be dependable, and last, and last, and last
I'm sure I have other wants, I'll add later,
here is what does not matter to me (much) (maybe)

  1. upgrade ability
  2. connectivity to a laptop, or chart plotter
  3. altimeter
  4. emergency radio or locator beacon (if it costs boat dollars)
  5. e-mail, forecasts or anything confusing that is more dollars
  6. more memory for charts of other areas
  7. phone numbers of business, etc if it's extra  $$
  8. mfd, multifunction display or depth or radar, (just go away, your too wealthy for this blog)
  9. floating is nice, so is waterproof but I can pass if more $$
  10. Are we getting an idea that costs are paramount to me?
About gps and the San Juan trailer sailor.
In my opinion you can get by without a gps just like boaters have done for centuries, but it is a really handy piece of equipment, and fun to share info with others on board, and truly a marvelous aid in foggy conditions.  What you can not do without, is a chart, pfd's and all the other Coast Guard required safety gear.


I am adding to this post to tell you readers what I finally came up with.
Read about it by following this link >>  My new gps is awesome and very inexpensive