Electronic charting without a serial port...
What operating system are you using?
You can probably change the memory addresses and IRQ routing of the USB port in either BIOS or the OS. I believe COM1 is IRQ4 and address 3E8. Probably simplest thing is to disable any serial ports that the PC might thing are built in and go from there. Alernately you might find that the built in modem is currently COM1. I thinki n the BIOS setup you might be able to change the com port that modem uses thus freeing COM1 for Windows to assign to your new port.
This is now basically a task for the Techie that is setting up your new laptop. If you have a choice of laptops you can specify one with a serial port as many still have this as well.
Good luck and enjoy your frustrations.