If you were planning a trip from Cape May or NYC to Maine I'd say get it. But if you are mostly in familiar waters it's not real necessary. Which way the current is flowing is in most instances common sense (speed is a little tougher to estimate). I've got one onboard but can't remember the last time I used it. I pretty much confine my sailing between Boothbay Harbor and Penobscott Bay with an occasional trip to Bar Harbor. With the tide charts and currents on a lot of chartplotters and handheld GPS units and the tides on VHF you can get by without it in most instances. I'd have to have three or four systems fail not to get the tides.
I check the tides (mostly when anchoring or going through a shallow passage) far more often than the current. If you are going through a constricted chanel with large bodies of water on either side its a good idea to check the current (kinda like the Cape Cod canal if you know what i mean)
Last edited by LinekinBayCD; 07-17-2010 at 08:19 PM.