GPS / ChartPlotters; Totally Baffled
I am moving up from years of inland lake daysailing to a Hinterhoeller HR28 we'll sail in Casco Bay Maine. So for the first time in my life I need to be concerned with navigation beyond simple line-of-sight. I have spent probably 4 hours at Garmin and Lowrance websites, and primer-level information just does not exist... they tell you WHAT features a given unit has but not WHY you want/need that feature.
So... a few questions.
1. What would be the drawbacks to a minimalist electronic approach? Like simply a hand-held GPS? When visibility is good, I intend to rely on paper charts and triangulated position fixing if I need to know EXACTLY where I am. But in essence, navigating the "old fashioned" way appeals to me more than sitting there looking at a color screen. The hand-held GPS, capable of providing an exact real-time fix, would be relied on more for fog / low visibility situations.
2. Garmin handhelds and entry-level chartplotters come with US Coastal "BaseMaps" but then it seems they want more $$ for BlueChart maps. Their site is very poor describing what one does and does not get with Basemaps and BlueChart upgrades. Basic question... do Basemaps provide enough info for safe coastal sailing in low visibility conditions, or is the BlueChart upgrade necessary?
3. In addition to GPS (or maybe entry-level Chartplotter) I only plan to install a depth sounder. I've done enough small-boat sailing that I don't need / want speed or wind instruments (I can also get SOG from a GPS). Looking at the traditional sailing providers (Raymarine, et al) , depth sounder / transduver combos go for $400 +/-. A Wal-Mart fishfinder with thru-hull transducer is $125. What am I missing here?
Thanks in advance for your thoughts.