Re: Chart Plotter vs Software + Laptop or iPad???
We have a chartplotter, but use an iPad in a waterproof case and the Charts and Tides app for backup. Last season alone, the iPad became primary twice, as the plotter dumped on me. There are more functional nav apps if it really was going to be primary, but we like the above app for its offline ActiveCaptain cruising database. Try AC and you'll never cruise again without it.
Having both aboard, the iPad is much easier to handle than the clunky laptop.
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In the harsh marine environment, something is always in need of repair. Margaritas fix everything.