Advice on HAND-HELD Marine Electronics - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 12 Old 08-13-2013 Thread Starter
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Advice on HAND-HELD Marine Electronics

We're members of a sailing club, usually sailing a 25' Catalina on the Potomac between Washington DC and the entrance to the Chesapeake. The boat has a VHF mounted in the cabin and a depth sounder (and compass) in the cockpit. There are no other marine electronics aboard.

What HAND-HELD marine electronics do you suggest we carry with us when we sail in these waters?

Would you recommend anything else/more for sailing the same boat on the Chesapeake?

(Please don't tell us about marine electronics that we could install; it's a club boat and we don't control that).

Thanks for your input!
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post #2 of 12 Old 08-13-2013
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Re: Advice on HAND-HELD Marine Electronics

I have a number of hand held VHF radios and within the major manufacturers in the $100-$125 price range, I see zero difference in reception and transmission capabilities. Beyond basic communication, it's a matter of what bells and whistles you want (GPS, Bluetooth, etc).

Since I have a number of ways to get my position on other devices that have GPS, I feel no need to pay extra for it on the hand held.

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post #3 of 12 Old 08-13-2013
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Garmin GPS78 hand held unit. With charts.

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post #4 of 12 Old 08-13-2013
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Re: Advice on HAND-HELD Marine Electronics

I checked my iPhone Garmin app against the chartplotter on the boat I was on between Miami and Georgia (part ICW, part coastal). It provided consistent location information.

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post #5 of 12 Old 08-13-2013
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Re: Advice on HAND-HELD Marine Electronics

All handheld GPS units will give you accurate positions, it's just a matter of battery consumption and the bells and whistles. The same is pretty much true for handheld VHFs. There are some small differences in performance with VHFs, but not enough to worry about. The best options to look for, IMHO, are waterproofness (almost a given these days) that its floatable (please don't ask me about this ), and how viewable the screen is in bright sunlight.

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post #6 of 12 Old 08-14-2013
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Advice on HAND-HELD Marine Electronics

We sail on the Chesapeake and carry a Garmin GPSMAP 76Cx which has been great. Rick solid, battery operated but pretty efficient. Garmins approach to chart distribution and updates is somewhat irritating (i.e. SD cards, one update per chart purchase within first 12 months, etc).

We also have a Uniden waterproof VHF.

Not electronic but we also keep a set of binoculars on deck.

Last but not least we keep a backup handheld Garmin GPS unit (not a chartplotter)

Those items should provide you reliable and portable navigation anywhere on the bay.

Josh
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post #7 of 12 Old 08-14-2013
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Re: Advice on HAND-HELD Marine Electronics

You can save a lot of money if you have a decent smartphone, either MS, android or 'i' - all have chart apps available, and all are good.
For 14 bucks I got Navionic's USA East - the charts are the exact same as the charts used on big buck chartplotters (2D type) and most smart phones use a micro chip gps receiver now not just vectored cell towers for location.
My phone is my 3rd backup (chartplotter, netbook with PolarNavy, phone, hardheld magellan, paper charts - in that order).

For VHF, just go with the simplest one you can find that can be recharged via the boats 12v. You don't need MMSI or DSC as you'll be hopping boats - and on a narrow river.

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post #8 of 12 Old 08-14-2013
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Re: Advice on HAND-HELD Marine Electronics

Yea to Chuckles. Our previous boat had no fixed electronics other than log and depth. We used an old Garmin handheld GPS without charts. Simply took our lat and long if out of sight of land and plotted on paper. Eventually put in a Navman (crap) plotter with C-Map charts and hardly ever used the thing other than for planning. For mine I find the small screens too annoying when it comes to charts but younger eyes may have more luck. Handheld VHS worked well also.

Newer boat is uber electronic but we still keep a handheld or two as backup.

Now use puter or tablet for planning.

Andrew B (Malö 39 Classic)

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― Terry Pratchett.
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post #9 of 12 Old 08-15-2013
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Re: Advice on HAND-HELD Marine Electronics

Garmin 76Cx with North American East Coast chart chip
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post #10 of 12 Old 08-15-2013
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Re: Advice on HAND-HELD Marine Electronics

You should explore Garmin's handheld selection. They have many models an different iteration of the same models. Many can do double duty such as sailing and hiking, sailing and street maps (often with voice directions). I think it's their 640 that is preloaded with all US charts and streets. I don't think there is another manufacturer that comes close to the variety of different hand helds and "portable" models.
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