Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: New England
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I like the Garmin GPSMap 76 series. They use two standard AA batteries, and can be powered off of DC from 3-36 volts, with an optional cable. They have USB and serial NMEA 0183 connectivity to other equipment. They can be loaded with Bluechart charts of the area you're in. They're relatively rugged, water and dust resistant and the unit floats.
If you're on a limited budget, try and get a GPSMap 76C, which has a color screen, and longer battery life than the monochrome version. If you have a bit more money, it is worth getting the newest GPSMap 76Cx, which uses replacable memory cards (mini or micro SD cards), instead of a fixed bank of flash RAM.
With the optional NMEA/Power cable, you can connect it to a DSC-capable VHF, an autopilot, a laptop, etc... The computer software is relatively easy to use, to setup waypoints, routes and such. The user interface on the unit and button placement is relatively intuitive.
Also, you do want to get all the bugs out and learn all the necessary features and how to use them without referring to the owner's manual before you head out.
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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.
—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)
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Still—DON'T READ THAT POST AGAIN.