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  #1  
Old 02-11-2009
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Handheld GPS for Ditch Kit

Hey All,

I've searched the board for threads about the recommended Handheld GPS for use in a ditch kit, and the thread results were a bit dated. Since technology changes so much, I'd like to know what everyone is using out there...and why. Right now, here is my thought process

Do I want a dedicated GPS or combo VHS unit?

Whats the difference between Garmin Etrex and GPSMAP 76CSX
- why the price premium for the 76 series?
- waterproofing?

It would be good to know what else everyone is using on their boats.
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Old 02-11-2009
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Well, it seems that a GPS alone without any way to communicate to others the information you are getting from it is not very usefull; comforting maybe, in that you will know exactly where you are not getting rescued from, but not a great help in and of itself.

Something like the SPOT messenger, for about teh same price as a cheap handheld GPS, might be a better option for a ditch bag.

Absolutely add a handheld VHF. It might not bring rescuers; but when they get there it could make a huge difference in how efficiently they get you aboard.

Just my opinions,
Fred
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Old 02-11-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AjariBonten View Post
Well, it seems that a GPS alone without any way to communicate to others the information you are getting from it is not very usefull; comforting maybe, in that you will know exactly where you are not getting rescued from, but not a great help in and of itself.

Something like the SPOT messenger, for about teh same price as a cheap handheld GPS, might be a better option for a ditch bag.

Absolutely add a handheld VHF. It might not bring rescuers; but when they get there it could make a huge difference in how efficiently they get you aboard.

Just my opinions,
Fred
I like the concept of the Spot messenger, but that $99 subscription bothers me. Couldn't you get the same result out of a $400 PLB w/EPIRB capability? Pays for itself in a few years.

But back to GPS...you always want to have a redundant one in case the plotter goes haywire, right?
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Old 02-11-2009
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Epirb with GPS built in is the solution.
Failing that...GPS with Sat phone.
GPS and handheld VHF will only give the ability to communicate for 5 miles or so.

As to WHICH GPS...no need to get the 76...the 72 is the same guts and floats and is waterproof. The Etrex is 10-20 bucks cheaper. It is also waterproof but does not float and does not have the marine functions that would allow the GPS72 to serve also as a backup on board. Add AA batteries to the ditch bag either way!
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Owl, I too am ambivalent as to the SPOT messenger.

I see it as useful for sending location updates for long term cruisers, like Labatt is. (of course it is useless the two places I really wanted/want one in then past and upcoming year, the Arctic Ocean and the west coast of equatorial Africa) I agree, for a strictly emergency tool the EPIRB with GPS is absolutely the gold standard.

Of course, neither will function as a back up GPS unit; but that really is a separate question.

If I were going off shore, and HAD to choose one; it would be the GPS enabled EPIRB.

If I were sailing inshore, same conditions, I would probably go for a small backup GPS with a VHF, or the SPOT; but again only as an emergency tool.

Scratch that; buy the GPS-EPIRB and a crummy $100 GPS for backup. Do it right.
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Old 02-11-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AjariBonten View Post

Scratch that; buy the GPS-EPIRB and a crummy $100 GPS for backup. Do it right.

The question is WHICH one...and whats the most GPS for the money (reliability, color screen, features...etc).
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Buy the Epirb and one of these hx850s handheld vFh and gps
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Old 02-11-2009
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VHF is a battery drainer, I would not want one in any package but instead as a handheld stand-alone, then I would only use it as necessary. The GPS can also be a handheld standalone and compared to the VHF, it is easy on batteries. I have both a handheld VHF and 76CS, the 76 lasts for hours on two AA batteries, while the Uniden Atlantis hand-held VHF drains six AA batteries in short order.
The 76 series seem to be a premium but compared to when they were first introduced at $600+ dollars they are budget priced. They carry enough memory to load all your charts, are color plus they have a multitude of functions to double as a back-up unit if your main system fails. They can come in quite handy. I don't go off shore (always in easy reach of land) so I don't really need a ditch bag per say but if/when I do every item would be standalone and I always have a plentiful supply of batteries on board.
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Old 02-11-2009
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I'd opt for basic garmin 76map (monochrome) with generic (less details, more coverage) maps loaded in it. Just slap some dielectric grease into battery compartment. Battery compartment is a weak point of the device, if it exposed to open water, it may rust eventually. I mean real exposure – like while kayaking.
It is cheap, robust, last long time on two AA batteries, and does job well.
The tricky question is how to get maps for it on a budget.
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Being a pilot, I'd add a handheld VHF that had the aviation frequencies, including 121.5. That way I can broadcast and hit planes many dozens of miles away. (What's the horizon for him at 35,000 feet?) You may have to explain the situation, but you'll be able to, no problem. And since I speak English, and English is the standard aviation language, there won't be a language barrier. Every pilot flying internationally speaks English.
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