Join Date: Apr 2009
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I use an MSI Wind with SeaClear and a handheld GPS tied in with a USB cord, also hooked to the inverter from time to time. I get about 4 hours of life from my 6-cell battery when I'm navigating, which is plenty considering you only need to check it every once and a while once you're underway. It was a huge help this past summer when we were heading up to the San Juans and got ambushed by a fog bank. It helped us know when we were getting too close to land and needed to tack back out in the open.
The real trick is keeping it dry and from sliding around. I put mine on the first stair inside the companionway with the screen tilted up, so I can see it when I'm standing at the tiller. One of these days I'll take the time to saran wrap it or something and put some nonskid pads on the bottom, but alas I am lazy.
I'm in Seattle (work in Belltown, moored at Lake Union) and would love to give you a quick tutorial if you still need it. Thing is, I'm moving down to Portland tomorrow and will only be popping up here sporadically. I might be around next week though; I'll give you a shout if so and maybe we can meet at a coffee shop to try out the basics. Heck, we could even setup a GoTo Meeting and share screens remotely if you're really itching to learn.
As the others said, the best route may be to go download maps from NOAA, import them in with MapCal, and just start playing with the menus and the right/left/double clicks.