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  #11  
Old 11-13-2010
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Hello


Quote:
Originally Posted by hriehl1 View Post
1. What would be the drawbacks to a minimalist electronic approach? Like simply a hand-held GPS? When visibility is good, I intend to rely on paper charts and triangulated position fixing if I need to know EXACTLY where I am. But in essence, navigating the "old fashioned" way appeals to me more than sitting there looking at a color screen. The hand-held GPS, capable of providing an exact real-time fix, would be relied on more for fog / low visibility situations.
There is nothing wrong with a minimalist approach. Your boat, your money, your selection.

I started with a simple black and white hand held Garmin. It came with a marine basemap that had every navaid in the US listed. It worked great to tell me exactly where I was (lat / long), how fast I was going, and in what direction I was traveling. It was OK at providing me with exactly what bouy or light house I was approaching, and it was poor at usability because the screen was small and the user interface was clumsy.


Quote:
2. Garmin handhelds and entry-level chartplotters come with US Coastal "BaseMaps" but then it seems they want more $$ for BlueChart maps. Their site is very poor describing what one does and does not get with Basemaps and BlueChart upgrades. Basic question... do Basemaps provide enough info for safe coastal sailing in low visibility conditions, or is the BlueChart upgrade necessary?
The basemap usually contains every navaid in the US. It may contain tide information. It will not contain information on marinas. Updated charts will contain tide and current information, detailed information on marinas, and will usually display depth information like a printed chart.

While the basemap is certainly sufficient for safe coastal cruising, the updated charts do have significant benefits. IMHO, the updated charts are only useful on a larger color screen.

Quote:
3. In addition to GPS (or maybe entry-level Chartplotter) I only plan to install a depth sounder. I've done enough small-boat sailing that I don't need / want speed or wind instruments (I can also get SOG from a GPS). Looking at the traditional sailing providers (Raymarine, et al) , depth sounder / transduver combos go for $400 +/-. A Wal-Mart fishfinder with thru-hull transducer is $125. What am I missing here?
The basic sounders will work OK and as listed above you can get high quality sounds for less money.

IMHO, you would be better off with a smaller, cheaper, integrated plotter / sounder unit than with a handheld unit.

The benefits of an integrated plotter are a larger screen (usually), connection to ships power so you don't need to worry about batteries, and you can't drop them overboard. Lastly, they can be easily connected to a DSC VHF unit.

When I bought my second boat I wanted a better GPS system so I bought a Lowrance M68C S Map. This is a small, affordable, color GPS and depth sounder. IT comes with a detailed basemap including depth, tide, and current information. The screen was 3.5" and easy to read. For my third (and current) boat, I wanted the same functionality, but a larger screen, so I bought a Lowrance LMS 337 CDF with a 5" high resolution color screen.

If you can afford to spend $350 or so, you can get a great GPS system.

Barry
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  #12  
Old 11-13-2010
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Thanks all for your replies.

The Lowrance LMS 337 CDF has been discontinued and replaced by the Lowrance HDS-5... 5-inch color screen and $799 at Defender. The comparable Garmin unit was similarly priced.

Standard US Basemaps spund adequate for both units... navaids I want, marinas I don't care about.

I am not averse to spending $$, but nor am I an electronics junkie with desire for the very fanciest.... sounds like this is the sweet spot I should be looking in. The comments about fog (where I am not very experienced) gives me pause with only a handheld.

Thanks all.
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Old 11-13-2010
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Hmmm, I just checked Defender's site, and current pricing on the Lowrance HDS-5M is $569.
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Old 11-13-2010
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For that same $350 you can have a 15" screen. If you have a place to set it that is visible from the cockpit? I can see mine from the helm station. 2 steps down, and I am standing next to it.........i2f
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Old 11-13-2010
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My only complaint with a hand held is that when the navaids are spread out and you zoom to the level that shows the relevant navaids/visible objects, then you loose depth information making it difficult to plot a route to a destination that is several miles away and see depths at the same time. Oh yeah, another thing, with the garmin 76 there are two pagess that I use most often yet cannot toggle between the two, but have to go through the loop to get to the previous page. They are however remarkable little machines for finding a channel and staying in it.
John
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Old 11-13-2010
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Small chartplotter

I have a Garmin GPSMAP 172 with a 4.5" screen that sure makes Maine fog a whole lot easier to deal with. Small screen but certainly sufficient. Garmin vs. others, I don't know. In 5 years of ownership, it just went back for service the second time. My sense is the cost of charts is higher w/Garmin. I have Blue Chart for Block Is to Canadian border and one for Canada to Halifax.
I would also not want to be without depth sounder given our 10-14' tides.
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Old 11-13-2010
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May I suggest?
"they tell you WHAT features a given unit has but not WHY you want/need that feature."
See if there's a US Power Squadrons group in your area, sign up for the navigation class. Or, download a copy of Bowditch (or buy one, any recent edition) and read the navigation sections.
Getting a bigger picture of what and how you may need to navigate will probably help you to make sense of the new toys and their features.
Make haste slowly, the price on this stuff simply comes down every year.
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Old 11-15-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hriehl1 View Post
Thanks all for your replies.

The Lowrance LMS 337 CDF has been discontinued and replaced by the Lowrance HDS-5... 5-inch color screen and $799 at Defender. The comparable Garmin unit was similarly priced.

Standard US Basemaps spund adequate for both units... navaids I want, marinas I don't care about.

I am not averse to spending $$, but nor am I an electronics junkie with desire for the very fanciest.... sounds like this is the sweet spot I should be looking in. The comments about fog (where I am not very experienced) gives me pause with only a handheld.

Thanks all.
I'm a little confused by some of the refernces to "base" maps. Most if not all Garmin maping handhelds, transportable and fixed mount chartplotters have some type of rudimentary base maps preloaded. For the most part the base maps are pretty useles.

I think what you need to look for are the units that come preloaded with US coastal charts. IMHO opinion the preloaded units are a tremedious bargan. My first experience with one of these units was the GPSMap 478c which in addition to every US coastal chart chart also was preloaded with all US streets. Forget what I paid but I think it listed for $999 but I got it from an online vendor for around $750 maybe 7 years ago. The preloaded charts are a version of the "Bluecharts" without the 3d capability of the "Bluechart Vision" charts.

Preloaded charts were not an option when I bought a GPSMap 3006 fixmount unit five years back. Although that particular unit has been discontinued similar newer models can be bought with all US coastal charts (or inland charts, one or the other). Look at what it whould cost to pruchase either in paper charts or electronically every US chart.

Early this year I got a Garmin Oregon 400c handheld from West Marine for $299 with every US coastal chart. I'm still using the GPSMap 478 as a backup to the 3006 but just could noot pass up what I thought was a great deal.

If I was in the market for a midsized chartplotter and was not locked into a fix mount unit I have the Garmin 640 at the top of my list. It sounds very similar to the 478 with preloaded coastal and road maps except for the touch screen. Use it on the boat or in the car. I believe that it does have the option to be hard wired.

Last edited by LinekinBayCD; 11-15-2010 at 11:36 AM.
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Old 12-15-2010
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You may also want to check out Ebay. There are a couple of waterproof laptops that have built-in GPS and with a couple of navigation programs and some coastal charts loaded. Better than a notebook or laptop (waterproof) and larger than a handheld screen (12") and wifi enabled. I just got one and figuring it out. Looks good so far. 2GB memory with 60GB shockproof disc and a backlit keyboard. Seems to be the answer to a few questions I had about a new shartplotter.
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chartplotter (note to self: practice typing)
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