Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Hershey, PA / Middle River MD
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Since this was my original post, I guess it’s OK for me to update or revive it. I just re-read all the responses from several months ago and made a new list of additions to my original post (below). Again, thanks for all the great responses – both supporting and being critical of the use of these devices.
As much as I like technology and gizmos, I do admit to often struggling to really learn to use it effectively. Many of you (like Dog) go way over my head with technical details on software formats etc. I do have SeaClear and NOAA charts on my laptop but don’t use it much. I also have Garmin HomePort on my laptop and use it a lot. I also use Active Captain a lot –great service. I’m considering loading a new chart plotting app and an Active Captain app on my new Android phone once I figure out how to use 25% of the other things it came with.
I have used my chart plotter a lot more than I ever thought I would and now wouldn’t do without it. I really do like my Garmin 441 but I don’t believe Garmin has done a very good job of providing instructions on it’s use. I would sure welcome something on what many of the features are intended for. The units do so much, a good instruction book would be 500 or 600 pages in length.
1. Get an idea of how long it will take to some waypoint/destination.
2. Speed over ground when getting ready to drop anchor.
3. To record alternative landfalls in case of an emergency – mark the entrance and make notes as to hazards, best anchorages, etc.
4. Set up proximity waypoints when anchoring so you can see if you are dragging based on wind directions and shifts.
5. The cross track screen can help you realize if you're being blown or pushed off course
6. Saving tracks for possible slide shows/presentations.
7. Using the GPS and checking your COG versus your heading, you can see what the effects of set and drift are on your course in many cases. Heading is the direction the boat is facing, COG is the actual direction the boat is moving in, and rarely are they the same.
8. One thing I haven't seen mentioned yet is using the DSC position function when you're buddy boating. Three of us Sailnetters kind of kept track of each other's location this past summer while cruising the same area.
9. I use the Post-It tape flags to keep the position of the boat updated on the chart, especially if I'm in unfamiliar waters.
10. used a GPS track to backtrack out of creeks with skinny water
11. plot to waypoints I've never been to always erring on the side of the deeper water
12. Getting into small anchorages where detail is not shown on the charts.
13. integration of Google Earth with my chart software. It is amazing. I can zoom in on a marina and tell if it is primarily sail or power.
14. Due to power draw, turn unit on only to record (track) entrances to anchorages, etc. and not long tacks in open water.
15. in stormy weather or when sailing at night as an aid
16. To show alterations to aids to navigation such as modifications to the channel North of Kent Narrows. Of course, opening your eyes will show the same alterations but a note might help remind you of how bad the area is for shoaling.
17. ETA and ETE features for purposes of selecting the destination for the day, when we need to depart, etc.
18. to get real time current set and drift if you have a GPS, compass and log connected
1. Don’t use waypoints you have created for planning purposes for actual navigation without visual and chart checking.
2. When cutting corners, consider whether the buoy or day marker is intended for commercial shipping or to mark shoals in smaller channels.
3. Charts and GPS are more reliable in popular cruising areas and less reliable in more remote areas.
4. Don’t plan buoy to buoy since that can cause you to hit the buoy and that is what lots of other boats are doing too. Create waypoints a couple hundred yards off the buoy. Also, plan routes out of commercial channels and perpendicular to them.