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post #1 of 80 Old 12-10-2018 Thread Starter
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Backup GPS

Another thread had me dragging out my emergency backup handheld GPS unit, only to find it dead. It is so hard to actually part with a unit one has two station bases, a good power cable, and a custom cover for, but none of that stuff will fit a newer unit, I'm sure.
A few minutes, actually an hour or so of internet searching and reading left me with little practical information, so I thought I'd ask y'all what handheld GPS chart plotter you like the best. Maybe you don't actually have one, but perhaps you used one on someone else's boat.
It needs to be 100% handheld but could have a station base that would hold it in place for the helmsperson. Of course, it must have a 12 VDC power cable, either with a cigarette lighter plug or one I attach, no permanent wiring.
Some seem to have 'grey scale' worldwide charting included but is this actually navigatable charting, or is it pretty much necessary to buy their charts for each area one might expect to go?
I'm not looking for all the bells and whistles, but a good solid reliable hand held chart plotter that I might use once, should all else aboard fail. I've seen them from about us $150.00 to around us$500.00, with all kinds of features, but none of it means anything without some idea of how those who have purchased and used them really like them.
I'm not at all interested in a computer or tablet based GPS, but rather a dedicated marine waterproof unit that can be out and useable in the worst weather.
So, anyone who wants to contribute to my knowledge is welcome to contribute. But, please do remember, this unit may spend it's entire lifespan in a case somewhere and never be used, so I see little point in spending the big boat bucks on it. Serviceable, user friendly, and economical.

"Any idiot can make a boat go; it takes a sailor to stop one." Spike Africa aboard the schooner Wanderer in Sausalito, Ca. 1964.
“Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.” ― Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows

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post #2 of 80 Old 12-10-2018
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Re: Backup GPS

Take a look at an Inreach from Garmin. my son got me one and we used is last summer. Besides being a gps it also is a satellite light data device. The satellite service is not cheap at $60 a month but it can be turned on and off on a monthly basis. So I had satellite communication turned on during our passage and turned it off when we got back. Could get weather when out of range with out other devices. If I didn't already have an epirb I wouldn't get one as this has a SOS that sends out gps AND allows communication. It also links via Bluetooth to a computer or tablet. Mine cost about $300. waterproof.

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post #3 of 80 Old 12-10-2018
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Re: Backup GPS

The Garmin 76 black and white screen cant be too expensive nowadays.

But what about a smart phone or two as spares?

The used mobile phone shops ubiquitous in the Carbibbean should have some cheapies. (probably stolen in some other country anyway.) But maybe $30 to $50??
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post #4 of 80 Old 12-10-2018
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Re: Backup GPS

I wouldnt describe any of the real handheld chartplotters as affordable because the charts cost an arm and a leg. However, if you can manage with the world base map, things get pretty affordable. My nav set up is a bit unconventional because all my boats are so small with no 12 volt systems, but I do manage to get around.

My primry chartplotter is my cell phone, I figure I need one any way and charts are so cheap and and good; South Florida, Gulf of Mexico to Newfoundland and the Great Lakes cost me about $25. I have a good quality waterproof android phone.

My back up, is an older Garmin GPS map 62 with world base map only. It gets fairly heavy use so I can save batteries on my cell phone. The base map has very little granularity, no depths, doesnt even show small islands. Shorelines are blobby. But when used with a chartbook or cruising guide or if its a place I have navigated before, I find it to be adequate for staying out of trouble. I wouldnt consider running an inlet in the fog with it (unless I had waypoints programmed in).

My back up back up is a very old monochrome Garmin Etrex about a 1996/7. It doesnt get much use these days, but at one time it did and it still works fine for speed, trip and waypoint to waypoint navigation. The newer black and white Etrex does come with world base map, and for the price, I would consider it really good bang for the buck if you are OK with world base map.

My racing partner has a newer GPS Map 64 with charts for Eastern North America. The full set up cost around $1000, but it is very nice to navigate with. I have used it quite a bit. Like navigating with pretty much any hand held GPS, you will want your glasses if you need glasses, and you might even want glasses even if you dont normally wear glasses.
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post #5 of 80 Old 12-10-2018
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Re: Backup GPS

Im not understanding the block you have towards waterproof cased tablets and phones.
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post #6 of 80 Old 12-10-2018
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Re: Backup GPS

Cap.
My first plotter was a Garmin IQ3600... it was from the OOs... oldie. But it blue charts and did street navigation. It's not waterproof and was intended as PDA.. personal desk assistant... with a program for contacts. I bought a few of them used for a song... you might still find one. The screen was fabulous... the zoom feature was like how you fiddle with images on a smart phone... pinching and so on. It had buttons for this as well. It used a small stylus not touch. Small, thin and I took it to shore.

Not a great pic but you can see my 2 fixed mount... an old Ray C80 and and even older Horizon CP170c. I know have a B&G T7 which I place in a which in the cockpit. It's waterproof and antenna is self contained.

I would use a smart phone with Navionics for a portable GPS. They're not waterproof either.
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P1000014.JPG   B&G T7 - Crop.jpg  
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Last edited by SanderO; 12-10-2018 at 05:54 PM.
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post #7 of 80 Old 12-10-2018
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Re: Backup GPS

I've been using a Standard Horizon 180i for a number of years. I think they now have a newer model called the 190i. The i stands for internal antenna. I have had no problems receiving Sat signals even though it is located at the helm under my solar panel bimini. It's a nice small unit that works for me at the helm but, could be moved around with the proper power cord. Some photos of it's installation on my boat is here: THE BIANKA LOG BLOG: WHAT THE HELM?: Part 2

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post #8 of 80 Old 12-10-2018
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Re: Backup GPS

I use a Garmin 78SC. It runs on 2 aa batteries, and lasts a long time. My primary navigation tool has been an iPad, so I like having the handheld as a backup, or for when the weather is wet and nasty. The costal charts that come with it are adequate for me, but I haven’t roamed farther than the Great Lakes for now.
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post #9 of 80 Old 12-10-2018
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Re: Backup GPS

I've had the Gamin 76 ( cx)? I believe,( it's on the boat) for over 15 years now. I have maps in it. they're pretty small but readable,
what I do have are loaded routes and waypoints etc. I've used it on trips many times, as a backup and on OPs boats.

I still like it. It gives me all the relevant date I need Course, XTE, Speed, distance to next waypoint ETA's etc. I also like that it has a graphing barometer. The unit is no longer made, but they're around. I think Garmin has a 78 series out now. If they are as good and useful as the 76, I'd recommend it. Re: charts, you'd have to check but you'd probably have to purchase charts from Garmin, otherwise as Mark said, you'd get the basemap with a white screen.
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post #10 of 80 Old 12-10-2018
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Re: Backup GPS

My backup gps is a Garmin GPSMAP 78. My longest use of it was when we used it exclusively on a delivery from near Block Island, through the Delaware Bay to south of Annapolis, using it night and day. I also use it for bay racing on a 25' keel boat. My only problem was that it took me awhile to figure out how to create a "route" with it for a race, and then to follow it from waypoint to waypoint, but honestly, it was probably just that I was too impatient to struggle with it while racing. It has been reliable and worked flawlessly.
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