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first sailed january 2008
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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hi. All this summer I used a garmin etrex 20. Along with paper charts I thought it worked well. On to bigger and better things next summer I am contemplating moving away from paper charts and going all electronic.

I'll keep the etrex for my backup. I never really got any charts for it except the topo it came with. So what am I looking at next? I like the versatility of the handheld but obviously would need to get some nautical charts. Should I be looking at more advanced handhelds or get a full fixed mount?

I'm not going to get too crazy with full on integrated systems but may need at least a bigger screen size. Recommend a good handheld or fixed chart plotter?

For maps, do I have to use garmin or can I get a blank sd card and download a lot of world charts onto it so my chart plotter had a large selection and you don't have to switch cards all the time. Thanks.
 

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Sea Sprite 23 #110 (20)
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I am not sure I would ever do without papercharts as a backup.. you never know when the electrons are going to die.

But I am going to follow this with interest.
 

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I have a Garmin 76cx and it can take charts from my laptop. I use it a lot... even toight theres a bit of wind and its anchor watch is good so I am snuggled up in bed with it.
It also can plug into my laptop to supply GPS if I need it (as a back up)
Primarily I use OpenCpn with CM93 charts.

One of the things to look for, and watch out for, if the restriction to only using expensive charts for the Handheld. Make sure you know what it uses before you buy it.

Also price it against an iPad with GPS. you might be finding that a handheld isnt necessary for your use and you can do better with the multi functionality of iPad (etc)
 

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It sounds like you really need a fixed mount chartplotter that has a screen big enough to see the "big picture" of what's around if you are going without paper charts (please keep paper charts as backup). What kind of boat is this and how do you sail it? Day sail or cruising for weekends or more? This makes a difference. Some points I think are important:

The chartplotter should be able to connect to a laptop or comp so you can do route planning on a bigger screen. This can be through a wire connection or SD Card connection. You will need a special charting program on your comp. Garmin includes one with many of their plotters.

Garmin is a very good, easy to operate, intuitive choice. Their charts are proprietary though and must be purchased. You do get your home area with the unit. They do not read the CPN charts like some other plotters do. OpenCPN are the free charts downloadable. They are made by NOAA. Harmon's proprietary charts are good and very user friendly.

Some plotters don't stitch together the OpenCPN charts into 1 overall chart which gets problematic as you sail off 1 chart onto the next.

You will need to develop a system of managing your routes and waypoints in an easily remembered pattern. Otherwise it becomes too chaotic.

You really don't need the 3D charting of many of the last gen plotters. It's neat but unless your sailing is entering new and unfamiliar ports with dangerous shoals it becomes "overkill."

Play with the machines before you buy. Create routes and waypoints because some units are much easier to figure out.

While connecting the plotter to other electronics is nice, it isn't necessary. Connecting it to the VHF with dsc is highly recommended for automatic transmission of lat/lon to the Coastguards Rescue 21 system though.

Connecting your plotter to the ships power is advise alb as they chew up battery power.

Size matters. The small hand held units don't allow you to see the overall route or a big enough picture to make sure you are not sailing across a landmass. I'd say the you would want the 5" screen as a minimum. You set a route for best distance but the wind doesn't always allow this. You need to pan back to see where you are going in relation to your route and see if your heading is taking you into shoal waters.

There are more thoughts but these are a good start to help you decide what system is best for you.

Tod
 

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The one thing I have found is GPX seems to at least be a standard format to transfer data for waypoints and routes between units
Garmin supports it and for example I find I can plan on open CPN on the PC or Isailor on the Iphone or Ipad and then use a PC (which is the crappy part) to put the info on my 72H handheld

My slightly older Lowrance 3500C is a nice unit BUT it lives in it own data formant world and does not share info well with anything else

You can however make a route very fast and easy right on the 3500C screen and in fact for me it is about the fastest way to plan a route

I still favor the 72H on a helm mount as once the planning is done it gives me the most important data in a Sailors format

The 3500C is on a RAM mount so it can stow in the cabin and the only time I used it this year was tacking in narrow channels around shelter Island
 

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The Garmin GPS 72H is monochrome and doesn't display any land or depth curves. The government marks just hover in space with no points of reference. It's barely a step above the eTrex. I own one as a backup unit.

The GPS 76, and it's cousins- 76Cx and 76Cxs are much better, but discontinued and still have kind of small displays.

The GPS 78 is better still, with a slightly larger display.
Yes, you have to buy the charts because they're in a proprietary format.
 

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Hi. All this summer I used a garmin etrex 20. Along with paper charts I thought it worked well. On to bigger and better things next summer I am contemplating moving away from paper charts and going all electronic. ----
You might want to look at a Yeoman chart plotter. It's portable, uses paper charts (ANY AND ALL paper charts) and I use an ETrex to drive ours.



We use ours mostly any time we go off shore, not so much in very local areas. The good thing is that you still have and use your paper charts, but with GPS accuracy unless a problem happens. Then you just pick up with normal plotting.

Greg
 

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I use an older Garmin 76maps. Interfaces with laptop for map, routes and waypoint up and download. Can be used as a GPS antenna for laptop Garmin blue charts. Also I can interface it with my Raymarine Auto pilot for navigation to waypoints. Holds a better coarse and tracking than auto's mag. I love it, but it needs upgrading. I paid like over $400 for it 12 or 14 years ago, upgraded same model is like $170. Hope the newer model will interface the same, I know I will no longer be able to use the blue charts for the new hand held, but the storage is so large today that mapping uploads are not needed. I have only 8 meg mem now.
 

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Once I have planned out a route I am most interested in sailing it as efficiently as possible

I find the 72H has the ability to display the info of my choice to do this
 

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My old Allmand has a table that the helm mounts to and they put the big compass right in front of the helm. Nowhere to mount electronics without a cockpit makeover, so a handheld works for me. Going to get the Garmin GPSMAP 78sc (unless I hear much to do bad about it).
 

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I've used the 78SC as my main chartplotter for a year, using a car suction mount. It works very well but as others have already mentioned in this thread, the small screen on handhelds means you are constantly zooming in and out. Zoom in to see small details like buoys, out again to see where you are.

Then I replaced it with a 5" chartplotter. I'm afraid that this was a huge improvement.

I still keep the 78SC as a backup.

I think you should check out Ram mounts, and I'm confident you could find a way to mount a 5" plotter - some mount it in the salon, so it hinges out into the companionway for use.

I used a Ram mount to mount mine above and aft of the compass.
 

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Then I replaced it with a 5" chartplotter. I'm afraid that this was a huge improvement.
I had the same experience.

On my Catalina 25 I used a Garmin Oregon as my chart plotter using the free charts available for the Seattle area. The display is about 2.5" and it was mounted on the companionway bulkhead.

The display was small enough that I often reverted to using an iPad running Navionics to navigate with and left the Garmin handheld just showing me numbers (speed, current time, etc).

On my newer Pearson I have a helm mounted plotter with a 7" screen. It also has a number of transducers: speed, depth, wind. The 7" screen is a great size that makes navigation on the plotter a lot easier.

I still have paper charts and also carry a Nexus 7 tablet with Navionics running on it. The Nexus 7 is a great backup, it has a built in GPS chip and the 7" screen is mostly usable in bright sun. It's not as good as the real chart plotter though, and battery life is terrible when running Navionics. It does double duty as a remote (in cabin) display for the plotter when I'm anchored.

The price difference between a basic 5" plotter with depth and a handheld with charts isn't that great these days, so I'd just get the 5" plotter at a minimum.
 

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I can't imagine relying on only a handheld GPS even color with a map chip. Even a 5 inch chartplotter is too small to see the big picture. I find my older 5 inch Garmin fine for navigation, but only after I have used my paper charts to plan the days trip and selected the waypoints.
 

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For me a big difference is the resolution.
The Oregon is 240 x 400
The GPS Map 78SC is 160 x240

More is better

I have an older version of the Oregon the Colorado and use it everytime I go out.

I couldn't even imagine putting up with the GPS Map resolution.

The higher resolution devices look like an Iphone the lower resolution devices look fuzzy in comparison but then I'm getting old.
 

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I've got a Garmin 78 with the Garmin charts mounted in the cabin on a swinging mount so it swings out to be visible from the cockpit. This is a nice overall setup. I think it's especially important to have it wired into boat power so I can use it all the time. This has been a new addition this season and it's been great.

For route planning I use the iPhone with navionics.

Though I agree with a comment earlier that a larger chart plotter isn't much more in price. The question is whether you have a good place to mount it.
 

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first sailed january 2008
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Discussion Starter #16
For me a big difference is the resolution.
The Oregon is 240 x 400
The GPS Map 78SC is 160 x240

More is better

I have an older version of the Oregon the Colorado and use it everytime I go out.

I couldn't even imagine putting up with the GPS Map resolution.

The higher resolution devices look like an Iphone the lower resolution devices look fuzzy in comparison but then I'm getting old.
This x 100! This was the first thing I noticed about some garmins and why I hated garmin at first. I picked up a 600$ bike one and it had the same screen resolution as the $300-400 78 series and I thought I stepped back in time! I thought I was hallucinating or something.

I was at circuit city and this salesmen walks up wearing one sequined glove and parachute pants while the stereo department is playing a-ha

"Take on me..take meeeee onnnn!"

Someone comes looking for a couple of woofers for his thunderbird, pretty in pink was on their tvs and people kept whispering about the ussr, and I just set it down and ran.

A different day I saw they had garmin oregon or Montana and a magellan explorist that have nice screens. I might be missing something though because it seems literally 90% of sailors have the gpsmaps 72,76 or 78 series which is the same as the super popular 62 series except the 78 floats and the buttons are on top. I think if I was convinced those two series were as good as everyone says I would go 62 for the buttons on bottom. I'm more used to that. But I still don't get the low res screen. What am I missing that people get these over the oregon for the same price?

To addtess Alex's point about cost. They are about the same, especially the more expensive handhelds like the oregon 650 or Montana but what I was thinking would be better about the handheld is that I could take it around the boat and sit wherever I liked using it, it wouldn't get stolen as easy because it's not fixed in the cockpit , and I could most importantly take it hiking or biking also.

Take you for example. With your oregon, you can anchor at Rosario on orcas and take it up mount constitution and track your miles and elevation. Or if you are in desolation sound, you could take it in your dinghy if you wanted to go somewhere like prideaux to squirrel cove to get supplies. unless you have a really expensive dinghy it probably doesn't have its own. A handhrld is more versatile.
 

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OK, answer us this: Can/will the Oregon accept the marine maps? If it can, I'd have to agree, why would someone NOT want the higher res screen?

Dave
 

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OK, answer us this: Can/will the Oregon accept the marine maps? If it can, I'd have to agree, why would someone NOT want the higher res screen?

Dave
Touchscreen concerns me although some quick research suggests it's resistive. Does anyone know for sure?

Resistive should continue working with gloved hands and after getting soaked. Capacitive probably will not. I wouldn't rely on a capacitive device.

I was in rough conditions (11' seas) trying to use my iPhone once and it soon stopped working when it and my hands were soaked. However the old Garmin with real buttons worked like a champ and carried us though the day. That's why I went with the 78 when I upgraded.
 

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I have a Garmin 421 with a Blue chart chip . It is a fixed mnt. chart plotter . Screen is easy to read . The 421 is silly easy to use. I got a good deal on it from gpscity.com . Garmin was having a rebate on their Blue g2 charts . Buy the 421 ($300.) and the chip chart ($200.) . So my total cost was $300. Free shipping .
 

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first sailed january 2008
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Discussion Starter #20
The oregon takes g2 blue charts, the same charts the popular 78 series uses.

Resistive? I'm not sure. There is something to be said for buttons, I just don't think any of them have the pretty screens.

Has anyone used a magellan explorist? They use navionics for marine charts instead. I'm not sure which is better. Garmin is far more popular.
 
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