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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi.

I will be sailing a 27ft boat on the shores of Lake Huron, Ontario.
Is there any electronic navigation gear that is a MUST have; not the nice toys that one wants, but only what one needs. (except VHF radio and 2 compasses which are included).

Thanks.
 

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Many of us sailed long before GPS was available..and we managed not to get too lost.. So I can't think of anything that you MUST have other than the required safety equipment..and your radio and compass. A handheld GPS and Paper charts, wouldn't set you back too much..and provide a little more certainty to where you are and perhaps what's under your keel.
 

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Bristol 45.5 - AiniA
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About the handheld GPS, if you have an iPad with a built in GPS you can get a chart package very cheap and you have a chartplottter of sorts. I assume you can do the same with an Android tablet but you might need to get an external GPS for it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
Thanks for the input. That is what I was thinking.
Any recommendations on where I would buy both items (handheld GPS and charts)?

on the gps all I really need are coordinates and not necessarily a map...is that correct?
 

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I would say the only electronic gear you need is a FLASHLIGHT so you can read the paper charts at night.

If you stay in sight of land, all you need is a paper chart and the skills to pilot your boat with it. And you should have those skills with or without any fancier electronics.

Oh, and working nav lights on the boat, assuming you'll be out after dark. Otherwise...no need for the flashlight either.
 

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If you want to go minimalist--and the wording of your question suggests that you do--you might want to consider getting a free navigation app for a smart phone, and a paper chart to go with your compass. In my opinion, a paper chart and compass are sufficient provided you're sailing in good weather and have some basic navigational skills. Binoculars also help (for spotting navigation aids and landmarks.)

Sailboats have been around for several millenia; GPS has only been around for a couple decades. No way can a GPS be considered mandatory. My opinion.
 

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Bristol 45.5 - AiniA
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If you think you will be wandering far from home on Lake Huron you should consider Richardson's chart book instead of individual charts, which can rapidly get expensive. Richardson's is about the cost of three charts. It is also easier to use on a boat that does not have a large chart table.
 
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Paper charts of the region you will be sailing in are mandatory IMO. An inexpensive handheld marine GPS is inexpensive and well worth it. I understand those that say just get an app to run on a phone or tablet, but a marine GPS is waterproof and can be used in the cockpit in bad weather. Look for one with a database of waypoints built in. Saves typing in lat/lon data.
 

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Old soul
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I like TQA's priority list. I'd definitely rank a depth sounder, or even better a fish finder which shows trending, higher than a chartplotter, although I'd go with both.

When you say Lake Huron, Ontario, do you mean Georgian Bay? North Channel? Or do you mean Huron proper? I've not yet sailed west of the Bruce Peninsula, but have cruised the other two areas. Rocks come up fast. Knowing where you are is essential, but that's easily done with a good chart, compass, and visual navigation. What will save your bacon (if your bacon ever needs saving) is a good sounder with a shallow water alarm.
 

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To the O.P.,

First, my advice is worth what you've paid for it. My wife and I started sailing last summer for the first time on a Pearson 26, and we've been out maybe 10 times. We're on Lake Ontario. Sooo... in the grand scheme of things, I know less about sailing than probably 99% of the folks here.

Having said that, we started with paper charts and a compass and we do have a depth finder on board. During the first trip, we immediately regretted not having binoculars. Finding buoys with the naked eye that marked shallow areas or rocks was kind of nerve racking. At least for me, it's not that easy to tell red or green from a great distance, either. We've taken binoculars on every sail since the first one, and they're a GREAT stress reliever. For us, it's fun to frequently figure out exactly where we think we are on the chart, then compare the sounding there with the reading on our depth finder. Good practice, and it helps you gain confidence quickly.

As a backup, we downloaded MarineNavigator Lite (a free app for Android devices) and the required charts from NOAA (also free), and run it on my wife's cheapie tablet. Works great, although getting the maps selected and loaded wasn't the intuitive process I wish it had been. Again, though.. you get what you pay for. It was all free, and it works beautifully. I want to stress, at least in my opinion, that, as good as it works, this is a BACKUP to navigating via paper, compass, and binocularly-enhanced eyeballs. On the occasions when we're not 100% sure where we are on the chart, it's nice to be able to confirm it via GPS (which is built into the tablet... Toshiba AT100). However, I'd recommend that you avoid the temptation to "follow the magenta line" or whatever the nautical equivalent of that saying is; that's what pilots call an over-reliance on GPS navigation. It's not, in my opinion, solely a matter of being able to navigate if your electronics go belly-up. GPSs are pretty stable these days and, if you have spare batteries with you, chances are good that your GPS won't leave you in the lurch. For me, it's more about keeping your eyes on your surroundings and being involved in the PROCESS of navigating. It's fun and more involving than simply glancing at a screen and being told everything.

Like flying, sailing, at times, can be long stretches of tranquility and relative boredom (the good kind), punctuated by moments of sheer terror. Why not fill those long stretches with a little more mental and visual exercise than afforded by a GPS?

Again, just my opinion based on what we enjoy.

Best to ya!

Barry
 
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