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Hi

I am not particularly familiar with these systems as I learnt to sail before they were even heard of. I now charter in the med once a year and there is always a GPS on board but I don't seem to be able to work out how to program in the waypoints and generally get it to assist me in passage planning etc. I appreciate that there will be different makes and models but surely there is a simple step by step guide I could refer to to get the basics before I go. Anyone help please?

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hi, that will be different between systems. like raymarine and garmin are completly different in how to create way points and use them. next time when you charter a yacht ask them what gps they use so you can download the manual and make your self familiar before you get on board or drop a message here so we can help you.
 

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I have always chartered Bavarias from 44s to 50s and the GPS' seem to be the same make and model I think but I can't just remember which it was. Any ideas? I'm about to charter again on 20 June and am in the process of booking so I'll get this info from the charter company. Thanks for the advice. I guess it was a bit optimistic of me to expect one size to fit all!
 

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If the unit has charting capabilities, there should be an menu option to move the cursor to a buoy or other location and select it as a waypoint. That saves you from having to enter latitude and longitude numbers. By far the easiest way to use the waypoint features.
 

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Skipper52, major issue is you don't know the basics. If you manage to learn one model and the concepts, you'll most likely be able to handle virtualy anyone. I suggest you have your own portable GPS (I like Garmin, but a search here will reveal tons of oppinions/information). These days they are not that expensive, and regardless where you go, it will be your bkp anyway. Read the manual, and practice. Once you're familiar with it, life will be much easier on any other model you face.
 

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Skipper52, major issue is you don't know the basics. If you manage to learn one model and the concepts, you'll most likely be able to handle virtualy anyone. I suggest you have your own portable GPS (I like Garmin, but a search here will reveal tons of oppinions/information). These days they are not that expensive, and regardless where you go, it will be your bkp anyway. Read the manual, and practice. Once you're familiar with it, life will be much easier on any other model you face.
Good idea. It also means you can plug it into your home PC to preprogram it. Make sure you get a portable bracket to go with it. I have a Garmin GPSMAP 176C with Bluecharts and Metro maps loaded simultaneously, that I use both in my car and on the my boats. In the car, I have a windshield suction cup. Eclipse ( my 30' sailboat) has a RAM mount on the pedestal, and on the fishing boats, I use the portable sandbag mount.
 

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Skip, there are now CPS/USPS and other organizations that teach "GPS navigation". If you are handy with traditional pilotage, chartwork and sextant, this will bring you up to speed on how to work any GPS, because they all use the same terms, like XTE (crosstrack) and ETA (est. time of arrival). "Programming" them is variable between companies and models, even.

I would suggest you perhaps skip punching buttons on a GPS entirely, and use it for what it's best at doing: feeding lat/lon coordinates into some sort of PC-based or stand-alone chartplotter. If you acquire a "puck"-style self-contained GPS (which are about the size of a stack of five poker chips), you can get various programs that allow you to download the free U.S. charts and "play" with them in real time. I did this with the SeaClear II program and had fun walking at 2 knots up and down the backyard. I'm lucky I didn't give myself a black eye.

Anyway, because there is no operational standard among plotters or programs, it's doubly important to master the shared concepts they all use. If you go to a boat show and see what the current plotters can do, you can figure out if you want just a 100-dollar handheld to give you info as basic as a squiggly line for a track and a little "N" to indicate north, or some five-figure, NASA-like display that gives you a God's-eye view of the harbour entrance complete with live weather, classical music and a reminder that the rum tank is running low.
 

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Skip, your charter company should be able to tell you in advance exactly what GPS is on the boat you have chartered. Then you can go online, download the manual for it, and learn how to work that unit. You may also be able to get a video (on DVD or tape or online) that shows you how to work that particular unit, or some other GPS. They are all different but then again, you could say the same thing about cars. Learn to drive a Chevy and you can usually figure out how to drive a Renault.

Now, if the unit is integrated into a larger system with a chartplotter or radar or other toys--that's something else again. But start with finding out what is on the boat, and get the manual for it. A really properly outfitted charter boat SHOULD in fact have the manuals for every piece of equipment onboard the boat, as well. The charterer shouldn't have any problem getting a copy for you, or at least finding out what the model is, if your charter is some months or weeks away.
 

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I agree that if you charter regularly you should buy your own portable unit. Use your portable for route planning and as an anchor drag alarm. I like to think of it as my "strategic" chartplotter. You can also take advantage of all the "advanced" features that you figure out how to use (ex: max SOG, trip duration, ETD, etc...)

Because the onboard chartplotter/GPS is usually mounted near the helm, use it for tactical info, like where you are at any given moment, and to for depth info.

I had an incident on a charter where the onboard chartplotter powered down as I was entering a strange harbor for the first time. I was really grateful that I had both the chart, and a backup chartplotter!
 

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yep, i have an eeepc with maxsea with a scanner for AIS, handheld vhf, and a silva gps/compass.
 

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eherlihy is right -- bring a small handheld. Redundancy is good! But make sure the information is loaded for your sailing grounds.
 
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