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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Which tablet and what programs would you recommend for use as a backup navigation? US and Central America area. Pros and cons to other backup methods? Your help is much appreciated.
 

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I have MX Mariner and Navionics Carib and Pacific on a Galaxy Tab A 10".
I'm blown away...:) Love it.
Have it a protective frame, also have a clear seal bag for it. Bought 10' cables to charge.

Have 2 Garmin plotters with charts, one a swing-out, but I bet I'll be on the Tab more than one of the plotters.

There are many people using tablets as their main plotter.
 

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If you’re going to be in weather have an issue with any type of tablet as backup. If you drop them, bang the face into a sharp corner or they get wet you’re up the creek without a paddle. Have lifeproofs on ours but even that isn’t 100% foolproof. So even though both my wife’s and mine have navionics on them still carry a small handheld Garmin with a wrist leash. Store it inside a tin box in case of side flash from lightening strike. Also runs on simple batteries and carry extras. So if we have no power we still have navigation. Not a big expense <$400 with full charts for our travels. Would note we also carry a plastic Davis and reduction charts but that’s just for kicks and giggles as it’s likely if our electronics go down we won’t have the time or interest to be messing around with celestial.
 

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If you're going to be in weather have an issue with any type of tablet as backup. If you drop them, bang the face into a sharp corner or they get wet you're up the creek without a paddle. Have lifeproofs on ours but even that isn't 100% foolproof. So even though both my wife's and mine have navionics on them still carry a small handheld Garmin with a wrist leash. Store it inside a tin box in case of side flash from lightening strike. Also runs on simple batteries and carry extras. So if we have no power we still have navigation. Not a big expense <$400 with full charts for our travels. Would note we also carry a plastic Davis and reduction charts but that's just for kicks and giggles as it's likely if our electronics go down we won't have the time or interest to be messing around with celestial.
Likewise here. I carry an iPad with charting, but also a Garmin Oregon, which is waterproof (but doesn't float). The Oregon has seen salt spray in the cockpit, but I would never put my iPad out there under those conditions. Also, I can put the Oregon in a drink holder, facing the helmsman. Ordinarily I trust the fixed mount Raymarine chart plotters to do their thing, but one time off Newport, the master Raymarine locked up and obscured the display on the second Raymarine. The fix was simple--a factory reset--which I could have done on the spot (if only I had known or called Raymarine support on the cellphone at the time). In any case, I pulled out the Oregon to verify position and bearing to waypoint while maintaining dead reckoning in the background, including checking with Eldridges. I would have easily found Pt Judith harbor of refuge without electronic assistance, but it's always good to exercise backupsl now and then.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
If you do get a tablet, make sure it has gps.
Some don't.
Yes, that is an obvious requirement, but is there a difference in quality of GPS data and/or issues related to interfacing with navigational software? I know some sailors prefer iPads and I'm sure there are reasons why.
 

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Make sure it has a real GPS receiver built in. I just picked up a unlocked Galaxy Tab e 8 for like $100 on ebay to run navionics as a backup. I was also looking for a Asus Zenpad. Usually the ones that you can run a data from a wireless carrier has GPS. Google GPS specs to find out if its location service is GPS.
 

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Bye - the zero sum poster is on this thread. Once again posting a cut and paste. Once again adding nothing from personal experience or knowledge. Once again trying to create an adversarial environment for his amusement. Although this may be functional in a tort case many have no interest in living like that. Our lives are not your court room where one wins and one loses. Rather we strive to cooperate with others freely admitting our ignorance where appropriate and sharing our experiences and knowledge.
I hope that the mods realize the number of people who leave this site due to the adversarial tenor created by SD.
 

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I've needed to use my iPad as backup. My chartplotter got it's brains scrambled and flipped the chart 180 degrees. Weirdest think I ever saw. It showed my vessel pointed the opposite direction and all commands were backwards. Once powered down and backup, it never did this again.

In any event, I was motoring out of an unmarked cove in Maine, where we had snaked our way back into one of the nicest, most secluded anchorages I've ever been in. Rocks and depths were on the plotter and iPad, but you still motored at 1-2kts with a keen lookout on the bow.

My iPad was open and had the entry crumb trail on it, so I just followed it back out. I could not go below to power everything down in the moment.

There are several nav apps for the iPad and I can't review them all. As a backup, I'm very pleased with Charts and Tides. It does primary navigation, with the added bonus of having the entire ActiveCaptain database downloaded into it. I use it way more often for AC than I do for nav, although, I will do some passage planning with it too (ie measure distances, check for anchorages, etc). I chose it initially, because it's relatively inexpensive. Although, even the most expensive nav app isn't too pricey.

I also have an old school handheld gps aboard that does nothing more than give Lat/Long. Trying to think of the last time I checked to see if it works. :)
 

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The common issue with using many tablets outdoors is that many have displays that totally wash out on anything but the cloudiest of days. Perhaps some of those tactical sunglasses might help (the one's you see on TV where they amaze folks with what appears to be a washed out white screen which has a colorful pic of an Eagle and the American Flag popping out at you when you put their glasses on) with that however if you have trouble viewing the screen on a device out in your yard or outside in a parking lot it likely will be trouble on the water too during the daylight hours.

Something to consider when deciding about using a device (CellPhone/Tablet) as a plotter/navigation aid primary or backup. I have with some made shadow boxes out of flat black plastic and such to help resolve this when using some devices on my motorcycle but that by no means was the perfect solution.
 

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I used an Ipad 2 for a year without much trouble and then upgraded to an Ipad Pro because I'm kind of a digit head. It is better in the sunlight but I can't say I had much problem with the Ipad 2. I have no dodger or bimini and with tiller steering there is no good mounting place for a fixed plotter or the ipad. I keep my Iphone in my pocket running a different plotting app as a secondary backup. I tend to look at both during a trip. The one issue I have found is you can't let them get overheated or they will shut down. Mostly just keeping the ipad covered when not is use is good enough. I've never had an issue with the iphone in my pocket. To date, I've not dropped either one but recognize it as a possibility. I have the lifeproof case on both the Ipad and Iphone. I travel relatively benign areas of the Chesapeake Bay so YMMV.
 

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I don't use all the complex features of a network plotter. I do enter a single waypoint to determine heading info... course to steer and so on.

I began with a small hand held Garmin PDS gps plotter iQue. I founf it's heading line was all I really needed... and I could take the thing in my pocket to land... it had street nave and so on. Very cool.

I picked up a B&G plotter which has replaced the little iQue in the cockpit. Then came Navionics app for my smart phone. That's more than enough. The tablet has it as well... but I prefer the smaller format/hand held or a larger fixed mount marine plotter. So I have both... actually several small format plotters.

For me it's all about positional awareness... depths and observing my course line over the bottom to a chose destination. I find the small format OK and the inconvenience of the tablet is not worth the screen size increase.
 

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I have a laptop with OpenCPN;
iPad
Android phone
Garmin 76CX hand held plotter

The difficulty with all this stuff is keeping the expen$e of the charts down.

iPad I am using Navionics but I do NOT update the software as that will cut your charts off after 12 months.
Android phone I use Navionics but just their world map.
Garmin 76CX is quite old and I got the world DVD on my laptop and can transfer charts. But again they are just the basic charts.

If the main kit falls apart I need to be quite careful and get to a port and fix the main nav, the Laptop.
 
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I used an Ipad 2 for a year without much trouble and then upgraded to an Ipad Pro because I'm kind of a digit head. It is better in the sunlight but I can't say I had much problem with the Ipad 2. I have no dodger or bimini and with tiller steering there is no good mounting place for a fixed plotter or the ipad. I keep my Iphone in my pocket running a different plotting app as a secondary backup. I tend to look at both during a trip. The one issue I have found is you can't let them get overheated or they will shut down. Mostly just keeping the ipad covered when not is use is good enough. I've never had an issue with the iphone in my pocket. To date, I've not dropped either one but recognize it as a possibility. I have the lifeproof case on both the Ipad and Iphone. I travel relatively benign areas of the Chesapeake Bay so YMMV.
I've found pretty much the same as you, lax. We really put ours to the test during a 7-week 1,000-mile-plus cruise from Texas to Florida in June/July. This after using it for a couple of years prior to that for typical weekending on Galveston Bay. During that cruise, we experienced everything from 100 degree heat, to major humidity as you might imagine, to pretty violent squalls, to continuous rain, etc. With 24/7 use, never had a single problem with overheating, loss of power, loss of GPS position, etc. The only issue we ever had was intermittent loss of instrumentation/AIS data overlay from the iMux when in areas of heavy wifi interference. Almost never saw this issue offshore. At the end of our trip, I removed the iPad from the case to inspect if for any kind of moisture damage - nothing. Still going strong a year later.

On the brightness/visibility issue, we found exactly the same as you. It just wasn't a problem. We do have a bimini which obviously helps quite a bit - both in terms of glare, but also I'm sure in terms of heat.

So - that is our first-hand, tried-and-tested, personal experience. I'm a fan.
 

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As an add-on to the above, I'd planned to also add the Furuno 1st Watch radar to our boat - which gives you high-quality wireless radar directly on the iPad (and any other i-device).



After contacting the Advertising & Communications Manager at Furuno about our set-up and the fact that I wanted to do a review via our blog and Youtube channel, he generously offered a demo unit for evaluation/review for what was to be our FL-Carib run last summer...

Hi Steve -

Okay, we can do a 60 day consignment. Can you please give me your address and phone number, so that I can ship it out to you.

Thanks,

Jeff
But, alas, with the boys' schedules last summer we just weren't able to get the 6-week block of time needed to do that whole trip. So I thanked Jeff but had to decline the generous offer. I was seriously bummed.

I look forward to seeing some real, first-hand reviews from people who are actually using it for extended periods of time in varying conditions. It's super cool tech...and really rounds out what is an incredibly powerful, affordable, and redundant i-device nav system.

In any case, I won't hesitate to go this route on our next boat.

Cheers.
 

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Have an entirely different take on this. Most consider off shore to be beyond helicopter range. Most consider near shore to be out of site of land but within helicopter range. Trip alluded to above would consider near shore. When offshore key features are AIS, radar overlay ( or split screen view of radar and chart) and integration to autopilot. These functions are currently not possible to my knowledge on any pad. Note possible wireless connectivity to radar but after hearing about difficulties with simple wind instruments outputting to screens have concerns at present. Understand possibilities of AIS showing on screen. We had a splitter on vhf antenna for AIS. Didn’t like signal nor acquisition times for details. Therefore got rid of splitter and set up dedicated antenna with much improvement. Believe nature of this beast and my desire to see ships/boats with all details at at least 12nm. or better neither a pad nor current handhelds match performance of dedicated chart plotter/AIS systems. Have had multiple occasions where my sending my AIS information has been extremely helpful. Multiple occasions transiting the East River in NYC or entering/leaving the cheasepeake where this has resulted in a brief pleasant chat with a commercial or military operator and a safe no stress interaction. It’s also pleasant for that cruise ship to just call you up to say hi. Let you know they see you and you can hold course. Particularly like this when I’m not on deck.
Ability to close companionway and stand single handed watch without need to go below to look at a laptop is helpful.
Went through several days of repetitive constant rain and intermittent squalls. Therefore had one stand watch with second in cockpit to help if needed and boat buttoned up. Just sitting under the hard dodger waiting for possible need to help is boring so crew brought up his pad in a lifeproof to read, game and periodically look at the navionics he had running. By day two of this it died.
On a different trip which was coastal crew had encased pad in his hand as he left quarterberth going to nav station. Wave jerked him and pad struck corner of nav station desk caught between that and his thigh. It was toast in spite of the case.
Know people have crossed oceans with nothing more than sexton. They’ve made landfalls with nothing more than a lead line. But further know having everything at hand in front of you when you’re tired and stressed is a blessing.
I don’t even like touch screens as sole mechanism of input for navigation. I realize they have come a long way in recent years. I currently have touch screens but with keyed backup. To date with recent b&g, RM and Garmin found you need to take off your glove or if enough ?static?wet it may take several attempts or not work even then. Had occasion in thick Maine fog and miserable cold drizzle where this was quite an annoyance.
So understand the attraction of using a device you’re well familiar with and is much less expensive. Believe this is a route that is reasonable for many. But continue to believe when you need the information NOW and when it must work every time and it allows full integration to other ship systems chart plotters and multiple small displays are worth the additional expense.
So returning to the OP not being distracted by thoughts of what to use as the primary yes a pad is a reasonable backup. But if you’re likely to be in prolonged adverse conditions you can get a dedicated nav handheld for the same or less money avoiding the inconveniences, limitations and vulnerabilities of a pad.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Yes, it is just a backup system. Thank you all for very informative posts. If anyone has a used tablet already set up with maps FOR SALE, I would be very interested. Here is your chance to upgrade! :)
 

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When offshore key features are AIS, radar overlay ( or split screen view of radar and chart) and integration to autopilot. These functions are currently not possible to my knowledge on any pad.
All of these functions are currently available on i-devices (with the radar being a "flip-screen" function currently - not yet split or overlay within iNavX like the others).

Good luck on your hunt kriss.
 

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......already set up with maps FOR SALE......
I'm pretty sure the iPad apps are keyed to one's Apple ID. I know that's the case to get updates. I'm not sure what happens to them, if you buy a used iPad and sign on with your own Apple ID. Look into that before you buy a used app. I'm guessing you would have to be sure you never updated anything, not the operating system or the apps. These nav apps are cheap. I would focus on the used iPad (Apple sells them too) and buy the app.

On another point, the reason I stay consistent with both an iPad and iPhone is so these apps automatically work across both devices at no additional charge (within the same Apple ID). Some apps are only written for one or the other platform, but most work on both.
 
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