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Do I want a chartplotter and wind instrument? Budget.


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Planning for another year of sailing on my 1996 Hunter 26.  The only electronics the boat has is a depth finder, which is more than my last boat, and which has been enough.  I've been sailing on the Mississippi River, mainly on the wide spot called Lake Pepin, and, well, it's hard to get lost on a river.  I run the Navionics app on my phone but find that I use it less and less because I know my way around the shallow spots.

The H26 is a trailer sailor and this coming season I am planning on trailering it to Lake Vermilion and the Apostle Islands area of Lake Superior.  These are both more navigationally complex areas with rocky bottoms, Vermilion especially as there are islands, peninsulas, and things that look like channels that really aren't.  Charts of Lake Superior have been available for a long time from many sources.  High-quality charts of Vermilion are only available from Navionics, only in electronic form, and have only been out for a year or so.  Boatyards on Vermilion do a brisk business in lower unit repair and replacement and I've spoken with boat rental operators who say they average one trashed lower unit per week out of a rental fleet of maybe eight boats.  Before GPS there was absolutely nothing chart-wise and you had to "know the lake," which mostly meant that people stayed in a handful of bays close to home and left most of the 300 miles of shoreline unexplored.

Experience leads me to conclude that a chartplotter would be a wise purchase prior to these voyages.  The phone can't be relied upon to work on hot days, or in the rain, or to be readable in the sun, or to stay in the navigation app in tricky places rather than insisting on asking for a PIN or presenting a phone call from the car warranty guy or downloading a new version of Android.

A navionics chart chip will cost me $200.  I need the most recent charts, and I need Navionics, because all other sources have significant errors and/or large uncharted areas in places I plan to go.

I am also purchasing a tiller pilot, because I am often singlehanded or effectively so.

I only expect to keep my boat a few more years.  Once I explore all the trailer-in-only lakes and rivers that are of interest, I'll get a larger boat.

I can do the installation myself with one eye closed, without cracking a book, and without buying any new tools.

My questions are:

  • Am I better off getting a good sailing-oriented chartplotter, such as a B&G Zeus -- with knobs, a high-res sunlight-readable display - for around $1200?  Or an entry-level chartplotter for around $600 that might be good enough?  Or trying to find something used that works and will read the newest Navionics chips?  If used how far back should I go?
  • Is it wise to spend the $600 for a wind instrument to make the most of the chartplotter and tiller pilot, realizing I will be single handed or effectively so much of the time?  Are there less expensive wind instruments worth considering?
  • Should I get the B&G tiller pilot or will the more readily available and somewhat cheaper Raymarine one work just as well?

 

 

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I would buy an iPad with a Lifeproof waterproof case, purchase the full download version of Navionics and you'll be good to go nav wise.

I only used the heading function on our autopilot, never bothered with the wind vane, ended up taking it off. Preferences 

 I'm sure you'll get some replies about the tiller pilots, there may even be a thread or two about them, I'm not familiar enough to have an opinion

Pat

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We somehow navigated from Australia to Mexico (westwards) using a Google Nexus 10 tablet and Navionics. Had a waterproof plastic kayak chart bag for rainy days. It was about $300. I'd only turn on the screen to see where I was every 10 or 15 minutes so the battery would last a long day easily.

And when you sell the boat you take it with you.


1) If you want a cheap chartplotter I'm sure a ~$600 one will be fine.  This sort of thing would be more than good enough. Screen size is everything and I think the 4.3" ones are too small.

https://www.defender.com/product.jsp?name=si-tex-svs-880c-chartplotter-with-internal-gps&path=-1|344|2028688|2028743&id=2756741

260460_l.jpg

2) When you say "make the most of the chartplotter and tiller pilot" - eh, I don't think so. You've managed quite well without them so far. They are nice to have but not really required. Look at the top of mast if you have a Windex and that tells you the wind direction.  

Do you need to know if it is 14 or 12 knots? Probably not. You can probably already tell if it is windy, or if you should reef because the rail is going under and the helm is loading up.

Save your money for some restaurant meals while you are out sailing :)

3) I'd buy the ST2000 or the Simard TP32. Both are recirculating ball screw which are more efficient than the other type. Does B&G even make tiller pilots?

https://www.defender.com/product3.jsp?name=simrad-tp32-tillerpilot&path=-1|344|2028687|2028711&id=1950492

https://www.defender.com/product3.jsp?name=raymarine-st2000-tiller-pilot&path=-1|344|2028687|2028711&id=155738#

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Thanks, Zonker.

<<Google Nexus 10>> Great idea, I've done it, makes sense in some situations, perfect offshore.  Not going to work for me shorthanded in a series of rocky channels where the wind shifts as you pass each island and there may not be buoys.

 

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2) When you say "make the most of the chartplotter and tiller pilot" - eh, I don't think so. You've managed quite well without them so far. They are nice to have but not really required. Look at the top of mast if you have a Windex and that tells you the wind direction.  

Do you need to know if it is 14 or 12 knots? Probably not. You can probably already tell if it is windy, or if you should reef because the rail is going under and the helm is loading up.

Save your money for some restaurant meals while you are out sailing :)

Some people I've talked to make a big deal out of being able to run the AP in wind mode and I guess that's what I was getting at.  I've never had an AP and don't know what I don't know.  It seems to me like being able to hold a heading would solve most of the things I care about but inland there are wind shifts and I would like to have the AP remain useful on all points of sail.

I am checking on the Si-tex plotter and trying to figure out what cartography it supports, thanks for the lead.

 

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3) I'd buy the ST2000 or the Simard TP32. Both are recirculating ball screw which are more efficient than the other type. Does B&G even make tiller pilots?

https://www.defender.com/product3.jsp?name=simrad-tp32-tillerpilot&amp;path=-1|344|2028687|2028711&amp;id=1950492

https://www.defender.com/product3.jsp?name=raymarine-st2000-tiller-pilot&amp;path=-1|344|2028687|2028711&amp;id=155738#

I was thinking of the Simrad one.  Simrad, B&G, same product different sticker on the box I figure.

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Well the Nexus 10 is long obsolete but I still use it locally. Big high resolution screen and fairly bright but does wash out in direct sunlight. Tilt it and you're fine. But we ran up the Great Barrier Reef at 12 knots or more days in a row - where you are altering course every 5 minutes to avoid the next reef.

If the wind shifts and the autopilot follows the shift automatically - are you paying attention enough to see if that takes you into trouble?

I prefer to say "hey the wind shifted. I better ease the sails (or point higher if I want to and the course is OK) etc. Keeps my decision making in the loop. If you're out in the ocean, I can see why some people would prefer it, but in close where there rocks and stuff, no thanks.

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Have never used but, pelagic tiller pilot has been reccomended as best bang for buck and very simple.  Screen size is stupid expensive on stand alone plotters.  You get alot more from the tablets. And you can move it to wherever is convenient at the time.  The electronic stuff is nice for planning and such but I've had plenty of bad charts or missing info in navionics c map etc, none are perfect. Not sure a stand alone plotter would be worth it for the trips you have planned but not my boat, If you do go that way I think 7" is doable we put alot of miles on a little Garmin 7" touch screen, worked fine and was acceptable with radar split screen and  overlay.

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Lenovo make a cheap tablet that doesn’t have a SIM card but has a built in GPS.

Download Navionics on home WIfI, store the charts, voila, a plotter.

I paid $A44 for a 7” in a sale, the 10” is a bit over $100 list price.

it’s a bit clunky compared to the IPad I also use, but at that price it’s disposable.

Another trick I have heard of is to buy a stand alone screen and plug in an old phone loaded with navionics, you can also then use APS like windy and other data.

Forget the wind stuff, I generally don’t use it, and when it does work I don’t look at it.

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You can buy a recent-version iPad off eBay, and if you have a VHS antenna, install a Quark AIS receiver https://www.quark-elec.com/product/qk-a024-wireless-ais-receiver/

for about $125. It'll give you a wireless network for Navionics on the iPad, as well as AIS on the Navionics. And you can use it to boost your FM radio signal. That and maybe a $15 bracket for the iPad to latch onto the helm.

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Appreciate the advice.

Reflecting on using my phone as a chartplotter, here are the most intractable problems I have had:

  • Overheating and shutdown on hot days.  Once it does this, I put it in the fridge for half an hour and it works for a while before it gets hot again (20 minutes)
  • Preemption by phone calls and so on.  I guess I could solve this by getting a cheap tablet.
  • Inability to use the touch screen in rain or wet conditions.

AIS is not useful in the areas I'll be in this summer.

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Have you looked at the Garmin GPSMAP 276Cx?

It can be used in both Marine and Automobile/Motorcycle/Off Road Vehicle applications, internal battery so will continue to work if you lose vessel power, small, but not too small, etc.

Manual: https://www8.garmin.com/manuals/webhelp/gpsmap276cx/EN-US/GUID-B915716B-24CE-499D-98FF-E0578277E69F-homepage.html

I can't find any Marine reviews, here's a motorcycle one: http://globeriders.com/article_pages/article10_gps/article10_gpsmap276cx.shtml

 

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Have used ST2000 in Georgian Bay and North Channel (islands and confined channels) a lot. I think you just want to use course mode not wind mode in near channel conning situations. As Zonker suggested, just trim, ease, or +/- buttons on the TP as required in flukey gusts. We have sailed a 26’ the length of Lake Ontario (150nm) with Navionics on an iPhone after our Garmin276CX was fried in a lightning strike. Funny that the TP survived.  Open water and channels (Bay of Quinte). Navionics might work well for you. Only referring to it periodically. Keep your eyes up and out. Keep the phone in a pocket or the shadow of a cockpit coaming to prevent over heating. Try it for this summer, and upgrade later if you feel the need. The option of an older tablet is good too. If not internal GPS look at adding a Bad Elf or similar external device. 

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50 minutes ago, 2airishuman said:

Appreciate the advice.

Reflecting on using my phone as a chartplotter, here are the most intractable problems I have had:

  • Overheating and shutdown on hot days.  Once it does this, I put it in the fridge for half an hour and it works for a while before it gets hot again (20 minutes)
  • Preemption by phone calls and so on.  I guess I could solve this by getting a cheap tablet.
  • Inability to use the touch screen in rain or wet conditions.

AIS is not useful in the areas I'll be in this summer.

It's really your call as to whether you want/need a chartplotter. An iPad with a waterproof cover will allow you to use touchscreen in rain. A bracket on the pedestal allows you to angle it as you like and avoid overheating. I picked that option in order to save $1K and have been well pleased for 2+ years with it

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I would not spend a huge amount of money on this project:

1. Get this - GARMIN GPSMAP® 78sc Marine Handheld GPS Receiver with Compass, Barometer and BlueChart g2 Coastal Charts | West Marine or some other decent handheld.

2. Get a tablet or phone of some kind, probably one you already own, and put a nav program on it. Aqua Map and Navionics make good phone/tablet apps for reasonable prices.

3. If you plan on bringing a laptop anyway, which you probably are, get OpenCPN on it! Free and amazing!

 

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25 minutes ago, kent_island_sailor said:

I would not spend a huge amount of money on this project:

1. Get this - GARMIN GPSMAP® 78sc Marine Handheld GPS Receiver with Compass, Barometer and BlueChart g2 Coastal Charts | West Marine or some other decent handheld.

2. Get a tablet or phone of some kind, probably one you already own, and put a nav program on it. Aqua Map and Navionics make good phone/tablet apps for reasonable prices.

3. If you plan on bringing a laptop anyway, which you probably are, get OpenCPN on it! Free and amazing!

 

Thanks.  I had not considered handhelds and will take a look.  They may be good enough.

The problem with OpenCPN is that there isn't any good, compatible cartography for many of the areas I'm sailing.  Sure, there are NOAA charts (and ENC data) for the Apostle Islands, and they're good, but the public-domain chart coverage for the Mississippi generally doesn't have soundings and there isn't any public-domain chart coverage or ENC data of any kind for Lake Vermilion.  C-Map and Navionics have coverage and of these Navionics is considerably better.

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I have a plotter that we never use and an iPad (mini 3 in a Lifeproof case) that is often used.  Sometimes the iPad overheats if I leave it in the sun and I switch to my phone.  All of my boat instruments come to the iPad and I use SEAIQ ($5 for full US charts) as my navigation app.  

I like having a wind instrument mostly to help me pick what sails I’ll bend on first. It isn’t necessary but is a nice to have.  I always end up looking to the windex to see wind angle. 

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28 minutes ago, 2airishuman said:

Thanks.  I had not considered handhelds and will take a look.  They may be good enough.

The problem with OpenCPN is that there isn't any good, compatible cartography for many of the areas I'm sailing.  Sure, there are NOAA charts (and ENC data) for the Apostle Islands, and they're good, but the public-domain chart coverage for the Mississippi generally doesn't have soundings and there isn't any public-domain chart coverage or ENC data of any kind for Lake Vermilion.  C-Map and Navionics have coverage and of these Navionics is considerably better.

The Navionics I-device app is quite good except for poor AIS support. Get a nice iPad and you'll love it plus it will work on your phone.

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5 hours ago, Salazar said:

Have you looked at the Garmin GPSMAP 276Cx?

It can be used in both Marine and Automobile/Motorcycle/Off Road Vehicle applications, internal battery so will continue to work if you lose vessel power, small, but not too small, etc.

Manual: https://www8.garmin.com/manuals/webhelp/gpsmap276cx/EN-US/GUID-B915716B-24CE-499D-98FF-E0578277E69F-homepage.html

I can't find any Marine reviews, here's a motorcycle one: http://globeriders.com/article_pages/article10_gps/article10_gpsmap276cx.shtml

 

I have owned a 276CX for a few years now, and like it. It was in some ways a backwards step from the 276C, in that it is slower and doesn't offer some of the settings that the older unit did. However, the screen is big enough to be useful, it's waterproof and sunlight readable, and like its predecessor it's great to be able to unhook it from the binnacle mount and take it in the dinghy to explore. Over 8 hours of full screen brightness on battery power is nice too. 

On the downside, Garmin customer support sucks. 

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6 hours ago, 2airishuman said:

Appreciate the advice.

Reflecting on using my phone as a chartplotter, here are the most intractable problems I have had:

  • Overheating and shutdown on hot days.  Once it does this, I put it in the fridge for half an hour and it works for a while before it gets hot again (20 minutes)
  • Preemption by phone calls and so on.  I guess I could solve this by getting a cheap tablet.
  • Inability to use the touch screen in rain or wet conditions.

AIS is not useful in the areas I'll be in this summer.

I found that a tablet would also shut down on hot days. Battery life was short using the built-in GPS.

In the end I just bit the bullet and bought a Simrad G09 plotter. I keep the tablet with Navionics on the boat as a backup and also as a slave display/controller for the Simrad - handy when you're below as you can keep anchor watch via the tablet.

FKT

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7 hours ago, 2airishuman said:

Appreciate the advice.

Reflecting on using my phone as a chartplotter, here are the most intractable problems I have had:

  • Overheating and shutdown on hot days. 

 

5 minutes ago, Fah Kiew Tu said:

I found that a tablet would also shut down on hot days. Battery life was short using the built-in GPS.

Maybe I don't sail in hot enough places, but I've only had my phone and tablet shut down after leaving them in direct sun on a really hot day. 

So I normally leave them down below in the shade, which also enables me to plug them in to keep the batteries topped up. 

Newer iPhones are also somewhat water-resistant, which is helpful in the event you take them out on deck. 

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13 minutes ago, olaf hart said:

My iPad only overheated inside a waterproof cover..

That made it worse, for sure. And if it isn't in a waterproof cover...

I quite liked Navionics on the tablet for nav software, it was the robustness and trashing a tablet when it got soaked in salt spray didn't help. Like a lot of things, it all depends on where you sail and how you use the gear. I don't want to think about a tablet's lack of water resistance or possibility of shutting down at an inopportune moment. Small risks perhaps but ones I can greatly reduce so - shrug.

FKT

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I chose a Garmin echomap plus 75, touchscreen/button combo plotter, $700 cdn . My reasoning, can be left out in any weather, doesn't eat the battery badly, sunlight visible. Preprograming is pretty good, lot of built in stuff like "find me a gas dock" if your in an odd place. I really like the track function, if you wind you way into a really tight anchorage or back bay you can follow a 'known' safe track back out. 

Touchscreen and buttons means it still works on a gloves on day, I use it for about 15% of its capabilities, came with some goofy sonar thing for fishing and a bottom camera which I left in the box. 

Its not integrated into the other instruments , it could be but for what I'm doing , lake sailing it doesn't need to be

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1 hour ago, olaf hart said:

My iPad only overheated inside a waterproof cover..

Any sort of cover makes them overheat faster.  I previously had a Samsung Galaxy S8 in a rubber impact-resistant case that only covered the sides and back and it contributed to overheating enough that I took the phone out of it, which helped but didn't eliminate the problem.

1 hour ago, gspot said:

Maybe I don't sail in hot enough places, but I've only had my phone and tablet shut down after leaving them in direct sun on a really hot day.

The shutdowns I have had have been on 90 F+ sunny days.  Previous boat I put a phone mount on the cockpit coaming near the compass, and that was in enough sun enough of the time that it wasn't usable in hot weather.  Current boat it matters less because I know the area where I sail better than I did, and so we end up putting the phone down below or in a pocket or something where I can't see it but it's out of the sun.  If I'm in a tricky, unknown area, then it's sitting on a cockpit seat sliding around and we have to move it on every tack.  Not ideal.

8 hours ago, Salazar said:

Have you looked at the Garmin GPSMAP 276Cx?

It can be used in both Marine and Automobile/Motorcycle/Off Road Vehicle applications [...]

 

3 hours ago, Ishmael said:

I have owned a 276CX for a few years now, and like it.[...]

Thanks for that.

Do all the Garmin products have useful marine navigation features if you load suitable charts?  Even the ones sold as off-road or hiking products?  I guess it makes sense.

Perhaps the very similar Montana 700i, which includes the Iridium transceiver, would also make sense.  It is portrait rather than landscape (who cares) and has a touch screen rather than buttons (maybe bad in the rain):

https://buy.garmin.com/en-US/US/p/699779/pn/010-02347-10#overview

I'm intrigued by these larger handhelds that have 12v, lithium, and AA power options and effective marine mounts as they would be useful for things other than the sailboat.

There is NMEA0183 output that could go to the tiller pilot. I see there's also NMEA0183 input for depth and water temperature which may possibly be useful.

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I've been really happy with the Garmin in reach explorer +. I think it's a solid purchase, can start and stop subscription as needed and it's use is as good on land as at sea.  Has some other insurance type plans as well that seem reasonable.  The family absolutely loves it as we are horrible about blogs or updating anything.  I think something like that and a good tablet with case would be the best bang for the buck.  The pelagic tiller pilot is about $900 and well worth it, also a tale with you purchase so not tied to the boat.

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I've evolved to a samsung galaxy tab active 2 tablet.  Water and shock ruggedized.  Reads quite good in daylight on deck. Use navionics on it, and sailgrib for weather routing.  Done multiple ocean races and passages, as well as competitive local races with that as my primary tool as tactician/navigator.  Won quite a few races with it.

Good part.. it comes with you.  Don't have to sell it with the boat.  I adapted an $8 gopro chest harness to hold it on my chest with high strength velcro stuff calling shots during races.  Works great.  When cruising, I made a duct tape pouch with dacron cord to hold the tablet on my binnacle for easy reference. Simple, cheap, robust, and works better than any chart plotter. And Ive used many built in chart plotters- bg, raymarine, magellan, garmin, lowrance, etc. on boats and commercial vessels.

My 1st crack at it, i got a used galaxy tab active 1st generation on ebay for $120. Worked so well that when the tab active 2 came out i spent the bucks to get it new for the performance boost.  With navionics running giving cog/sog, i rarely plug my boat speed sensor in the water as it's a hassle, and if I leave it in, it just gets crusted with growth.  Only use boatspeed sensor when racing, which is maybe 10% of the time.

I would not bother with wind instrument if you have been going good so far with eyeballing the wind.  A windex at the masthead is key for me.  Wouldn't sink money into hi end instruments on a small boat you will sell soon.  My 2 cents...

 

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I think you'll end up happier with the minimum of electronics, given that hard wired, multi function products make no sense in a boat you'll be selling in a few years. You need a charting display-go with that, be it a handheld, tablet or basic plotter. Everyone can use a device to steer a course so get a tiller pilot that works for that. I admit I'm kind of a curmudgeon where electronic devices are concerned. I have a GPS chart plotter linked to an autopilot with inputs from a suite of sailing, speed and depth instruments and I rarely look at the chart plotter unless I can take a moment to look away from the water and approaching traffic and hazard markers and usually just use the heading hold of the autopilot. If I look at a wind instrument it's to see what the wind speed is but almost never want to see wind angle. That's what the telltales and windex are for. Occasionally, I will use the autopilot to follow a route but quickly become paranoid and go back to manually tweaking and setting each course leg. It's amazing how much trouble that damned thing can get me into if I let my attention wander for a couple of minutes.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Just get a handheld. A mounted plotter for a boat used primarily on rivers and lakes seems like overkill to me. We took our 26' up to the North Channel and just used a Garmin GPSMap 78 with the high-res depth chip. Works beautifully and only cost a couple hundred. And, I can use it for a back up unit when we get our "big boat" in a year or so. 

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For value it's hard to beat a tablet w/ waterproof case. Your phone can be a backup for that, with the same software. I like having a handheld Garmin aboard too, w/ paper charts for ultimate backup.

If you're away from cell towers, you may need the Garmin for an accurate fix.

I haven't used the latest Garmin handhelds. How long does the battery last?

It would be interesting to compare all of these for power use. On a small boat with a small power system they can add up significantly. 

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23 hours ago, blurocketsmate said:

If you're away from cell towers, you may need the Garmin for an accurate fix.

Phones and most tablets have a gps in them.  It has been true for years.  It's easy to tell if they do.  See if a charting app or GPS app works in airplane mode.  I have used both many miles off shore without issue.  On my phone I have a app called GPS Status and it tells me the error in feet.  Right now in my house I am seeing 10 out of 22 sats. 

I also have used handheld GPS chart plotters up and down the coast of Maine.  Both work well.  My handheld last about 16 hours on 2 aa batteries.  Or it can be powered off of a 12 volt system. 

 

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^^^ Indeed they do, but the dedicated units get better reception and have fewer errors. To compensate, phones check their satellite fixes against cell towers. This works but not completely.

Phones have been getting better, but I can still see the errors vs. dedicated GPS.

Bike computer errors for sure. Maybe that's not fair because they read straight from the wheel, which is dead accurate for speed and distance. But tracks more than 20' off with my phone, vs. dead-on from Garmins and Wahoos?

Same thing with iNavX on my phone, vs. the Garmin plotter on my friend's boat. iPhone 8, so a pretty good GPS. Besides tracks, instantaneous speed seems more accurate on the Garmin.

I'm curious about this stuff, so run it side by side. I always have.

So, I'd use a phone or tablet all the time, but I'd still want a dedicated GPS for backup. Besides reliability, they're more rugged and waterproof. Phones are pretty waterproof too (IP67), but get dropped and crack, and leak, or just fail. Who hasn't had that happen?

I looked up the Garmin GPSMAP 78. I was surprised to see it still takes AA batteries. I understand field replaceability, but I'd rather have a lithium battery, like a phone, for longer battery life, and USB power vs. 12V. Most of us are better set up for USB now, with outlets everywhere. And 16h battery life doesn't seem so good vs. a modern phone.

But if a phone was all I had, I'd still go sailing! And without much worry. 

 

 

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Lithium batteries require a recharging method, replaceable batteries require a trip to Costco. 

I still use a Garmin 276. Totally obsolete now, of course. The 276Cx looks great except for Garmin's ideas about pricing.  I'd be concerned concerned about the ability to see the big picture on the small screen.  "Can I really go either way around this obstacle,  or is one side not navigable? "

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4 minutes ago, SemiSalt said:

Lithium batteries require a recharging method, replaceable batteries require a trip to Costco. 

I still use a Garmin 276. Totally obsolete now, of course. The 276Cx looks great except for Garmin's ideas about pricing.  I'd be concerned concerned about the ability to see the big picture on the small screen.  "Can I really go either way around this obstacle,  or is one side not navigable? "

There are some deals on them lately. I like it, fits my needs perfectly. 

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Another vote for the Samsung active tab, I have the "pro" model, got it on discount as they are coming out with an updated version. It has GPS in the non cellular version (unlike some ipads) so you save some money, and it can't do updates or be interrupted by emails or phone calls unless you have it networked to onboard wifi and set up that way. It does act as a good repeater for my older Ray MFD which is down below and visible from the helm. This gets me access to AIS data. As already noted it is water and shock resistant out of the box, no need for a case. I don't know yet how it holds up in the hot weather. 

I also use a Garmin Montana, a great all in one handheld. It is too expensive for the small screen size, but if you can find one on discount or used it is worth a look.

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You absolutely do not need a wind instrument.  Overtrim your sails some, and then train yourself to check on them from time to time.  Even the brightest tablet will be difficult to read in direct sunlight.  They do overheat in direct sun.  An easy solution to this is to buy a tablet hood.  That helps keep random spray off it too.  You can fab up a white plastic one in 10 minutes.  Please don't make it black.

Image result for tablet sun shield

 

I'm partial to this one.  If you want to die.

Image result for tablet sun shield

It should be fairly straightforward to bend your own out of thin starboard.  Just heat where you are going to bend.  Most plastic places will even do the bends for you, cheap.

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37 minutes ago, Grrr... said:

You absolutely do not need a wind instrument.  Overtrim your sails some, and then train yourself to check on them from time to time.  Even the brightest tablet will be difficult to read in direct sunlight.  They do overheat in direct sun.  An easy solution to this is to buy a tablet hood.  That helps keep random spray off it too.  You can fab up a white plastic one in 10 minutes.  Please don't make it black.

Image result for tablet sun shield

 

I'm partial to this one.  If you want to die.

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It should be fairly straightforward to bend your own out of thin starboard.  Just heat where you are going to bend.  Most plastic places will even do the bends for you, cheap.

ABS is much easier to work with and more stable. Also available in white.

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1 minute ago, Ishmael said:

ABS is much easier to work with and more stable. Also available in white.

I'll bow to your knowledge.  I'm never certain where the different plastics fall in sun resistance / weather resistance / brittleness in freezing weather / workability etc.

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I run with a garmin handheld  (Gpsmap 76 CSX) at the helm.  It can be powered, either by the AAs 12v or USB.  When we brought the boat from Lake Michigan to Montreal, the 12V power at the helm didn't  work.  Replacing AAs  was quick and easy.  I also have an old laptop running OpenCPN  for those times when i want a bigger screen but it does not see the light of day too often.

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  • 2 months later...

Thank you all again for the advice.

I am installing a Garmin Montana on my boat using the "motorcycle/ATV" mount together with an Arkon ball and arm.  The "motorcycle/ATV" mount provides the ability to power/charge the Montana from 12vdc and provides the NMEA0183 connections.  I have everything temporarily wired to confirm operation, and have taken the Montana out on the river in my 14' power boat to become familiar with it and its charts.  I have also used it on a canoe trip and played around with it a little in the car.  I have the Garmin bicycle mount for it (same as motorcycle/ATV sans wiring) on my canoe combined with an Arkon ball and a Railblaza anchor.

The display is sunlight readable.  The Montana will run about 8 hours on its internal battery with the backlight on and all features enabled.

I purchased the LakeVu cartography in the nationwide version, expensive, same content as Navionics+ which is generally the best available for the inland lakes and rivers where I sail.  There is a problem with the marine cartography overwriting any sort of topographic layers, which is irritating because it makes it more difficult to pick out features on land while navigating.  I have experimented with the free OpenTopo layers, which are mostly as good as the topography provided by Garmin though there are some important problem areas (around Trout Lake in the BWCAW).  I have confirmed that these are present in the OpenTopo dataset and are not an artifact of the conversion or a problem with the Montana.

I have converted photos of paper charts and PDFs of canoe routes from the MNDNR per Garmin's instructions and loaded them as raster files on the Montana.  This works as expected, and is a useful feature for areas where nationwide cartography is weak.  I also have loaded rasterized PDFs of the (frighteningly many) underwater power lines on Lake Vermilion so as to make anchoring uneventful.

Generally the raster layers do not play well with other charting/mapping products so it is necessary to flip back and forth manually.

I have recently installed a Raymarine ST2000 tiller pilot and have been able to wire the NMEA0183 output from the "motorcycle/ATV" mount to the input on the tiller pilot.  With some adjustment of the settings on the Montana this does result in the necessary sentences for bearing to waypoint, crosstrack error, distance to waypoint, etc., being sent to the tiller pilot so that it will operate in "track" mode.

The "motorcycle/ATV" mount has a voltage regulator brick in the middle of the cables which complicates making a neat installation.  I am planning to cut and splice the cable between the brick and the device to facilitate a clean install.  This will involve the lost art of soldering.

The canoe mount is rugged and waterproof, which I have confirmed since our early spring trip involved me getting my hair wet due to the presence of a surprise deadfall in an area with steep banks on both sides.  We did get across the deadfall but lost our balance in the process..

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