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Current state of handheld chartplotters / phone / tablet options


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The GPS receiver on my boat is failing intermittently, and I have an overnight race next week so I'd like to have at least one backup. I've read some of the past threads about phone and tablet options, but wonder if there are any updates worth knowing about.

The system on the boat is all Raymarine, but is bodged together across generations.  Chartplotter, radar and autohelm are all Raymarine C70 vintage running on Seatalk 2.  Wind, depth, speed, and GPS are i50 / i60 devices, running over Seatalk NG.  The bridge is in the autohelm brain.  The network seems to be working - I see NG data (water temp, e.g.) on the chartplotter, but I'm getting loss of GPS position resulting in both alarms on the C70 and loss of SOG data in the i50 display.  I appear to have electrical continuity and a random display of lights on the GPS receiver, so it seems to be a fault there.  I'll get GPS position for durations between 1 and 20 minutes, and then I'll get a loss of position error. I hope to have a new receiver installed before the race, but don't want to rely on it.  We'll run a paper trace as backup to whatever else we do.

So - I'd like something standalone to chart position.  I have a laptop and two different android cell phones to throw at it.  I also have an InReach explorer.  I don't yet have an inverter to feed the laptop, or a 12v power supply for it. Also have a variety of handheld gps and a handheld radio with GPS.  (How did I wind up with all this crap?)

What would you do to provide back up chartplotter capability with that gear?  We'll be racing from Rockland, Maine around Mt Desert Rock and back - about 115 miles. There will be traffic, but I can live without AIS.  Radar is functioning properly, and I learned to use it before chart overlay was a thing, so we're not blind.

I've been screwing around with both Navionics and openCPN on android, and have used openCPN on the laptop, though I currently cannot bridge it to the network and don't have a GPS puck (easily solved).   I would prefer to not use the laptop on deck.  I don't really care if I don't have routing or tactical data.  Will route before the race, but there aren't many options anyway. I can figure out laylines myself, especially where this will be primarily reaching and running. 

I can steer to the compass, but would like XTE available, or at least bearing to the mark and COG. We'll be across the Penobscot Bay tidal flow for most of the race.

What do you all think?

 

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Hard to understand what you are saying 

 

I use an iPad running  ISailor …cartography plus tide , current 

the iPad has an internal gps,  plus a sim chip for internet ….weather forecasts…GRIB, plus oceanography

gets the job done, no complaints 

 

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Slug, sorry for the ramble.  Most of that was not necessary to the actual question.

Z - no, I can live with it down below if I have to.  We'll be doublehanded so everything on deck has advantages, including during what will be a middle of the night rounding of some rocks offshore.  So, I guess I'd state a preference for having a display in the cockpit, but can do without it.  Its been a long time since I've raced at night with no electronics in the cockpit, but this won't be the first time.

Slug - thank you.  That may turn out to be the solution, and become a backup once everything is back in order with the installed equipment.  I don't have any apple ecosystem stuff at the moment, but maybe its time for an iPad. 

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27 minutes ago, sshow bob said:

Slug, sorry for the ramble.  Most of that was not necessary to the actual question.

Z - no, I can live with it down below if I have to.  We'll be doublehanded so everything on deck has advantages, including during what will be a middle of the night rounding of some rocks offshore.  So, I guess I'd state a preference for having a display in the cockpit, but can do without it.  Its been a long time since I've raced at night with no electronics in the cockpit, but this won't be the first time.

Slug - thank you.  That may turn out to be the solution, and become a backup once everything is back in order with the installed equipment.  I don't have any apple ecosystem stuff at the moment, but maybe its time for an iPad. 

I don’t oven take my iPad on deck 

Occasionally,  when close up in the harbor or anchorage at night , so the I can constantly refresh my orientation 

iPad  only navigation would be impractical since the iPad is an energy hog and fragile 

i appreciate the iPad because I can take it to my bunk and not interfere with the watch keeper navigator at the chart table  

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We use our iPad on deck fairly often. I have a “waterproof” case for it that also adds impact protection. I installed a USB charging port in the cockpit as well.  Charging it reduces the watertightness of the iPad case but is good enough in most conditions.  I’m using an iPad Mini 2 with very low replacement cost. 

The biggest downside (and it’s a real problem) is that the screen is barely visible in daylight.  I use my brighter iPhone when that is a problem.

Otherwise it works great. It is networked into my NMEA 2000 system so I get AIS, depth, wind, speed through water and other boat data.  I use the SEAIQ app which is inexpensive and feature rich. 

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We sailed from Australia to Mexico using a 10" Google Nexus tablet (Android, built in GPS) with Navionics charts. It mostly lived inside but because "inside" was just a step from the cockpit. About $340 AUD in 2014. Charts for 1 ocean were about $60. Navionics has changed to a subscription based model with annual fees now.

Under the cockpit bimini it was easily readable. In direct sunlight you'd have to tilt it to shade it.

If it rained, it lived in a kayak chart bag with a clear vinyl window. The touchscreen worked through the vinyl window.

Our boat had no sailing instruments so it was not connected to anything. It's proven to be quite reliable and I opened it up and put in a new battery this year.

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Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 - cheap on eBay, has integrated GPS and is rugged / splash proof. The screen is not brilliant in bright sunlight but it’s a lot better than the iPad Mini 4 I used previously. Use Navionics - you can then also install it on a phone or two as back up and all the routes etc can be kept in sync.

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The Maxsea Time Zero application for ipad/iphone called TZiBoat is excellent.

Can use vector or raster charts with or without satellite overlay on or offline.

Weather presentation in colours, particles, arrows, labels etc. etc. etc.

Event creation and anchor watch.

Extremely comprehensive, but still logical and easy to use.

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I've been using Samsung Galaxy tab active, then tab active 2, and tab active pro for years now.  Ruggedized and waterproof.  Running navionics and Sailgrib for navigation and weather routing.  It's great when the boat has wifi instrument data with Sailgrib.  I got a gopro chest harness for a few bucks and adapted it to keep the tablet on my chest.

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I just bought a Samsung Galaxy Tab active 3 because my old one was getting a bit slow.  And the app for PredictWind wouldn't run on the older operating system.  It's working well with navionics and predictwind.  I can hotspot my phone if I want it to have internet access and if I want I could have it direct.  Water resistant and the screen is ok for brightness. I like that it didn't cost so much I would be mad if it died.  Only issue is I wish the battery would last for a few day running nvionics. 

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