A lot of this just gets down to personal preference versus electronic books
(recreational or reference) and mission-critical systems. I recently helped some new cruisers take their boat down the coast a fair ways. It was a 10 day trip that ended up longer because of weather
The owner planned on using an iPad
with e-charts and a wireless GPS. There was also a Furuno
radar/CP but the owner and crew did not know how to use it (I had one like it once so I did). However, I insisted we take a portable GPS that was/is a dinosaur in its own right. It was a backup. It ended up being the primary nav system.
would not keep a charge and it would not recharge when it was on. That sounds strange to me but that was the situation. The wifi
GPS would go in and out or would just not connect at all. The iPad would have to be rebooted, the GPS turned on and off, etc. In effect we did not have a reliable chart capability with the iPad. We ended up using it for going in and out of harbors and it worked fine for that so long as we did not use it in between except sporadically.
CP used so much juice we could not run it much unless the motor
was running. We had paper charts, but as you all know it takes a lot of work to use them for long passages in open water. You still need a functioning GPS to use them (unless you are better than I am at dead reckoning). We didn't have a sextant
and I was OK with that LOL.
I was more than happy we had paper charts on board. We could at least use them to get in and out of harbors and in other difficult areas. We didn't use them. But I have been on trips (on my boat and with others) where their PC's died. I have also been on trips where the chartplotter
This is not a Kindle versus paperback issue. I personally like books
but I can use a Kindle. I have been an early adopter for the entire life of computers
. I built a computer from a kit back in the 60's. I used the first Compaq portables. I used the first HP portables. I have programmed mainframes, minicomputers, PC's, servers, marine electronics
, etc. I do go through a learning
curve with any piece of gear
I am not familiar with, as we all do except for may be the occasional savant.
My preference: electronic - always. My backup - paper. I don't have to have the latest paper chart updated with all Notices to Mariners (but you better have them in Canadian waters if you are boarded).
I want to have multiple backups. We ended up using the hand held GPS dinosaur as our primary nav equipment
since the rest of the gear
was unreliable. If I had a battery
powered whatever, that would be OK but it would not be my ultimate backup. I brought on a big package of C cells for the little GPS and we burned through most of those. We sailed to waypoints that we picked off of the iPad and the Furuno and put on the little GPS.
It was pretty archaic but it got us from point A to point B so long as we weren't going close to land. We needed either a chartplotter
(of some sort) plus GPS or paper charts to do that. We ended up using the Furuno hardwired chartplotter some of the time, but we cussed the iPad from day one.
I can just hear the cries of anguish on how everyone else in the world has never had a problem with their iPad or PC. We went through three PCs going to NZ. My buddy in Mexico
has gone through two in two years. This can be from power issues, battery
issues, software issues, device compatibility issues, etc. Lots of different ways a laptop can die, just when you need it the most. Not always. Probably never for some. But it's happened to everyone I have personal experience with. Must be something to that. And I challenge any of you to say you have never found that a "required" system update did not screw up your applications on your laptop.
And, I like paper charts for planning. Zooming in and out for getting around a cape and then making a turn through rocks in to a harbor can be a nightmare. Many of the reefs
and rocks are small but they are big enough to ruin your day. They often don't show up on the wider e-charts. You can only see them if you zoom in. The better plotting software is pretty seamless between charts, but even the pure digital charts have issues. I haven't seen a perfect one yet. Large scale paper charts don't always show every rock but it is easier to find them on paper (for me and a lot of others) than it is electronically. I still will use the chartplotter if I have reasonably up to date charts (and I have the chart I need but that's true with paper).
This is not an issue with dinosaur sailors having trouble with electronics
, although there are many diehard sextant people out there. I sold mine in NZ. I might regret that someday but I don't think so. But whatever I do I will have backups on backups for critical systems.
One of the primary problems I have seen with using PC's and Mac's (I have both) is putting all kinds of other software on them on top of their charting applications. Often that is not a problem, but it often is as well.
But pick your poison because no nav system is perfect just like none of us is perfect (except a few of the posters on this forum). And it all costs money
. And all can be a PITA. But the best way to stay safe is to have reliable backups for the inevitable crash. And you need to know how to use the backups. I was sure happy we had a dinosaur GPS and knew how to use it.