Just finished a 4 month inside passage cruise
from Olympia, WA to Ketchikan, AK, and over to Haida Gwaii (and as a bonus, made it home too). A fairly complicated trip, navigationally speaking.
My primary navigation device was Navionics
on my iPhone
, and I would recommend this to anyone.
A used iPhone
and the Navionics
app can be picked up for $250. I happened to have a spare iPhone as well (my old one), and my shipmate had one also. That's three redundant systems. Even if I needed to BUY the three redundant systems, I'd be out $750 compared to the over $3,000 I would have needed to have complete paper charts.
A 1900mAH battery
extender pack ($40) lets the phone
run all day with no problem. A waterproof case (basically a $15 stiffened baggie) takes away the worries about rain and mist and waves and spilled beer
. The topped up house batteries and my portable 2HP Honda
serve as independent power sources.
Costs aside, the practicality of a chart-plotter on my person at all times is indispensable. I can plot courses from the bar. I can plot courses while in bed
. I can send a screenshot to my grandma who's worried about me. I can discuss routing options with locals, anywhere anytime. And most importantly, I can get into places I probably wouldn't have attempted with paper only.
"Day-view" screens would be nice but the reality is, you can save thousands of dollars and hours of installation
and maintenace by buying
an iPhone, turn up the brightness, and if there's glare on the screen
... move. It's free.
My recommendation is for inexpensive redundant electronic systems with independent redundant power supplies, backups stored charged and waterproofed in the ditch bag. Maybe a few large scale paper charts, mostly because they look pretty. I love staring at a nice chart for hours at a time, but actually using them, searching through 150 different charts, searching for the right page in a book, re-folding it 20 times till it eventually tears, trying to use it outside in a blow, worrying about rain, or worse, leaving the cockpit to go below and look ... Paper charts are a pain in my ass.
The only showstopping drawback is that an iPhone requires good vision and a steady hand. Not a problem yet at 32 but I'm sure will be a problem when I'm... "cruising age". My dad's side of the family
has bad tremors and I'm showing signs already. But by then we'll have flexible solar-powered e-ink chartplotters built onto clothing
and cockpit surfaces, so I'm not worried about it.