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Old 10-11-2013, 11:31   #1
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Location: Edmonton, Alberta
Boat: Catalina 30 in PVR
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Garmin VS Lowrance VS Hummingbird

So I'm looking at all these different units and not sure which way to go. I want to be under $800 for the unit. We have our sailboat, 30ft. Catalina in PVR (Puerto Vallarta) and would like something that has GPS capability, speed, depth and maybe sonar. Plus tracking. Not really interested in the fishing end of things but I guess seeing what's down there would be nice too. I've looked at the Navionics suites and the Gold edition that covers all that coastal area is nice. But I see Garmin has the Blue charts and I'm not sure how the coverage is around PVR. couldn't seem to find any details on that. doing mostly day sailing for now and a few overnighters but eventually want to cruise the coastline. Would need a read thru hull transducer. Don't really want to drill another hole. I have Open CPN but haven't tried it yet. Not sure if it would do what I want. There seems to be some deals on these GPS's right now through West Marine and others but again getting lost with all the info. Do I go for a $400 unit which seems capable or an $700 unit that has other options some of which I'm not sure what they do. Don't want a handheld as the screen size is hard to read at my age. Trying to figure out what each unit does is another story. The information I'm getting from all of this also is they all seem to lean towards the fishing end of things and not much towards the cruising/navigation. I see some don't come with a transducer. does this mean one can't be used on it. Is Garmin better than the rest. Lots to try and figure out. Someone please help sort this out for me.
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Old 10-11-2013, 12:53   #2
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Re: Garmin VS Lowrance VS Hummingbird

Check out the Garmin 740s 720s. On sale at West Marine for $749.00 USD. It will do radar too if you want. 7" screen.
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Old 10-11-2013, 14:12   #3
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Re: Garmin VS Lowrance VS Hummingbird

We bought the Garmin 740S and it has been awesome! I cannot comment on the Blue Water charts yet but the USA coastal charts and Explorer Bahamas charts came preloaded and they have been great so far.

We had an old Navman depth sounder who's display was on the fritz and didn't want to haul the boat to install a new through hull transducer, so, we bought one of the in-hull sounders that you just epoxy to the inside of the hull. It works great! BUT, our hull is solid fiberglass. I don't think it is recommended for cored hulls.

We also bought another power cord with it. Now we bring the unit below with us while at anchor to set the anchor alarm. It is very nice to wake up in the middle of the night and see your swing track as easily as looking at your alarm clock!

FWIW, we also got an external GPS antenna (we never hooked it up), the radome (it is awesome!), and integrated it all with the GCH12 autopilot all of which I read on some internet forum that you needed. I have no affiliation with Garmin other than being a happy user and no experience with the other brands you mentioned.
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Old 13-11-2013, 20:42   #4
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Re: Garmin VS Lowrance VS Hummingbird

At work, we used Garmin handheld 72s and 76s in all weathers in open boats. The use was insanely abusive. They were tough. Some days were 10 hours of nonstop salt water drenching, pounding through the chop.

When they finally died, Garmin stood behind them rock solid. We'd get an exchange several times, until we were embarrassed to do it again, then we'd buy a new one and start again.

You may want a permanent unit with more features, but I would never hesitate to buy a Garmin product. Their Tech help was great too.

Though I may sound like a Garmin salesman, I am not connected with Garmin, except as a contented customer.

PS I have a Garmin GPS in my car, too.
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Old 13-11-2013, 21:04   #5
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Re: Garmin VS Lowrance VS Hummingbird

Well I am leaning towards the Garmin providing the charting for the area is sufficient. Our boat is in Puerto Vallarta and I know what's available with the avionics suites. I can't seem to find anywhere what I can expect in the Bluecharts. I know they have coverage but wonder how good it is in comparison to the Avionics. I've e-mailed Garmin just recently and probably be a few days before I hear from them. The Bluechart is the SA02R I don't plan on buying any plotter etc. till I find out the best coverage for me.
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