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Old 10-06-2014, 20:05   #1
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GPS. FFS.

right, so, I managed to both admit my ignorance with, well... everything re: sailing on a previous [anchor] post [fire extinguishers, please], so I thought I'd just throw myself on the mercy of the maritime court and post another very general, but very confusing topic:

GPS/VHF/plotters.

long story short, I know not much about sailing. have my first real boat and, in a month's time, will be taking off... but I'm as confused about GPS as I am with anything.

yes, I know I shouldn't depend on it/them and I won't... but help a brother out:

- for my depth finder, a pal pointed me to a fish-finder/gps/depth finder, the Mark Mark-4 Marine GPS Navigator. I figured for $150 [with transducer], it's a deal.

- but, I also need a mounted proper GPS, correct? so, what would you buy for, say $350?

- and, then, would I need a handheld? or should I spend the above on a good handheld and let the fish-finder/etc/etc be my back up?

... again, am sure this comes across trivial to many, but I've done my research here, as well as online, and it's only confused me more.

many thanks!

ps - while you might roll your eyes at another newbie asking the same old questions, I'd like to point out that the sooner I get something good, the less of a chance I have of running into you.
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Old 10-06-2014, 21:07   #2
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Re: GPS. FFS.

Quote:
Originally Posted by theodyssey View Post
right, so, I managed to both admit my ignorance with, well... everything re: sailing on a previous [anchor] post [fire extinguishers, please], so I thought I'd just throw myself on the mercy of the maritime court and post another very general, but very confusing topic:

GPS/VHF/plotters.

long story short, I know not much about sailing. have my first real boat and, in a month's time, will be taking off... but I'm as confused about GPS as I am with anything.

yes, I know I shouldn't depend on it/them and I won't... but help a brother out:

- for my depth finder, a pal pointed me to a fish-finder/gps/depth finder, the Mark Mark-4 Marine GPS Navigator. I figured for $150 [with transducer], it's a deal.

- but, I also need a mounted proper GPS, correct? so, what would you buy for, say $350?

- and, then, would I need a handheld? or should I spend the above on a good handheld and let the fish-finder/etc/etc be my back up?

... again, am sure this comes across trivial to many, but I've done my research here, as well as online, and it's only confused me more.

many thanks!

ps - while you might roll your eyes at another newbie asking the same old questions, I'd like to point out that the sooner I get something good, the less of a chance I have of running into you.

That's not actually true. If you know very little and then farm out whatever seamanship you possess to a bunch of instruments you can't interpret fully, you're a bigger menace to me than a guy with just a compass who knows how to sail.

I suggest you take sailing navigational courses to learn how to use these tools properly...before you ask for purchasing advice.
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Old 11-06-2014, 06:45   #3
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Re: GPS. FFS.

Quote:
Originally Posted by theodyssey View Post

- for my depth finder, a pal pointed me to a fish-finder/gps/depth finder, the Mark Mark-4 Marine GPS Navigator. I figured for $150 [with transducer], it's a deal.

- but, I also need a mounted proper GPS, correct? so, what would you buy for, say $350?

- and, then, would I need a handheld? or should I spend the above on a good handheld and let the fish-finder/etc/etc be my back up?

Redundancy is often a good thing, within acceptable cost limitations. OTOH (but without having read the Mark-4 specs), the GPS in that could well be about as good as most other price-comparable GPS units in the marketplace. IOW, accuracy might be fine.

As to the "proper GPS" and the "handheld" idea -- perhaps you're meaning a combination GPS and chartplotter? If so, displaying your (GPS-enabled) location on a chart is often very useful. Depending on your budget and cruising grounds, there are often three ways to address that:
- send location data from the Mark-4 to a stand-alone chartplotter if those exist anymore (probably using NMEA 0183 or NMEA 2000 language) ,
- install a combo GPS/chartplotter, or
- use a GPS-enabled tablet with a chartplotting app (do a search on threads about that).

You can often take incremental steps toward your goal...

-Chris
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Old 11-06-2014, 06:47   #4
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Re: GPS. FFS.

Quote:
Originally Posted by S/V Alchemy View Post
I suggest you take sailing navigational courses to learn how to use these tools properly...before you ask for purchasing advice.
Truly excellent advice that you really should listen to.

Having said that, if the Mark 4 that you are talking about is this Lowrance device: Lowrance Mark-4 | Fishfinder Chartplotter - LOWRANCE | Marine Electronics then it has a GPS built in, so you don't necessarily need another one (though a backup certainly can't hurt).
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Old 11-06-2014, 06:58   #5
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Re: GPS. FFS.

yep take some classes - believe me you'll feel much better.

But why go with a limited device like a fishfinder/chartplotter? I don't know the Lowrance range, but at some point you might want to add AIS or something else.

Get yourself a proper depthfinder adn a proper chartplotter with the possibility to add on. Might cost a couple of bucks more - but will probably be worth it.

By the way - we were all newbies at some point. We've all asked these questions (or not and had to learn through bitter experience - don't ask me how I know this)

You might consider going down to the marina with a six-pack. Walk around and ask some of the smaller boats what kinds of electronics they have and the plusses and minusses of each one. If nothing else you'll make some sailing friends.

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Old 11-06-2014, 07:22   #6
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Re: GPS. FFS.

Quote:
Originally Posted by carstenb View Post

You might consider going down to the marina with a six-pack. Walk around and ask some of the smaller boats what kinds of electronics they have and the plusses and minusses of each one. If nothing else you'll make some sailing friends.

Beer is a wonderful bribe
It's the universal lubricant.

I would add that I personally did things almost completely ass-backwards in that I joined a YC as race-night crew bank fodder and promptly bought a 33 footer with nary a clue. Or clew, for that matter.

I redeemed myself somewhat by continuing to crew for others (for five seasons, in all) and got to dodge many, but not all, screw-ups on my own boat by observing the bad habits of others at close hand. I spent the winters taking multiple sailing theory courses (a 12-week Power Squadron course, a coastal pilotage course, a marine radio operations course, a general navigation course, Marine First Aid, celestial navigation (whether you use a sextant or not, you'll get a better grounding in chartwork thereby), and many others. Oh, and I rebuilt two motors, mainly because my ignorance killed one and failed to understand the easily fixed problem of another.

All of this means my fixes are now (generally) easier, and my screw-ups are, fingers crossed, rarer. The point is that very little of these self-improvements happened on the boat, while actually sailing, or pushing buttons on some device. The mastery of devices that report on location, depth or proximity of other boats is just about trivial when it comes to actually sailing a boat with a life-preserving and boat-preserving level of seamanship. Devices are the reading glasses of the seaman: they allow more details to emerge to that which should already be apparent.
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Old 11-06-2014, 07:24   #7
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Re: GPS. FFS.

You do need a depth gauge you can read for depth. Also, it is much easier to tell where you are if you have a Chartplotter that shows your boat location on a moveable chart that also shows the depth contours. I recommend you look at West Marine website and look at the variety of navigation devices available. You should read their West Advisor about these devices before purchasing anything. Also the advice to go down to the dock and walk around is a great suggestion. I have had many people with your level of experience ask me about what to get and I can show them what I have, how it works and what it is for very easily from my boat. Generally sailors are very willing to help someone new to the sport.

For starters, if you have a smart phone, you should get the Navionics app. It is a mini Chartplotter and you can get familiar with it at home. It will work on both your smartphone and a tablet and it will sync with each for one price for both. Make sure you get something for your smartphone thar makes it waterproof and make sure you can charge it while on your boat. It will also show your track. Also good advice from others that you take a navigation course.
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Old 11-06-2014, 11:34   #8
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Re: GPS. FFS.

I'd add that looking at your numbers above, you can easily find a small plotter with depth for that $500 range, which should handle most of your duties, and used as a fixed GPS as well. use your phone as a backup, with good nav apps and you should be fine.
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Old 11-06-2014, 12:12   #9
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Re: GPS. FFS.

theodyssey, if the "Mark-4" you mention is the same as in denverdOn's link (post #4) I see it does give you chartplotting, including additional "mapping options" via MiscroSD card... along with GPS... and of course depth (as do most fishfinders).

Assuming budget is an issue, and depending on your cruising intentions, I think you could use this for basic info, use it a while, see what you might want to improve, solve that sometime later. In this case, I'd say it's handicapped by the small screen and by the grayscale display (grayscale becomes a bit cluttered, and that's especially noticeable on a small screen).

But it is what it is. Back-up is always good. You'd likely be impressed -- by comparison -- with a nav app on a 10" color tablet.

-Chris
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Old 12-06-2014, 20:19   #10
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Re: GPS. FFS.

What boat are we talking about here?

A $5,000 boat with $20k of electronics makes no sense. A $1M boat with no eletronics likewise...

Also - where are you going. Coastal cruising, ocean crossing?

I'll never forget racing with a newer skipper - We were becalmed on a coastal passage race. Seriosuly we could see the shore but were ~50 miles from home.

I'm trimming, everyone on the lee side to project the sails, everyone stationary calm and quiet (cricket's chirping), waiting for puffs and trying to at least keep the boat stationary against a growing tidal current. Suddenly the boat turns around -

"Where are you going!!!!"
"We're headed the wrong way. The destination is "back there""
"What? No way."
"Take a look at the GPS!!"

Long story short the current was making the boat travel in reverse (despite my excellent low wind trimming efforts - LOL) - the little boat icon reversed on screen and showed us "pointed" reciprocal to the intended course. Of course the oil compass and the GPS COG were now 180 degrees apart - LOL.

The GPS does not know or care where the bow is pointing. It only knows which direction the chart plotter/GPS receiver is traveling.

"long story short, I know not much about sailing. have my first real boat and, in a month's time, will be taking off... but I'm as confused about GPS as I am with anything."

Not to be rude but depending on where you are "taking off" to please head some advice and do some learning and get some experience.
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