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Old 11-12-2012, 22:58   #1
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GPS Navigation Advice

Hello All-

I've got allot of experience for 1 year sailing and currently a member of OPO (Off Shore Passage Opportunities). I have the US Sailing Series "Passage Making" and "Coastal Navigation" which I will start reading soon. I'm wondering if either of these books truly address GPS Nav? ... I'm thinking not?

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MY BACKGROUND:
Within 3 years I plan to buy a boat (refit for blue water) and do some single handed sailing up the east coat of USA, Canada, Iceland, Baffin Bay. When the wife retires (5 years from now) we plan to circumnavigate. I've taken an extensive intro sailing class through the NIH Sailing Club(National Institute of Health) as well as : ASA 101,103,104.

None of the training thus far has dealt with GPS nav, I can do the chart plotting. I plan to do the remainder of my training by personal education, and hands on experience through OPO. I have daily access to Flying Scots for my weekly fix.
-----------------------------------

... I want to buy a handheld GPS. At this point I'm thinking the Garmin 78 series. I will be doing blue water passages hopefully across most of the oceans in the next few years. I want to be an informed buyer yet reading about the units don't really seem to answer the questions, the write ups are very similar between the models.

I'm looking for advise on what GPS to buy (yet, I look at GPS as only a back up to the charts). What available info is there to learn about using it?

I guess each GPS model/make comes with specific instructions as to how to use it?? Will the one I buy come with comprehensive instructions on its use?

Someone told me West Marine may offer lectures/seminars on GPS usage but I can't find any reference to this on there web site, any comment here?
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Old 12-12-2012, 00:03   #2
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Re: GPS NAVIGATION ADVISE

You plan of getting a gps is a good one.
The best way to learn is to use it. You don't have to go sailing, walking around the neighbourhood will work just as well. Walking speeds are similar to sailing speeds and you can set waypoints, try routes even try an "anchor" alarm.

The Garman 78 is a good choice. A cheaper alternative is the Garman 72H. The latter model will not do maps, but as mini chart plotter the very small screen is not very successful on this sort of device and the maps are expensive so most people use them as a basic GPS and use paper, or other electronic maps.
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Old 12-12-2012, 00:16   #3
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Re: GPS NAVIGATION ADVISE

a gps mouse will turn your laptop into a gps reciever,couple that with cm93 or open cpn navigation software and you can play to your hearts content,and travel to distant parts of the globe at the click of a mouse..................
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Old 12-12-2012, 01:00   #4
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Hi,
On garmin.com you can download
use GPS with paper land maps. This should answer most of your questions.
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Old 12-12-2012, 01:33   #5
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Re: GPS NAVIGATION ADVISE

Quote:
Originally Posted by atoll View Post
a gps mouse will turn your laptop into a gps reciever,couple that with cm93 or open cpn navigation software and you can play to your hearts content,and travel to distant parts of the globe at the click of a mouse..................
+1 About to suggest the same. There are also some lower cost computer marine charting systems for sale.
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Old 12-12-2012, 04:27   #6
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Re: GPS NAVIGATION ADVISE

IMHO, learn to master plotting a proper course on a chart; also master the concept of how a current requires a crab angle- then a GPS becomes much more understandable.

I begrudgingly purchased a Map76 in 2000(?) for kayak racing, as GPS is the most efficient means of navigating a straight line off the coast and at night. This fairly inexpensive device will give you a sound platform to learn on. But unless one understands why the GPS heading is different than the compass heading, or understands how to plot a proper course on a chart, the GPS or computer navigation becomes "magic".

If you allow that to happen you will be in deep trouble if the electronics ever fail.

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Old 12-12-2012, 05:10   #7
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Re: GPS NAVIGATION ADVISE

Quote:
Originally Posted by noelex 77 View Post
You plan of getting a gps is a good one.
The best way to learn is to use it. You don't have to go sailing, walking around the neighbourhood will work just as well. Walking speeds are similar to sailing speeds and you can set waypoints, try routes even try an "anchor" alarm.

The Garman 78 is a good choice. A cheaper alternative is the Garman 72H. The latter model will not do maps, but as mini chart plotter the very small screen is not very successful on this sort of device and the maps are expensive so most people use them as a basic GPS and use paper, or other electronic maps.
I agree that Garmin 78 is a very good choice and it comes with the US charts. It's currently on sale at West Marine for $199. I have a Garmin 76, which is an older version with a B&W screen and a much slower processor. I find it very useful in the cockpit. In general, Garmin user manuals are not very good, but the devices are very easy to use.

I also have a laptop with a gps. It is a nice thing to play with, but I don't find it very practical for coastal navigation in a small boat. It's not waterproof, so it has to stay in the cabin below. It takes up a lot of room on the chart table and it has to be somehow secured against sliding around or falling off. And many laptops are fairly power hungry. A permanently mounted chart plotter is a lot more rugged and draws less power.
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Old 12-12-2012, 05:56   #8
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Re: GPS Navigation Advice

I suppose you could look inside the book(s); but, I believe that, those textbooks should cover electronic (GPS) navigation.
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Old 12-12-2012, 06:19   #9
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Re: GPS Navigation Advice

Those smaller GPS units such as the GPS 78 series will not give a very usable screen. They're great as a general reference for fixing your position on paper charts. For a really usable "Chart PLotter" without paper chart augmentation you need to step up in screen size to 4" or larger.
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Old 12-12-2012, 08:10   #10
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Re: GPS Navigation Advice

The major thing you should know about navigating with ANY chartplotter is that they all use vector charts AND that they will show less detail as you zoom out the display (to avoid screen clutter).

(Vector charts are portrayed from data and take less memory, vs. raster charts which are portrayed from images that take much more memory to store).

This is VERY IMPORTANT because unless you are viewing the highest level of detail you won't see rocks, reefs, or even whole islands several miles across. So if you zoom out to see a larger scale so that you can set a course; after you set that course you MUST zoom in to the highest level of detail and review your course by panning screen-by-screen from end to end. If you don't do that you put your boat and yourself at risk.

(edit): PS -- I have a hunch that was what happened to Aegean -- http://www.latitude38.com/lectronic/...ate=2012-05-02
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Old 12-12-2012, 10:08   #11
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Re: GPS Navigation Advice

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robes View Post
I guess each GPS model/make comes with specific instructions as to how to use it?? Will the one I buy come with comprehensive instructions on its use?
No one seems to have specifically addressed this, so I will. Short answer: yes and yes.

There is no "standard" for how GPS/chartplotters work, what they can do, or where their buttons are. That's why none of the course books you've looked at explain exactly how to use any particular GPS device. Each one will come with a users manual that will explain its features and how to use them. Then you just have to practice with the particular device that you have.

If you end up using OpenCPN on a laptop (which I use and recommend), or any of the other laptop charting software that is available, then you have to sort of "put things together" for yourself. That is, the software will have some instructions, and the GPS receiver that you buy will have some instructions, and your laptop will have some instructions, and it is up to you to put all these pieces together so that they work. Not a difficult task, but if you are pretty much computer-ignorant then it might take some time and effort to get it all working.
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Old 12-12-2012, 16:31   #12
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Re: GPS Navigation Advice

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robes View Post
... I want to buy a handheld GPS. At this point I'm thinking the Garmin 78 series. I will be doing blue water passages hopefully across most of the oceans in the next few years. I want to be an informed buyer yet reading about the units don't really seem to answer the questions, the write ups are very similar between the models.

I'm looking for advise on what GPS to buy (yet, I look at GPS as only a back up to the charts). What available info is there to learn about using it?

I guess each GPS model/make comes with specific instructions as to how to use it?? Will the one I buy come with comprehensive instructions on its use?

I use a 78sc as my backup GPS and on one passage it was my only GPS after the third day. I have it mounted at my nav station and powered from the boats dc. The documentation was not the greatest, but with a little bit of trial and error you can do a lot with it. I now have it wired so that I can use it to provide GPS info to my chart plotters in the event that my main GPS fails. It can also connect to my laptop by USB to provide GPS position for OpenCPN.

If you have the basics of navigation down, then the GPS is another tool for you. The principles of navigating on an electronic map are the same as on a paper map. You just have more information consolidated at your finger tips. The trick to using a chart plotter is to manage the information effectively. Keep your head up and don't get tunnel vision on a small screen!
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Old 12-12-2012, 17:01   #13
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Re: GPS Navigation Advice

If you can navigate with charts, adding gps is not that hard. The main deal is learning and internalizing the gps terms like XTE, CTS, SOG, COG and so on. My Garmin had a glossary in the back of the book.

Excellent tip about periodically zooming in and out as the screen clutters and declutters.

One friend had the course line right on top of a rock. Almost hit it at higher zoom levels. Saw the rock visually, zoomed into 800 feet and there it was under the course line.

GPS is not a replacement for eyeballs - no navigation is.

The second big tip is the gps does not care which drection the bow is facing. If you are sailing at one knot into a 2 knot current the little boat icon will turn around and your speed will indicate one knot. Your vmg will be negative however...

This tricked one guy here - he thought he was going the wrong way and turned the boat around and the gps display did not change at all except sog went to 3 - very confusing if you don't understand the gps.
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