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Old 29-01-2010, 10:55   #1
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Help Me Pick a GPS

I'm looking at buying a handheld GPS unit for coastal cruising this summer. I will be using it in lakes and rivers around the South East too.

I want to know your thoughts on what you have and if you like it or not. I'm looking in the $350 or less range. What options should I look for? What about the map options, do they come pre programmed or will I have to buy seperate maps? Can I connect it to my laptop to plan and download routes? I've heard some have built in tide tables and moon phase/fishing forcasts, are they accurate?

Sorry for all the questions but I'm new to GPS. I have a lot of charts but would like to be able to reference a GPS from the cockpit while driving. It would come in handy for areas that I don't have charts for too. I guess it's time to join the 21st century of boating.

Thanks,
Eddie
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Old 29-01-2010, 11:03   #2
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I'm no expert but i've been looking at the garmin series.

This 540s comes with a depth sounder and a $100 rebate
Garmin GPSMAP 540 / 540s
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Old 29-01-2010, 12:45   #3
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If you have a lap top get a GPS USB. They are 25 bucks on ebay and then use seaclear software free to navigate with.
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Old 29-01-2010, 12:56   #4
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GPS

My personal preferance is the Garmin line of products. I will not try to tell you they are better, but I can tell you that their customer support is second to none, and they are more user friendly than any others I have had any contact with. You will probably end up spending less money on a unit with the built in detail maps than having to buy the chart chips later. The chips are from around 150 up, unless you can find a deal, or some on ebay. The most readily availabe used chips seem to be the C maps. Garmin is a stand alone unit, and no other chips will work in them, except Garmin.
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Old 29-01-2010, 13:02   #5
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The handheld unit I like is Garmin 76CSX.
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Old 29-01-2010, 13:07   #6
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I have used a laptop with a GPS, and find they are lacking for small boat navigation. The laptop is going to use more power then other options and will be difficult to accommodate in the cockpit where you need it.

I would recommend a hand held unit, like the Garmin 76 series. You can save some money on the added charts you might want with something like the Oregon, but frankly I would rather have a basic unit that you can plug in some waypoints and use to confirm your position on a paper chart.

If you are looking for something installed, the 540 is a good recommendation but you can probably spend less and be just as happy with a hand held unit.
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Old 29-01-2010, 13:35   #7
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I have a laptop and plan to get a a USB GPS for it. I do have Seaclear downloaded and have played with it some and I have a few charts downloaded. I plan to use it below, but it would not work for navigating in the cockpit. Also I can't find charts for the inner rivers and lakes for Seaclear.

That's why I'm looking at handhelds. I want it portable to transfer between boats. I have 2 boats of my own and go with friends sometimes on theirs and would like to have it portable to take it with me to navigate to my favorite fishing spots and to mark my friends favorite fishing spots when I'm with them, to come back to later wink wink
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Old 29-01-2010, 13:54   #8
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I found maps are a big plus when navigating at night or in tight situations. Had handheld GPS w/o maps. Now have chartplotter after dangerous near miss with a shingle bank, clearing a harbour in the early dawn.

Re: laptops, etc, good options if they fit within your power budget. But there is lot of utility, if you only have one GPS, in having it available to you at the helm.

My first choice is often the handheld, then my bulkhead mounted plotter (if I have any doubt re: immediate safety), and sometimes I turn on the laptop (typically to explore passage options). But that's just how I use them ... good sailing ...
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Old 29-01-2010, 13:58   #9
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I agree with above posts re Garmin. I still use my Garmin 45
(many years old) Still going strong and in the past Garmin has changed internal batteries and updated with no charge.
Use it connected to laptop down below, and back up to
chartplotter at helm.
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Old 03-02-2010, 02:00   #10
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Love my Garmin Colorado 400c...

My Garmin Colorado 400c is fantastic...a handheld chartplotter. I bought the extra G2 caribbean charts on micro SD and have sailed around 500 miles on the last four charters using this as primary device (with paper charts out and plotting lat/lon position on them as back-up). Great battery life, can use at night, and charts have been very accurate (except for entrance to Anegada harbor in the BVIs). Has built-in barometer function and track wheel is easy to use. Highly recommended. They come with basic inland US waterways and lakes charts, but there are lots of chips with additional charts/maps of all kinds available.

There's one on eBay for $394 now.
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Old 03-02-2010, 14:15   #11
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Originally Posted by Hank&Karen View Post
My Garmin Colorado 400c is fantastic...a handheld chartplotter. I bought the extra G2 caribbean charts on micro SD and have sailed around 500 miles on the last four charters using this as primary device (with paper charts out and plotting lat/lon position on them as back-up). Great battery life, can use at night, and charts have been very accurate (except for entrance to Anegada harbor in the BVIs). Has built-in barometer function and track wheel is easy to use. Highly recommended. They come with basic inland US waterways and lakes charts, but there are lots of chips with additional charts/maps of all kinds available.

There's one on eBay for $394 now.

How much do the coastal charts cost? That sounds like what I am looking for.
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