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Old 14-01-2008, 14:40   #1
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Plotting a Course Using GPS

Hello all,
I purchased a Garmin GPSMAP 76CSx over the weekend at the Toronto Boat Show. I've had a play around with the Mapsource software and managed to enter the various marks for our club race course as waypoints, and then downloaded these to the GPS unit. Now for the question, and it's a really silly one, what/how do you plan a course/route via the waypoints?
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Old 14-01-2008, 14:56   #2
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Before anything else... practice! I am assuming you know how to sail and navigate without a GPS?

The GPS tells you where the waypoint is in relation to your current position. It will give you the heading needed to make it to the waypoint. The heading is constantly updated as your position changes.

Idea: Stand in your front yard and mark your current position. Start walking around the neighborhood and watch the GPS. Use it to find your way home.

DO NOT USE IT ON THE BOAT UNTIL IT IS ALL PERFECTLY CLEAR please, please, please!
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Old 14-01-2008, 15:11   #3
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Don't worry, I can sail and navigate without GPS, it's just it's an added bonus having one. We had a "nearly round the (Toronto) Island" race and some of the marks just were not easy to see (yes, I know one should have charted it all, but it was a "fun" race so we did not bother), thus a GPS would have been rather handy to have (other racers in the fleet had them), as we'd be able to approximate the location of the markers, rather than trying to just find them visually.

I understand how GPS works, and how it'll give me my current position and where the waypoint is located, and thus from that one can pick a heading to get to the waypoint (the 76CSx has an electronic compass which will help as well). The problem I am/was (might have figured it out) having is that a course seems to typically be a triangle from mark a, to b, to c, then to mark a, and I was trying to work out what option to use to mark the complete course, so we can navigate from a to b, to c, to a easily.

I think I've got it though. If I use the "off road" option in the routing section it seems to allow me to map an off road like course (oh the irony of an off-road route being a marine race course route!) consisting of the aforementioned course.

I was wondering if this was the correct way to do it, and how other people may well plot course. I know this seems to be a cruisers board, but I presume some may race from time to time.

Thanks for any additional advice/information
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Old 14-01-2008, 15:26   #4
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Originally Posted by sharkus View Post
. Now for the question, and it's a really silly one, what/how do you plan a course/route via the waypoints?



The GPSmap 76Cx and CSx are wonderful machines!

Unfortunately all navigation software that I have seen is woefully inadequite, I repeat: woefully inadequate when it comes to the expectations of the modern computer user.

I don't often play computer games but a reasonable PC based game, XBox, Playstation game etc is FAR superior in ease of use and intuitiveness (is that a word?). By way of example the only time you need to read the instructions on a war game is to find out what buttons do the weirdest things. all the normal guns, reloading etc is so easy you can jump on the computer and play Doom immediately.

Mapsource is, by the above “Xbox Usability”, beyond a joke.

The only way you can use the flippin machine is to hold the MapSource instruction book in one hand, the 76Cx instruction book in the other hand and type with your toes!

That being said, and I hope someone from Garmin, Raytec Navigator and all the others are listening.

On Mapsource plot your waypoints and then make the route up in mapsource! Then when you upload to your GPS select to upload Map, Waypoints and Routes. then you will be uploading the routes from your PC.

Then on your GPS click Menu / Routes (or Menu / Enter / Routes) ENTER (NOT MENU!) and you will see a list of your routes. Click on the one you want and get going.

To make a NEW route run the courser to the bottom and click NEW and follow the (extensive) prompts.

Yes, its complicated. Yes you need to hold the instruction book the first few times (and probably at the beginning of each new sailing season) And yes you will want to get the biggest weapon off Quake II and blow Mapsource away!

The most difficult thing I find is making minor adjustments to long routes on Mapsource. It’s a flippin pain. Its just counter-intuitive. I am almost an expert when it comes to using computer programs but I have trouble with Garmin and Mapsource and I really feel for those just coming to grips with computers on their boats. At the price of Nav software the programs should be excellent.

No wonder so many people still manage to drive up onto the rocks when using GPS. Sometimes its not the chart thats wrong. Its the difficulty in using the software.


Hope this helps. Its helped me get it off my chest LOLOLOL.
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Old 14-01-2008, 15:28   #5
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In the GPS you want to set up a "Route" This is a procession of waypoints. The route feature will direct you to the first waypoint. When you pass the first waypoint it will automatically choose the second waypoint as the next destination and so on.
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Old 14-01-2008, 15:35   #6
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DO NOT USE IT ON THE BOAT UNTIL IT IS ALL PERFECTLY CLEAR
I disagree, respectfully, with Ken. I think you should practise on your boat. Set short routes and go sail them. Its nigh on impossible (and boring too) doing it at your desk!

As you are racing you want to be able to use this GPS extreemly well to cut mere meters off each leg. Practise by making your test routes more and more complicated

Have fun with it as it is an excellent purchase - well it better be as I bought one too LOL
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Old 14-01-2008, 15:59   #7
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If you are racing I would expect that you should be sailing more tactically according to the conditions of the moment (in terms of wind, other competitors positions, current, etc) rather than following some predetermined route between waypoints (and I never sail a predetermined route between multiple waypoints even when cruising for the same reason).

So you plan your best course for the moment tactically in your head and use the GPS as a tool to assist in that.

Racing I would expect to use the GPS for determining things like distance to the next waypoint (buoy), bearing to next waypoint (buoy) so that you can manage where your laylines are and how close to them you are, current (remembering that the accuracy of the computation of that depends usually on ones generally very inaccurate log), speed over ground, etc.
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Old 14-01-2008, 18:31   #8
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Thanks for all the replies and advice.

The idea for the GPS is/was twofold. The first is to aid racing, so we know where the marks/buoys are located and then we'll sail a course to head for them, obviously wind and water conditions will really dictate the true course taken, so the GPS will be used mainly as a guide.
The second reason for the GPS is for emergency location, something we all wish we'll never encounter, but for us we did earlier this year and being able to give our precise position would have helped a little. Granted the marine unit would probably not have got to us much quicker, however, it would have helped psychologically, as we would be certain they knew exactly where we were, and when there's an emergency anything that can keep things calm is always appreciated.
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Old 27-05-2010, 10:20   #9
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Dear Sharkus,
I think you are experiencing the same problems I am...I take my Garmin GPS on-board the boat, whilst racing, to get better information on where marks are. I do NOT have my PC and Mapsource available, and am faced with trying to pin point marks on the race course, using just what the race committee publishes....bearing to first mark, and distance. So I am trying to get a waypoint set as we register at the RC boat....then set a line into the GPS from the RC to the weather mark!! I am struggling to find an easy way to do this....I think that I MIGHT be able to use the Man Over Board button to set a waypoint more quickly....but setting a line, from a waypoint, at a bearing, for a given distance is REALLY tricky.....I am able to do this, but am using the cursor...moving it from a point.....and the GPS really likes to use 'current position' for any request of bearings to a cursor/map point....

Anyway, I am still attempting to teach myself HOW to do this, so any tricks or tips you have worked out will be gratefully recieved!
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Old 27-05-2010, 12:03   #10
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, so any tricks or tips you have worked out will be gratefully recieved!
I zoom right in and its easier to see where the mark needs to go. Also on Plotter Mode on some GPS units you can zoom in a long way further than the chart will alow. This gives a better place to get an exact spot for your cursor, too.

As I said nearly 3 years ago, I wish a computer Gamer would take over designing chart plotters.
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Old 27-05-2010, 13:27   #11
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I am a computer gamer (ex-gamer, really - time is getting scarce ). I used to be pretty darn good at various FPS back in the day.
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Old 01-06-2010, 18:58   #12
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Welp I don't use marks for racing but i am a gamer (sorta ex as well again due to work etc etc), but i gotta say that as far as xbox easy UI's go, navionics on the iphone was pick and point for me.

There is a GPS on the boat. And an old laptop with charting software and all I use is the iphone. Having the chart in the cockpit with me, easy to update new waypoints when wind changes, easy to see when i'm going thru shoals etc.

Pretty sure they also have alot of cool racing apps for iphone/ipads.

try Panbo: The Marine Electronics Weblog: iPhone mania, a marine app slide show for a bunch of handy apps.


Not advocating getting an iphone especially for marine stuff... though compared to the cost of a chartplotter...
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Old 03-06-2010, 06:50   #13
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I'd second the notion that a lot of software, nav systems incuded, can learn much from games. Navigation has a lot to do with situational awareness and so do many games - the area is ripe for cross-fertilisation.
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Old 03-06-2010, 10:32   #14
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Navigation has a lot to do with situational awareness and so do many games - the area is ripe for cross-fertilisation.
Yeah and any ship that appears on the AIS overlay can be Nuked with 6 different weapons
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