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Old 14-10-2003, 12:24   #1
LA
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Handheld GPS?

Can someone tell me what would be the least expensive Handheld GPS unit we could get by with for sailing to & in the Bahamas from SE USA ? Would we need to buy a CD with the appropriate info to navigate the Bahamas? If so, what CD do we need?
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Old 14-10-2003, 13:00   #2
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LA,

I don't know what the most inexpensive GPS is on the market now, but I have a Garmin (I believe model 45-(small white colored one with a built in antenna), that was one of the least inexpensive ones available when I purchased it ~ $200.It works great,and is very easy to use. I also have a GPS chartplotter, but find myself using the handheld a lot. I'm not sure what the current version of it is - 50? maybe?) IMO, the only thing you need to sail to and in the Bahamas is a good GPS that can store/ track waypoints,and a large hardcopy book of charts for the area. Maptech has a very good one. I dead reckon and plot everything, then reconfirm it with the GPS.
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Old 15-10-2003, 02:58   #3
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Stede's right, the Bahamas is dead reckoning, and eyball piloting; with not much navigation. There's only a couple of short passages where you are out of site of anything.
Plot often, cause they (Islands) all look quite alike, even to those familiar with them!
We often use a "Post It" arrow, that I continually move along the chart, same as we do in the I.C.W. etc. It makes it EASY to keep my rough plot current - and I find that things must be easy, or I often neglect them.
The best GPS waypoints are "been there"
coordinates. Use the published ones to get you close, then note your own (significant point), with it's corresponding description.
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Old 15-10-2003, 17:55   #4
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You can buy a GPS at Wal-Mart for $ 60.00. Any GPS will do. You don't need one that says MARINE on it. Any backpacker GPS will be just fine. Most of them take the common AA battery. All it basically needs to do is give you the latitude and longitude. You then reference the numbers on your chart and know exactly where you are. Even the most basic one's will give you course and speed. They are also great for telling exact time if you like a sextant.

Happy Sailing
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Old 16-10-2003, 03:33   #5
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One of the several reasons that I only recommend using “published” GPS waypoints to “get you close”, is that many geographic features are not exactly where they are (paper) charted.

If you plot a Lat/Lon (from paper charts) for Bimini (Bahamas), and compare that to an actual GPS Lat/Lon reading; you will find that the chart does NOT accurately locate the Island. It’s been a while (so I forget exactly); but I seem to recall that Bimini is actually about 2 miles south of it’s charted position. Perhaps one of our Florida members can help us with exact data.

Using a published waypoint will get you close enough to Bimini to utilize your (visual) piloting skills.

The published waypoint will suffice to bring you to “within sight” of Bimini. Having eyeballed your way to (say) the first “near approach point” (the ‘Range’), you note an accurate GPS Lat/Lon, then work your way to the first “turning point “ (noting Lat/Lon) and etc. In this manner you will have developed a set of repeatable “Been There” waypoints, as accurate as your instrument, your descriptive notations, and the conditions extant.

Having developed these “Been There” Lat/Lon waypoints for entering Bimini, We’re now faced with several limiting factors (not including actual Lat/Lon accuracy):

How accurate is my descriptive note? Say I’ve noted the “First Turning Point” as:
“On the Range, heading 93 degrees True ,100 Yards off the beach”. I may have actually been 150 yards off, and being set by a tidal current (& Bearing 90 Degrees), and merely ALMOST on the range. *Important Note: I've not refered to my notes, and this example is NOT accurate.

Has the sand bar moved since I last plotted a safe entrance, so that my previous exact route is no longer safe? What are the implications of the (unstated) exact state of tide?

My point is that you CANNOT "reference the numbers on the chart, and know exactly where you are", in any meaningful way.

Nor can you even reference your "Been There" numbers, and always know exactly where you WANT TO BE.

There are many other waypoints in my log, that I use with impunity & confidence; so I’m not suggesting that you cannot rely on (been there) GPS Lat/Lon positions. I’m merely trying to reinforce the obvious principle that any Data is only as accurate as it’s least accurate component.

So, Stede, CSYMan (etc); where (exactly) is Bimini?

Regards,
Gord
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Old 16-10-2003, 05:44   #6
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Bimini

Is't Bimini a suburb of Miami for the Spotfisher bunch ?
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Old 16-10-2003, 09:21   #7
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Re: Bimini

That's the place

I've made nearly all my Bahamian landfalls at Cat - Gunn cay.

Gord

Quote:
sy Dolce Vita once whispered in the wind:
Is't Bimini a suburb of Miami for the Spotfisher bunch ?
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Old 16-10-2003, 09:56   #8
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Hi Gord,and all,

To be honest, I can't tell you the exact coordinates of Bimini. When I went there, leaving out of Key Largo.I used the published waypoint for it that was in my Maptech chart book. I plotted vectors crossing the stream and then as I got closer to the island I relied more on my GPS entered waypoint to guide me on in. The published waypoint brought me to the South end of the island with a good approach to line up with some range markers that my Maptech book also referred to. I can relate to what Gord has described with the errors that are found on charts, as I'm sure we all can.I've found Maptechs published waypoints to be very good, but have also found some errors on their charts. For my goals at present, I normally don't store "been there" waypoints. I go somewhere one time and then I'm ready to move on to see a different island,etc. Until I can cruise full time, I try to see as many new places as I can. I look forward to the day that I can build a "been there" waypoint list of my own as Gord and other cruisers have done

As a side note to Dolce Vitas comment "Is't Bimini a suburb of Miami for the Spotfisher bunch ?" Yeah, there is a constant trail of boats from Miami over to Bimini. One thing I thought was interesting about the place though,were the large commercial foreign boats anchored off of Bimini. A waitress told me that they anchor off Bimini waiting to get customs clearance to enter U.S.waters. She said sometimes the boats stay anchored off of Bimini for months waiting for clearance. The crews get a little squirrely after a few months,she remarked
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Old 16-10-2003, 16:09   #9
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or maybe they are waiting for high tide to get over the bar onto the bank . it's out of our realm anyway as we draw 7'9" and it's only 6' at best at spring or nepps tide . Our home base is Sugarloaf on San Salvador Island , and we found the explorer charts the most accurette . Wy would you wait for clearance . You just come in and make your calls and visit INS. But make sure you have your customs decal to advoid hassels .
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Old 16-10-2003, 16:51   #10
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Dolce Vita,

The boats I was referring to waiting off of Bimini are large commercial, foreign vessels. There were three anchored off while I was there.I don't know what kind of Customs issues they have to deal with, but I imagine it can get ugly if the paperwork isn't in order
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Old 16-10-2003, 18:01   #11
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sorry I Missunderstud . My sportsfisher remark was based on my feelings over the increase in cruising permit fee in the Bahamas .
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Old 19-10-2003, 17:37   #12
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Dolce Vita and all,

You might want to take a look at the following link if you're concerned over the proposed increase for a cruising permit in the Bahamas.

http://www.boycottbahamas.com/
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Old 21-10-2003, 05:38   #13
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You are here!

Here's a pretty cool link to a voluntary service that will plot your boats location so that your loved ones will know where you're at.

http://www.pangolin.co.nz/
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Old 01-11-2003, 06:52   #14
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Back to Handhelds?

If we can go back to the subject for a bit, can you folks suggest one of the new handheld GPS models that is also economical, can connect to a computer's USB port and interact with Offshore Navigator and other programs, and is appropriate for being farther afield, say Canada to the Caribbbean?

Thanks,

Sonosailor (sonovasonovasailor)
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Old 01-11-2003, 08:19   #15
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As far as handheld GPS:

I like the Gramin 72, it is one of their newest and least expensive.
List price is about $160.00, but have seen it advertised for $135.00.

A friend took it along on my boat for a short Bimini cruise, and I really liked it. One of the nifty features was the graphic tide table for pretty much any location you select..Tides can be an important navigation factor in the Bahamas...Try enter Bimini at low tide and ya may find yer self high and dry.

Agree that Explorer charts are excellent, I swear by them, and Bimini and all the Islands are in the right place...
Been entereing Nixon Harbor at night using the Explorer way points and 3 different GPS for guidance.....Not something I would do on a regular basis, but it is nice to know it can be done if the chips are down: Night, unexpected weather, etc.
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