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Old 13-04-2015, 16:36   #1
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Handheld GPS as backup, why bother?

Ever since I bought my boat I have expected that one day when I plan to do some serious passage making, then I will buy a handheld GPS as a backup.

I'm now wondering if there really is any point....

My yacht has 2 MFD's, one at the helm and one in the cabin, plus I have an iPad & iPhone with Navionics maps and my Macbook has MacENC installed and I can plug it into the AIS transponder to get my position. So I have 5 ways to navigate without needing to resort to paper. I may also carry a 2nd iPhone with me for a 2nd sim card and that also has Navionics on it, so make that 6.

In addition to these, I have a Yellowbrick tracker that can display the GPS coordinates and when I finally do some serious passages, I'm most likely to buy an Iridium Extreme which also has GPS.

I'm more than covered for normal unit failure. I have plenty of portable GPS's to put in the oven during an electrical storm and in the event of a total electrical failure, the Yellowbrick has a much longer battery life than any portable GPS.

I have read people mentioning the benefits of a HH GPS when in the dinghy, but that only seems to be useful if you have a map version and paid for the local maps, and as I will get a waterproof case for my iPhone to protect it when I take the dinghy and it has navionics maps, i'll use that.

With so many alternative GPS's onboard, it seems to me that dedicated HH GPS's are no longer necessary as a backup!

I think my money is better off spent on beer rather than on yet another GPS. Can anyone think of a reason I should choose another GPS over the beer?
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Old 13-04-2015, 17:04   #2
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Re: Handheld GPS as backup, why bother?

Your backup should be a compass and a chart, anyway, so once you have those you can spend the rest on beer.

It seems you have the gps thing covered.
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Old 13-04-2015, 17:57   #3
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Re: Handheld GPS as backup, why bother?

A friend was hit my lightning last year. Luckily they were only a few kilometres off the East Australian coast at the time as all electrics were lost, that is, no GPS and no chartplotter. If they were well off shore on a passage, a handheld GPS would have enabled them to plot a course very easily to a port.
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Old 13-04-2015, 18:00   #4
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Re: Handheld GPS as backup, why bother?

Sounds like you are pretty well covered, particularly if you have the paper maps to plot GPS coordinates on as a last resort. I also have a binnacle compass and carry a hand bearing compass for when I can see land. Plus binoculars.


I have Navionics on my tablet. However, I notice that it actually expires. I don't know what that means exactly but would guess that on some date it ceases to work and needs internet access to be renewed. Definitely would be awkward to be relying on it to make landfall and have it come up "Sorry, you've expired."
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Old 13-04-2015, 18:09   #5
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Re: Handheld GPS as backup, why bother?

I havent had any failures yet....but I do use my HHgps in my dingy when we anchor out in a new location and we go into town for dinner.....some places are miles away.... and theres no way I would find my boat if I had not layed down my track when I had left...
regardless, we take our HHvhf and our HHgps along with our cell phones when we go out in the dinghy....(I need the cell phone while I am at dinner to surf the net)
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Old 13-04-2015, 18:28   #6
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Re: Handheld GPS as backup, why bother?

You may have answered your own question alright.

Make sure at least one is bullet-prof: own-battery-driven, water-proof, rollover-proof, etc. AND keep it stored inside.

I think your YB ticks all the boxes. Just keep its USB socket capped ...

And without a GPS man can do too.

So I am with you in the beer or bust territory ;-)

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Old 13-04-2015, 20:22   #7
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Re: Handheld GPS as backup, why bother?

I keep one in my ditch bag with relevant waypoints entered on long runs. Planning to upgrade it to a Delorme Explorer.
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Old 13-04-2015, 20:54   #8
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Re: Handheld GPS as backup, why bother?

Ive mentioned this in other threads but the Garmin etrex is only about $100 or a bit more and they are bomb proof. I lost it on my motorcycle in 2005 and ditched at over 90 kph, but I still use the old etrex as my primary GPS.

It does sound like you are fairly well covered, and I do like beer, but I would buy a sturdy handheld first and all the other widgets second.

A compas and paper chart is pretty darned reliable, I don't think it would be at all irresponsible of you not to have one, but they are one of the more useful toys you can get.

Imagine going ashore in the dink with your tablet and cell phone and the rain starts, or worse yet, you crash while beaching. The hh GPS will be fine, everything else will be wrecked. I'm a big fan of portable and submersible electronics, both GPS and handheld VHF.

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Old 13-04-2015, 21:51   #9
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Re: Handheld GPS as backup, why bother?

My only suggestion is to get Lifeproof cases for the igear. They are great stuff.
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Old 13-04-2015, 23:30   #10
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Re: Handheld GPS as backup, why bother?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Factor View Post
My only suggestion is to get Lifeproof cases for the igear. They are great stuff.
I've been thinking about the HH GPS issue for a while and seeing the Lifeproof in a store yesterday got me thinking about it again. I will get a Lifeproof for my iPhone 6+ and perhaps the floating sleeve when it's available. It's aways a worry with the dinghy especially at the shore misjudging depth or slipping when the phone is in the pocket

I'm thinking that the need for a dedicated HH GPS probably started declining 5-7 years ago when GPS's started appearing in so many more things.

Now if you feel you still need a dedicated HH GPS for the ditch bag, rather than getting something like the Garmin 72H, a DSC VHF Like the Standard Horizon HX870 would be better. Now they just need to take the next step and add an AIS distress transponder

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Old 14-04-2015, 06:48   #11
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Re: Handheld GPS as backup, why bother?

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Originally Posted by FamilyVan View Post
Ive mentioned this in other threads but the Garmin etrex is only about $100 or a bit more and they are bomb proof. I lost it on my motorcycle in 2005 and ditched at over 90 kph, but I still use the old etrex as my primary GPS.

...
I like the eTrex too. Basic & bullet proof. My last old one finally died this year.
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Old 14-04-2015, 07:28   #12
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Re: Handheld GPS as backup, why bother?

No one has mentioned battery life. My handheld GPS can go for a couple of days on a pair of AA batteries. My iPhone is lucky to go a day without recharging. I'm for a backup GPS with spare batteries.
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Old 14-04-2015, 08:25   #13
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Re: Handheld GPS as backup, why bother?

Just download the free "GPS Status & Toolbox" app onto your android or iphone. We have 7 times redundancy on our boat which includes paper charts and compass. 2 cellular ipads that work offshore, two phones with GPS app, VHF radio with GPS, a small chartplotter for AIS.

The ipads get used the most. Never use a behind the helm chartplotter... a waste of money.


Just like a handheld GPS, you can buy a couple of extra batteries for your smartphone. Much cheaper than an obsolete handheld GPS.
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Old 14-04-2015, 08:25   #14
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Re: Handheld GPS as backup, why bother?

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Originally Posted by Capt.Don View Post
No one has mentioned battery life. My handheld GPS can go for a couple of days on a pair of AA batteries. My iPhone is lucky to go a day without recharging. I'm for a backup GPS with spare batteries.

A couple of days of continuous operation? My HH GPS can't do that. I bet if you turned your iPhone off when not using it, and the cellular, Bluetooth and wifi off when using it, the battery life would be similar.

The spare battery point is a good one.

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Old 14-04-2015, 08:27   #15
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Re: Handheld GPS as backup, why bother?

I am faced with a similar problem. Multi GPS devices, but all dependent on longer journeys on being able to have their batteries topped up or be powered by the boat's 12v system. If something goes wrong with this (or a lightning strike) then soon no battery power left, and engine won't be able to start to replace it. My solution at the moment is an AA battery powered USB box (and lots of spare AA batteries) which will then enable me to charge up iPhones, iPads, Satphone etc, provided at least one of these hasn't been fried in the lightning strike.
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