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Old 16-11-2011, 20:34   #61
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Location: Chesapeake Bay
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Re: Budget Setup - Navigation GPS / Chartplotter / Notebook

About a year ago a friend showed me some iphone apps that were so convenient that it got me thinking about what I should get for my next cell phone. I ended up getting a Casio Commando android phone that is shock resistant and waterproof. I downloaded apps for tide information, charts, weather, etc. It is very convenient on a lanyard around my neck. As for my more permanent charting, I have several laptops, some older, and I've done a lot of research with them. I am retired and as an engineer have no problem with techno stuff. You have Windows and Linus operating systems and lots of software available to either platform. You have Panasonic toughbooks that are very durable. Other prefered machines are the netbooks which are very cheap and multiple spares are affordable. I currently am using an IBM/Lenovo touchpad in the chartroom with its 1900 pixel screen and am very happy with its performance. Any laptop will have difficulties with the display in daylight conditions, which I found out in my pilothouse. I've got a police cruiser display enroute from Ebay which should fix that problem. My IBM laptop cost about 200 dollars from Ebay with dual core processor, etc. GPS antennas with USB are availble for about 25 to 35 dollars. It seems a lot of cheap electronics come from Hong Kong and you have to wait for delivery, but they usually work OK. I would prefer to have a paper chart so I bought a printer that could print 11X17, large enough for some ports or approaches. I can print these out before heading out, and I am covered, even with a lightning strike. The printer is a Brother tabloid printer, business, no network capability, and cost about 130 dollars. The inkjet cartridges are large and business sized. It's good to have a hand held gps with some chart capability. The way to use navigation devices is to gather the information and plan your course and all the "what if"s and print out paper charts, make light lists, weather maps, and then go sailing. Use your hard copy information and use the electronic stuff when it works. Don't exceed your range of knowledge. Learn how to use a sextant for noonsights.

There are also applications for weather fax which I have tested with a cheap SSB receiver, also from Hong Kong. You can get time information from the SSB if you need it for celestial navigation. You have to think "What If", what if a lightning hit blows away all this electronic gear? I was at the dock the other day and a boat was towed in, nothing worked except the bilge pumps. The engine control software was gone along with everything else. There was no wind. The skipper was bringing it in to be hauled out and gutting the boat to replace all the electrics and electronics. I read a blog entry by Van de Veld about getting a lightning strike on the way out of Hawaii and limping back with no instruments. In the old days, not that long ago, a reliable clock and a sextant and some nav tables would allow a skipper to find out where he was and if he had a paper chart of his destination, he could continue a voyage and complete it. Nowadays it seems that anybody can turn on a GPS and have a position and put it on a chart. You have to think "what if" though and have a non-electronic way to navigate if you get hit with the "what if" lightning strike. Also, for some of us, a boat is an ultimate way of escape if all Hell breaks loose. Nuclear war, angry riots, but oh, they couldn't happen here. But "what if" they did? A Nuclear blast would produce an EMF pulse that would kill most electronics. There you go, your ultimate get away vehicle is now stuck with no navigation. Get some paper charts and nav tables, get a sextant and a reliable mechanical clock (check the prices on these) and you'll have the ultimate ground zero backup.
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Old 16-11-2011, 22:15   #62
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Re: Budget Setup - Navigation GPS / Chartplotter / Notebook

all too complicated.

get yourself good paper charts and the newest guide books to the area you're going to. then get a couple of handlheld gps units. i've got three right now - two i bought used for under $50 and my new one cost me under $100 (garmin 72). all you need is your lat/lon, waypoint, and waypoint data (bearing, track, time and distance to). can't miss. i doubt i've got more than $200 or $300 total invested in navigation. of course you have a good compass, binoculars, hand bearing compass, and depth sounder.

too many people today rely on fancy electronic nav gear and still don't know where the hell they are or where the hell they are going....
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Old 16-11-2011, 22:39   #63
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Re: Budget Setup - Navigation GPS / Chartplotter / Notebook

In case you do decide to go down the chartplotter at the helm route, my recent research suggested that the Lowrance HDS-5m was the best value for about $500, and so far I like it. It has a higher res. screen than the equivalent Garmin, and uses Navionics maps which people seem to like.

A chartplotter at the helm is like any other piece of equipment - it can be used properly or misused. Of course it shouldn't stop you looking around constantly, or replace a regular DR plot. But it's very handy in SF bay. It's an extra confirmation of where I think I am.

I also find, when dealing with currents, the projected line of course is rather handy. I have it set to a 1 mile projection. The other weekend my crew was convinced we were heading east of Alcatraz until I showed him the line going straight through it.
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budget, chartplotter

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