About every twelve months or so I suffer the onset of a whim to go out and buy a chart plotter. Unfortunately I was raised by frugal folks.
The much repeated experience is that when I look at what I feel is affordable it has a little 7" screen
, four way button things to scroll around the little 7" screen
and a few other buttons which require me to work my way down through a plethora of multi-choice menus to do anything. If one wishes to have something with a decent screen size it costs $2000-$3000.
In contrast OpenCPN
works on all the computers
on the boat including those with decent size screens, allows me to passage
plan on a computer which shows a decent amount of the chart and allows transfer of way points and routes by way of .gpx files.
I have a couple of old Asus EEE netbooks which run OpenCPN
and are pretty low-amp sippers, a couple of hockey puck
USB GPS's and a USB to serial
converter module with a double pole double throw switch to allow change over of NMEA 0183
nav data to the autopilot from either the Asus or my old Magellan
. The world would be a perfect place if I could transfer .gpx files from the large screen notebook to the Magellan
but with a 30 year old piece of technology it is never going to happen.
It would be nice to have the latest big screen chart plotter and if my boat was a status symbol I would have to have one. However since my boat is a tool to get me out into sublime places and collect valuable experiences, from a cost benefit viewpoint I just can't justify the big, amp chewing, large screen chart plotter.
I may eventually weaken and splurge on the chart plotter but would still keep the old Magellans as they are solid and reliable as most old US built electronic instruments are.