GPS recommendation

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GPS recommendation

Postby SCKDAYSAILER » Mon Apr 08, 2019 10:35 am

What model GPS do you use? Why?
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Re: GPS recommendation

Postby GreenLake » Mon Apr 08, 2019 11:58 am

The main ways I use my GPS is to get speed reading and to download a track of where I've been. Don't need electronic charts, because most navigation is by landmarks anyway, and I sail largely on familiar waters. I use a Garmin 72H. It's mounted in a corner at the transom, so I can look back when I want to know how fast I'm going, but otherwise it doesn't distract me. After each trip, I download the track data and use freeware to display.

It's worth looking at tracks like that. If I know I sailed some leg close hauled, I can deduce wind shifts from any bends in the track. Our local lake has some places where such shifts are given by topography and are a fixed feature. Being able to "map" them like this has given me better understanding of local conditions.

When I got my new electric motor, I had lots of existing tracks with the old motor that I could compare to (the new one is a fraction of a knot faster). I also found, using live readings, that sitting at the very front of the cockpit added .3 knots.

Some people would use a smartphone app for what I'm using my GPS for. I prefer a dedicated device. Also one that is cheaper if it goes overboard ...

Finally, I have used a GPS like that with paper charts to navigate in fog once. Not something you can do single-handed, but knowing it can be done. I do have a laminated set of charts for some of my local areas if I need them.

Only times I ever grounded was when someone else was navigating using a chart plotter. :roll:
~ green ~ lake ~ ~
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Re: GPS recommendation

Postby jalmeida51 » Mon Apr 08, 2019 1:30 pm

I used a Garmin hand held model when I sailed a Rhodes19. I did a lot of trailering to Maine and the Florida Keys. I believe it was a model 76? Now I stay in the Punta Gorda, Fl area, I can get by with a compass and chart. I do miss the speed readout but it was hard to use sailing single handed. I just sail local now and really I don't use the compass or chart. If I go aground in Charlotte Harbor, I just push off. I wouldn't buy another GPS unless I was sailing where there was a lot of fog or sailing in a new location. Never used it that much, due to I sail single handed and looking at the screen, Just was too much for me to do. John
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Re: GPS recommendation

Postby AlaskaDS » Fri May 01, 2020 1:35 pm

Let me reenergize this thread.

I have been interested in a dedicated Garmin gps, from their bicycle line or the wrist mounted Foretrex Series. I have been using Garmin inReach, and associated apps. Mounting on the cuddy hatch.
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Re: GPS recommendation

Postby GreenLake » Fri May 01, 2020 8:27 pm

It boils down to price, features and convenience. And what you want a GPS for.

The features are hard to compare without digging into the full specifications.

While on the boat, what do you want displayed?

I mostly tend to use the speed. (I also use the GPS time to synchronize my watch, but more before I go out). Bearing display might be interesting, but I find it too hard to read on mine; it's on the same screen as speed, but instead of a compass arrow, they chose to have a fixed N with a rotating compass rose. Unfortunate choice in my opinion.

I rarely need to know my location whether numerically or on a chart. To use as a chart plotter, I would need something with a color screen visible in daylight when wearing polarizing sunglasses. That gets expensive quickly. As I mentioned, I do carry paper charts, so in a pinch, I could look up my coordinates there. Not as convenient but I've done it a few times and it works.

Now, the one feature that I would look at is how to get the data off the device. Mine (a older model Garmin 72H) has USB and that means I need to wait until I sit at my desk to see my tracks. Not a biggie, as I do like to look at them in some detail to try to figure out what happened on the water.

So, whatever you are looking at should support the features you need. Do you want to use a GPS to plan a trip? Then you'd want to make sure waypoints can be entered easily, etc.

If you can get it to display the most useful things for you when on board, a wrist-mounted one might be convenient. But they are not among the cheapest.

If money is no object, I would look for dedicated sailing oriented ones.
~ green ~ lake ~ ~
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Re: GPS recommendation

Postby tomodda » Sat May 02, 2020 12:59 pm

AlaskaDS:

As usual, I'm going to be contrarian please forgive me... What do you need a GPS for? I'm not saying a GPS isn't helpful or even almost neccesary - for instance If you're actually sailing in Alaska, offshore, sure (but in a Daysailer!?!?). But the question is what are you actually trying to accomplish and what's the best (and cheapest) way to get there?

Like GL, I'm usually sailing on waters that I know like the back of my hand. When I'm on waters where I actually have to do some navigation, here's what I do... and your conditions are of course different, so I offer this just as food for thought:

- Study the chart (https://www.charts.noaa.gov/InteractiveCatalog/nrnc.shtml) and even take along a printout, with the buoys I'm most interested in circled, with notes.
- Remember, our boats have VERY shallow draft, we can get away with a lot of navigational malpractice (as long as not too many rocks around). In other words, missing a channel is no big deal, but learn to read the water and waves.
- My VHF radio (Uniden something or other) has a rudimentary GPS, it does waypoints and headings. Good enough for me, the night before a trip I put in my waypoints, note them on them on my printout chart, and I'm good to go! Obviously this doesn't work if you need to worry about a lot of hazards, but gives me the directions to the buoys I want to find.
-For everything else, BoatingHD app on my phone (android, I'm sure there's a Iphone equivalent). $15 subscription for the year. Both for my planning and occasional glances when I'm on the water. My phone stays in a waterproof holder (looks like an overgrown ziplock baggie) on a lanyward around my neck. Works for me, I can operate it without opening the holder, otherwise I tuck it inside my lifejacket. Close all apps EXCEPT the map, do quick checks, that's all you need. But also great for planning before trip, looking where you've been after.

That's it! I really dont see the need for anything more, I want to be looking out at the water and up at my sail, not down at a GPS unit. Besides, it's just one more thing to break, learn to read a chart and steer by the compass. Anyway, you can't use GPS during a race (illegal). If you are cruising, your'e not moving that fast so you have plenty of time to pull out your phone and check... or just use the chart...or fiddle with your radio for waypoints. Actually, if there is ONE "navigational device" that I could really use, it's binoculars. My old eyes can't spot buoy/marker numbers anymore, not till I'm almost sitting on them. Actually, I can barely tell a nun from a can anymore at anything over a mile. Makes sailing fun... Paradoxically, low-visibility sailing is now almost easier than broad daylight, as I go by the flashes and bells and foghorns. Anyway, this just to say that there's plenty of ways to navigate and you can't go far wrong by remembering "Red, Right, Returning".

Best,

Tom

PS: Thinking about something like this for binoculars: https://www.amazon.com/USCAMEL-Binoculars-Rangefinder-Birdwatching-Boating-Army/dp/B016OK3MK4. Now that my Dad's old Zeiss binoculars are lost to the mists of time :( I miss those, and it's only been 40 years back....
Last edited by tomodda on Sat May 02, 2020 10:17 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: GPS recommendation

Postby GreenLake » Sat May 02, 2020 1:39 pm

tomodda wrote: I want to be looking out at the water and up at my sail, not down at a GPS unit.


There's a real effect, especially for chart plotters, that you sail the videogame and not the reality.

Some people have done actual studies to show that what you can recall from a trip is actually different. And we know racing sailors do better the more their focus is outside the boat (spotting wind, etc.).

So I get Tom's contrarian attitude totally.

I still opted for a dedicated unit so the phone can be packed away from salt and water.
~ green ~ lake ~ ~
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Re: GPS recommendation

Postby tomodda » Sat May 02, 2020 2:36 pm

That and I'm CHEAP. I'm sailing an $800 boat (which I've poured another $3000 into, but that's another story). No reason to dump $400 into a "real" GPS, handheld or mounted. The limits of my sailing are the Chesapeake Bay, where it's impossible to get very lost and there are no currents. If I ever get the boat to Maine (my dream!) then maybe I'll get a chartplotter. Till then, why? But, differ'n strokes for differ'n folks!
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Re: GPS recommendation

Postby GreenLake » Sat May 02, 2020 5:47 pm

I met someone during one of the Texas 200s who sailed a West Wight Potter 15. That's a cute little boat that in a space shorter than the DS manages to sport a tiny little cabin that you can actually sit in. Now, he had tricked that thing out with absolutely every single electronic gizmo you might expect on an oceangoing yacht, short of Radar. The thing was lit up like a Christmas tree, and that was before he turned on the red and green flashing strip lighting that served him as navigation lights.

Some people have different priorities :)

I like having dedicated equipment over having everything in a phone. Not just for GPS but also for camera.

BTW, I think you are spot on with your remarks about a "shallow draft" boat's advantages in navigation. I've sailed some really shallow waters, not only in Texas, and in some other places have navigated in a rock field by having someone sit on the bow and look down. (That day, we needed to really hug the shore to get out of an adverse current, fun trip).
~ green ~ lake ~ ~
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Re: GPS recommendation

Postby tomodda » Sat May 02, 2020 9:42 pm

Ha! Most of my DS navigation consists of "Huh, the centerboard handle just popped up, guess we'd better tack out of here..." I hear you re: not trusting phone. It's nice to have, but I trust my chart printout and my eyes. Of course, I'm only doing coastwise navigation, and inland at that, nothing truly hairy. I've done enough "getting caught offshore in a storm, desperately trying to find the inlet thru the breakers" navigation to last me for this lifetime. No plans to get into similar situations on the DS, staying strictly inland with her!

Well, ok - one day, Maine with my DS, but that's pretty sheltered, the big problem is fog. I'm going there to sail a trad. cat boat for a week in August, coronavirus permitting. Will probably get lots more fog experience, let's see how I feel about chartplotter then!
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Re: GPS recommendation

Postby GreenLake » Sun May 03, 2020 12:21 am

I've actually done a bit of navigation with a pure "location only" GPS and paper charts in a sudden bit of fog, but not on the DS. Worked like a charm. Manual plotting, if you will. Probably not something I'd want to do single handed (or on a boat where both hands are needed to sail it in the conditions, e.g. stronger wind, etc. but in calm waters it was fine).
~ green ~ lake ~ ~
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Re: GPS recommendation

Postby tomodda » Sun May 03, 2020 8:04 am

Usually, not always, fog and strong wind dont mix. Thankfully...

And I just found out that my Maine sailing week is canceled. Bummer, but probably for the best. Next year...
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Re: GPS recommendation

Postby Shagbark » Sun May 17, 2020 2:00 pm

Maybe this is side-tracking the discussion, but what about gps PLBs? They can provide historical tracking of your course as well as being able to send distress messages.
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Re: GPS recommendation

Postby GreenLake » Sun May 17, 2020 2:14 pm

Some technology like that would seem definitely useful for some sailing areas.
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Re: GPS recommendation

Postby AlaskaDS » Sun May 17, 2020 8:08 pm

I am a huge fan of the Garmin InReach products, theIr new versions can interface with their other products (Watches etc) wirelessly. It is not water or crash activated, but the utility of casual communications and weather reports are great.
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