While purists still love the traditional paper chart, with the advent of the marine GPS, pinpointing your position or plotting a course has never been easier, whether you're sailing around a large lake, following the coast to a deserted cove, or navigating the sea. . ocean. Modern marine GPS receivers offer a number of other advantages as well. Sonar can map the sea below you. Locating fish is another popular option. And radar can be an excellent security feature.
Several companies dominate the market with a wide range of models. Differences in technology and jargon (often having different names for what is essentially the same thing) can make it difficult to choose the right model, especially if you are buying your first marine GPS.
We at BestReviews analyze the latest developments and evaluate performance at different price points. Our recommendations show what's available for boat owners with different needs and budgets. In the following guide to buying a marine GPS, we focus on the details you need to consider when making your decision.
Marine GPS usually comes with a bracket for permanent mounting. If you need to move it from one boat to another, suction cup mounts are available.
When it comes to choosing the right marine GPS, we'll look at five main areas: type, accuracy, charts or maps, displays, and other options.
A type of marine GPS
While you have two main options - handheld or mounted - wrist-worn wearable marine GPS devices have also started to appear.
Manual:Waterportable gpsdevices were an extension of the VHF radio, but now many dedicated units are available. Its great advantage is its portability, which is very useful if you need to use it on more than one vessel. They are always waterproof, although the level varies (checkIPX rating) and will float (at least for a while) if dropped in water. The rubber casing protects many of them from physical damage. A portable GPS can also be very affordable. The main downside is the screen size and you won't be able to add a sonar or fish finder. Portable units are powered by (usually rechargeable) batteries. You'll want to check the runtime, but it's still a good idea to bring spare batteries.
Montirano:This type of marine GPS almost always comes with a mounting bracket, although suction cup mounts are an alternative. The main advantages here are the larger screen size so details are clear and the ability to add sonars for general sonar and fish finding. Fixed units are usually connected to your boat's battery.
Clothing:We currently see wearables as an interesting addition to one of the devices listed above, but they don't offer enough features or clarity to adequately replace them.
Perhaps the most important aspect of GPS is knowing where you are at any given time, so position accuracy will be high on the must-have list.
Data:Manufacturers often say that their device collects data from 12 or 24 satellites, so you'd think the latter would be better when, in fact, there's not much difference. Your actual position is almost always triangulated using three satellites, and they will locate your craft within about 15 feet, which is close enough for most people!
Supplements:Update frequency is a feature that manufacturers focus on, although five or ten times per second is probably only for naval vessels.
cards or tickets
When marine GPS became available, many devices came without charts - each was an add-on. Now you usually get preloaded maps, often of waterways and coastal areas. You can add more by shopping atsd cards. It's a topic every boat owner should research. The help we can offer here is limited as it depends on where you want to browse. However, it's worth looking at devices that offer more flexibility when it comes to accepting browsing data.
Level of detail:Do you need high-level mapping? If you're just wandering around local ports (freshwater or offshore lakes), your latitude, longitude, and compass may suffice, especially if you're an experienced sailor and know the waters well. On the other hand, more advanced maps can show underwater topography and providetemposamples. They offer significant advantages for first-time boat owners and sailors on long voyages.
There really are no shortcuts to this part of your decision making. Think about what you need on a regular basis and what you can add later. Flexibility and extensibility come into the equation. With digital GPS maps on SD cards priced at $100 or more, this can affect the price significantly.
3D:Some advanced marine GPS charts offer 3D views, above and below water. They can also automate guidance, following a defined path depending on parameters such as spacing/depth.
Supplements:There's also the question of how easy it is to update map data - coastlines in particular can undergo dramatic man-made changes. Are upgrades included in the purchase price? Is there a regular subscription? Do you need to buy new cards?
The most basic marine GPS - the information that is part of the VHF transmitter - only provides bitmap images. The longitude, latitude, and compass data it provides will likely be more useful than the image.
Cor:Black and white screens, once a cheap alternative, are rarely used today. Although they are cheaper, the lack of navigational colors such as green and red buoys limits their usefulness. Modern digital displays can offer high resolution similar to your phone,board, or laptop, in most cases provides sharp details, in full color.
Size:Screen size also has an impact, and if you squint at your phone, you'll probably want to choose a physically larger marine GPS. Sizes range from 2 to 4 inches on laptops and 5 inches on entry-level stationary models up to 16 inches.
Contact:The screen may or may not be a touch screen.
Operating modes:If you're in areas where the sun shines brightly or you tend to navigate at night, it's worth considering Sunlight and Night modes, or reducingshinewhich makes all digital displays difficult to read in daylight or adds extra backlight after dark.
Sonar:Many marine GPS are sold primarily asfish finder, but you need sonar to make that work. The data is provided by a probe, often a skimmer probe located just below the surface of the water. These may or may not be included in the price of your GPS.
VHS:A VHS transmitter is another possible accessory. Among other things, this allows combining the automatic identification system (AIS) and sending GPS data in caseemergency. There are many combinations and resources available, so this requires further research.
Wi-fi:WiFi compatibility can allow you to view the same data from your marine GPS on your handheld device and even control some aspects remotely.
MOB:The Man Overboard (MOB) feature allows you to instantly tag your GPS position, which you can share with rescue services.
Autopilot:In some cases it is possible to link the marine GPS to the ship's autopilot.
Radar:Radar may also be offered with some marine GPS systems.
Marine GPS Pricing
Cheap:The cheapest marine GPS are handheld units that start at $200. These will get you a VHF radio with added GPS or a clearer dedicated GPS albeit with a rather small screen.
Average range:Fixed marine GPS devices start at about $450 for a 5-inch screen and go up to about $600 for a 7-inch screen. There are many options in this price range. Compatible converters (if available) will add $100 or more.
Caro:Screen size is still the main difference in the more expensive units, although the larger feature set is also a factor. Nine-inch models will likely cost $1,000 or more. Some at this price include a probe, but many don't. Both 12-inch and 16-inch models are available, with the latter exceeding $4,000.
If you're considering a portable GPS, check the IPX rating. This is an independent international standard for tightness. IPX7, for example, means the device will withstand submersion in 3.3 feet of water for 30 minutes. All details can be found online.
Q. What is the difference between a chartplotter and a GPS?
A.Strictly speaking, the device you have on your boat (or anothervehicle) is a combination of both. A GPS (Global Positioning System) receiver uses orbiting satellites to determine where you are, but that's about it. The cartographer takes this data and places it on a digital map (or nautical chart). GPS is a term we all use on a daily basis, although you might also think of them as GPS plotters.
Q. Can I use an app on my phone instead of a dedicated marine GPS?
A.You can. Whether this is desirable or even practical is a matter of personal choice (and great debate). Search and rescue and law enforcement agencies use GPS units because they are more accurate and reliable. There's also the question of how your phone will perform in a saltwater environment (or even underwater). On the other hand, digital map companies also make apps, so it's worth considering if budget is a factor.
Q. What is CHIRP?
A.High intensity compressed radar pulse is a type of sonar originally developed by the US military in the 1950's but is now often used in marine GPS with fish locating options. Whereas standard sonar uses a single frequency (actually creating a 2D image), CHIRP sends out different frequencies, returning much more detail. Not only does it clarify what the image is, but it can also help distinguish species.riba.