ChappyMike

GPS Chartplotter Recommendations?

11 posts in this topic

Hi Everyone - 

Getting ready to pick up our new-to-us Signature 280 next week. Our previous 280 had the original factory Raymarine black and white chartplotter installed but only used it for speed/heading. Looking for recommendations on a built in GPS/Chartplotter combo. We're new to boating on the Columbia River and having a chartplotter, especially with estimated depths, would be one of my first upgrades. Not looking to break the bank or need radar, but I want to put something in that's going to work well. Any suggestions on where to start??

Thanks!

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All big names make good nav equipment. If you have no personal preference, consider and evaluate Raymarine and Garmin as these are the most popular and offer a lot of choices.

As far as "estimated depths" are considered ... evaluate what chart choices each brand offers fit you the best. I am not familiar with all the 3rd party charts choices Raymarine offers ... http://www.raymarine.com/marine-charts/ ... but I know the Navionics charts and they are really good. Garmin branded charts are good as well. I have and use two Garmin chartplotters on my boat, and I also use Navionics charts on iPad as the second opinion.

Navionics charts offer additional bathymetry layer called SonarChart that is great for planning and route selection but it is just too much info for actual piloting. Garmin charts offer ActiveCaptain layer with extensive crowd sourced local knowledge info that I use to plan the cruise details, approaches, anchorage, and to evaluate iffy waters.

Either brand offers more than you need for safe navigation.

What you need in addition to the charts is a good sonar/transducer installed on the bottom of your boat and connected to the chartplotter. This will let you know what is the actual depth under your boat, or in front and under your boat if you want to go with the latest and more expensive sonars. Charts are good and necessary to stay in safe water and they tell you the nominal depth but a depth finder tells you how much water you actually have under the keel in that place at that time.

Hope this helps ...

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Lowrance is having a big rebate program going on right now.  Just bout a Elite  Ti 7" with a Navionics card and will get a $100 rebate.  This has side scan transducer and is touch screen.  This was for my fishing boat though, 

Check out the Lowrance website to see which models are eligible for the rebate.  Some will get more of a rebate.

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I installed a Simrad GO7 last spring and love it. Great for fishing and cruising. I use Navionics charts. Very easy to read and a lot of information. I believe they have some rebates available as well. 

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I have a Raymarine es97 (there are even newer units -- Axiom) and because Mercury uses a modified Simrad for VesselView displays, I have a version of the Evo2.

Both are easy to use, although if the Raymarine is Android, the Simrad is iPhone. I feel like Raymarine software encompasses all kinds of navigation since the beginning of time and packages it into electronic form. Simrad no doubt will get you from point A to B nicely, but the experience is more "gadgety" I feel. (This is not a complaint about either.) The Simrad's user interface/graphics are a little more modern than the Raymarine's, although to be fair, I've not really used Raymarine's Axiom series (their latest one, so presumably that is more 21st Century).

Both annoy me equally in that their desktop planning software is only supported on PCs, not Macs.

 

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Tried Lowrence and there customer service was bad. Went right back to Garmin. They have great support and will to help you any way they can.

I must say that the new Raymarine looks very good on paper, but my last Raymarine was over 15 years ago. At that time Garmin was far better.  

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4 minutes ago, Iggy said:

Tried Lowrence and there customer service was bad. Went right back to Garmin. They have great support and will to help you any way they can.

Good point on the level of support ... I have the same good experience with Garmin support which I believe is based in the USA. Even when I made a mistake while ordering the charts, they upgraded me to the next level up (as per my intention) and enabled the download of the correct charts from my account right then, and did not charge me a dime extra. All was done in one short phone call.

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What is nice with the Garmin units is that they have a "Services" icon. So you can locate, fuel, marinas, yacht clubs and repair shops where you are.

One summer we were coming from the Mather's Vineyard when the seas were getting rough. We when though Wood Hole and said that we need to find a place to stay over night. The GPS's had a list of places and what they offered along with there phone number and there hailing channel.  

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I added a Garmin 94sv last year, which comes with fishfinder and transducer -- replaced the small screen garmin original.  I love it, fits my dash, and easy to see and operate.

Big screen is better, easier to see more of the map showing where I'm going, etc.

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Sounds like you dont need radar, so many choices then.

For my 290 on the great lakes, Im trying to decide between Simrad and Raymarine  packages with digital, low power radar (4g/3g vs Quantum) and the rest (sounder, GPS).  

Latest Ray software not fully done yet but units seem great, vs Simrad integration opportunities (Mercury, fwd sounder).  However, Im no expert so this comparison doesnt count.

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1 hour ago, gr8lakes said:

Sounds like you dont need radar, so many choices then.

For my 290 on the great lakes, Im trying to decide between Simrad and Raymarine  packages with digital, low power radar (4g/3g vs Quantum) and the rest (sounder, GPS).  

Latest Ray software not fully done yet but units seem great, vs Simrad integration opportunities (Mercury, fwd sounder).  However, Im no expert so this comparison doesnt count.

If you would like radar, i would go with more power and the bigger array the better.

I went with the Garmin 18 inch dome. When I get close to 2 channel buoys, the radar sees then as one. The 24" model would see them as two separate targets.

Why, less power but the 18" uses a 5 degrees beam were the 24", uses 2.5 degree beam. Needless to say "I wish I bought the 24" one!!" This is typical of most radar units, just not Garmin for what its worth. 

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