Getting lost at sea, or running aground, is no joke; which is why professional seaman invest so much energy in learning how to navigate using not only sophisticated navigation technology, but nautical charts, compasses and even navigation by the sun and stars (for when technology fails). Many recreational sailors, though, lack this knowledge – for them, investing in a GPS system is essential. With so many different models on the market, how do you choose which boat GPS is right for you? Let’s take a look…
The type of GPS required will depend on whether you’re boating in deep-sea waters, sailing the coastline, or fishing inland. If you’re planning a sea expedition, a basic GPS system is not suitable. Marine navigation requires a water-based GPS that allows for accurate navigation in large bodies of water, and with more capabilities. Marine GPS systems lock onto satellites to calculate latitudinal and longitudinal position, as well as speeds, helping boats and ships to safely navigate oceans, or even large lakes and dams – mapping out underwater terrain and new destinations. GPS satellites orbit the earth and constantly transmit information about their position and the current time – the more satellites the GPS uses, the more accurate the unit will be in determining a vessel’s location. For marine navigation, look for a GPS that uses the most satellites, no matter what the weather conditions. If you’re sticking to small bodies of water, a GPS that uses a minimum of three satellites will suffice.
Whether you own a bass boat, deep sea cat, or rubber duck, you’ll want a marine GPS that’s waterproof rather than water-resistant, in case you encounter rough conditions. Also, ensure it’s rugged enough to withstand exposure to the elements.
As technology evolves, GPS units are becoming more sophisticated and packed with features that will impress the most avid mariner. However, for fishing, you won’t need an extremely complex system. Take for instance the Garmin Striker 7SV, with easy-to-use built-in fish finder. This unit allows for users to mark and return to fishing hot spots, ramps and docks, has a built-in flasher, and displays speed. A note of caution: While GPS systems make finding fish easy, sports fisherman should keep in mind regulations relating to species and locations in order to fish responsibly.
For sailors and powerboat users, a unit such as the Garmin GPSMAP 7410 is ideal. Special sailing features include ley lines, enhanced wind rose, true wind data fields, heading and course-over-ground lines, as well as tide, current, and time slider. The gauge display allows for important information at a glance and there’s also an exciting FUSION-Link Entertainment System and built in WI-FI.
When navigating the waters, the larger the screen the better. An anti-glare colour screen of approximately eight to ten inches in size, with a high resolution, will make for easier reading of maps and coordinates, and eliminates the need for you to constantly zoom in.
GPS units are either fix-mounted, portable, or handheld. Handheld and portable GPS units like the Garmin echoMAP 52dv are economical and compact – ideal for recreational boaters. These units operate off batteries and, although their screens are smaller, the unit can be quickly mounted or removed from the boat. Fixed-mount units are permanent, with larger touchscreens and more features. Usually found in commercial shipping or sailing vessels, this type is popular with those who spend many hours in their boats. The fixed-mount units don’t require batteries but connect to the boat’s power supply.
No matter what boating adventure you’re into, Natal Power Boats has a wide range of GPS devices to suit your needs and keep your navigations safe. Contact us today or pop in to our showroom to see what GPS we’ve got for you!