Handheld GPS

pjbharrison 10:20am, 22 August 2009
Any recommendations for a handheld GPS?
guillainevib 9 years ago
I have a few Garmin GPS 12. very simple, robust and quite cheap. Last one I bought was £20. I've been using them for years. They are all second hand of course as they are no longer made. Something I would like to get is a lead to connect it to a cigarette lighter socket.
Works for me.
busy home [deleted] 9 years ago
I have a Garmin ?? and a Magellen?? old,, and a new garman gps 72 ..on the boat,
the old ones would not aquire sats this year ,, .? some one said the old ones dont this year as they ve changed something,?
The new 72 is fine but be sure to get the marine kit, as the batterys dont last long> If anyone wants the old ones shout!
pjbharrison Posted 9 years ago. Edited by pjbharrison (member) 9 years ago
Hi Ron
You should be able to update the firmware for the old units. Garmin have a good website with downloads available for most models.
If you're not au fait with doing this you can send them to me with the sails and I'll update them for you and return them. I did it before with a Palm PDA and it worked fine. Do either of them have cables for connecting to a PC?
busy home [deleted] 9 years ago
I do not want them any more,,, you are welcome to them, yes I think a link is possible ,, One has a powerfull external ariel .. pod thingy
When I go up to boat I will bring them home,,
NormanKlipspringer 9 years ago
I have Gramins 76CX and 72. The 72 is excellent and served me on its own for some time before I bought the 76CX, so inow consigned to backup. I got an excellent deal on the Gramin(which is no longer on offer) for £192 to include the Atlantic small charts and free postage. I have mine wired into the boats power and also onto nmea 0183 to transfer data to my DSC radio and Raymarine tiller pilot (which it can control). (To do this you need a power-data cable, not just a power cable, which is what comes as part on the marine kit - buy the bits you need separately). I also take them home and connect to my computer which also has software and Garmin charts which came as part of the 76CX deal (the transfer cable also cvame as part of the same deal). This allows me to passage plan at home on my compter and transfer waypoints and routes to either or both handhelds. After the passage I can transfer tracks back to the computer for analysis. I find this extremely interesting since you can on the computer analyse the track (e.g. in Excel) to check average speeds over anypart, since all the logged data is present, which you cannot see on the handheld. The only thing that I find lacking in the charts is tidal vectors. Tidal heights and times are available at key ports around the coast, so for passage planning I use other software if I want to get a more accurate CTS.
pjbharrison 9 years ago
Thanks Norman
That's a great help. I was looking at the 72 Marine pack, €150, and the GPSMap 76 with EU Basemap, no charts, €179, yesterday.
Do you know if the basemaps are any use? They were unable to show me in the chandlers.
Andrew Curry 9 years ago
I have Garmin 76 map. The base map shows you an outline of the coast and town names etc. Would it not be cheaper to buy from a UK supplier and take advantage of the exchange rate.
pjbharrison 9 years ago
Hi Andrew
Checked ebay and some UK chandlers. Prices are about the same so no real advantage to buying in Sterling areas. do you know of anyone offering deals on them in NI? I'll be in Newry/Belfast area in the next week or two.
How do you find the 76 for navigating? Do you use on your trips to Scotland?
Andrew Curry 9 years ago
I dont use the Garmin 76 much as i use a Garmin 12 as my main GPS this is kept in the cabin and inked to a GPS repeater in the cockpit. The 76 is a good handheld with lots of features including anchor drag alarm etc. I would use a GPS allot when sailing what i tend to do is plot lots of waypoints then go from point to point. However allot of the time you will not steer the gps course as this does not allow you to make use of the tide. GPS comes into it own when you are caught in fog. Another advantage is the you will have your speed over the ground and your log will give speed in the water and the differance will be the anount of tide you are pushing. No real deals that i know off on up here. Best prices could be ebay or mail order
pjbharrison 9 years ago
Thanks Andrew
Excellent point about tide.
Andrew Curry 9 years ago
I got the power data cable for both my Garmins from this guy. They are about 1/4 of the price of buying the proper Garmin cables.
NormanKlipspringer 9 years ago
The 76 with basemap is not much better than the 72.
I use Neptune software on my home computer to passage plan. This gives a CTS and list of waypoints on the course taking into account the tide. The Garmin can then be used to check the actual position with that projected using the cross track error and adjustments made.
Andrew Curry 9 years ago
I do not use published waypoints instead i us my own. The reason for this is if caught in fog there is a strong chance that in a busy area there could be another boat heading to the same waypoint.
pjbharrison 9 years ago
Thanks for that site Andrew. His prices are very good.You should list it on the "preferred suppliers" discussion page.
Which Neptune software do you use, Norman?
I think I'll have to do a GPS course over the winter!
Daddsie 9 years ago
Whilst taking part in the Cowes St. Malo race this year we heard a securite from a british yacht who was in trouble.

They were down to their hand held GPS as their main one which drove the chart plotter had failed, they desperatly needed assistance to get to Jersey!
Andrew Curry 9 years ago
Amazing what you hear. Another classic is sure i dont need charts as they are in the plotter!!!
NormanKlipspringer 9 years ago
I use Neptune passage planning and neptune tides.

Heard in the harbour last year 'My chart plotter is up-to-date I have only just bought it', which could also have been 'My charts are up-to-date they are dated 2009'. Ignorance is bliss!!
guillainevib Posted 9 years ago. Edited by guillainevib (member) 9 years ago
Daddsie. Amazing what is sometimes considered an emergency.
Andrew Curry 9 years ago
I liked the 1st comment before it was edited!!
rothwell_neil 9 years ago
Just to add my twopence worth. I love GPS's and have had one of these since I first found one in a pawn shop in the US for buttons as they didn't know what it was. I have since used them extensively for sailing, walking, mountain biking and for tracking how far the dog runs when we go out on the fells. Later probably being the most fun.

I have old GPS devices which give position and this is all you really need as I was taught to read maps and charts. I also have gps on my phone with ordinance survey maps for walking and on the chart plotter on my boat. I also have chart and OS maps fro the PC with bluetooth GPS for live positioning.

So what do I use, maps and charts. I always have the GPS as back up for when you are not sure or you have been a bit lax with the navigation. They come into their own when in fog or low cloud and the latest developments are stunning in terms of capability. However no screen on my boat will ever be the size of the chart and will ever be as good for having a quick look at where you are.

Map and chart reading should be taught at school rather than half the rubbish they presently get taught. Off soap box now and feeling much better.
pjbharrison 9 years ago
Well said Neil but us blokes love our gadgets.
I did chart navigation as part of the "International certificate of competency", ICC, a few years ago. Forgot most of it before season began. I'll have to do a refresher. I agree I should only use GPS as a backup/error checker as electronics can fail, batteries die etc. They're still cool though............
rothwell_neil Posted 9 years ago. Edited by rothwell_neil (member) 9 years ago
Don't get me wrong I have more gadgets that I have room for on the boat. My point is that when you look at the entrance to an anchorage a chart or the cruising guide tells you more than the absolute position. I like the islands off western scotland, look at the chart see that there are no rocks and no shallows anywhere on the route and relax. I also think my chart plotter is great, compass, speed through water, course over ground, course through water, compass, tides, sunset and sunrise, harbour info, expected depth, move the cursor to where you want to go and sail on heading. All wonderful but I still like a chart or a map. I shouldn't admit this but the essential piece of kit for sailing the hebridean islands is a road atlas as the scale is great for working out where the islands are and what you are looking at as well as where approximatley you should be going, sometimes hard to see from a large scale chart and islands tend to meld together from a distance.

You wonder where to stop, the NMEA interface means I could plot a course on the PC tranfer to the plotter and then get it to drive the autohelm including waypoints etc. Could in theory plan a route to the Isle of Man and then sleep all the way there just like the big boys in the tankers do!

If you want a simple GPS the Garmin Geko is excellent and water proof and at £60 plus £10 for the PC cable (if you want to connect to a PC for waypoints) is good value. As a back up the new charts for the iPhone are really impressive, if you have the iphone they cost £40 for the whole UK. If you want maps for standard nokia GPS phones then the software from is fantastic but they don't do charts yet.

What a great world we live in with so many gadgets to choose from!
Skykomish E29 Posted 9 years ago. Edited by Skykomish E29 (member) 9 years ago
Well said Neil..... I love manual chart work and just use the GPS to confirm position, however we did get sucked into relying on the Chart plotter on our trip to Harwich and the obvious shortcomings of this became apparent when we blew a fuse and "ping" no plotter, no land marks, and a panic as we scrambled for the paper chart and a hurried guestimate of our position with sandbanks either side of us it was very worrying moment.
Something that was highlighted on our DaySkipper course was the danger of sailing to a GPS waypoint (as opposed to chartplotter), and the way that it will not compensate for drift, so you will continually point at the waypoint, but in the process could be sailing a lot further or even into dangerous waters.
I do love the accuracy of electronics but do worry about becoming dependant on them.
By the way we use a Lowrance IFINDER GO as a backup , it came out tops on a magazine test due to it's long battery life of 48 hours, however I have yet to master all the technical stuff we just use it to get a position fix.
NormanKlipspringer Posted 9 years ago. Edited by NormanKlipspringer (admin) 9 years ago
I totally disagree. Electronics first - charts are for back up. How many of you write letters or use public call boxes - useful when the email or mobile fails but not as the normal way of communication. The possible errors and slowness in using charts makes them very much a second best option. Use your chart plotter/GPS to the full but have a backup if it fails. Using GPS GOTO or route navigation is extremely accurate but occasional checks need to be carried out to see that all is well. Malcolm, using GPS or chartplotter does compensate for drift. You will be following an exact course over the ground reagardless of tide or wind (assuming that the wind makes it is possible to sail the course) so is the best way if in restricted waters or dangerous waters as I have found on numerous occasions. It is not necessarlly the quickest course if you have sea room and can allow for tides.
I find using all the electronics available to me makes me able to enjoy the sailing, which is after all what I bought the boat for. Navigation and pilotage are very necessary but only a means to safely enjoy your boat.
Amrum 9171Y 9 years ago
All great until the US Government funding runs out, and the lights go out in the satellites!
Excellent stream, chaps - I use a Raymarine RC400 plotter run off a jumpstart battery (I've replaced the innards with a deep cycle one, which runs for days as the one in the plotter is pathetic), and I don't need to take charge off the boats batteries. I always have the chart available, and plan the passage on it, but use the plotter most of the time as the primary aid.
I like the car atlas tip for Scotland, Neil!
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