songeur2010 7:25am, 10 July 2011
I recently purchased a Lowrance Elite 5M chart plotter depth/fish finder. This I found, (in NZ shops) to be the best value for money and will I'm told also connect to my paddle wheel log sender, although I may not bother with this. It comes with a transducer which is designed to bolt onto the transom but can fitted as a through the hull unit. The map quality is great (uses/comes with Navionics premium card) with all the bells and whistles. Its totally waterproof, washable under the hose which I have done. Cost in NZ was $1300.00 but of course they are cheaper now.

About two months ago I bought a new Nokia E7 a GPS enabled cell phone which is a full touch screen unit. I was searching for software and found that Navonics have a chart plotter down load, which I subsequently downloaded for $8.00 that's eight dollars only!
In some ways it is easier to use than the Lowrance unit although they both use Navionics charts the only real difference is in the fine detail. The app allows for 100 tracks 100 routes and 200 favourite points, it has tide and current predictions along with marina and harbour information. As far as a handheld GSP unit goes this is hard to beat considering you can actually make phones calls as well.
This software is available for iphone, ipad, ipod touch, android and Nokia smart phones.

For route planning I have downloaded opencpn opencpn.org this is a full function laptop or pc based chart plotter, just needs a GPS input to get the position following working, a USB GPS dongle will do the trick. This a free download and well worth the trouble of installing the charts for your area. I have every NZ marine chart on my version, not that they all get used but it's quite cool.

For weather on the pc or lap top I use zygrib www.zygrib.org this software downloads the current weather information and displays it for the area you have selected, it has predictions up to 7 days which you can animate or just scroll through. Used in conjunction with NZ marine forecasts I get a good picture, I'm sure the same would be the case in the UK or elsewhere. There doesn't appear to be a mobile version at the moment.

Hope this is useful to those looking for inexpensive but good nav solutions.
Daddsie 7 years ago
I agree, this is an anomoly that should be kept quiet! A friend has charts for the whole Western Channel on his i phone for £15, why pay hundreds for chart plotters?
jendave1 7 years ago
I tend to use paper charts which is enjoyable though takes time, and have a hand-held GPS which is a useful back-up and comes into its own when you lose visibility (still need the charts though for it to be of use).
I think part of the fun for me is to escape technology for a while, a chartplotter is not even on the wish-list and definitely not going to put a PC aboard or I'd be working instead of relaxing...
A phone thingy could be a useful compromise potentially.
I'm not really part of the mobile phone revolution, have one for calls only. One problem we have round here is the signal; if the mobile rings I have to run to the garage to get a signal.
How useful would a mobile phone (i-phone or whatever) be when large areas have no signal? Would it still be of use or not? Not rhetorical questions, would like to know if it would be of use.
songeur2010 7 years ago
I know what you mean with paper charts, I have them all printed out and kept in a clear light folders some A4 and some A3, if the batteries go flat or the satellites go offline the old fashioned method will still works. To be fair they are easier to read as well.
However as an example. About three months ago my brother purchased a Davidson 40, a very nice 80s ex race boat. It was based in Picton in the South Island so we went to bring it back up to Auckland over Easter but that's another story. We did end up in Tory channel in the Marlborough Sounds in pitch black. There are a lot of beacons as this is the main ferry route but we wanted to anchor in one of the bays. We used the chart plotter to find our way, it would have been perilous without. The next evening we were 30 miles off the East coast of the North Island in a gale with no sight of land, to know where we were was of great comfort.
Of course its possible to avoid these situations most of the time but as everyone knows the sea can be very unpredictable at times and you can never have too much safety kit.
Because the phone type units (Nokia definitely) use proper GPS to navigate they don't need a phone signal to navigate, I was able to verify this for sure while on our trip north.
Personally I like technology when its useful but would still like to be able to use a sextant etc.
jendave1 7 years ago
Interesting, I would have got position from the GPS and plotted onto the paper chart and navigated that way.
I'm still learning with the sextant, we're away next week and I'm going to get some practise in; probably not that practical or useful for coast-hopping but a skill that it would be nice to have.
If we're anchored within earshot of another boat and I'm trying the sextant, I'll call out to Jenny (in my best Canadian accent) 'I think we're somewhere near Scotland, eh'.
songeur2010 7 years ago
If your going to use a GPS for positioning its only a small step to have a GPS capable of showing the position on a map, not sure if takes the fun out of it. I can tell you that when your in 30 plus knots in a South Pacific ocean swell with a decent chop on top the last thing you need to do is put your head down for the length of time it would take to plot your position on a map.
There are those who are hard enough to do it but I'm not.
My parents intended to sail around the world back in the late seventies, Mum had to do the nav as she was more mathematically inclined than my Dad, she was sick every day for the 10 day sail to Fiji and every leg from there to New Guinea, at which point she had enough. They sold the boat and flew on to England, bought a Citroen and drove home to NZ including across Australia.
I think I inherited her gut hence my keenness for simplicity.
rothwell_neil 7 years ago
In answer to the question on the phone signal, not an issue as it uses an internal GPS and not the phone network.
Raydock 7 years ago
Songeur2010, I loved that little story.
Reminds me of one I heard of a Dr that was returning home to UK after having worked many years abroad. The wife and two daughters were so sick, he had to put saline IV line up for one of his daughters and divert.
His wife and kids returned by plane while he brought the boat back.
Apparently without the IV drip he would have lost his daughter.

Anyone like a sickbag?
jendave1 7 years ago
Just got back from 12 days cruising up the West coast, calling in at 7 destinations we've never been to before and through some very strong tidal stream conditions. Visibility was pretty good throughout really (apart from 2 days spent anchored into a force 8); GPS stayed in its box the whole time.
We used admiralty 'small craft portfolio' charts, tidal stream atlas, last years almanac & sailing directions where we had them. I also printed out Dover tide times and have them laminated on the boat. Weather reports over VHF and we have a longwave transistor radio and got the shipping forecast when awake early / late enough!
Steered by compass and piloted by eye. Each evening we'd decide where we were headed the next day and I'd work out the passage plan with 'course to steer' and critical times for tide windows, and alternative destinations should things change (too late for tide gate or poor visibility, deteriorating weather etc).
It all worked out very well and you can see we're feeling a bit proud of ourselves now...
If we had lost visibility, would have altered to a less challenging destination and anchored, or else stayed out in clear water away from the rocks.
I'll keep the GPS for poor visibility where it is a valuable asset, but no plans for any chart plotter or phone application - which would suck all the fun out for me and reduce the sense of achievement.
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