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chart plotter-auto pilot

Old 10-10-2008, 04:21 AM
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Default chart plotter-auto pilot

I'm new to large boating, I recently purchased a 24' 1969 Slick Craft. The boat is in excellent condition and the previous owner included all the electronics fish finders- VHF radio-marine stereo etc. With this boat I would like to get out further on the Great Lakes but I have been told I should install a GPS chart plotter. Any help with this would be nice such as brand, install tips, and should I install an auto pilot with it. I have access to a very reputable used and new marine electronics retailer who has a large selection of the above mentioned items.
Old 10-10-2008, 08:47 AM
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Default Re: chart plotter-auto pilot

Being able to see your position on a map is very intuitive. I would say the Plotter is one of the most basic safety/navigation devices you can have on board. Now, regarding used stuff, some of the older units were hard to use. The older units displays had poor sunlight visibility. Many of the older units were 16 colors. Many of the older units didn't have charts in them. The little battery inside the unit that keeps your location and waypoints when the unit is shut down can go bad. You would loose your waypoints each time the unit was shut off.

That said, I bought a clean Garmin 198c. It's a few years old. It came with the charts. It's a 16 color unit. This one was stored inside a cabin, so, it doesn't have any water damage. It is fairly easy to use. Garmin has a good reputation for repairing older units. For 1/4 the price of new, it's a pretty good unit. It will serve until I find that I use the boat enough to warrant a higher end unit.

When buying a GPS/Plotter, keep in mind the space available on the helm. I've bought small units in the store and watched them grow in size the closer I got to the boat. Take some measurements. Sometimes, combination of plotters and fish finders will save you some space on the helm.

What ever you buy, learn to use it thoroughly, BEFORE you get your self in a jam out on the water. I continue to be amazed by the numbers of people with expensive gear. All they know about it is where the ON/OFF button is. Duh!
Old 10-10-2008, 09:14 AM
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Default Re: chart plotter-auto pilot

While there is nothing quite like the beautiful hi-def color display of your porition on a chart-plotter, since you say you are new to "big boating", I would recommend that you first take a USPS or USCG Aux navigation course. Learn how to navigate with a chart and compass, because just when you may really need to rely on that nifty electronic chart-plotter, it may crap out and leave you with nothing more than the big question of 'where am I".

Plotters are nice, but make sure you know dead reckoning.

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