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OK Boaters, I need advice on a Chart Plotter


Midrsv
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I'm getting back into boating. Picking up a 23' Sea Ray Select this week for use in Florida. Navigating the intra-coastal waterways will be new to me. So, I'm going to need a chart plotter. Does anyone have a recommendation for a reasonably priced unit? I won't fishing so it doesn't need to find any fish. I've been out of boating for 13 years so I have to go out and buy all new gear.

 

Dennis

Edited by Midrsv
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I only have a Lowrance depth finder/fish finder on my little 18 footer Boston Whaler. And I do use my iphone google maps sometimes to find my way back to a particular spot. We used a different ramp to launch the boat last year and if it wasn't for google maps we would have had a hard time finding the ramp again the way it was located off the ICW.

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A word of caution, maps are not the same as charts. There is a very important difference, charts display the depth and underwater, as in unseen, hazards not to mention location of navigational aids such as buoys. All very necessary for the long term health of you and your vessel.

 

When I was fishing the west coast of BC, Alaska, Washington and Oregon I used an system called NavTrek which worked very well but required a full sized computer or laptop. A course could be plotted and interfaced with the autopilot to steer you on a round trip pre-planned voyage. That is ancient history in a technological sense. Today there are much smaller and probably more sophisticated units available. Just google navigation plotter for a list of the many options available. Find one that looks about right then get some reviews on the ones that suit you.

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I had a Lowrance 700 something or another Tri-Band. It had built in maps for most of the waterways that I boated including Lake Erie and Cumberland Lake. You could get other map programs to put in it. It showed a lot of detail including know sandbars and other underwater hazards. I was pretty pleased with it. I think it was around $650.00 or so.

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Thanks for the input. My head is spinning today. I've been reading up on all types of plotters and it seems the sky is the limit. I visited Cabella's today to get a hands on look at some units. The Garmin Echo 44C looked interesting to me. More research to do.

 

Dennis

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A word of caution, maps are not the same as charts. There is a very important difference, charts display the depth and underwater, as in unseen, hazards not to mention location of navigational aids such as buoys. All very necessary for the long term health of you and your vessel.

 

When I was fishing the west coast of BC, Alaska, Washington and Oregon I used an system called NavTrek which worked very well but required a full sized computer or laptop. A course could be plotted .

 

The ICW in Florida ain't the coast of south east Alaska to Oregon, the San Juans, or Maine for that matter. A google map would be plenty, and yes you can set destinations and routes with maps... MOF the Satellite image beats the 'H' out of a copied NOAA chart. We use google extensively in the CA Delta, and the ICW doesn't compare. I know a full blown chart plotter is hard to beat, but no sense in wasting :mo money: BTW I bet at the local chandlery there are a few chart books with all kinds of info in them. And... I just ran across this NOAA website http://www.charts.noaa.gov/OnLineViewer/GulfCoastViewerTable.shtml which will give the navigator lots of info anywhere in the US.... :thumbsup2:

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I think the Indian River near my house in FL could be quite treacherous. The depth, according to the charts only runs 2 to 7 feet or so with a narrow navigable channel. I have already downloaded the navionics app and charts and it can be a backup. I still want a good hard wired plotter. My boat dealer has a Hummingbird Helix 5 on clearance for $300. Anyone know anything about them?

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I think the Indian River near my house in FL could be quite treacherous. The depth, according to the charts only runs 2 to 7 feet or so with a narrow navigable channel. I have already downloaded the navionics app and charts and it can be a backup. I still want a good hard wired plotter. My boat dealer has a Hummingbird Helix 5 on clearance for $300. Anyone know anything about them?

 

I thought you weren't interested in a fish finder, but if all your interested in is depth the Helix 5 will do. Generally chart plotters are a lot more expensive than fish finders. Here's a link to Dick's Sporting Goods. They have one for $199.00.

 

https://www.dickssportinggoods.com/p/humminbird-helix-5-g2-sonar-fish-finder-16hmbuhlx5snrg2xxfel/16hmbuhlx5snrg2xxfel?camp=CSE:DSG_pg29570_ecom_PLA_452&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI3ZuVv-vw1QIVR7XACh1B9wHWEAQYAyABEgK6tvD_BwE

 

 

Also found a few others in the $250 range. BTW I owned a Sea Ray SR240 that I don't think the draft drew 2 feet of water.... Be thankful you don't have a sailboat.. :-) And most restricted channels are well marked.

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I'm with Don on this. Get a dedicated chart plotter. They usually all can be used with depth sounder on a signal buss or even built-in. Get one that uses the free charts from NOAA in addition to their own. That way, they are easily downloaded and you can update when the charts are updated...for free. That's the optimum. At the very least, download a nav program for your phone that uses the same type charts. Don't use anything land based. it just doesn't cut it for sandbars and water traffic stuff...

 

www.nauticalcharts.noaa.gov

 

Plus always download the latest notice to mariners for your area...as the situations change rapidly in the south...especially around the ICW and the river/ocean inlets where currents change markers/buoys and put sandbars in the weirdest places...just to catch the unwary!

 

I was behind the wheel of a friend's 33 foot Hunter Cherobini sailboat...on the ICW... heading out from Clearwater Beach. Following the chart nicely when I saw one of the buoys was in a weird place. Thankfully, I asked my buddy if this was correct...he almost had a fit. Guess it was the 3rd time in the past 2 weeks the buoy had moved. If I had moved over, we would have run aground!

 

The last thing I would recommend is download a printable explanation of the buoy system in the ICW. If you aren't used to it, it can get confusing as you transition from ocean to ICW rules. (Colregs demarcation)

 

Otherwise, it's fun. Just watch out for the idiots on their $200K yachts going max speed in a slowdown zone....serious stupidity abounds at times!!

Edited by videoarizona
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I thought you weren't interested in a fish finder, but if all your interested in is depth the Helix 5 will do. Generally chart plotters are a lot more expensive than fish finders. Here's a link to Dick's Sporting Goods. They have one for $199.00.

 

https://www.dickssportinggoods.com/p/humminbird-helix-5-g2-sonar-fish-finder-16hmbuhlx5snrg2xxfel/16hmbuhlx5snrg2xxfel?camp=CSE:DSG_pg29570_ecom_PLA_452&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI3ZuVv-vw1QIVR7XACh1B9wHWEAQYAyABEgK6tvD_BwE

 

 

Also found a few others in the $250 range. BTW I owned a Sea Ray SR240 that I don't think the draft drew 2 feet of water.... Be thankful you don't have a sailboat.. :-) And most restricted channels are well marked.

 

Condor, I really don't need a fish finder. It was just that the chart plotters I was leaning toward also had sonar capabilities. I've lost interest in the Hummingbird since it doesn't include detail charts as standard.

 

Dennis

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I'm with Don on this. Get a dedicated chart plotter. They usually all can be used with depth sounder on a signal buss or even built-in. Get one that uses the free charts from NOAA in addition to their own. That way, they are easily downloaded and you can update when the charts are updated...for free. That's the optimum. At the very least, download a nav program for your phone that uses the same type charts. Don't use anything land based. it just doesn't cut it for sandbars and water traffic stuff...

 

www.nauticalcharts.noaa.gov

 

 

Thanks VideoAZ, I didn't realize that the charts were free electronically. Do you know which chart plotters can use the enc files?

 

Dennis

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Thanks VideoAZ, I didn't realize that the charts were free electronically. Do you know which chart plotters can use the enc files?

 

Dennis

 

No I don't, Dennis. Best thing for you is to find a unit that fits your needs and check to see if it takes "enc"type charts. That is the most common type that I've used. I know most of the downloadable software uses enc charts.

 

But it may be a not point if you find a unit you really like and their own charts are reasonably priced. That would be the best way to go.

Edited by videoarizona
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