R 22

Rhodes 22


Which GPS?

We have a Lowrance LMS-160. Which has GPS/Sonar/mapping capabilities. We haven't used the sonar yet, but the mapping and gps work great! It's a b/w picture; to pay so much extra for color it just wouldnt be worth it for our usage. It sells in the Boat/US and Defender Catalogue for about 699. I think we paid 500 from a local dealer. We tried a handheld hooked up to a laptop, its a lot to carry on such a little boat for short trips. This is just one idea, but for us it works great.

From: William Barry
26 Nov 2000

  • 1) Garin etrek, simple cheap unit, about 114$, only lat/lon with need charts to work with it
  • 2)Magellan GPS 320, Handheld GPS with Nautical Nav-aid database, 169$
  • 3) Garmin GPS 48, Handheld GPS with Marine Buoy Database, $190, nice unit, mostly like best bet with out maping, but marine only
  • 4) Magellan Map 330, Mapping GPS - Rugged all purpose, will work in a car, hightway base map, you will have to call Megellan if it has a Marine Buoy Database, could not tell from the webpages(it's new), 249$, Can upload higway database for 49$more, looks nice
  • 5) Magellan Map 410, Magellan Map 410, Mapping GPS - Marine use with C-Map option 294$, for 99$ more you get one chart, but you pay deally for those charts, real mapper for a boat, plus you can use it in a car, for car use and more basic unit for the boat - the 330 might be a better deal.

26 Nov 2000

I have a Garmin 48-II that I am quite happy with. Non-mapping. Waterproof to some degree (although I would not try it in a bucket of water). Relatively easy to use. Consistently highly rated by Practical Sailor for about the last 3 or 4 years. Go through about three or four sets of AA batteries in the 6.5 month Michigan sailing season. Costs about $200 on sail. Can connect with an external antenna and other devices (although I have not felt a need). I use it primarily for speed checks and to keep track of where I am at night. Although it is primarily for marine use, I use it to keep track of the road when I am traveling out of state. Has gotten me off the wrong road once or twice.

Jeff Whitfield
s/v Merry Lynn
27 Nov 2000

We have the Magellan 410 recommended by Alex last year. It's worked pretty well for us for the sailing we do on Lake Michigan. Don't know enough about the GPS market to give you comparisons. Do know that Dorene and I still haven't spent the time to really read through the manuel to figure out all the functions!

Glen and Dorene
27 Nov 2000

I have the least expensive Magellen available (I think they are selling for under $90 now) and have been totally delighted with it. It has many fewer features than some of the others, but it is just as accurate. I know how to use all the features it has, and do so regularly. There is no missing feature I wish it had. Even with this reduced instruction set, it still takes lots of time and effort to figure out how to use it all.

For $10 or so I got an external power line which both allows a single set of batteries to last for multiple seasons, and tethers the unit to the boat.

I am truly surprised how much I use the GPS. It is the first thing on when I come aboard, and the last thing off. Probably the single most useful feature is that it allows me to accurately determine how long it will take me to get back to my mooring from wherever I happen to be. This has dramatically reduced the number of big fights in our household.

Bill Effros
28 Nov 2000

I have a magellan 315 and I think it is great! about $150, seems very accurate, and easy to use!

28 Nov 2000

I have the Magellan 410 handheld chart type unit. It is great, but batteries (4 AA) only lasst 12 hours or less. I use the power plug/computer interface cable that plugs into cigarette lighter power. The usual sources do not carry that model now, but have the 330M which looks to have the same capabilities. I can download charts from a cd that gives very high detail, but each chart requires an unlock code and you pay for that. Each chart. just like paper.

You might be able to get away witout a download, and the first (or your home) location is usually free. AFter that, you pay. If you sail in the same area all the time, you're all set. Not sure about other systems, but Magellan works that way. It's a good system with a good clear display.

26 Mar 2001

I got the basic eTrex unit for $99 and am impressed with its performance. Seems like good design. It goes in the pocket of my PFD along with a basic waterproof VHF.

For nav gear, I am looking for something that will accept downloaded nav aid info - as it changes over the years. Looks as if the Vista will do this (with the CD) for less than $500.

But it lacks an audible alarm for anchoring - i.e. something that will wake me up if I start dragging my anchor. It may be that I don't need this feature, as sleeping under the conditions that would cause me to drag anchor would generally be pretty exciting, but I can see a situation where a changing tide could have the rode fouling the anchor, and ...

Folks, just how important is an anchor alarm in the real world of coastal cruising?

Robert Skinner, Rockville, Maryland
27 Mar 2001

During our "Live Aboard Cruising" class a few years ago, we anchored in protected waters near at the St Petersburg pier. Not sure what it's called, but there is a breakwater to protect it and we set the hook on a Beneateau 41 that was the classroom.

We had no problem, but a boat upwind of us started dragging his hook about 2AM and we had to pull anchor and move before he collided with us. We just could not get the guys attention, despite about 4 other boats ringing bells and calling over to the boat. Finally, after we had moved and reset our anchor, he emerged from his cabin and took necessary action. He had a seasoned boat, and looked to be competent on deck performing his duties while a hostile audience watched. I think he was experienced, but his anchor just let loose when the winds veered and grew stronger.

Long answer to your question! You be the judge. BTW, my Magellan has an anchor alarm as well as arrival alarm, cross track error, proximity and GPS signal alarms. It can tell you if you are dragging the anchor, as well as indicationg you have arrived at waypoint destination or within a range or proximity of a waypoint. It's full featured, cost $346 from Defender last year and downloads cmap chart info.

The Garmin "vista" unit seems to be designed and suited for land use. The Mapsource CD does not list aids to navigation as part of its's database. The reason for having a chartploting GPS for marine use would be to identify the markers and lights associated with aids to navigation and shown on paper charts. Unless they have a Mapsource CD that specifically lists marine charts, this unit would not be worthwhile except on land.


I did some research for myself last night.

See what you think of the Etrex Marine, built for WM. I couldn't find it on the garmin site, but it's in the new WM catalog.

There's also a Magellan handheld mapping GPS - 3005 or something like that - for not an outrageous some of money, and the Garmin 48. Thinking about one of the three, but not sure which yet.

I'm not real interested in using it on land, so I like the Navaids on these 3, and especially the mapping on the Magellan.

Bill Berner
27 Mar 2001

The Magellan 330M seems to be a winner. Better than my 410. It floats. Be aware that the batteries don't last very long and you should get the optional cigarette lighter cable or combo power/comm cable. The Magellan site says they are shipping with the MapSend CD for land. Most important for your use is the built in nav aids database. And it has the alarms for anchor, etc.

27 Mar 2001

Another decision point is whether a built-in nav aid database has long-term utility. Certainly, shorelines tend to remain constant, and major lighthouses and ranges are pretty well fixed, but I've noticed that buoys are moved as channels silt up and others are dredged out.

I have seen packages (that run on laptops and hook up to GPS units) which are very detailed, are updated monthly by subscription, and are way over the top for the casual sailor. We are not a driving tankers, so I really doubt that these would have practical application for coastal cruising.

Again, how important is this? In practice, are the Magellan's built-in nav aids numerous and reliable enough so that we need not worry about yearly upgrades from NOAA, etc.?

How would we check this out without buying one? Is there any consensus about "good enough"? Any way to measure (# navaids, etc.) that makes sense?

Robert Skinner, Rockville, Maryland

Does anyone know anyting about the new Lowrance model - (I can't remember the name) but its about $230, has more pixels than the Garmin 48, has rudimentary mapping and downloads from CD's.

Dave Walker
27 Mar 2001

Maptech is supposed to be releasing regional "chartpak" CD's that correspond with their reduced size paper chartpak books for about $100 each. It comes with software that allows you to plot trips on your PC and print the charts out your self or use them with navigation software and a gps receiver. Also NOAA is now shifting to a digital chart database which is updated on an ongoing basis to match the current notices to mariners. They are now offering print on demand charts updated to the current week through the usual chart dealers. You order your chart and it is printed and fedexed to you the next day. Price is a couple of dollars more than the standard release printed charts.

27 Mar 2001

I use a Garmin GPS 48, which has a built-in navaid database that can be updated via download from Garmin's website. This is a full-featured unit except that it does not have mapping. It does show your position relative to waypoints and navaids in the area, just not all the map details. It has arrival alarm, anchor alarm, GPS signal loss alarm, etc.

Its operating system can also be updated via download, and waypoints can be uploaded from the unit and downloaded to it. I use OziExplorer software on my computer (www.oziexplorer.com) and free low resolution NOAA charts from the NOS Mapfinder website (http://mapfinder.nos.noaa.gov/). OziExplorer will work with any chart or map you can download or scan and that you can identify at least 3 or so points that you know the coordinates for. You load the chart in, click on the intersections of a few lat/lon lines and enter the coordinates to calibrate the chart. Then you can click around adding and naming waypoints, linking them into routes, saving them, printing them, etc., and downloading them to the GPS. You can also upload waypoints, tracks and routes from the GPS and display them on the chart.

The software costs about $65 or so, and the NOS charts are free. There are also free sources of pretty much all USGS Topographical maps too. So if you like hiking as well as sailing this can be a good system to use. Biggest advantage is free charts and maps.

28 Mar 2001

Ps. If you plan to use a laptop on the boat, the Ozi software will work as a 'moving map' also, and continuously track your position along the chart as you move. I don't do this, but the software has this capability

A buddy of mine gave me, admittedly bootleg, a copy of the Nobeltec Visual series, as well as a load of Maptec charts.

The software also functions as a moving map when plugged to a GPS.

Route planning and creating way points and other marks is easy. It also includes tides and currents.

Killer software, though it sometimes crashes when closing. Not the computer, just the program itself.

I'm a little leery about taking the laptop on board, however.

I'm taking a close look at the Garmin 48 and Magellan 330M, The Magellan is similar, but also maps and includes a PC cable. Price is about 250.

Bill Berner

West Marine has gotten Garmin to create an Etrx "Mariner".

It's being sold only by WM, and includes Navaids.

Not included on the Garmin site, but in the 2001 West Marine Catalog. Noton the WM site either.

Bill Berner
28 Mar 2001

The Lowrance unit I was refering to is the iFinder. It has a 19.2k pixel mapping screen and accepts Mapcreate software as well as Navionics software. BoatUS sells it for $249.99. Details at


Dave Walker
28 Mar 2001

Garmin 12. Inexpensive and has all the basics.

Paul in Atlanta
28 Mar 2001

Can't wait till the discussion on Rastor VS Vector charting comes up. BTW, one of the Garmin units takes small cartriges that I think are vector charts. The Nobletec series has gotten some good comments on another list I monitor.

I have a Compaq 1640 that I will not hesitate to take aboard. It's an AMD 250 which works just fine and was state of the art when I bought it. But i'ts almost obsolete at this point. Still meets and exceeds the requirements of all the software. If it breaks down, it needed replacement anyway.

28 Mar 2001

I'm very happy with a Magellan Color Trak. It is simple enough, and has even more features than I reasonably can use. Combined with a Chart Kit it handles all my navigational needs. It is especially useful for providing Speed over ground and as a backup compass. I can read it at night even when the main compass's light fails.

I still use a calculator and do the True Virgins problems every hour on a trip. I prefer real charts to something dependent on the whims of the battery gods and the electronic chip gods. I'm thinking of getting a second GPS as a redundancy feature, but that's a ways off yet.

28 Mar 2001

I'm heading in the direction of bringing a laptop on board. You can get a new laptop for under $500 if you look around. While not a state of the art machine, its a lot more powerful than dedicated chartplotters etc. You can attach GPS, speed through water, wind, and any other sensor you can find at a fraction of the price of a dedicated unit. There is software that will display all the sensor information on charts and as digital meters. The laptop will run an autopilot.

As a side benefit you can play MP3s.

Bill Effros
28 Mar 2001

Our Lowerance is the MAP160 model and it is as my Grandson said, however, he deflated the price somewhat. The Defender price I believe is 699 but we purchased at from a local boat shop, Lentine Marine in Flemington, NJ for 480. Still a really great price for this unit !!

Russ s/v Bulldog
28 Mar 2001

This week I bought the Garmin 12 Map. So far I am disappointed in that it has only 1.44 Meg of memory, which is too small to download the mapsets from Garmin's MapSource CD's. This defeats the purpose advertised--i.e., the ability to download more detailed mapping information than is already on the base map stored in permanent memory. So maybe I'll try to take it back to BoatUS this weekend and get the Vista (or something else that is handheld with a lot of memory) so that I can download maps. As for the rest-the things a GPS typically does--the Garmin 12 Map seems to work great. But the price ($299 at BoatUS less whatever discount you can get--mine was $289) is more than other Garmin 12's and is supposed to be to get the map downloading capability.

David Keyes
28 Mar 2001

That the problem with most of them,

The larance's http://www.larance.com only about 2 megs of data store for that CD rom, what you really need to use that unit right is the 299$ chart cartridges. The other problem the screens have a low pixel count

The http://www.Magellangps.com/ the 330M is a nice unit, but again low pixel count, 8 megs and it looks like only the street map upload only. It does have the alarm.

The check out http://www.garmin.com/cartography/mapSource/index.html , look at the mapviewer both the toppo and navaids for your area, they look pretty good for my area and they cover allot of the navaids that the other two miss(the town local ones for my harbor), it has double (4 times) the pixel count them most other, as water proof as the 12 and 24 megs of memory, is built for marine, the only problem is the alarm, http://www.garmin.com/products/etrexVista/index.html , what am I missing here guys?????

my 2 one hundreds of a dollar

29 Mar 2001

cheeekout http://www.thegpsstore.com, most info online and the prices areOK

29 Mar 2001

Good Points you make (I sound like Yoda).

I want to check the WM ETrex Mariner and see if it is based on the Vista.

If so, I think that's the one.

Magellan 330M seems much better than Garmin 48 for $50 more. Mapping and more memory.

Etrex Vista may even have it over the 330M, but I definitely want to check the WM version.

When's the boat due back?

Heard anything about our sail deliveries. Planning on installing the new furler next week. Can't wait.

Bill Berner
29 Mar 2001

Bill, screew what I said, check this out, I missed it before, same price, has the alarm, and is WAAS, a real 3 meter ACCURACY!!!!!!! Now that is a anchor alarm!!!! .1 KNOT SPEED!!!!!!!!, ONLY 8 MEGS', BUT THIS IS REAL NICE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


I am not sure about the when I lunching, should be soon, the docks open onthe first, glad to here about the sails.

29 Mar 2001

Garmin gpsmap 76 definitely better than the Magellan 330m, but an additional 100 bucks. Yes, Waas. Suppose the difference of 40' or so might make difference around rocks. I think I'll be able to find a marked channel without it, though :). Screen does have more than double the pixel count, and is slightly larger than 330M. That definitely translates to LOTS more resolution.

According to Magellan the included CD does include "rivers, lakes, and coastlines for the entire US". Just how good those maps are and how many additional navaids they include ??? But, it does have 9mb flash RAM in addition to 8mb ROM.

I'm going to check out both face to face and decide if the extra 100 is warranted for the Garmin.

Bill Berner
29 Mar 2001

the 76 is not shipping yet, but I might do it, I installed the Raytheon st60 multi last year(one of those project I never finished), I think I will hardwire my 12xl into that system and use the 76 in the cockpit, In a pinch I can use it in the other system (same power, data and antenna), BTW the GPS is more accurate than the underlying charts, I would never cut rocks that close, It really for better speed readings, course changes and the anchor alarm.

It looks like the boat will put in the water 4/21 am and the sail are due to ship around 4/4 should be at GB about a week after that(best laid plans of mice and men........)

29 Mar 2001

According to Magellan the included CD does include "rivers, lakes, and coastlines for the entire US". Just how good those maps are and how many additional navaids they include ??? But, it does have 9mb flash RAM in addition to 8mb ROM.

I'm going to check out both face to face and decide if the extra 100 is warranted for the Garmin.

Now that will be interesting! There will be a lot of us waiting to hear how that face-off works out.

MJM's URL for the Garmin CD data was an eye-opener. Confirming his observations, the navaids for the Potomac near DC were quite adequate, based on my experience in those waters - assuming accurate registration of the chart data. That is yet to be determined.

I echo MJM's concerns about depending on the GPS-chart combination to cut close to obstacles, especially the rocky ledges found off the coast of Maine. The "good enough" criteria of SA era charting are no longer valid when a hand-held GPS can be accurate to a few feet. But it will be a (long!) while until we can count on that degree of accuracy in the chart-GPS combination.

Robert Skinner, Rockville, Maryland
30 Mar 2001

Talked about buying GPS's last month.

Picked up the Garmin GPSMAP 76 this weekend, and have learned it reasonably thoroughly.

Reactions: Plus

  • Easy Interface and easy to use
  • Fast acquisition and updates
  • WAAS
  • Comfortable Size and Weight - prefer it to Etrex's
  • Good Screen resolution and size
  • Alarms
  • Customizable displays
  • Good Buoy and light database


  • Base map has little shoreline detail.
  • Need to fork over more $$ for Mapsource CD
  • Pricey.

All in all though I'm happy with the unit. Uploaded routes from GPS Planner no problem. Ditto it's ability to talk to Visual Navigator. Stil on the fence whether the additional $$ for mapping was worthwhile. Regular GPS 76 about 125 cheaper. But I don't plan on taking the laptop on board so though the mapping might be wise.

Bill Berner
28 May 2001

For 160$ they have double the coverage of the maptech at half the cost, real marine charts, one CD covers everything for me, the question is how much of the CD fit's into memory at one time. And it is not out yet.

28 May 2001


As delivered, the GPSMap76 and Mapsource waterways would neither download from GPS or upload to GPS waypoints or routes.

In order to bring GPSMap76 up to date, I downloaded and applied gpsmap76_204.exe and gpsmap76_poi.exe (Marine.exe).

In order to bring Waterways mapsource to 4.03, I downloaded and applied ms403upd.exe.

Waypoints and routes subsequently were passed in both directions.

FIRST BOTTOM-LINE CAUTION - if you are not familiar with downloading software and updating the built-in real-time software on a device, you might want to wait until the buggy units are out of the supply chain. Could take several months. Or you can ask the salesperson to fire up the unit, and prove that the system software is at version 2.04 or better.


From Garmin Service Bulletin # 0110, 1 June 2001:


"Portions of the navigational aid data were found to have significant errors within sections of Coast Guard District Number 5, which encompasses New Jersey through South Carolina.

"The physical positions of the navigational aids appear to be correct.

[I have to disagree. One red nun is shown on dry land on the wrong side of a river. Others are simply misplaced or absent. This is from personal on-site observation. /RWS]

"However, the details about each nav-aid have been mislabeled with incorrect information, including color, type, range, etc,."

[That's a fact! /RWS]

"Please make every reasonable effort to notify customers that have purchased MapSource‘ US Waterways & Lights and retrieve the defective CD. GARMIN anticipates availability of new data in about 4 weeks. GARMIN will provide the replacement data set at no additional charge upon return of affected product."


Echoing MLM's earlier suggestion that you hold onto your money as there are better products than MapSource W&L coming along soon, you want to make sure that you do not buy a version 3.00 or 3.01 W&L CD.

Note that the on-line patches available as of 6/16/01 do not appear to correct the problems.

If you have to have the W&L data (and it does look as if it would be very valuable if correct), then be prepared to go thru a recall procedure on your CD.


The GPSMap76 has the potential of being a superb GPS for the casual sailor. Its map capacity is astonishing, and the controls are easy to learn and use - given the power of the unit. I'm glad I bought it, but somewhat disappointed in Garmin's quality control.

On the other hand, the Waterways and Lights CD is a dangerous disaster, not to be trusted in its current incarnation. If you are an East Coast sailor between New Jersey and South Carolina, IMHO it is worse than useless -- it could put you aground.

Robert Skinner, Rockville, Maryland
18 Jun 2001

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