It is not so easy to make the best choice for GPS for boat with integrated fishfinder to fit in the budget.
Here on the Baltic Sea sailing and boating season is about to open. Boats are prepared for next voyages and regattas. Recently I have been asking for helping and advice regarding GPS for boats selection. I was asked for help in the past, but somehow my gpsnavigationsite.com became popular in local boater’s community, and I feel honored of increased interest for my knowledge.
Questions and ask for help are mainly about How to choose right GPS for Sailboat and Powerboat but a bit different than some three or four years ago.
For instance, four years ago a friend of mine asked me to find cheapest available but durable GPS chart plotter. The navigation tool has to include updated Baltic Sea nautical maps. The equipment must be easily adjustable and fitted with all premium class features for marine GPS navigator.
It was almost mission impossible as the budget was only $500.
I did proper research and made a conclusion, money that was allocated for this purpose is not enough. I forget to say that Chinese marvels were excluded. I made negotiations that need to sacrifice something to fit in the budget and finally found the Simrad GPS for boats device which was good enough. I don’t remember a model but total $$ was about 470 bucks.
…Navionics app and my iPhone or Samsung…
Today almost everyone has Smartphone and boaters wants to pretend to be so wise saying, why I do need a standalone GPS as I have purchased Navionics app and my iPhone or Samsung can easily defeat all Raymarine and Garmin devices together. Rubbish!
Why do I need a standalone GPS for a sailboat ?
The most interesting are that even those that I knew as experienced Skippers, also have started to believe it. Happily, after relatively serious persuasion, their thoughts have changed. Now, two of those brave skippers wants the very best even though the high price.
They are like children who need to be convinced that money can be saved. Only you need searching and comparing, talking with colleagues, sometimes perhaps with beer mugs. Money could be spent for new sails or ropes and so on.
So, here I am to do research for GPS navigation for HANSE 315 sailing yacht. I make the real online research having regard to the money allocated for this purpose and existing equipment on board of the sailboat.
Well, I have some numbers.
Money expected to spend for navigation equipment supposed to be €1500. It is not enough for me to choose. I asked my friend for some additional details.
The first, have the boat any navigation electronics already installed? The answer received, all electronics have been removed by the previous owner except weathervane on mast top. I forgot to mention that echo sounder transducer from Simrad Echo sounder and wiring in place.
The second question (actually I already knew an answer) was, what is the expected sailing area and activities? I mean, regattas, inshore contests, either solely recreation for fishing and sunbathing.
The answer received. Everything, except ocean voyages.
To be honest and, as I am familiar with his lifestyle, the primary purpose will be weekly fishing trips to Estonian Islands or a fortnight trips to Åland archipelago in Finnish waters. What I also like very much and secretly hope to join him in the future.
I set primary search terms;
Durable, all weather, easily removable GPS for boats with an integrated echo sounder fishfinder and NMEA connection availability, screen at least 6 inches, AIS integration and wireless connection options. Yes, and Baltic Sea nautical charts in any correctable format.
My task is to find the final decision for boat owner with estimated money calculations including shipping, customs, and other expenses.
So, let’s take a look.
Definitely that my choices are not the best available on the market today, but there are some obstacles to choose them. The main is a significant price difference in the USA or Canada and Europe. Even more, many of my found GPS chart plotters for an acceptable price tag in Amazon.com not available for shipping to my country Latvia at all.
I would like to start with well-known and more or less familiar to me brands as Garmin, Raymarine and Humminbird.
Garmin GPSMAP 741xs GPS Chartplotter/Sounder Combo
Cartography Type: Bluechart Vision. HEU050R – Gulfs of Finland & Riga
Part Number: 010-C0786-20, $289.28 USD
HEU046R – Sweden, South-East
Part Number: 010-C0782-20
I Checked shipping from Amazon to Latvia, Free shipping 2-3 days. Great.
Come without transducer, but have all NMEA and other connections.
WiFi and Bluetooth connections but have some glitches with internet connection promised to be solved by Garmin.
The Sum is $1862 or €1651 for Today as my iPhone currency converter shows. So, fit in the budget, but?
In fact, it obviously is 21% more expensive as this product is available only in Amazon.com not in Amazon.co.uk (EU) and all goods more than €150 is subject to VAT. You may have to pay VAT, Customs Duty or Excise Duty on goods sent from outside the European Union (EU) before you can collect them.
So the final expenses would be about € 1651. Out of price range.
Let’s look what Raymarine offers in this price range.
Dragonfly 5Pro fishfinder 5″ screen with CHIRP Downvision & Sonar including CPT-DVS transducer, Wi-Fi, GPS Chart Plotter & EU Navionics Silver Chart.
€ 657 (incl VAT) +€ 13,75 standar Shipping to Latvia.
Navionics+ Baltic Sea € 199+VAT (21%) = € 240,79
Total: € 911,54
Raymarine Dragonfly-5 Pro Sonar/GPS with US C-Map Essentials
With T/M Transducer & U.S. Lakes, Rivers & Coastal Maps by C-MAP
Compatible with optional Navionics and Raymarine LightHouse™ format charts
Navionics+ Baltic Sea
C-Map Baltic Sea and Denmark wide EW-M299 € 254.45
Total about € 780
We see that Amazon.com is the lowest prices. I have a little envy to the American boys about it, but what to do, such is life.
Anyway, it fits in the price range and feature list.
Below is randomly selected user review from Amazon.com
Great little unit.
By bugout on Apr 25, 2016
„Very easy to see in any light conditions. Looks bright, even when in direct sunlight. It doesn’t come with a cover, so you’ll want to order one if you need one. I used it the other day in the rain and it had no problem. The sonar works great and they’re not kidding when they say that you can clearly make out fish using the down vision. It’s very clear. In map mode I can see the details of the bottom contours great while underway. I connected it to my iPad and can see the exact same image on my iPad, which is a great addition when you need a larger screen. It even allows you to zoom in, pause, and scroll back and forth from your iPad. I can have the sonar up on my iPad and the map on the Dragonfly or vice versa also. More than one device can connect wirelessly so I can be using it to find a fishing spot while someone else watches for fish. We took it out this weekend and used it to spot locations for spring striper. They were easy to find in a spot we had never fished before and we were able to land some great fish. Very happy with this unit.“
Humminbird GPS Chartplotter
With its wide 8″ HD display and stunning resolution, the Humminbird 900 Series has become a favorite among anglers and seafarers around the globe. With a screen optimized for increased sunlight readability and 16:9 aspect ratio for easy split screen views, the 900 Series is a great choice for numerous fishing and boating applications.
* HD 8-inch display: 480V x 800H, 16:9 Color
* DualBeam PLUS w/SwitchFire
* Sonar coverage: 20°, 60° & 74° @ -10dB
* Sonar frequencies: 200/83/50kHz
* Depth: 3,000′
* 8,000W (PTP), 1,000W (RMS)
* Internal GPS Receiver 10Hz
* GPS Speed Included
* Dual SD Card Slots
* Upgradable Software
* Ethernet Networking
* 360° Imaging
* Comes standard with XHS-9-DB-74-T transducer
* Options: Lakemaster, Navionics® Gold/HotMaps; Navionics® Platinum+; 360° Imaging®; QuadraBeam Plus; 5-Port Expansion Module; Minn Kota i-Pilot® Link; Radar; NMEA 2000® and AIS compatibility
Price + Shipping $ 96.80+ VAT (21%)
Navionics+ Baltic Sea € 240,79
Total about € 1271+€ 240.79= € 1511.79
I like Humminbird Marine Navigation equipment but unfortunately, most of them not to be shipped to Latvia. This one I found almost fit in a price range and have AIS function what is essential for safe sailing nowadays.
There are many other GPS for boats with chartplotters and echosounders available on the market for this price tag but unfortunately a small choice for European boaters.
Chinese also produces a variety of GPS for boats like wonders with very impressive characteristics and features, but, excuse me, I have a bad experience regarding this wonderland’s electronics. I do not recommend.
I forwarded my choices and calculations to the sailboat owner. Waiting for a response. Just to say that I advised not to make the final decision before physically visit the boat.
The sailboat location is Stralsund in Germany and to make the maiden voyage to Riga in Latvia, it is possible to borrow GPS for boats from colleagues and as backup use Navionics app for smartphones. Even more, as he wanted to ask me to help with first sailing, I am familiar with the navigation area. You can read about it in my „Adventurous Sea Voyage on Jeanneau Prestige 36“ posts.
I hope that my research somehow could help to fellow mariners.
Any comments, advice and practical help are welcome