What is the Best GPS for Boats?

Today I’d like to talk about What is the best GPS for boats.

I do not consider myself a very great expert in this field, but I have considerable personal experience as a user of GPS hardware and software.

I cannot assert which of the navigation hardware is better, and if it would, then I would be lying. Ultimately this is a subjective judgment that I am going to do. A wide range of information about marine navigation systems could be found on the internet and other sources. For to not lose orientation in this vast database you must have knowledge which I have, and I like this theme very much.

Everyone has some criteria for which he was looking for things. Mostly they are quality and price. Also, each of these indicators may vary. On average, the most expensive item is better quality, but not always. And therefore, it is often unpleasant and even painful when we purchased low quality but the precious commodity.

Let’s go back to the boats and yachts.

The most expensive yachts have been equipped with navigational equipment in the boatyard. It is rare today to meet a simple GPS receiver to obtain Geographical coordinates to find the boat’s position on sea map. Modern watercraft is equipped with chart plotters, Electronic sea charts, AIS (Automatic Identification System), fish finders, and other helpful marine navigation tools. I am faced with an entirely inadequate and expensive unnecessary navigation hardware, which is 99% of the cases, are never used.

Today I would like to speak not about commercial ships, that is another story. There are strict international rules for what kind of navigational tools every ship must be equipped which is stated in SOLAS (The International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea).

I’ve sailed on a variety of vessels. I served as a navigation officer on the large ocean liners to very small sailing and motorboats. I am familiar with the usage of GPS navigation systems since its onset. Today we live in the era of modern techniques that are rapidly evolving, including methods of the vessel positioning. I am not much mistaken if I say that often would be enough with a mobile phone.

Almost everyone has a smartphone equipped with GPS receiver chip.

The market is flooded with free and paid marine navigation applications. I am tested many of them, and almost everyone has pros and cons. But today not about mobile apps. Just to say, that those tiny android or mac programs never will outweigh the stationary devices.

One of the most critical devices onboard is GPS. Almost every navigation equipment on the modern seagoing ship has a GPS/GLONASS receiver chip which somehow is related to help for safe navigation. Safety is understood as the obtaining of your location with high accuracy. Distance to the coast to calculate sufficient fuel to reach it. Keeping a Safe underwater clearance to not hitting a rock or other Obstacle, and some another mode.

This time, I will not dive deep into the technical data and a detailed description of the pros and cons. I just list GPS devices, what in my opinion is the best GPS for boats.

What Amazon marketplace offering for Raymarine lovers

For bigger boats to safely sail the seas top choice is:

  • Garmin  GPSMAP 1040xs Chartplotter/Sonar Combo

    It is not so cheap, but when You can afford $ 100K boat than a bit more than $1000 is not such big money. It is a cool device. I have never used it by myself but heard from my colleagues just the best words. My friends soon are back from the sailing voyage in the Mediterranean, and I would like to visit the boat to test this device.

In my opinion, the brilliant choice is

Garmin GPS for boats becoming very popular for fishermen and other pleasure yachts    

You could argue to me that there are other even more sophisticated marine GPS navigators. Yes, probably it is. But those I have listed have been tested in action and perfectly fulfills its mission.

 

Good luck fishing and safely reach your destination!

__________________________________________________________________________________________

Hello, my dear readers.

I wrote this post more than a year ago, and since then many of GPS for boat devices have been reviewed.

To be honest, when we look at the main players on the market as Garmin, Lowrance, Raymarine, or Furuno, it’s not that large technical difference in devices. The main components have been produced by the same manufacturers just the boxes and labels are different.

The attitude to customers is the key factor to the success. Mainly it is customer service, acceptable map update fees, and real, not hidden pitfalls clear warranty terms. People tend to stick to their favorite brand, but it does not mean that they can never change. Read my reviews, make your own conclusion, agree or disagree with my point of view, purchase your favorite brand GPS for boat and enjoy your next fishing trip or sailboat



Raymarine, Lowrance, Furuno, and Simrad brands offering good quality marine GPS devices as well.



I unfairly forgot to mention Humminbird fishfinders and other affordable GPS units

Read my reviews, make your own conclusion, agree or disagree with my point of view, purchase your favorite brand GPS for boat and enjoy your next fishing trip or sailboat regatta to Paradise Island.

Click on the link to find even more customers reviews of great Raymarine multifunction display fishfinders.

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

91 Comments

  1. Chris

    Hey there,

    I stumbled upon your site, which is amazing I must say! Such useful and quality content.

    Very well written and easy to understand, especially for beginners.

    I will definitely visit your site in the future, thank you very much for sharing your knowledge with us and good luck.

    Kind regards

    Ct.

    Reply
    1. Andrejs (Post author)

      Thanks for stopping and kind words! Those who have interested in “how it works” a simple explanation is the best way. If want to know more You are welcome. Even I do not know many things and sometimes to give an answer I found much unknown information. Good luck!

      Reply
  2. Brandon

    What’s interesting is that I never thought about GPS for boats. I never considered about what boats go through vs. cars. I mean cars have roads but boats are just in huge body of water obliviously but that just means you need an even more reliable and probably more expensive GPS. Good review keep up the good work.

    Reply
    1. Andrejs (Post author)

      Thanks for stopping! Actually for boats and big ships GPS or other satellite navigation like Russian GLONASS or EU Galileo are more important than for cars. Todays sailors do not know how to navigate in open waters by celestial object, or almost do not know.

      Reply
  3. Tim

    Interesting read I’ve been looking for a good GPS for a while now for my boat. Seems a lot harder to work out what to get compared to my car I just used a Navman lol. Your post has made it easier for me to work out what is best in the boat GPS world.

    I guess you’re right a GPS is better than a smart phone but other than the obvious (depth and underwater navigation) what are the main reasons for this? Thanks

    Reply
    1. Andrejs (Post author)

      Hi Tim! Thanks for stopping by. That is great that today we have many situations problem solver in our pockets-smartphone. It could be used as emergency equipment in many cases. One of them is GPS navigation on roads or stormy ocean. View Iphone GPS navigation -just as backup unit.

      Reply
  4. Anthony

    Hello Abdrel,

    You sound like a very interesting person having had sailed on so many different vessels in so many different situations. You definitely know what you are talking about. It is a surprise to me that yachts are outfitted with all that equipment that is so rarely used! Like you said it is better to use stationary GPS then the one on your phone via an app. I am wondering specifically what makes it better? Thanks for the informative article here!

    -Anthony

    Reply
    1. Andrejs (Post author)

      Hi! I’d like to say that mobile apps never outweigh stand alone marine GPS devices but it is great if you have iPhone or other smartphone with rather good marine GPS cartography installed. Specially designed chartplotters or even handheld devices have e.g. waterproof, special marine alarm modes and many other marine needed functions. Hope you become a bit more informed about marine GPS.

      Have a good day!

      Reply
  5. Trevor

    This is very interesting to me because, I do know that Large ships must have GPS on them, but did not know that gps was available for small boats. I do know that there are fish finders and such, but GPS on smaller boats and yachts make so much sense. Especially when on the ocean. This is something I may look into myself. Very nice!

    Reply
    1. Andrejs (Post author)

      Hello and thanks for interest. Actually if you just take occasional boat trip and once a month fishing habits on local lake or river than smartphone navigation app is enough. My small warning. Even you enjoy sunny day and no any rain signs, please find some waterproof cover for your expensive cell phone. If not then simply wrap in plastic bag. I had very sad stories my own iPhones.

      Reply
  6. 151

    Hey great site, pretty interesting but a little hard to understand some of this, what is the difference between standard GPS and this? Or better, it is hard to believe any difference, could you clarify? Hopefully this is not a significant difference or I am totally baffled. Anyway if there is to convert the the between the aforementioned I am sure there is an app.

    Reply
    1. Andrejs (Post author)

      Hi and thanks for interesting question. GPS stands for Global Positioning System. In short watching GPS screen you get your boat’s geographical position on sea or lake, like your car’s navigation on street. Specially designed marine GPS integrated systems have an additional options as fathometer, fishfinder and meteo, receivers and some more.

      Reply
  7. Andreas S

    Hi! I’ve been thinking of buying a boat for the first time and it needs a GPS. That’s why I came to your site. I was looking for the best GPS. Don’t want to get into trouble out there. I also would like to “see” underwater so I’m not hitting something.

    Maybe I’ll go for the Raymarine Dragonfly 4 Pro Navionics? Do you think it is a good choice?

    Andreas

    Reply
    1. Andrejs (Post author)

      Hi and thanks for stopping by!

      Raymarine is a good choice. I used to use Raymarine chartplotter couple of years ago. What I do not like is mapping solution. Navigation is ok but keep in mind that new map prices are high so when order your device check carefully is your area covered. Actually Dragonfly 4,5 price tag is ok.

      Reply
  8. Xander

    Ever interesting read and perfect timing. I have been considering buying a boat for fishing and was wondering about what GPS device to install. You have provided great options here that seem very viable. I was just wondering, because I will be using my boat on lakes mostly, are they applicable on closed waters too?

    Reply
    1. Andrejs (Post author)

      Thanks for stopping by!

      It is numbers of GPS which could be used for lake boating especially in the US. Even more, many of them come with preloaded lake mapping. One of them is Raymarine Dragonfly 6 5.7″ Combo GPS/Fishfinder. Rather expensive but worth the money spent.

      Good luck and safe sailing!

      Reply
  9. Bimmerguy

    The current GPS system on my boat has been giving me trouble for years. It cuts in and out at the most inconvenient times. However, I’ve recently had my eye on the Garmin Echo 551dv Worldwide with Transducer. This is what ultimately lead me to your site. Your endorsement coupled with all of the other positive things I’ve read about it on the web make me feel confident in purchasing this unit. Thanks for the info!

    Reply
    1. Andrejs (Post author)

      Hi! I am glad that my site leads you to the smart decision. Honestly, when it comes to GPS for cars then I prefer TomTom but for a pleasure boat, the Garmin brand, especially in the USA, is a good choice.

      Reply
  10. Roy

    Hi, i have been using GPS in my own boat , a 30 feet fast Scand. There is several things that you need, to be safe at sea, the GPS must update it self so fast that it shows the exact real position of the boat, even when you are going full speed. There should be possebilities to enter the debth of your boat, so that you easily can see witch rocks you can pass without damaging or touching sea bottom. Abiliity to program a route, with turnpoints, alarm etc..these are the at least functions you will need.

    Reply
    1. Andrejs (Post author)

      Hi,Roy for stopping by and valuable comment.

      All you mentioned is correct just forgot AIS (Automatic Identification System) option. Depending on system A or B your and other boats are visible to each other. All boat data including speed, course, boat name and more is available for safe navigation.

      Reply
  11. Heathguy33

    Excellent post here me and a buddy of mine are die hard fishermen. We recently came to an agreement to buy a boat as we figure it’s fish in spots we can’t get to in the lake on land. I was telling him we should buy a gps for it. He said he didn’t know of any good boat gps I typed it in on google and I was brought to your website. I’m glad I found it to. Thanks for the great post.

    Reply
    1. Andrejs (Post author)

      Thank you for the kind words!

      A few years ago I thought that I could find a good fish places based just on my experience. When I started to use the fishfinder me, catchers are doubled.

      Reply
  12. Alberto Alicea

    Every day I learn something new. Thanks for the information. I though all GPS did the same work and any of them were good, now I see is not that simple as I though, and the variety out there is over overwhelming. You just shorten my list. THANKS!!! Great job. 2 tums up!

    Reply
    1. Andrejs (Post author)

      Thanks Alberto for stopping by!
      The GPS and other satellite navigation systems like GLONASS and GALILEO is a great achievement of the human. It is hard to imagine life without it. In fact, GPS make life easier almost on every step.

      Reply
  13. Egwin

    I left a post on your site because really found your nich really useful and was more like a seminar to me, learning about the difference on GPS and functions was great, I my self tough that they all were the same and now I understand that they are not, great site, greater info… really you not need good luck… You have excellent knowledge and exquisite skills.

    Reply
    1. Andrejs (Post author)

      Thanks a lot for such kind words, I even blushed.

      As almost everyone who are doing something I constantly learning and discover new and exciting details unnoticed before. Technology develops rapidly and no way to chase all of them. I try to help people make the right choice by spreading my knowledge and experience.

      Reply
  14. Lesley

    When I read your article I could not help thinking about the first sailors that had to use the starts and the sun to navigate with.
    I agree that sometimes things are exoensive, but they are not good uality
    I don’t have a boat yet so I will have to come back yo your site when I am ready to get a GPS.

    Reply
    1. Andrejs (Post author)

      Thanks, Lesley for commenting my post!

      If we talk about the different GPS navigation product prices, they are market-driven. In fact, like on car and many other markets, not always a quality is adequate to product price. In reality, GPS devices are very close each other regardless of manufacturers brand.

      The main component- GPS receiver chips installed are from the same manufacturer, Furuno as an example. Producers are searching and presenting features which are not in competitors product in such a way rising a device price. No doubt that big brands like Garmin, TomTom, Raymarine e.g. have an advantage just because of Brand Name.

      Reply
  15. Tyler Redlev

    Navigation is an unseperatable part of our lives now. I would like to know, Does naval GPS differ much from GPS systems that we use now in our daily lives.

    Des marine GPS systems has ther wn specific way of use? I can imagne that the logic behind all GPS’ are same but I’m just curious to ask.

    Reply
    1. Andrejs (Post author)

      Thanks for stopping by and for the question.

      Actually, GPS operation principle is the same on roads and seas or even on air. The main difference is cartography and mapping software. For car GPS devices you use street maps and highway network with rural roads. For ATV or snowmobiles, off-road trail maps have to be used to not lost in woods or mountain grids.

      Marine GPS nautical charts showing depth and navigational marks, buoys and lighthouses to be used for safe navigation. In fact yoa can use any GPS for marine navigation just but in this case you need to have paper nautical charts for sailing area.

      All you have to know is how to put your geographical coordinates on paper chart and viola you are ready to go or sail if it sounds cooler.

      Reply
  16. Marc

    Wow,
    Thanks for the great post on the best gps for boats. I think many people think that their phone can do the trick. It might for short trips or on small lakes where you have cell reception. I dont believe that the cell phone gps will work if you dont have cell reception. I could be wrong, but I am not sure. I like the idea of knowing that I have enough fuel to get home.
    Marc

    Reply
    1. Andrejs (Post author)

      Thanks Mark for commenting my post.

      When it comes to GPS reception then no, the GPS feature is an active regardless cellular network. In fact, cellphone GPS feature could be even stronger and more accurate because of A-GPS (assisted GPS).

      In short, it is cellular network GPS signal correction and mainly improve startup performance, and all the speculation that this is something that is very precise and unique is nonsense. I guess that for secret services exist special cellphone network enabled tracking functions. For ordinary people like you and me, A-GPS only helps faster satellite search.

      So, you can easily use your expensive iPhone 7 as a boat navigation tool whenever you do not care about water, rolling and pitching and other extreme situations could face on rough seas. Regardless of called new iPhone water resistance feature.

      Reply
  17. Johnathanbell22

    I would like to say that your website is very informative and tell a lot about the different GPS, that you use on sea and the car GPS and the smartphones GPS. I have taken away from your website is that they all different, because to me I thought all of GPS was all the same. It very important before you go on to sea that people know about the GPS system so they don’t get lost. I would suggest that if you do have very much detail on all the different GPS and what all of them do.

    Reply
    1. Andrejs (Post author)

      Thanks Jonathan for stopping by!

      You are right that need to know how to navigate boat using nautical charts. Unfortunately, the new generation of boaters hardly knows how to use paper charts and obtain a boat position by traditional methods as a sextant, taking a compass bearing, dead reckoning or even celestial navigation.

      Here the GPS and other satellite navigation systems help a lot. Only you need is choose a right GPS for boats.

      Reply
  18. jschicanha

    Finally i got what i have searching for and this information made me satisfied now and i don’t think if i will search for other information again about best GPS for boat, this helps me a lot about my research that i have been struggling with.i thank u
    kindly
    jose

    Reply
    1. Andrejs (Post author)

      Hello Jose and glad I can help You somehow. If you have any question regarding GPS for boats and cars, do not hesitate, and I will try to respond ASAP.

      Reply
  19. IllusiozTan

    Hi Andrel, thanks for sharing your knowledge about the boat GPS. Personally, I didn’t have any experience in sailing. But I am interested to find out more as I am amazed to see how the location of a boat in the center of the sea can be identified using the GPS.

    Can the boat GPS been programmed to save some of the favorite location like what we normally do for the car GPS? I believe if boat GPS having this feature, those fisherman would be like it very much as they can save their favorite fishing spot into it. Similarly, diver might want to do the same if they discover any beautiful diving spot in the sea.

    Reply
    1. Andrejs (Post author)

      Hi and thanks for stopping by.

      GPS for boats have even more options regarding way point and route creation and storage. In fact, even low price marine GPS devices have WPT (way point) option to store your favorite fishing spot or create the safe route to reach a destination.

      Reply
  20. Brian Bingham

    I never thought about how boats navigate the rivers and lakes but the information in this page really brings to light what it takes. The information is great for anyone who loves boats. Boaters should know the right GPS systems to use so that they don’t have to keep waiting for them to reload or recalculate where they are.

    Reply
    1. Andrejs (Post author)

      Thanks for stopping by.

      Boaters life and sailing today is much easier than in the past. Imagine, you are on the boat and no coast line visible at all. How to get back to harbour?

      Firstly you need a nautical chart, but how to know where you are? Just water, wind and the Sun around a boat. Years ago you have to use sextant, chronometer and nautical calculation tables and by measuring a height of celestial object like Sun and stars is able to obtain your geographical position. Place the coordinates on the map and here we are, you are in the middle of the sea.

      How accurate is the position depends on accuracy of the measurements. In practice it can be even nautical miles away from the real position.

      No so big problem in the open ocean where depth are hundreds or even thousand of meters or fathoms but in shallow waters it could be dangerous for safe sailing.

      The modern GPS for boats chartploters solve this task easily. Different rumors about accuracy of GPS or other satellite navigation systems as GLONASS or GALILEO can be heard but in reality it is good enough to use it for safe navigation. More details you can find in my gpsnavigationsite.com.

      So welcome to read it and I’ll be glad to discuss about unclear topics.

      Reply
  21. Steve

    Hi, Very interesting post.

    We have been looking for a GPS option for our boat for a while now ever since an engine failure left my father floating lost in the sea unable to pinpoint his position. He was located and recovered safely in the end. But with a Storm bearing down and conditions worsening it could have been worse. Having a GPS on-board would have enabled his to relay coordinates to the coast guard to vastly expedite his rescue. I will definitely be using this post/site to help me work out which is the best unit for out needs. Thanks

    Reply
    1. Andrejs (Post author)

      Hi and thanks for stopping by.

      Having GPS for boats on board can save your life. It is like lifebuoy just guiding you in right direction. In fact, you can even use a smartphone by loading Navionics app for twenty bucks.

      Storm begins as a rule unexpectedly.

      Reply
  22. Eddie

    Hi Andrejs,
    I have a couple of friends who really love to sea fish and they have asked me to try and find a good GPS system for their boat.
    Unfortunately for me I know very little GPS systems for sea fishing but when I came across your site I liked what I saw.
    You have a world of information here that I think my friends can use some of this stuff. I have given them your site details and hope that they look you up.
    They want me to try sea fishing for myself so who knows I may need your services in the future myself.
    Regards
    Eddie

    Reply
    1. Andrejs (Post author)

      Hi Eddie thanks for stopping by!

      I like fishing, and you can enjoy this fun even without any modern gadget. But why not to feel safer and easier find good fishing spots with good GPS device, or at least GPS navigation app in your smartphone. You can save a lot of time by hopelessly searching yesterday’s fish place and with not doubt heading back to the harbor in a case of sudden dense fog.

      Reply
  23. Mohammad Shadab Wani

    Dear Sales,

    Hope you are doing well.

    We have Furuno FA100 Class A Universal AIS include CB100 Junction box and GVA100 ANTENNA available looking to sell.
    Let me know if anybody might be interested.
    Email me: sales@webselectronic.com
    Free shipping worldwide via FedEx international Priority, delivery 5-7 days.

    Condition: New, old box Set of Furuno FA-100 Class A Universal AIS include CB-100 Junction box and GVA-100 ANTENNA.
    Ask for pictures and price on email.

    Reply
  24. Tom

    Andre,
    Great read! And thank you for the extensive research. I have narrowed it down to raymarine or Garmin products. I have have been liveaboard for 5 years on my 42 Hatteras and finally 99% restored. I will be taking a year trip around the Bahamas. Needing to conserve battery life as much as possible. I’m retired Navy and will be pulling into ports periodically. What system would you personally chose? All of the installed nav system is out and I’m starting fresh.

    Thank you
    Tom

    Reply
    1. Andrejs (Post author)

      Hi, Tom and thanks for reading my site and ask for advice.
      First of all, I somewhat envy you about the next great Bahamas voyage. I would be happy to join as like such kind of adventures so much.
      Regarding your question about navigation system for your boat. As I see 42 Hatteras is good for fishing, I guess you enjoy fish. If so then, you should look towards the combo. Next depends on your budget.
      When it comes battery than I am a bit confused the worry about it. Your boat is not a sailboat so boat’s engine can charge batteries any time if only not remain for extended periods of time without the engine operating.
      Anyway, if you could afford a bit more than $1,5K Garmin GPSMAP 7407xsv plus good Marine batteries deep cycle from Optima are good choices.
      We can discuss this more detailed just let me know. The Bahamas for a whole year…Just coool!
      See ya

      Reply
  25. Chris

    Hey Andrel, a really interesting site but struggling to understand the difference between standard navigation and GPS? Are there any major differences you would identify? I am slightly confused as to which one to go for but nonetheless your post is extremely informative. Do you hope to include a section on linked apps also, as that would be of great benefit. Chris

    Reply
    1. Andrejs (Post author)

      Hi, Chris and thanks for the question.

      To be clear, so-called standard car navigation is equal to any GPS navigation. Just factory-installed on-board navigation usually is integrated into the car’s dashboard and can be operated by the steering wheel knobs or by remote control.

      Latest and advanced car infotainment systems include GPS navigation with online backup features. It is a really cool feature as navigation maps are updated as soon as any correction is made on mapping. As long as you are online system receive relevant information for safe driving like traffic jams, road constructions, weather condition and more.

      It is no secret that smartphones have tons of navigation apps free or paid versions. Which one is the best navigation app it is hard to say. In fact and all in all, a basic turn by turn navigation is the same.

      Despite the fact that my car is equipped with factory navigation and TomTom Go 720 and Garmin Nuvi 57LM in the glove box I mainly use iPhone 6S Plus and Waze app. For completely unfamiliar location it is not the best solution but for everyday use Waze is OK.

      Reply
  26. Cami

    I like your website. I think it has a lot of good content in it. I really think that it is organized very well. I do think that at is a little busy for me. I fell like some of the readability is lost. I would suggest finding a way to break some of the words/paragraphs a part with maybe a picture or something that would just break it up.

    Reply
  27. Excelle

    For starters, Its great to know that GPS can be used on boats and this will help people who rely on their mobile device for such service to stop using thier phones.
    I am a fan of Garmin and have had mine for years, but what would be interesting is if the boats come with inbuilt GPS so we do not need any external source of direction. You know, like modern cars now come fitted with GPS.
    Thanks for this post.

    Reply
    1. Andrejs (Post author)

      Hi, Excelle.

      Today almost every boat is equipped with GPS navigation device. Depending on boat and similar like car it has dashboard with GPS, echo sounder, wind gauges, chartplotters and more. Common brand names are Raymarine, Garmin, Furuno, Lawrence and other. Even your good smartphone can be used as GPS for boat luckily numbers of free and paid apps can be found in App Store or Google Play. For marine navigation I prefer to use stand alone GPS devices.

      Reply
  28. John

    I’ve been tasked with looking for a gift for my Uncle who;s got himself into boats and boating. I am pretty sure a good GPS will do the trick for him. As I searched I came across your site and your honesty and candid explanation fit with me to a tee. You have cut my research time down and I am happy to got with your first choice of the “Garmin GPSMAP 741xs GPS Chartplotter/Sounder Combo”. The price is right and seems to do everything that my Uncle will need. Thanks for the info and I will pass your site onto my Uncle in case he needs some further advice.
    John

    Reply
    1. Andrejs (Post author)

      What the great present idea, I would like it too. Just better choose Garmin GPSMAP 1040xs Chartplotter/Sonar Combo with Transducer and NMEA 2000 it comes just for $1.1K.

      Reply
  29. Andy

    Great post! Very informative.

    You don’t really think about it much, but there are many different criteria that a GPS for a boat would have than one for a car, the main one being that the car GPS’s are mainly focused on roads and turn-by-turn directions, which are not really applicable to boats.

    I agree that phone-based GPS’s are not great for boats. Besides mainly focusing on roads like car-based GPS systems, you are also likely to lose cellular service in many areas you might be boating. Then you’ll really be in trouble.

    Thanks for posting this.

    Reply
    1. Andrejs (Post author)

      Thanks Andy for stopping by. Smartphone technically can be used as GPS navigation tool for boating. There are some really cool navigation apps like Navionics with all package of features for any marine navigation. For marine navigation, GSM signal not so crucial although having it you can use a phone as AIS (automatic identification system) tool.

      Reply
  30. Steven Cook

    I really like the look and feel of the website, it’s clean, can easily be navigated and has lots of content. I never knew too much about GPS Navigation Systems before reading your website, but you’ve done really well in explaining the different kinds of navigation systems you can get, including the software etc, which I found very interesting. Good work 🙂

    Reply
    1. Andrejs (Post author)

      Thanks Steve for the kind words.

      I still learning and try to find out what information people really want to know. I’m trying to explain the specific GPS theme or device from the real user’s point of view. Naturally, not with all the topics, I have come across in real life, but when setting out the subject I try to explore other people’s experiences.

      Reply
  31. Damo

    I live in the Lake Tahoe area and I am considering a boat – midsize maybe 20 – 35 feet for skiing and a little bit of fishing and just tootalling about. Are these systems a bit much for that use?

    Are these mainly for sea bearing vessels?

    I know this is a dumb question but doesn’t it suffice for what I want to do to just use my phone gps?

    Reply
    1. Andrejs (Post author)

      Thanks Damo for the interest. All GPS units mentioned in my post are great for your needs. Even the cheapest Raymarine Dragonfly 5M perfectly fits your needs. So popular car GPS navigator producer Garmin producing good GPS for boats as well.

      Reply
  32. lasnow01

    Hi, I have a few GPS’s myself. I don’t have any marine GPS’s as of yet. I do carry a hand held Garmin GPSMAP 62stc Handheld Navigator and Garmin nüvi 2597LMT Vehicle GPS. Also I have a Lawrance hand held, I don’t use it because it wasn’t compatible with the Garmin software that is on my pc. i have no problems with the handheld lawrance, it was great.

    you mentioned preforance, now it would be a Garmin for marine navagation because it would fit in with my pc progrm. Before i got a garmin i was really into my Lawrance

    Reply
    1. Andrejs (Post author)

       Hi and thanks for finding the time for good comment. Check out Lowrance HDS-7 Gen3 it perfectly fit for marine navigation and offroad trails.

      Reply
  33. Stella

    Hello Andre;

    Thanks for the info on these particular GPS systems for boats. They look like they have a lot of features that are great for boating as opposed to using a GPS on land.

    If you had to choose a system based just on the variety of features and the warranty, which of the products listed here would you recommend? Those are two things I want to focus on. Price is not so important. You’re right, if you own a boat, what’s another $1000 to be safe!

    Thanks for your hep,Stella 🙂

    Reply
    1. Andrejs (Post author)

      Thanks, Stella for stopping by. 

      To answer your question I need to know your boat and sailing area. To be honest top marine GPS brands like Raymarine, Garmin or Lowrance are great choices. 

      The only advice is to check the nautical charts and update features as some come with lifetime free updates but some for an extra charge.

      Reply
  34. Ian Froi

    Cool post about GPS devices for boats. One of the interesting things that caught my attention in your article was the feature that keeps the boat safe from not hitting a rock or other obstacle by knowing the underwater clearances. It is interesting how a GPS can help you with this since it gives out your location but not really detect any obstacle on real time(I maybe wrong). If this works, it is my guess that the device must have a pre-installed data of the seabed topography and will calculate the clearances based on the boat’s location and altitude then will give out information about underwater clearances. Is your understanding about this feature the same as mine? Nevertheless, it is a very nice safety feature for GPS for boats and is worth considering when purchasing one. Great stuff!

    Reply
    1. Andrejs (Post author)

      Hi Ian and thanks for the comment.

       You are right that only knowing your position obtained from GPS device is not enough for safe sailing. Updated marine charts are another important marine navigation tool. Almost every GPS for boat comes with cartography, so you have to have some knowledge about how to use it for safe navigation. 

      In fact, it is not so difficult, key criteria to know is the draught of your boat and depth around you and on your route. A modern GPS chartploters calculate everything just set up boat data, tidal streams, weather and you are ready for a pleasant voyage.

      Reply
  35. Cathy Cavarzan

    Between the Garmin Chartplotter and the Raymarine a78 which one besides the price would you recommend for recreational weekend fishing? I have used fishfinders since I was a kid in Florida. It is amazing to me that we can now put so much technology on our recreational vehicles wether it car ,suv or boat!

    Reply
    1. Andrejs (Post author)

      Thanks for stopping by. It is hard to say as both Garmin and Raymarine are high reputation brands. For recreational boating, I would prefer Raymarine as it mostly is oriented on marine electronics. Garmin chartploters has rapidly evolved over recent years, so maybe the price is what to take into account to make a choice. 

      Reply
  36. cass

    Hi there, a very interesting and thought provoking review. I live near the ocean where boats, mainly small fishing boats are in and out regularly. I hadn’t given much thought to the importance of having GPS for them but they would be so beneficial to their safety. Would you recommend these for the smaller vessels?

    Reply
    1. Andrejs (Post author)

      The size is not the indicator to equip a boat with GPS device or not. Sailing area, weather conditions as fog, rain and another restricted visibility conditions possibility must be taken into account. GPS Chartplotter with updated marine charts can save your life.

      Reply
  37. Taetske

    Good Morning Andrejs,

    Believe it or not but my better half has been brainwashing me now for some 4 months. He wants a boat to go sailing the world and he wonders if I will be willing to try. I will have to pass your post to him so he can look at all these GPS models and brands. I am not very technical but agree if you can afford a boat of $100.000 you can invest $1000 in buying a good GPS. I personally would feel safer to know where we are and how to reach the next harbor if needed.

    I have worked 3 months on a Greek and 7 months on a Russian cruise ship and do not get sea-sick. I suppose that will be a plus when going out to see in a sail boat. Thank you for all this helpful information.

    Regards, Taetske

    Reply
    1. Andrejs (Post author)

      It is so great to meet here some sailors.

       I would like to go for a round the world sailing adventure and envy you with such an opportunity. 

      The proper navigation equipment is the essential part for the safe sailing trip. GPS Chartplotter must be convenient to use and charts updated. Luckily a GPS device market offers many good devices and services. Lowrance, Garmin, Raymarine, and some other brands are competing which leads to price reductions. 

      Read, compare ask for fellow mariners and choose the best for your boat.

      Reply
  38. Emmanuel Buysse

    Great post and it is good info.

    And it comes on time for me and my wife, we want to buy a boat for trips, but we get lost easily, so we need a GPS, to find our way but also one that is perfect to fit.

    What I know is that the most expensive one isn’t always the best one, is this the case with these ones?

    Thanks for sharing it with us!

    Reply
    1. Andrejs (Post author)

      Thank you, Emmanuel, for stopping by. You are right that GPS device for the boat helps a lot for safe sailing. What to choose? It all depends on your sailing range and how familiar you are about rocks, shallows and many other dangers on your route.

       I would suggest GPS chartplotter in combination with echosounder. Usually, the same brand combo packages are a cheaper solution. Take a look at Raymarine Combo Packages.

      Reply
  39. Benny

    Hello, I really want to first appreciate your effort in putting this great website together and writing this article. getting a good GPS for your boat is something that cannot be taking lightly as we know and i would say that the raymarine e95 gives us this flexibility with its multi functional use. thanks

    Reply
  40. Shanta Rahman

    Many thanks to you for giving us such a beautiful article and for giving you the opportunity to discuss something wonderful through this article. You have discussed GPS excellently through your articles and I think this is a must have a good article for everyone. I have a small boat and when I go fishing in the river I need to use GPS .But I do not understand what GPS I will use so I am asking you for some suggestions on what GPS I need. I would like to mention one thing where I go fishing, the internet connection is very weak so I want you to know which GPS i will use, I want easily find my location.

    Reply
    1. Andrejs (Post author)

      Hello Shanta! You can also use phone navigation because the GPS signal has nothing to do with the phone’s communications system signal strength. GPS and other global navigation systems as GLONASS, BAIDU, Galileo, etc. operate independently at almost any point on the globe.

      Reply
  41. MD Sharif

    Thank you so much for providing such a beautiful information.The GPS system of sea fish is a very important thing.It is very much needed on every boat.I already have knowledge of GPS systems.I like your article and find out more.I think those who are new will be able to collect a lot of good information from your articles.And I will visit your web site again to collect more new information.Thank you so much for giving us such a lovely review.

    Reply
  42. Steve

    Thanks for writing this post and also taking the time to update it! While I don’t have the most experience with GPS navigation on boats either, I can appreciate the necessity of it. Nobody wants to get lost out on the open ocean! It looks like you really have highlighted some quality pieces of equipment here that would be of great help to anyone who might decide to purchase them. Thank you for including a more affordable option for those who don’t have the biggest budget!

    Reply
  43. Kevwe

    Well in this case how will I be able to access the GPS in the waterline areas being a marine engineer, also I will I distinguished between the weaker GPS and stronger GPS. In choosing a navigation hardware which one is best suitable for a marine so that it can be used more effectively and more comfortably.

    Reply
    1. Andrejs (Post author)

      Thanks for stopping by. When it comes to GPS signal strength, even the latest iPhones and almost every Android smartphones have durable enough GPS and GLONASS chips for very high accuracy. Numbers of navigation Apps offer decent marine maps for safe navigation. NAVIONICS Boating US$ Canada for about 30$ is more than enough for recreation sailing and fishing. On the other hand, using a 1K$ iPhone on a boat is not a smart choice. For more or less comfortable sailing, I prefer to stand alone GPS for boats. Brand? I’d say that no significant difference amongst Lowrance, Garmin, Simrad, or Raymarine.

      Reply
  44. Sheddy Ovb

    Hey, I must say this is a job well done, this is really a useful and quality content. Basically I never had any good understanding of the usefulness of gps in a boat, this article is so insightful. The people over here are more like local fishermen who do not see the importance of gps in a boat. But it’s indeed obvious that Gps are really very important. I will try and discuss this with few of them over here.

    Reply
  45. Alblue

    Thank you for providing this information about GPS for boats. After we survived this pandemic, I want to go for vacation to the nearest sea and rent a boat with my friends. It’s interesting that there is a specific GPS for boat. Compared to basic free GPS, what is the most crucial thing that GPS for boats should have? Thanks

    Reply
  46. Mojisola Kupolati (Debbie)

    Thank you for sharing your personal experience. Many times, the personal experience could be more valuable because you are speaking from a practitioner point of view. Definitely people will consider cost and quality; however, a good buy will be good quality at a reasonable cost. The “Garmin” brand is known for good quality. If I were to make a choice or advice a sea explorer, I will suggest the ”GGPSMAP”

    Reply
  47. Skuchmane

    helllooo dear, what a wonderfull content you have here, thans aot for sharing such an amazing post with us all,, i must say these post is really a eye opener, hopefully it gets to people, ill surey share it in my scial media thanks alot, i believe these is exactly what my mom needs, she will definitely find these post usefull, thanks alot for the info dear, love the designs and your sense of humour here it really brings out the product uniqueness , already saved these so as to come back for future reference

    Reply
  48. EliteCarol

    Quite an interesting read though I have never even being in a ship before but learning about it is simply great and amusing. To be honest, I appreciate the details of what you have shared and would love to participate in it too. This is immense and thanks so much for sharing this post out here.thumbs up to you for sharing this here

    Reply
  49. Roy

    A good article and review of GPS devices for boats. Your article is writing about several renowned brands of GPS providers, both boat and handheld devices. I have always preferred Garmins products. They have always been of high quality but could be a bit better when it comes to user experience.

    I never used a boat GPS very often. But form the few sailing trips I have done, all of the integrated solutions on the boats have worked flawlessly. 

    Of the list of GPS´s for boats you have reviewed, I would go for Garmin GPSMAP 1040xs Chartplotter/Sonar Combo. Then you have the chart plotter function as well. In addition to the renowned brand, I think that anyone selecting this device will be satisfied

    Reply
  50. Rosalia

    I really liked your review! I am not an expert, but trying to organize some kind of holidays – if time allows us to do that – I was planning a boat trip, and I was looking for some tools to make it more secure. Your review caught my attention, it is really comprehensive and lists a good amount of products. I will make reference to this, for sure!

    Reply
  51. DarmiMaddie

    Though I have not always been the one that makes all the difference and I have definitely notoened a boat but it doesnt hurt to know about things like this asghey can prove to be pivotal in the long run. I actually like your suggestions and the performance quality that made you recommend them. Thank you for sharing

    Reply
  52. Sophie

    Hello there! Thank you very much for sharing this article on the best gps for boats. I’ve gone through it and it’s a very detailed article and it contains valuable information everyone can hold on to.You sound like a very interesting person having had sailed on so many different vessels in so many different situations. You definitely know what you are talking about. I do know that Large ships must have GPS on them, but did not know that gps was available for small boats. thanks for the eye opener.!

    Reply
  53. ReeceMichael

    Hello Andrej,

    I have been delighted to be here and this article is of help to me and my friend. We both own about 10 boats that can be rented for tour and so far we have lost two of these boats where after the tour, it was never brought back. I felt bad about it because we didn’t do anything to have them on our radar. Seeing these post to get GPS for boats is relieving and I’ll take action immediately to purchase some. 

    Reply

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