Marine Chartplotters Explained

One very important piece of equipment that every mariner should have on-board is a marine chartplotter. This electronic gadget is a must-have if one hopes to have a safe and enjoyable voyage. It’s useful for fishing boats as well as pleasure boats that sail from port to port.

So what exactly is a chartplotter?  Let me try to break it down for you.  All chartplotters use a GPS antenna (either integrated into the unit or as an external antenna) to plot your location on an electronic map stored in the chartplotters memory.  The type of map you get varies greatly and affects the price of the unit.  Some very basic units have no mapping data and just plot a location on the screen so you can find your way to and from a great fishing spot.  Top of the line systems come with 3D mapping that will show you just about every detail around you.  Some chartplotters come with a sounder built into the unit.  These are usually referred to as GPS Combos.  GPS Combos allow you to hook up a transducer to “see” under the boat and act as a fishfinder or depthfinder.  Many charplotters that are available today can also be hooked up to a NMEA network to allow you to use a radar to help you navigate, an autopilot to help take some of the pressure off piloting you boat, wind data if you are sailing, and RPM and fuel data from your engine.  You can now see why having a marine chartplotter on boat is so important.

A marine chartplotter may seem more complicated than other gadgets you can find at the helm because it integrates so many functions.  That is simply not true.  Today’s chartplotters are very intuitive and user friendly.  Shopepal carries all the best brands of marine chartplotters like Garmin, Humminbird, Raymarine, Lowrance, and Furuno.

Boating safety tips

Boating accidents don’t receive as much attention in the news as traffic accidents yet every year thousands of people lose their lives when boats collide, capsize in choppy waters, run aground, catch fire, or when they are tossed out of the boats. Most road accident-related deaths can be prevented if drivers and passengers observe simple safety procedures; boating deaths can similarly be avoided by exercising caution.

A motor vehicle requires regular service to keep it in good shape. The same applies to every type of boat out there. It is commonly believed that only the big passenger carrying boats require regular inspections and servicing and as such many an owner of a small boat evades the dry dock unless the boat has a problem he can’t fix on his own. Seasoned water vessel owners nonetheless emphasize the importance of regular inspection because during such exercises it is possible to detect and repair any problems that could put you and your crew at risk.

It is important to have some basic marine safety equipment on board every boat yet many boaters, especially owners of small boats, often go out to sea without any. It is rather unfortunate that such crews only appreciate the importance of having marine safety equipment aboard when they run into trouble and need to not only call for and direct rescuers to their positions but also to stay alive until help arrives. One piece of safety equipment that you should have with you is a marine GPS.  Not only does a marine GPS help you navigate the waters you are in but in case of emergency it is designed to help the user tell his/her locations’ exact coordinates. Even if you are stranded in the open waters and you’ve lost all sense of direction, a marine GPS should enable you to pinpoint your exact position so that a rescuer can find you.

Another important item of marine safety equipment is the life jacket. A life jacket is analogous to a car seat belt; believe it or not, most of the people who lose their lives in boating accidents are usually people not wearing life jackets. Wearing a life jacket can save your life in the event that your boat capsizes or you are forced to dive overboard. With a properly fitted life jacket you should be able to float with your head out of the water so that you continue breathing. You never know how long it will take before help arrives; even if you are a good swimmer you can get exhausted and drown before you are rescued.

Should you find yourself in the water a personal locator beacon (PBL) may mean the difference between life and death.  These small devices usually weigh less than a couple of powerbars.  They quickly and accurately relay your position to a worldwide network of search and rescue satellites.

Most of the marine safety equipment you need for safe boating is very affordable. A marine GPS, for example, may cost you less than $300.