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.