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 Post subject: What GPS for me?
PostPosted: Sun Dec 25, 2005 3:22 pm 
A friend was recently reaccounting of how his friend was able to track land speed and descent while skiing w/ a GPS watch. Anyone have manufacturers/models? Do they come w/ the other cool gadgets like compass and air temp? More importantly, are they water proof?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Dec 25, 2005 6:47 pm 
Brotherhood of the Golden Paddle
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Some are waterproof. If you understand the nature of a GPS receiver, you'll understand how they relate to a compass-- you can definitely tell direction. The danger with a GPS is over-reliance-- if you are relying on it to get you out of the wilderness and the batteries die, you are in deep doodoo. Make sure you have basic, low-tech navigational skills down before you rely on GPS.

Manufacturers are Garmin, Magellan, and a couple of others. Check any serious outdoor supplier or the manufacturers' websites.

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Chris T.
~'91 Klepper A2 w/ BSD schooner rig.
'64 Klepper Passat/Tradewind and T12 restoration projects.
Non-folding: Early '90s Old Town Canoe.
Previously owned '04 Pakboat Puffin II and '05 Swift (prototype), as well as an '84 Hobie 16.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Dec 25, 2005 10:04 pm 
Garmin and Magellan are the leaders - many models and software (and I tnink, Garmin has more optional software to offer - not to say that everybody needs it).

Handheld Garmins until 2003 or 2004 were so-so waterproof (and Magellans were not any better). There were some problems with leaks in Garmins before 2004, but they've reportedly improved lately, - in models newer than non-colour Legend and Vista - MAP76, for example. You may check specs, - I think all of them are rated to class 7, i.e. static immersion in fresh water for 30 minutes. Under some heavy waves it may leak sooner, and in salty water it will be damaged sooner too. Using an Aquapack waterproof pouch doesn't always help.

Compass is available in some models, - it's a good thing if you can afford extra cost. But normal neck compass or deck compass is a must, anyway. Avoid models with joy-stick control - it is less convenient. But I'm using it.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Dec 25, 2005 10:34 pm 
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I held off investing in a mapping GPS until Garmin got the bugs out of their Map60 line. I have used one of their 60C's a lot over the last year and am 100% satisfied with it. It is waterproof enough for me, has terrific color, and the mapping feature is outstanding.

I always carry charts and use a deck compass as well as the GPS, for the redundancy others have recommended. And, I have enough real-time experience navigating in sloppy conditions the "old" way I have no qualms about how I use the 60C.

The principal values of the 60C to me are:

1. Better ability to pick out hazards such as boomers while under way. This is really an advantage.

2. Better ability to hit a spot I want to reach -- and tell whether I will be able to reach it if wind or current is setting me someplace I don't want to go.

3. More enjoyment in looking back on my ventures -- the tracks tell me where I really went, not where I think I went, and make for enhanced sharing with others.

Every night on a multiday excursion I look over my paper charts and mentally fix on important waypoints or locations, and make sure these are waypointed in the GPS. The charts have bearings and distances inked onto them ahead of time for any significant crossings in my area, so I can always fall back on them ... part of the preparation for explorng a new area.

Under way, I almost never look at the charts, using the GPS to guide myself. and it works well.

The only caveat I have with the 60 C is that it is important to rinse it in fresh water every day, and to carefully clean the external contacts in fresh water, and dry them, to forestall corrosion. Even though they are covered with rubber protection, variations in temperature will allow some water inside these areas. However, even if these contacts puked on a trip, the GPS would still be usable. I have never had any water inside the battery compartment, or anyplace else where salt water could fry the unit.

The other downside is the cost: about $300 - $350 street price for a 60C, and about $150 for an initial BlueChart region, with another $100 or so for each added region. Those are big numbers, but I swallowed them gulping a little, and am now very glad I did it.

Oh, on the chi-chi add-ons: internal compass or altimeter (in the 60 CS, for example): forget them. With a deck compass, and with decent VHF access to marine weather predictions and a weather eye, who needs them?

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Dave Kruger
Astoria, OR
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Folbot Kodiak, Cooper, and Edisto; three hardshells; Mothership: Surf Scoter the Bartender; dinghy Little Blue Duck.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Dec 25, 2005 11:43 pm 
>3. More enjoyment in looking back on my ventures -- the tracks tell me where I really went, not where I think I went, and make for enhanced sharing with others.


If I'm correct, to record a continous track of the trip (not just locations of campsites), GPS has to be continuously working, receving satellite signals. Not just "ON", with actual GPS circuit off, but exaclty with "GPS ON". This brings us to battery life, and those times shown in specs, are for good long-play batteries, not for el-cheapo from $1 store, or for rechargeable AA. Something to consider...


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Dec 26, 2005 1:16 am 
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Alm wrote:
>3. More enjoyment in looking back on my ventures -- the tracks tell me where I really went, not where I think I went, and make for enhanced sharing with others.

If I'm correct, to record a continous track of the trip (not just locations of campsites), GPS has to be continuously working, receving satellite signals. Not just "ON", with actual GPS circuit off, but exaclty with "GPS ON". This brings us to battery life, and those times shown in specs, are for good long-play batteries, not for el-cheapo from $1 store, or for rechargeable AA. Something to consider...
I've used quality AA alkalines, and gotten three-four full days of paddling on the 60C. It is pretty good on battery life. With 2500 mAH NiMH rechargeable batteries, I would get more. Old technology rechargeables (e.g., 1100 -1200 mAH NiCads) would not last as long as quality alkalines. Rechargeable battery technology has really improved over the last 4-5 years.

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Dave Kruger
Astoria, OR
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Folbot Kodiak, Cooper, and Edisto; three hardshells; Mothership: Surf Scoter the Bartender; dinghy Little Blue Duck.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Dec 27, 2005 8:31 am 
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Forgot to add, earlier:

1. This site has very good, independent reviews of GPS models, software, maps, etc. Run by a couple of retired aerospace engineers. Authoritative. Complete. Updated periodically.

http://gpsinformation.net/

2. The Map 60 series has a superior antenna, which will hone in on signals from satellites faster and achieve a lock quicker than earlier models. More important when under a forest canopy than on the water, but useful, nonetheless.

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Dave Kruger
Astoria, OR
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Folbot Kodiak, Cooper, and Edisto; three hardshells; Mothership: Surf Scoter the Bartender; dinghy Little Blue Duck.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Dec 28, 2005 2:19 am 
Great useful information. As chrstjrn pointed out, reasonable redundancy should never be overlooked. Any gadget can fail or be borrowed by Davie Jones. Basic skills, well developed common sense and simple technology should never be overlooked. Over relience on any technology can spell trouble. We see it all the time w/ SUV drivers relying on 4 x 4 to compensate for poor basic driving skills, -they are always the first ones in the ditch. Or the cashier that can't give proper change because the till didn't tell him/her how much to give...
GPS seems a lot like digital photography; it can't compensate for a lack of basic skill, but it can greatly increase efficiency if used skillfully.

-Anyway getting too excited about shelling out $300 now for something that'll probably be reliably installed along w/ an I-pod in every mobile phone next year doesn't make a whole lot of sense. That deck compass, VHF and good ol' chart seem to be working fine for now.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Dec 28, 2005 3:48 am 
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Kaptain von Klepper wrote:
Great useful information. [snip]-Anyway getting too excited about shelling out $300 now for something that'll probably be reliably installed along w/ an I-pod in every mobile phone next year doesn't make a whole lot of sense. That deck compass, VHF and good ol' chart seem to be working fine for now.
Waiting for the price to drop is a good idea if what you are doing now works fine for you. Push the envelope a little, and the $300 might seem cheap. Someone on one of the powerboat forums said it this way (paraphrasing): "That $1500 I spent five years ago for a GPS seemed like a lot of money at the time, except that when I'm in the soup and can't see forty feet off my bow and don't know how close I am to shipping traffic, $1500 tossed out the window won't find the channel for me."

Avoid conditions which exceed your current skills until you can afford better nav gear, is my advice.

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Dave Kruger
Astoria, OR
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Folbot Kodiak, Cooper, and Edisto; three hardshells; Mothership: Surf Scoter the Bartender; dinghy Little Blue Duck.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Dec 28, 2005 10:10 pm 
Kaptain von Klepper wrote:
-Anyway getting too excited about shelling out $300 now for something that'll probably be reliably installed along w/ an I-pod in every mobile phone next year doesn't make a whole lot of sense. That deck compass, VHF and good ol' chart seem to be working fine for now.


Mobile phones are being manufactured now by a zillion of asian-based factories, and quality is generally lower than 4-5 years ago, though every year some new models drive older models out of the shelves (or they are offered for free with 2-year contract). I wouldn't buy for kayaking a mobile phone with a built-in GPS - not right now; first couple of years will yield crappy (and expensive) models. Combining 2 control panels in one handset wouldn't be practical either.

GPS prices don't drop as fast and as much as prices of mobile phones. At least, Garmin prices. Earlier models like yellow Etrex without a map (but with coordinates and waypoints) are still on the market, and cost about $90. Sure, cheaper than its $115-125 price 3 years ago. As I've noticed, moslty GPS prices go down (in the first 6-12 months) due to competition of dealers, - probably some can live with lower margin than othhers. After 2 or 3 years, price may drop a little bit more (often by way of the factory rebate) when Garmin is about to introduce somewhat improved model. You may go for yellow Etrex - it will show your location relatively to previously entered waypoints, and/or in coordinates of latitute/longitude. It will not work as a map, because it has no mapping features, but it will work as a safety item, i.e. a back-up for your paper map and compass, for example, in fog or darkness. Amazon will even ship it for free - saving another $5 or 10.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Dec 29, 2005 2:16 am 
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Alm wrote:
You may go for yellow Etrex - it will show your location relatively to previously entered waypoints, and/or in coordinates of latitute/longitude. It will not work as a map, because it has no mapping features, but it will work as a safety item, i.e. a back-up for your paper map and compass, for example, in fog or darkness. Amazon will even ship it for free - saving another $5 or 10.
I used one of these for a couple years before investing in a mapping unit. To be very useful in the field, I found it important to pre-load waypoints. I used some proprietary software, but I suspect OziExplorer would handle that. Entering waypoints using the cumbersome interface on the eTrex will drive you nuts!

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Dave Kruger
Astoria, OR
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Folbot Kodiak, Cooper, and Edisto; three hardshells; Mothership: Surf Scoter the Bartender; dinghy Little Blue Duck.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Dec 29, 2005 10:42 pm 
Well, at least that basic unit shows your coordinates (wthout entering any waypoints). With a chart or topo-map (which MUST be carried anyway) one may then figure out his location relatively to the particular point of interest - campsite, pub :-) etc.

I didn't like the interface of $200 Garmin Legend either, btw. Mapping capability, quite a decent unit, with a basic map and capable of downloading additional maps if needed, though joystick is ergonomically less convenient than buttons. In fact, it would be "uploading", - one has to buy these additional CDROMs with maps (they are not cheap) and then upload it into the unit. There are also some models "in between" the yellow Etrex and Legend - with a pre-loaded map (so entering waypoints is easier), but without the capability of uploading additional maps. They are available in both Garmin and Magellan lines, and cost about $150 - don't remember which ones.
Honestly, my most frequent use of Legend was not finding my location, but measuring my speed :-) ... Any GPS would do that, I guess.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Jan 01, 2006 9:03 pm 
Do you guys have the manufacturer's links? I've seen some GPS units w/ mapping for autos at around US$500, but they seem rather unwieldy for sporting use. But a smaller screen seems likewise impractical.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Jan 01, 2006 10:04 pm 
http://www.garmin.com/ --> Outdoor --> Basic, or Mapping, doesn't matter, the link will open the page will all small-sized GPS, grouped into sections. Small screen is, of course, less practical to use as a map, than computer-sized screen. But handheld outdoor units, firstly, are not intended for use as a map (they can do, but not as comfortably as normal large map); and secondly, larger screen, like those for car dashboard, can hardly be installed in a kayak (and often are not waterproof, and check their battery life also - you have no 12V plug in a kayak). I've hear of one guy, though, that recommended one of those large-screen units, - to be installed semi-permanently on deck. Some people carry outboard motor, heavy batteries, coolers, lawn chairs and many other things in a kayak, especially in a barge like AEII, and/or with big sail and outriggers. It stops being a kayak, TAD, in my opinion then. But this is a matter of lifestyle, - there are no rules here.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jan 02, 2006 2:02 am 
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Alm wrote:
But handheld outdoor units, firstly, are not intended for use as a map.
I use mine for that all the time, while on the water, but supplement with a paper chart in camp in the evenings. Get one with a quality display and some reading glasses and try it, Alex. Until you've spent several days on the water with a Garmin Map60C (or similar), I don't think you can appreciate how useful a good mapping unit is. Does not replace a chart, for sure -- you are correct about that -- but when you are paddling from place to place, on the water, even the small-display ones are incredibly useful. And, because of their small size, they are more useful than a chart, on the deck of your kayak.

This link has the best low-down on handheld mapping units: http://gpsinformation.net/

Independent of the manufacturers, and chock-full of info, including screen shots. Definitely the first place to go on the Web if you are comparison shopping GPS units.

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Dave Kruger
Astoria, OR
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Folbot Kodiak, Cooper, and Edisto; three hardshells; Mothership: Surf Scoter the Bartender; dinghy Little Blue Duck.


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