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Boat GPS Chartplotters

Navigating a vessel out on the open water takes skill, confidence, and the right technologies. One of these technologies is the GPS chart plotter. These devices are used all over the world to help captains and their crews navigate their courses.

What is a boat GPS chartplotter?

Knowing where you are on the water is an important part of boating, no matter what size vessel you are in or what your level of experience is. A chart plotter with GPS is a piece of technology used for marine navigation. The basic function of a chart plotter is to assist you to plot and follow a course on a body of water.

With these chart plotters, GPS data is integrated with an electronic navigational chart (NEC) and displayed information on a digital screen. These devices display information such as the speed, position, and heading of the boat. They can also display information from radar, automatic information systems (AIS), and other sensors to the user. Chartplotters are usually used in conjunction with other instruments like sonar transducers, 2-way radios, and emergency locations.

Can a chart plotter take the place of paper charts?

A GPS chart plotting device is only as accurate as the charts it contains, and there are legal and quality implications to this. If this device meets the technical standards, it can qualify as an International Maritime Organization (IMO) and national hydrographic bodies Electronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS). This means it can legally become a substitute for paper charts in active waterways. However, if your vessel uses a chart plotting device that does not qualify as an ECDIS, you are still legally required to maintain paper charts.

What are the benefits of a chart plotter?

No matter your purpose for charting a course, a GPS chart plotting system can have multiple benefits such as:

  • Finding fishing spots: These devices can mark fishing spots and give you coordinates to follow. They can also record your drifts to help you get back to your starting point if you participate in drift fishing.
  • Sailing: Sailing activities can benefit from chart plotters as they can provide information that can improve your performance, whether you are cruising or racing.
  • Safety: Important benefits are the safety measures and the sense of security a chartplotter gives you. This device provides you with your exact position so that you can provide that information to authorities in the event of an accident or emergency.
  • Education: You can use one of these devices to display various educational information on the screen such as the location of coral reefs, the depth of the ocean, and fish nearby.
  • Convenience: If you have a ECDIS device, you do not have to use paper charting. This can make your ocean journeys more enjoyable and less stressful.
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