For centuries mariners have relied on nautical charts to navigate the sea, but it wasn’t always easy for them to know their exact position on those charts. These days boaters have the advantage of knowing this important information to an amazing level of accuracy. After installing a chart plotter, you can take advantage of this technology to make your next day on the water safer and more enjoyable.
The terms GPS and chart plotter are often used interchangeably, but there are some differences to keep in mind about this type of equipment. GPS stands for Global Positioning System, which provides your current location using longitude and latitude coordinates.
Chart plotters combine your GPS location with accurate charts to provide important information about the marine features around you and where you’re heading. It’s important to know your location, and it’s equally important to combine that with an accurate chart. Over time, your plotter will use this data to provide your course and speed.
The list of features on today’s chart plotters is seemingly endless. We’ll touch on a few of them here to get you started then you can check with the experts at Imagine Marine for more detailed advice.
A very convenient feature is navigation tracking, which saves your voyage as you travel. This allows you to follow the same path in the future, which can be helpful in poor weather conditions. Another popular feature to consider is a fish finder to increase your chances of catching dinner! Chart plotters can also overlay local weather radar maps over your current chart, making it easier to see oncoming storms.
The most important consideration for these units is the level of safety they provide and installing a chart plotter that alerts you to various dangerous situations is highly recommended.
A collision alarm will let you know if you get too close to objects such as rocks or reefs. A low battery alarm will warn you when you’re about to lose power. An arrival alarm may seem unneeded, but it’s possible to get distracted and motor past your destination. Arguably the most important safety feature allows you to mark the spot if someone goes overboard, so you can relay this information to rescuers if needed.
Many of us use maps and GPS to navigate on land, so the concept isn’t new to us. However, navigating on the water is more complex, so be sure to practice with your new chart plotter. You should get in the habit of using this equipment every time you use your boat. When you get caught in bad weather or travel on unknown waters, you don’t want to be flipping through the owner’s manual looking for instructions for your device! Get some one-on-one training from an expert and study the owner’s manual when you’re still on land. That way you’ll have a safe and fun time on the water.
Hiring a professional to install your chart plotter is essential. You can purchase the best equipment available, but if it’s not installed properly, you are taking a risk. Imagine Marine are experts at installing chart plotters and at wiring marine electronics. Many of us are proud of our home DIY projects, but that doesn’t always translate to boat projects. When you rely on the experts, you can be sure that you’re getting the finest quality products and materials to get the job done right.