The open waters can offer endless thrills for boaters. Unfortunately, they also pose several kinds of threats. Though there are times when freak accidents can occur at sea, there are numerous things that boaters can do to reduce their chances of getting hurt.
One of the many ways that sailors can avoid boating accident injuries is to have an updated map of the area where they’ll be heading. But with so many options available, how do you know which type of mapping device to choose? Here’s a look at two popular types of navigational devices, chartplotters and GPS systems, and their pros and cons so you can determine which is best for you.
The difference between a chartplotter and a GPS
A global positioning system unit (GPS) is not necessarily one of the most comprehensive navigational devices out there, but it’s also not one of the most basic. A GPS device, which uses satellite technology, will mostly note your position in terms of latitude and longitude. More innovative GPS devices are available, but basic ones do not provide a mapping system, making them a better choice for boaters who are sticking to enclosed areas, like a small local lake.
Several GPS systems are handheld, which for some, might be a nuisance and for others, a perk. Some boaters use the same GPS system interchangeably on their vessels as their land vehicles. Portability is a comfort for many, but it can also offer limitations, as portable GPS devices tend to have smaller screens, making it difficult for boaters to determine individual areas in open waters that contain hazards.
Though it isn’t necessary, many boaters choose to use a GPS in addition to a paper map, as they can determine their position from the GPS, then record their exact location on their charts.
If you prefer a system that can instantly display charts and automatically plot your location, then you may want to opt for a chartplotter.
A chartplotter is one of the pricier kinds of boating safety equipment, and for good reason. It is a navigational device that integrates GPS data, along with an electronic navigational chart (ENC). It also has the ability to display the position, heading, and speed of a vessel. Furthermore, a chartplotter can tell you the depth of the water and can alert you to any hazards your boat might encounter as you make your way back to shore. In short, it is an all-in-one kind of system that offers a range of features and tools that can keep boaters safe while navigating open waters.
That being said, is it necessary to opt for a chartplotter or will a standard GPS suffice?
Find out in our next blog.