A Marine GPS system is a must for any proactive boater but if you already have a fixed GPs unit or Chart plotter GPS combo, spent the fitting it to your boats dash you may be asking yourself is there any need for me to purchase a handheld unit?
Some mariners may consider the purchase of an extra handheld unit as overkill as for many years boaters survived without any type of marine electronics but there are many advantages to owning both types of GPS unit.
Marine Handheld GPS
Handheld GPS devices are a good alternative for mariners who do not have the budget or are not yet ready to invest in a dash mounted system. The handheld GPS is relatively inexpensive and a highly versatile piece of kit allowing you to keep a log of where you are, where you are going and where you have been even if you don’t have a big budget.
As with all marine electronics prices vary dramatically depending on the manufacture, specification and the features you are looking for. Prices can range from roughly $100 into the high hundreds for a top of the range device. Top of the range models such as the Garmin GPSMAP 78sc, a fantastic waterproof marine handheld GPS and Chartplotter have the ability to display marine charts in addition to the standard GPS location data.
Marine Handheld GPS Recomendations
If you already have a dash mounted marine GPS on your boat there are many advantages to owning a handheld device. The handheld is a perfect backup device should your on-board GPS fail or develop a glitch whilst out on the ocean. Portable by definition use is obviously not limited to on-board your boat, should you dock at an unfamiliar location or marina and fancy exploring the local town or countryside your handheld can come in extremely handy. Having the ability to set a waypoint and easily get back to your boat has many advantages especially after a couple of glasses of the local wine. An amazing unit that would fit the mariner lifestyle both off and on-board is the Garmin Oregon series. The Oregon line have both road maps and Blue Chart maps for mariners are waterproof, extremely durable have a large colour displays and have been designed with outdoor adventurer in mind.
Many newer devices accommodate road mapping alongside chart mapping making them perfect for you on land backcountry adventures. If you are looking for the best of both worlds and don’t want to restrict your GPS to just your boat the handheld device is a viable alternative. Devices such as the Lowrance Endura Safari features touch screen navigation, a full range of contour and topographical maps and multimedia functions such as a built in mp3 player and video player.
The handheld GPS will never strictly replace a marine GPS unit, mariners must remember that handhelds have smaller displays, smaller buttons and less features than a dedicated marine unit but as a compromise, backup or multi use product the handheld GPS unit would be a welcome addition to any mariner’s marine electronics arsenal.