Latest News: Forums Cruising Hard-wired chartplotter for a WF

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  • #20747

    Hi Farers

    I have got good use out of Navionics software on iOS and now on Android smartphone. But there are downsides. The main one is that under a waterproof cover and on a sunny day it is not easy to see the screen of any phone. If you have a waterproof phone (e.g. recent  Sonys) the touch screen does not work if wet. Also phones break a lot. Also the battery can’t cope so you need to carry a back-up – but this gets to be a pain. And if your phone dies – well you have lost your phone in the mix.

    So…….i am wondering about getting a Garmin chartplotter that would be powered by an external battery and live permanently attached to centreboard housing just aft of the thwart (or mb up by mast). The bracket is robust and can be swivelled on the tack.

    My main concern is that the model I can afford (£220) Garmin 45dv has a 4 inch screen and I worry if I will be able to see it – especially when hiked and solo – at least you could hold the phone and squint at it. The 55dv looks good but is more like £400. Also wondering what sort of battery to specify and how to keep it dry and charge it on a cruise

    Has anyone any experience in this game?



    WF 9002

    Jeremy Warren

    Trevor, I’m comfortable with the Garmin Montana 400. It is self contained, has a 10 hr battery life on the rechargeable, alternatively it takes AA batteries. It is completely waterproof (no problem during 32 days round Britain) and has a bright screen, although its only does about 4 inches. One SIM card covers all UK, but it costs £400. It is my special friend! Jeremy WF Hafren


    I’m not familiar with the Garmin Montana 400 – maybe Jeremy meant the Garmin Montana 600?

    If so, a “plus one” from me too for all the reasons stated (albeit I don’t sail round Britain in 32 days with one!).

    Other pluses

    a) as a hand held, you can take it with you when you sail on someone else’s boat. In my case, I use it most often as the 2nd plotter when sailing the channel in a friends yacht

    b) I “sold” it to the wife for when we go walking. You’ll then need to stump up for a 2nd card with the Ordnance Survey Discoverer maps. The Discoverer range are 1:50K so no replacement for a 1:25K Explorer maps (the digital Ordnance maps at 1:25K are still fearsome expensive)

    c) the available memory in the Garmin is large – meaning that it will easily store all your previous track data in GPX format – useful if you like reviewing where you’ve been sailing (and much better than my old GPS72H which has so little memory it “archives” data storing lat/long and elevation only – what use is elevation on a boat GPS!!!).



    Jeremy and Aidan

    Thanks for those thoughts – so a handheld could still be a possibility. Will investigate further and report back. These are touch-screen devices – I have had bad experiences with touch-screens when wet. I rather liked that the 45dv was button operated – any feedback on that side of things?

    A question for Jeremy – on your odyssey how did you keep the device charged?


    Andrew Morrice


    have you considered a DSC GPS enabled VHF radio?  This isn’t a chart plotter, but you can program in the waypoints for the day when not sailling, and it gives you SOG, COG, bearing and distance from any selected waypoint.  Dead useful.  We usually use this to check progress and make course corrections when underway rather than navionics, which we use mainly to plan the passage.  It has the added benefit that in a genuine emergency you can just press the digital distress button and it transmits your whereabouts.  They are more expensive than the non GPS versions, but the advantage is you need one of these anyway!  We have this model, which I see is on sale for little more than an ordinary model!

    Boris W6330/Delphy – but you knew that!!


    I have been using the ‘Uniden Mystic’ for the past ten years. A waterproof DSC-VHF with a mapping GPS and a large screen LCD. The closest thing to a plotter that you could hang from your swimming aid. IMHO the perfect solution for a Wayfarer. Unfortunately it is no longer available, I can’t even get spare batteries for it. The Mystic is sorely missed.
    But if you can find one used with a good battery, go for it!

    The Standard Horizon HX851E I bought last year is a much better build quality but it lacks a map/chart.

    As for batteries, I carry spare pack and the device does not need to be switched on all the time. A quick check and than its back to the compass. That way the battery will last days and there will still be enough power  left to send a DSC-distress  or a Mayday message.


    We’ve been thinking about this too. We use Navionics on an iPad, in a LifeEdge waterproof case. The case is great, has never leaked, generally responds well to the touch screen (except when very wet) and the screen is generally bright enough that we can see it at any time. Also a nice big screen on the iPad.

    We have been struggling with charge though and have just decided to fit a storage device with USB charger into the forward locker. That way it should stay dry and will carry enough charge to keep the iPad charged up for a week or so.

    Posted in case of any use, or if anyone has experience of this setup and can offer any advice.



    As regards charging:-

    i’ve got a marine solar panel mounted on foredeck with suckers, the lead goes through deck via a waterproof gland into forrard buoyancy compartment (It’s a woody) to a charge controller and then to a modern, lightweight 12v battery (LiFePO4) which is fixed above the keel. I then have a box on a flying lead with 12v car sockets and a switchable volt meter connected to the charge controller. When sailing this box is behind forrard hatch, when moored it’s brought into the cockpit. This set up cost about £250 but pretty much kept my handheld VHF, mobile phone and tablet charged during a two month trip in the UK summer.

    Andrew Morrice

    Nicko.  You seem a knowledgeable dude on this stuff.  Can I inveigle you into talking to a small group your fellow sailors at the cruising conference?!  Please do drop me a line on I am putting together the programme now and was thinking about covering electrics.

    all very best

    Boris W6330  Delphy

    Daryl Brown

    Has anyone explored water turbines as a source of usb charging power?

    For example the waterlily turbine

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