Think You Might Need A Chart Plotter?
|Clearwater Harbor FL Spoil Island|
Over the years the durable 120 became difficult to wake up in the morning, usually taking its time to find satellites and it could not plot a route to save its processor. After Sixteen years of adventures a dark circle formed in the exact center of the display and grew in area ultimately becoming a total eclipse.
|16 Years of Service|
DOIN THE SEA FOG SLOG
Our new Garmin GPS640 Maps arrived in a large box of some heft. This is significant because as we all know anything expensive must have these qualities in direct proportion to their cost to have real value. The large hefty box included important documents, books, parts and accessories in impressive plastic bags that further justified the cost. A word of caution is in order. Offerings from some providers included remanufactured, refurbished or open frame units at a lower price. The fine print explained that while the unit would function properly some accessories may be missing. Given all the parts, pieces and paraphernalia shipped in our box the risk was not worth taking and well worth the $40 difference.
The unit fits perfectly on a swing arm in HideAway’s companionway. The nautical mount has a feature that scared the ptooohies out of us when first used. One of us bumped the GPS pretty hard causing it to spin to almost vertical! Turns out the mount has a clutch that allows for such impact. A nice amenity on a heeling sailboat.
View From the Helm
The Touch Screen
The touch screen allows for a larger viewing area and is easy to use. The panning function took some getting used to for the HideAways. Be careful though, if you inadvertently touch the screen something on it will change. In finding your way back to the right screen you may have to employ language some may feel inappropriate. Interestingly it takes some effort to use the on/off switch.
As we sailed out of Pass-A-Grill channel entering crucial waypoints the 640 could not find marker G7A. That might not mean much to you, but G7A is the closest marker with adequate water depth to afford the south bound intentions of the HideAways. Full magnification was required to find the channel marker in a water way where 4 foot wakes are common. How much fun can one sailor stand? After the waypoint is entered the mark will show at any magnification.
A Most Annoying Feature
Another feature of the GPS that is quite handy is the ability “measure distance” from one point to another. For instance, if I want to measure the distance from G7A to the channel entrance it accurately calculated the distance at something over ten miles to my home. That brings us to perhaps the most annoying feature of the duel purpose 640. It has only one home base and that is located in the driving mode. If you plot a future track in boating mode, all references are from your driving home. Yes you can change your home to your yacht club or boat location but it is very inconvenient to do this on a regular basis and may not help anyway.
|The line next to the X should not be there|
Do I Need a Route From My Dining Room Table to Anywhere?
The route planning instructions recommend starting the route at the destination and work back to the starting point. At one point I became so frustrated trying to build an accurate route from home that I drove to the end of the dock we usually depart and made a waypoint, incorrectly thinking that using that mark as a starting point would solve the problem. Turns out the GPS will take into account where IT is located and nowhere else. Back at home or any other place in the world, the GPS will happily start the route from that location. Oddly, I do not need a route from my dining room table to Anclote Key. Planning routes has proven to be a frustrating waste of time. Our solution is to a complete list of waypoints for any given cruise and navigate to them as needed.
|Watch Sailing HideAway Videos|
Over all it appears the navigation function of the Garmin GPSMAP640 was designed and programmed by someone with little sailing experience sitting before a huge monitor bolted to something that cannot move. I found the Help section of the Garmin website not useful and the map down load process extremely difficult. I finally managed to download my one free updated street map but I don’t believe it made it to the machine residing instead on my hard drive. Another problem for another day.
BlueChart g2 Vision SD Card
Is It Worth The Price?
That being written, the Garmin GPSMAP640 is a powerful and useful tool. Recently the ability to access moon phase, tides and current made the difference of a comfortable anchorage and a night of worry. The reference section shows various services and contacts close to your current location, a very helpful feature when you’re low on fuel or need parts etc. Waypoints are easy to make underway and it sure is handy to see where you are in relation to where you are going. In an effort to maintain your sanity allow plenty of time to acquaint yourself with the 640 before you set off on a cruise.
By the by: The street function is much easier to live with and appears to learn common routes.
|HideAway Near Honeymoon Island Fl|
SMALL BOATS ROCK!