Top 5 Marine GPS Systems – Best GPS for Sailing

While sailing, you are engulfed in uncertainties and need to be prepared for the worst. In doing so, a Marine GPS is an irreplaceable safety device that keeps you well-equipped to face the perils. In times of crisis, this device helps you connect with the nearest rescue team by letting them know your exact location. Moreover, most marine GPS come bundled with additional features like fish finder and much more.

 I.D.ModelFeaturesCompare Prices
#1Raymarine Axiom 9 Fish Finder with Built in GPS, WiFi, Chirp Sonar and RealVision 3D with Transducer and Navionics+Raymarine Axiom 9° Wide Coverage

°Large Screen
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#2Garmin Echomap Chirp 74CvGarmin Echomap Chirp 74Cv° In-Depth Clarity

° Clear Scanning
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#3Simrad GO9 XSESimrad GO9 XSE° Total Scan Transducer

° Ideal for Sail Sports Boats
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#4Garmin Echomap Chirp 94SV with transducer, 010-01805-01Garmin Echomap Chirp 94SV° Better Underwater scanning

° Area-Specific Maps
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#5Humminbird 410220-1 Helix 5, Chirp Di GPS G2,Humminbird 410220-1 Helix 5 Chirp Di GPS G2° Comes with a Transducer

° Create Charts

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What is Marine GPS?

A Marine GPS is one that is pre-loaded with nautical maps to facilitate easier and more precise navigation. In fact, you can even choose one depending on the region that you sail in, whether inland or coastal. Moreover, if you lost your way while sailing, you can even send signals to the rescue team.

Why do You Need a Marine GPS?

A lot of people presume that they can use just about any GPS while sailing, but this is a wrong notion. Although your car or trekking GPS works on satellite-based technology and should practically work just about anywhere, a Marine GPS does the same and much more.

The core reason to go for a Marine GPS is that this device comes with several additional features such as pre-loaded nautical maps and sonar. Most GPS have regular updates on additional maps and routes, making it more useful and up-to-date.

What to look for in a Marine GPS

Although any GPS would work, but it would do just a fraction of what a Marine GPS can. Therefore, you must look for an advanced Marine GPS irrespective of its price. That’s because a Marine GPS is meant for your safety and even the best of Sailors can at times, lose their way. Below-mentioned are some features that you must look for while buying a Marine GPS.

 

Nautical Maps – In order to sail safely, you need to sail in the right direction without losing your way. Most advanced Marine GPS not only facilitate navigation, but also provide the required calculations to reach a particular destination. Moreover, the pre-loaded nautical maps and their timely updates are the very reason that most Sailors specifically look for a Marine GPS.

 

 

 

sailing sonar

Pictured: Sonar System

Sonar – Most of the sophisticated Marine GPS have sonar that locates fish or oyster beds. Also, it is highly recommended that you invest in a highly advanced GPS because it is a safety device, and when it comes to safety there should be no compromise.

 

 

 

 

 

Large Display – You must always remember to buy navigation devices that give you a clear view of what’s in store for you. This may not be possible if your device’s display is not large enough.

 

Antenna – If you are buying a smaller Marine GPS then pick one that comes with antenna. This is extremely useful while sailing because at times the signals can be extremely low.

 

Signalling Rescue Teams – The recent Marine GPS devices have the option to connect with the nearest rescue teams and send out signals for them to locate the victim ship. This is definitely a must-have feature for those who sail longer distances.

What are the different types of Marine GPS available?

 

Marine GPS can be classified into three groups based on their sizes, these include Handheld, Portable and Fixed-Mount GPS Systems.

 

 

Handheld

armin GPSMAP 78S Marine GPS Navigator and World Wide Chartplotter

Pictured: Our Handheld Choice: Garmin GPSMAP 78S Marine GPS Navigator and World Wide Chartplotter

 

As the name indicates, a Handheld Marine GPS is a compact device that can be held in your hand. It is easy to carry and considered to be the most ideal for those who sail shorter distances. It is recommended that you use a handheld Marine GPS only to navigate to places that you are familiar with. One must keep in mind that sailing is not like cycling or trekking where you should be particularly looking out for compact GPS systems. On the contrary, for a better view and detailed navigation instructions, you must always consider a GPS system with a larger display. So, if you are keen on a handheld Marine GPS, then always remember to get one with an antenna for better signals in low signal zones.

Pros:

  • Compact and easy to carry
  • Often the cheapest of all types of marine GPS Systems
  • Mostly lacks additional features that other marine GPS systems offer
  • Some of them come with an antenna for better signal
  • Can be used in multiple boats

Cons:

  • Limited Features
  • Can be troublesome in low-signal areas
  • Smaller display can be troublesome while looking for details

Portable

Raymarine Dragonfly Pro CHIRP Fish Finder with built in GPS and WiFi with Navionics+ Charts and Transducer

Pictured: Featured- Raymarine Dragonfly Pro CHIRP Fish Finder

These are the most preferred category of Marine GPS Systems that have a larger screen than the handheld GPS. This is quite similar to the ones you see in your car and is supposed to be mounted on a temporary mount. The portable GPS are also called as chart plotters and are lesser expensive than the fixed mount marine GPS Systems.

The portable marine GPS are considered to be the most convenient type of GPS because they enable better navigation and also are affordable. These are far better than the handheld GPS because you don’t have to struggle to get a detailed view of the map. However, if you plan to use it in two boats, then you must find a model that is easy to screw and unscrew, and also buy an additional mount for the second boat.

Pros

  • Easy to Mount and dismount
  • Ideal to use in multiple boats
  • Larger screen size as compared to the hand held GPS systems
  • Often comes in a touch screen form
  • Often comes with additional features such as the fish finder

Cons

  • Higher risk of being stolen since it is easier to unscrew

Fixed-Mount

ICOM IC-M506 31 Fixed Mount VHF

Pictured: Featured- ICOM IC-M506 31 Fixed Mount

These are the most expensive Marine GPS systems that come with fixed mounts and are great from security point of view. That’s because the chances of theft is lowered because it is not easily detachable.

Pros:

  • Larger screen ensures better visibility
  • Lesser chances of theft as it fixed
  • Mostly comes with additional features like sonar and radar

Cons:

  • More expensive than other models
  • Not removable, hence you cannot carry it with you in another boat

 

Read through the Top 5 Marine GPS Devices listed below for a great sailing experience

 

 

 

  1. Raymarine Axiom 9Raymarine Axiom 9 Fish Finder with Built in GPS, WiFi, Chirp Sonar and RealVision 3D with Transducer and Navionics+

Price: $ 1443.04

For an enhanced navigational experience, this highly advanced Marine GPS comes with a quadcore processor, 9 inch screen and a 3D display.  However, Axiom 9 also provides you with several additional features like the 3D Sonar for better image quality and a frequently updated large database of nautical maps. You can also connect this device to your cellular phone via Wi-Fi.

Key Features

Wide Coverage:

The nautical maps in this device’s database covers up the coasts and inland waters of US and Canada. Also, this database has an aggregate of over 20,000 maps and is constantly updated with more inland routes.

Large Screen:

It is always recommended that you pick a Marine GPS with a larger display because that provides a detailed view of the route. So, you can count on the 9 inch screen of this Marine GPS for better navigation.

RealVision 3D Sonar:

This device ensures that you get an absolutely clear view of what’s beneath the waters. In fact, this device has more than just the typical CHIRP Sonar. Therefore, in order to give near photographic images, it is loaded with CHIRP SideVision and CHIRP DownVision.

Pros:

  • Has a 9 inch screen for better view
  • Comes with a quadcore processor to reduce the chances of a slowdown
  • The device uses Lighthouse 3, a smarter Operating system
  • The Sonar 3 in this device helps locate fish with extremely clear images
  • It has expandable features compatible with Raymarine accessories.
  • Equipped with Wi-fi for better connectivity

Cons:

  • Some nautical maps may be outdated
  • Lack of adequate customer support

Conclusion:

Raymarine Axiom 9 is an above-average Marine GPS that uses the latest technologies to provide useful information while sailing. The features of this device ensure timely, precise and smarter navigational experience.

Rating: 5 Stars

  1. Garmin Echomap Chirp 74Cv

Price: $468.10

This Marine GPS comes with a 7 inch screen and a transducer which is most suitable for deep waters. When it comes to coastal sailing, this is one of the best Marine GPS. That’s because it’s preloaded with BlueChart G2, which contains maps that primarily focus on coastal sailing. If you fancy fishing while you sail across the coasts, this Chart-Plotter comes handy because of its high-resolution that results in superior-quality underwater images.

Key Features

In-Depth Clarity – This device’s transducer provides greater clarity of the underwater objects. This helps locate objects clearly even at a depth of 850 feet or more.

Ideal for Coastal sailing – The BlueChart G2 maps primarily include coastal maps and that makes it easier to navigate from coast to coast.

Clear Scanning – This Marine GPS uses the Chirp Traditional and Chirp Clearvu Sonars that deliver high quality images on the device’s 7 inch screen. It is extremely useful for professional fishermen.

Pros:

  • Its high-quality sonar gives superior underwater image quality
  • Considered ideal for coastal sailing
  • Larger screen size gives better view of the map
  • The preloaded BlueChart G2 facilitates coastal sailing
  • It has Chirp Traditional and Chirp Clearvu scanning Sonars

Cons:

  • Does not give a 3Dimensional output
  • Does not have Chirp Sidevu scanning Sonar

Conclusion:

The Garmin Echomap Chirp 74 cv is a great improvement over the 73 cv that was pre-loaded with Lakevu maps, ideal only for inland waters. However, the BlueChart G2 maps in the 74 cv are more suitable for coastal sailing. That sure makes it a better choice than its predecessor. The Chirp Traditional and Chirp Clearvu sonars however remain the same for all Garmin cv devices.

Rating: 4 Stars

  1. Simrad GO9 XSE

Price: $1053.4

Although many sellers selling this Simrad model may or may not give you the option to choose a Transducer, this Simrad 609 XSE product is sold with a Total Scan Transducer. It provides excellent depth and high-quality near photographic images of the underwater region. This is considered to be the most ideal Marine GPS system for sportsboats.

Key Features

Total Scan Transducer – The transducer used in the Simrad 609 XSE facilitates better picture quality with the 2D Chirp, ForwardScan, SideScan and DownScan. You can expect a massive depth of about 91 m from its SideScan and DownScan, and 305 m from Chirp.

Ideal for Sports Boats – The functionalities of the various Marine GPS differ and therefore, each of these devices is best-suited for a specific purpose. The Simrad 609 XSE is best suited for sports boats due to its advanced capabilities and 9 inch screen.

Pros:                       

  • A 9 inch diagonal display for more clarity while sailing
  • The pre-loaded Worldwide Basemaps ensures more coverage
  • This Marine GPS provides a higher depth

Cons:

  • Does not provide 3 Dimensional output

 

Conclusion:

Simrad GO9 XSE is worth the price that you pay for it because of its manifold features. Some of them include a large 9 inch screen, increased depth and extensive coverage. However, you may find other vendors who sell this product with or without a transducer and that might cause a variation in its price.

Rating: 4 Stars

 

  1. Garmin Echomap Chirp 94SVGarmin Echomap Chirp 94SV with transducer, 010-01805-01

Price: $613.40

The Garmin Echomap SV series is far more advanced than the earlier Garmin Echomap CV series. This device is well-appreciated for its ClearVu feature, which is in addition to the existing SideVu and Chirp Traditional systems. Also, depending on your specific requirements you can choose from US LakeVu, Canada LakeVu, or US BlueChart G2 maps. For inland sailing, the LakeVu is suggested and for coastal sailing, the BlueChart G2.

Key Features

Better underwater scanning – This Marine GPS ensures an excellent view of what’s underneath the water. The high-frequency sonars easily capture the underwater objects, making it great for safety, fishing, and marine adventures.

Area-Specific Maps – Depending on your preferences, you can either choose the LakeVu Maps for inland waters, or the BlueChart G2 for coastal sailing. This ensures more clarity and prevents ambiguity, especially for beginners.

Pros:

  • You can choose a set of maps depending on your requirements
  • Larger display for a reasonable price
  • Has the Chirp ClearVu feature for better underwater image quality
  • The product comes with a transducer
  • Can be dismounted easily and re-plugged into another boat by purchasing an additional mount

Cons:

  • The screws behind the mount rust quickly

Conclusion:

The Garmin Echomap SV series is a fairly priced chart plotter that is easy to use. Moreover, if you face any difficulties while operating this simple and easy-to-use GPS, then you can download it’s easy to follow user manual from Garmin’s website.

Rating: 3.0 Stars

  1. Humminbird 410220-1 Helix 5 Chirp Di GPS G2Humminbird 410220-1 Helix 5, Chirp Di GPS G2,

Price: $309.95

The Helix 5 Chirp Di GPS G2 is one of the most preferred GPS Systems and is fairly priced considering the many features that it offers. This product comes with a transducer that maps a depth of up to 350 feet. However, you can buy an additional transducer that goes deeper than that. You can easily insert a micro SD card and get started with saving locations. Besides, this product also displays the speed and has a fish finder that most users like.

Key Features

Comes with a transducer – You don’t have to spend on a transducer while buying this Marine GPS because it is included with it. This transducer is useful to map a depth of 350 feet, but you can get a deeper view of as much as 2500 feet if you purchased an optional transducer.

Create Charts – You can use the AutoChart feature to make your own charts and mark locations that you enjoy fishing in. It is as simple as inserting a micro SD card in the card slot and using the AutoChart Live feature in this device.

Pros:

  • Has a large 5 inch screen for a better view
  • Comes with a transducer that can cover up a depth of up to 350 feet
  • Has Chrip Digital Sonar, Chirp Down imaging, Dual Beam Plus and Switch Fire sonar systems in it

Cons:

  • Offers only one year warranty
  • Does not have Side Scan
  • It comes with upgradable software

Conclusion:

Humminbird 410220-1 Helix 5 is a reliable device to sail longer distances and also for frequent sailing. The Autochart lets you mark your favourite spots so that you can go fishing as and when you like without losing your way. Overall, this product is an above average product.

Rating: 4 Stars

 

Final Conclusion:

We have listed down some of the best marine GPS systems that you can consider depending on your preferences and budget. However, we strongly recommend one with additional features such as powerful sonar and frequently updated database. Also, pick one depending on where you sail most frequently, inland or across the coast.

 

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