As your sailing experience increases and you start to sail farther and farther from home base, it is a good idea to consider purchasing a hand-held GPS unit. You can chat with our Instructors, Staff, and Members around Tradewinds to find out what brands and models they recommend. Current models come with many more features than just a position on a chart, including things like wireless connectivity for sharing data and waypoints, geo-caching features, tide and current tables, and more.
Once you’ve settled on the unit you like, take it out on a clear day and begin to add waypoints that will come in handy later. Entrances to channels & harbors that you normally visit or those that you usually sail near are great to have programmed. Enter a route home from the center of the Bay, into Potrero Reach, around all normal obstacles and into Marina Bay. It’s too late to program these in once the fog rolls in, so it’s good to have them already prepared and saved in your device.
Although these devices can come in very useful, we would like to remind you to keep a proper look-out at all times. It would be very embarrassing to have a close call or run aground while staring at your instruments rather than keeping a proper look-out. Trust your charts and know how to read your tide tables – electronic instruments have a habit of running out of batteries at the worst possible time (carry extra batteries in your sailing bag).
Tradewinds does offer a class on handheld GPS devices. We tend to run it in the winter months, since we can do it indoors, in the classroom. Watch our Course Schedule for scheduled classes and let us know if you are interested in getting one added to the list. If enough people show interest, we are always happy to add to the schedule.