I was referred to you by the Blind Sailing Program in New Zeeland. I am blind and have just purchased a West Wight Potter 19′ sailboat. I’m looking for a good quality, easy to operate, GPS, Plotter, depth sounder for my boat. I realize that this equipment isn’t very accessible for the blind but my wife has sight. She hates electronics so I’ll have to help her understand how it works. Can you recommend equipment of this nature or any other accessible electronics that I may be able to use on my boat. Running a ground is something I’m concerned about. That is why I’m looking at the sounder. Maybe a sonar unit is better. I would appreciate any help you may offer.
Glad to hear you are taking up the great sport of sailing.
I’m not an expert in the different mainstream GPS chart plotter / sounder units on the market today. I personally have a Garmin on board one of my boats, but that’s mainly because it came with the boat. I think they are all good, but you may want to visit the following blog on marine electronics for more information: http://www.panbo.com/archives/2004_02.html
Also, visit some of the local marine shops in your area. Try to get a feel for which one will offer the best aftersales service. Maybe you can get a free hour of instruction on the water included as part of the over-all purchase and installation price? Buying locally can save you lots of pain later.
I agree that a chart plotter and sounder unit is a good idea. Many, like my Garmin, will automatically generate a bouy line on the display that you should follow to get you from where you are to where you want to be. These same buoy lines are used to control your autopilot, should you purchase one. 3D display, overhead and pilot’s eye, are some of the other options. Whether you elect to go with a built in map, or a third party map is also a choice you will need to make. a lot depends on the quality of the map for the area you will be sailing.
Let me know what you settle with in the end.