How does a boat GPS system work? Are all GPS systems the same? Is there a separate Global Positioning System for land and water? Let’s first review how GPS units work through modern technology.
GPS satellites are operated by the U.S. Air Force. There are 24 satellites that orbit the earth twice a day. These satellites will transmit signals to ground equipment. Each satellite in orbit has an atomic clock. Every transmission reveals a satellite’s location and the time. Signals are arriving at literally the speed of light. Your individual boat GPS will rely on four different transmissions.
In order to work properly, as with any satellite technology, the device must have a clear view of the sky. That means that there will be interference in tall tunnels, forests, canyons and downtown areas.
This is good news for you who travel by sea! The sea has wide-open space, which means faster and more efficient readings with a GPS device. When you travel on the ocean or a large sea, you can get an absolute position on the globe, and get details regarding current and wind. This type of accuracy is not possible if you simply use a compass or a map.
Why buy a special boat GPS unit instead of any old GPS system made for a car?
Newer boat GPS systems are up-to-the-minute accurate and are made exclusively for sea conditions. You can find the location of your ship, the marina entrance, fishing ground and anchorage in no time. Buy a new model so you can be sure that the latest downloads are accurate.
Remember that marine boat GPS units can also track large rocks, shallow water and wreckage, just as automobiles can track traffic jams.
The majority of boat wrecks are close to land. You can depend on a new boat GPS system to guide you through turbulent river traffic. The newest models of boat GPS are so accurate that users can actually tie their system into an autopilot device and into the boat’s radar. This makes for one smooth, hands-free ride.
Marine GPS systems also have three other advantages from an ordinary GPS system.
First, they are battery operated and handheld (though models can exploit a boat’s electricity).
Second, most models are waterproof in case of accidental splashing.
Lastly, boat GPS systems have a special feature called a chart plotter. This feature allows you to see GPS information overlaid on nautical charts. Thus, you will actually be working more with the chart plotter, which is powered by the boat GPS system.
The best models are larger and have more buttons and longer external antennas.
There’s no question that a GPS will be your guide to your journey out to sea. This system is powerful enough to pick up buoys, lighthouses and even local obstructions in the water. That said, always remember to bring back up in the way of a compass and paper chart.
New technology makes boating easy!