Is there a handheld GPS that can can be used for road/street car use with maps and on the water w/ maps or charts??
For the past two seasons I've been using a Garmin GPSMAP 76Cx. This is the 4th GPS I've owned, with the prior units all being Magellan. I've added the US Inland Lakes package and the US City Navigator package. For the most part, this has worked pretty well. It's easy to read and use, it's waterproof (mostly - more on that later), and it floats. The unit itself ran about $300(US), plus another $100 for the City Navigator & $50 for the Inland Lakes. For the most part, it has given me most everything I could ask for from a GPS.
The thing I don't like about this solution is that when you add multiple map packages to a Garmin GPS, the unit prioritizes the map packages and only shows you the information from one of them. With these two, the City Navigator is higher priority, so it displays the streets, but not the waterway information. This may or may not be an issue for you, depending on where you sail. I do have one place I sail where some lesser waterways are not even shown on the City Nav map, while certain roads & bridges (key landmark) are not shown on the Lakes map. Caused a bit of a problem for me while trying to do some exploring in some backwater lagoons.
The other thing I found about this unit is that while it may be listed as waterproof (IPX7 rating), I discovered the gasket to the battery compartment started leaking on me after about a year. This resulted in the battery terminals getting completely rusted & corroded. The unit still worked when connected to external power, such as the USB port, but this doesn't help much when out on the AI. As it was out of warranty, I ended up having to pay for Garmin to service the unit. I just received the repaired (factory reconditioned) unit back the other day. We'll see how things work out with this one. Not sure I'm going to rely on the watertight integrity of the unit next time. I'll probably look for a dry bag that fits the unit.
As a side note, prior to talking to Garmin about the problem with the leaking 76Cx, I happened to wander into a West Marine store on Black Friday. They had a Colorado 400c on sale for $300, which is half price. Not knowing that I was going to get the 76Cx repaired, I couldn't pass it up. The 400c appears to be a bit more rugged, and includes the BlueChart Coastal package built in. I have added my City Navigator package to it, and when I look at the screen I can see both the lagoon and the bridge I mentioned before. It also has a couple other features that may be nice to have. I'll have to let you know how that one works out next summer.
- Jim L