GPS stands for Global Positioning System.
GPS units receive signals from United States Government satellites that they use to determine location. Depending on the unit, a GPS can pinpoint your position in up to three dimensions—latitude, longitude and altitude.
The remarkable thing about GPS is that the satellite navigational information is available to anyone, anywhere, free of charge. Of course, you need to buy a GPS receiver to use the data, but it’s a pretty small investment when you realize how much information you can get.
Let’s talks about the typed of GPS units available.
ONE - A battery operated, hand-held GPS is ideal for small boats, because it doesn’t need to be mounted and won’t take up valuable console space.
TWO-Mountable or portable GPS receivers have larger display screens, bigger buttons and more features than hand-held units. Most GPS in this category operate on batteries or external 12-volt power. They come with brackets to hold the GPS in place while you’re underway and can be removed for safekeeping when you’re done cruising.
THREE - Fixed-mount GPS receivers offer the largest displays and the most features. They’re meant to be installed permanently.
FOUR -A stand-alone GPS is often referred to as a chart plotter. Many fixed-mount GPS units combine satellite navigation with fish finding functions.
Most GPS units come with basic maps pre-installed. To expand your GPS’s knowledge base or access detailed regional data you can purchase and download maps from CD-ROMS or data cards.
GPS offers almost endless possibilities for high-tech boaters. In fact, the technology to network a GPS with radar, sonar, VHF marine radio and a boat’s autopilot system is already available. GPS is a wonderful tool. However, like any piece of equipment a GPS unit isn’t perfect—so my advice is to learn how to navigate with a compass and chart, just in case. It’ll give you more confidence to explore and make the most of your time on the water.