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Sun Sail
Buying Kit
Joys of plotting
(5 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

Colin Jones explains how you can join in the fun.

PlotterA CHART plotter (CP) is a great tool for reducing the frequency of those anxious moments on the water, when you are not sure of your exact position and life becomes a bit hairy. On several occasions, my own unit has prevented me from running into trouble, or else got me out of trouble swiftly and without fuss. But it's the pleasure that you can get from using it right that really does it for me. The most common CP task is the insertion of Waypoints. You can, of course, laboriously key them in as figures and so build up a list but a better way is either to use the CP's info box that displays the lat/long of the cursor's position and then store this in the machine's memory or simply move the cursor to your desired point and ask the CP to 'Insert WP at cursor'.

Plot your purchase
(4 votes, average 4.75 out of 5)

There is an array of mesmerising chart plotters to tempt you from your cash. Colin Jones gets you clued up on what to look out for...

Boat PlottersBUYING a chart plotter is a refreshingly simple exercise because it is a very fair market, in which the more you pay, the more you get. More cash means more navigation power and efficiency. In general terms, you also get more pixels per pound, allied to bigger displays, which are usually worth the extra outlay, especially for the pilotage of fast, open boats. The complexity in your chart plotter purchase stems largely from the fact that there is a choice of cartography (usually C-Map, Garmin or Navionics) and the fact that different plotters have different functions and their own variations on how to activate them. For the newcomer, that often means that you don't know which functions will be the most useful to you, until you have had the CP on your boat for a few weeks.

Using your VHF
(6 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

Cocking up your radio protocol is hideously embarrassing and potentially dangerous. Colin Jones shows you how to get it right...

MARINE radio is no different from any other activity. If you are going to do it, you may as well do it properly. It means avoiding the embarrassment involved in getting roasted by professionals for bad radio procedure. It involves avoiding the scorn of the dozens of skippers, who 'earwig' transmissions because they know they will hear laughable nonsense. Unfortunately marine radio is managed by bureaucrats who love acronyms so, to help iron out the difficulties, what follows is a plain English explanation of their ugly convolutions... Safety Of Life At Sea (SOLAS) is an international convention spelling out agreed measures to make seagoing safer and to speed up how to deal with problems.

£££ v Budget Fishfinders
Ready for some fishing but don’t have the patience to wait for the fish to come to you? Why not take a look at Garmin’s easy to use Fishfinder range which work in as little as 1ft of water and offer fast sonar refresh rates for instant information.

Garmin Fishfinder 400c
From £249.95
The versatile Fishfinder 400C has a super bright, high resolution 10cm colour display and can be used for finding fish in both freshwater and saltwater. Available with a choice of dual beam (fish-finding to a depth of 900ft) or dual frequency transducers (fish-finding to a depth of 1,500 ft). It is also CANet-compatible so you can share sonar information with plotters located elsewhere in your boat.
Buying Battery Chargers

With many different categories of marine battery, it is essential to use the correct charger.


1. Consider a programmable charger to suit different battery technologies. Other considerations for chargers are short circuit protection, damp resistance, reverse polarity protection, overload protection, charger cooling and the ability to deal with the fluctuation of input voltage. The ability to use the charger as a power pack is also a very useful feature.

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