GARMIN GPSMAP 478 Mobile Chartplotter

There aren't that many mobile, waterproof chartplotters on the market and I have some specific requirements so choices are few. Last year I had a Garmin 60CSX and though it has a substantially smaller LCD screen, it was great. It, as well as my new unit pictured here, is submersible. Unfortunately it didn't float.

I carry a plotter because it allows me to save and plot all sorts of data with regard to my trips and whale positions. Obviously a plotting GPS offers some safety, though a false sense of security could overcome a technophile pretty quickly. I try to keep my eyes open to where I actually am, not just where technology draws my picture.

  • This GARMIN GPSMAP 478 allows me to save 15 tracks (a breadcrumb trail of sorts). It doesn't carry as much on-board memory as the smaller 76csx but 15 tracks is plenty. I save each trip as a track (connected positions dictated either by distance or time -- user's choice) and then upload it to my computer. Software (GPS Babel) allows me to manipulate that file into an XML based .gpx file and after running it through another few digital meatgrinders I have it transposed onto a google map (satellite/hybrids being my choice).
  • This unit has some lovely features and is accurate as hell. For a thousand bucks I should hope so. It comes pre loaded with ALL US waters coastal charts and this includes my operating area around Victoria (as far North as Bamfield on W.coast and Nanaimo on E. coast). Problem is, they are US charts and they aren't as good - in my opinion. I am used to the CAN charts so that's probably why.
  • Rechargeable lithium battery. Awesome. 10 hours with screen on medium brightness. Recharges in less than two hours. Unit comes with a 12v charger so I usually keep it on the cigarette charger while on the boat. Lithium batt.'s are about the most environmentally responsible battery technology out there (except I guess for those potato batteries we made in grade 5).
  • Check out the beanbag/friction mount. This mount works very well and comes in the box. So does a permanent mount for in your truck: the unit is also preloaded with every North American city and when using 12v cigarette lighter power source will 'tell you where to go'. I draw the line at having my GPS talk me me at this point, however, it's just a little too "soccer mom" for this RIB Jockey. The unit is packaged with quite a few goodies including an AC charger/power supply, DC charger/power supply, protective cover, hard-wired power cabling, a decent manual and at West Marine you can send in for a $250.00 rebate. That was a nice surprise, though I don't have the cash yet....
  • Check out this link to customer reviews of the unit. Here's a link to a user manual download that an give you a good feature set description (definitely a full featured plotter, even for a non-mobile).