Basic Introduction to Marine GPS Devices - Chartplotters and Fishfinders

Posted by Sharon Kemlage on

Sailors, fishermen and marine army, use different marine navigation equipment that helps them in navigation. Choice of the right device is important to make sure that you are not lost. When someone mentions navigation system, the word that comes to most people’s mind is GPS system which is the commonly used technology. This is the same technology that many sailors and fishermen use too. However, the choice of device will depend on the purpose that you will use it for.


The most common devices in marine are the GPS Chartplotters and GPS Fishfinder. Although they are all GPS devices, some features are different and they are designed to fit the appropriate function.  In the market, you will find a device that can serve the two purposes.

GPS Chartplotters

This is a device that uses the satellite data to interpret the electronic navigation chart that is pre-installed in the device. The chart plotter is mostly dedicated to direction finding. On the screen of a chart plotter, you will see information of your current position, where you are heading, and the speed of the boat based on the GPS signal. If you have networked the device with other devices in your boat, you will also see the information. One of the devices that can be integrated to the chart plotter is the transducer that is used to determine what is under the boat.

 The chart plotter can also determine the estimated time to reach your destination based on the speed of the boat and the tide strength. However, these advanced features will come at an additional price. The most basic device will show the position and the direction you are heading. You can as well set it to show the direction you should be heading to. The chart plotter will also allow the user to save the routes used and this is an advanced feature. You can as well load a route that you are supposed to travel to get to the destination.

GPS Fishfinder

This is a device that uses sound waves to show what is under the boat. As the name suggests, the fishfinder is used mostly by fishermen so as to increase their productivity and be able to intelligently find a fish without so much hassle. The fish finder will use transducers and reflect the image of the fish on the screen. With advanced technology, a fishfinder is integrated to the chart plotter for more accuracy and also to help the fishermen in sea navigation. Just like for the sailors, the fishermen can use a GPS fishfinder to determine the current location and the direction they are heading to, as well as be able to determine the speed they are cruising at.

Therefore, the only difference in the two devices, i.e. the GPS fishfinder and GPS chart plotter is whether the device is a combo or just has one function. When buying these devices, there are some basic factors that you must consider. Some of them are screen size, the durability and the power of the device or the capability. The more advanced the features are, the more you will pay.

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