Electronic charting on Estrellita: Garmin 76CX

P1020419We find that in this region the Garmin BlueCharts are often offset from reality. You might be in the middle of a pass and going over land. However, despite the fact that they are usually off here, sometimes, for whatever reason, they have different info (buoys or markers or depths) than our other charts. Put simply, sometimes the Garmin chart has something on it, that exists in reality, that is missing from our other charts.

You might think that the charting flaws would be a dealbreaker but there are a number of reasons that we really love having a Garmin 76CX (actually, we have two): 1) The combination of a great internal GPS and high resolution tracks mean that we lay down very good tracks that we can then follow if we need to in an emergency, 2) They take very little power and even less power when you darken the screen, 3) They have a nice anchor alarm feature and 4) They have a convenient compass setting that we really enjoy using in the cockpit on passages to give us a running idea in the cockpit of where our windvane is taking us.

P1020420You may ask yourself – don’t you have a compass in the cockpit. YES, of course we do. But our compass doesn’t tell us whether we are right or left of our intended course, what our cross track error is, how many miles we have to go, the time (for watches) and also have charts for the entire Pacific Ocean. We frequently have our Garmin 76CX in the cockpit, plugged in 12V on passage.

It is also a handy size to put inside of our oven, or in our v-berth, or wherever we convince ourselves might be  less affected by lightning, and they are very durable in crappy weather or when dropped frequently in the cockpit (ahem).