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ipad for navigation

May 25, 2012
john alden caravelle 42 sturgeon bay, wis
funning aside, buy all the nav gear you need and want so you can sail safely, cause the boat you don't hit could be me


Alden Forum Moderator
Jun 22, 2004
Alden 38' Challenger yawl Rockport Harbor
funning aside, buy all the nav gear you need and want so you can sail safely, cause the boat you don't hit could be me
Best thought of 2020!
Dec 5, 2005
Hunter 260 Keowee Sailing CLub
We've used an I-pad for navigation for many years and found it to be completely functional. Download the Navionics app and you're off and running. But the secret sauce is adding a Sonar Phone T-Box by Vexilar, which includes a transducer and wifi hot spot. The T-Box setup gives your I-pad the ability to map depths in real time and overlay them on the Navionics map. Vexilar makes two different units (which run from about $150 to $170.) One may be permanently mounted on the transom, and the other comes with a suction cup for a temporary attachment. We actually epoxied in the transducer inside the hull of our Hunter 41 and it works great (no cutting for a through hole!) Attach the transducer according to your setup, connect the T-Box to 12 volt power and hook your tablet or phone to the new wifi signal and you're in business. The sonar functions as well as much higher end units for a fraction of the cost (even paints fish, if you're into that.) Cons of the setup are your tablet/computer/phone will need to be charged from time to time and will probably need some sort of weather proofing, and the displays from most tablets aren't as robust as dedicated marine MFDs in direct sun light. We sail coastal Carolina where the depths are constantly changing and the ever updating map is very helpful.
Aug 17, 2013
Grampian G26 Ottawa/Gatineau
I second the T-box, got one for my Grampian 26, still have to fix the transducer in/on the hull though


Dec 31, 2020
Hunter 28 Vancouver
I think most of the issues with a tablet are answered by getting a non apple product. Samsung galaxy tab active pro is a good choice. Built in GPS, IP68 rated (yes even the plugs, even when charging); direct sun is not as good as a plotter, but not the end of the world with a polarized anti glare film (mine sits under the dodger so no problem). Touchscreen works when wet and with gloves.

Stays plugged/fully charged at all times, and if I lose power I've still got about 12 hours of navigation (much more if I don't use continuously, also you can swap its battery in under a minute) Pops out of its model specific ram mount in less than one second and goes below when leaving the boat. Ram mount is hard wired so it charges whenever its clicked in (still IP68 rated). It's less than 600 to your door for the 10 inch, around 300 for the 8.
Great points! Thanks for sharing your experience, sounds like a pretty good solution. What model mount do you have for this tablet?


Alden Forum Moderator
Jun 22, 2004
Alden 38' Challenger yawl Rockport Harbor
So many threads about this....... so many.....
This season I brought the iPad onboard before a three week + sail. I fired the external GPS and tested, all good. I put it back in the olde chart drawer.

I haven't taken it out since. We still have an ancient GPS CP mounted onboard but I didn't use that much beyond an occasional glance.

I also installed a new small screen CP on a coastal motorboat for friends. That turned out to be a real disappointment. Too small (my bad), too clunky and slow to operate.

What changed everything was a new iPhone. Running Navionics on an 11 (mine) and also on my wifes 12 made the change. On older phones, screen size snd sunlight problems had me relying on the iPad with a little help from the mounted CP.

For us, the phones are the main CP for navigation now. I'm definitely at a loss for what to install for a replacement onboard CP. I have no need of a binnacle mounted device as I spend too little time sailing from behind the wheel.

It all depends on the user today. How do you operate onshore in life and business? Reminds me, I have to walk the dog.

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