Travel Safety: Using Your Marine or Automotive GPS Wisely

Your investment in a Marine GPS system was smart, but you need to know how to use it wisely when you are at sea. You cannot be truly safe on the water if you have a system on your boat that you do not know how to use. Each question listed below should be answered honestly before you cast off from your port of call.

Do You Know How To Activate It?

Your marine GPS system should be operational at all times. Even if you are absolutely certain where you are going, you need to have the system running. You can use the system if you get lost or must change courses. Also, you can use the system to make sure you are making good time going to your destination. When the sun begins to set, you need to know how long you have until you arrive. If you prefer not to sail int he dead of night, you can drop anchor. The system will prevent you from sailing in darkness that could be very dangerous. It is not alarmist to remind you that the Titanic struck an iceberg in the middle of the night.

Are You Plotting Courses On It?

Your course should be plotted on your GPS system before you set off. You can pilot your boat along the line that was created by the GPS system. It does not give you vocal directions as you would need in the car, but the system allows you to check if your boat is following the course plotted correctly.

The plotted course is going to make your trip as short as possible. Also, the plotted course if going to keep you out of shipping lanes or unrestricted areas. You could be injured or killed if you run into gigantic vessels in the shipping lanes. Moreover, you could lose your boat if you are stopped by the Navy or Coast Guard in restricted waters or wildlife preservation areas.

Do You Know How To Send Distress Signals?

The GPS and radar system allows you to send out a distress signal if you are in trouble. You must know how to do this without even a thought. When you are under extreme duress, you will not have time to look up how to send a distress signal. If you do not memorize any other part of the owner's manual, you must memorize this part for your own safety and the safety of your family.

How Do You Read The Radar Screen?

The radar on your system will show you every large vessel or object that is in the water. You can see large ships as they approach you, but that does not mean you can get out of the way in time. The radar will show you a large vessel while you still have time to get your boat to safety.

The same is true for objects that are in the water. There could be objects floating in the water that could sink your boat. Also, your boat could skid over buoys in the water that you cannot see. The radar will show you anything in your path, and you can use the GPS to chart a course around these objects. 

How Do You Maintain Power To The Unit?

Your boat has its own battery for the operation of electrical stems, but your GPS and radar system must have their own battery. This battery should be fully charged before you cast off. You want to make sure that you will have access to the GPS system if your boat stops working. You cannot send out a distress signal or chart a new course if the battery for the unit fails. Also, your GPS and radar system can drain the battery on your boat quickly. Keeping the power for your boat and GPS separate is merely a safety precaution.

When you cast off on an adventure on the high seas, you need to make sure you have taken every precaution possible to remain safe on your boat. You need to invest in a GPS and radar system, but you also need to use it wisely once it is installed.