Monday, June 03, 2013

Best Use I can Think of For a GPS....

Here, from our friends at BlendTec, a gps put to the best use I can imagine.

I'm not a big fan of gps for sea kayaking. I think their use is dorky and their utility over-rated. So very few of us actually paddle far enough offshore or in areas remote enough to require one. Mostly they get used as mapping units to track trips and post routes online for others to see. So in that application they're more a scrapbook than anything else.

They're a gadget mostly owned and used by middle-aged guys who can't paddle very well. ;-)

Nonetheless, search Amazon if you really think you need one.


MiddleAgedPaddler said...

Uh, most of your readers are probably middle aged guys who can't paddle very well. Do you want us all to go away?

Adam Bolonsky said...

No, please don't go away. It was tongue in cheek.

Martin said...

I´m only interested in safety , technique and learning from others when it come to kayak.
So what are the real advantages of having a gps whilst kayaking as opposed to not having one..... I paddle off the north west coast of Iceland. just on the edge of the arctic circle.

Anonymous said...

Whew Adam, funny but a bit over the top. I paddle with some gadget heads and their GPS fixation is intriguing. On the other hand, they've proven to be very useful navigating in fog through 3-4 m breaking swell off a windward shore. Should we have been out there in those conditions? Probably not; but when the xxit rolls in on you, having a "polished" GPS navigator in your company is pretty handy.

Brambor said...

I don't paddle very well but I also don't like the use of GPS when paddling. Although I could see using it if caught in heavy fog. Only then pull GPS out and orient your way out of the soup.

Willi_H2O said...

Please let us know if you come across a GPS unit that comes out of the blender unscathed and in working condition. I've had my old Garmin GPS 60 for quite a few years and it's been dropped a few times, but it still runs great.

David said...

Hey, Adam -- don't be such a snob. How's ~your~ eyeball, chart & compass nav technique? And in the fog?

--David (also tongue in cheek?)

Adam Bolonsky said...

Hi Daivd, Willi, Brambor, Anon, Martin, and MAP;

Thanks for all the comments! Honestly, I own two gps's but only carry them as a backup on trips where I'm unsure of myself and have good reason to worry that I might not be able to accurately describe my position via vhf if I got into serious trouble.

That said, I never bring them on any other kind of trip - although my one regret is not having used one on every trip over the past fifteen years to have kept as a sort of diary I could download.

Weird, huh?

Otherwise I find gps's very distracting, not only in my hands but in others'. If I'm staring at the gps (they are irresistible eye magnets) I'm not watching my surroundings. So I'm not enjoying the view I came so see. Nor am I keeping an eye out for boat traffic. Nor am I as aware of where my paddling companions are. So I'm on the water but not really "there". I'm just at a desk in my kayak staring at another damned computer screen.

And I do truly enjoy paddling in fog without one. My map and compass and landmark navigation are pretty good. I love the challenge of paddling by dead reckoning in fog, glancing at my watch, estimating speed, glancing at the compass, listening for the sound of waves breaking on shore, or foghorns.

And with heads-up, I can keep an eye out for boats looming up in the fog. I feel much more involved in where I am. It's truly truly fun.

C'mon guys. GPS is useful mostly for entertainment. And mostly GUYS own them. Not many of us paddle that so from shore that we couldn't find our way back home by way of landmarks, compass, ferry angles to account for tidal currents and a laminated chart on the foredeck.

But on a long crossing over open water aiming for a small target like an offshore island, I would definitely bring and use one. But only if you made me....

Willi_H2O said...

Adam brought up some great points, and his article gave me a chuckle. Thanks Adam :-)

I'm a big of fan of the "Garmin Connect" webpage which allows a person to extract really useful training info off a unit. I don't have a fancy unit, no color, no maps, i.e great battery life. GPS can be a useful tool - IF people actually spend time to truly use it as such.
Count paddle strokes, pay close attention to time/distance/effort and a compass bearing - then check yourself against the satellite info. Don't shut the brain off - use the unit to get smarter and more accurate.
Highly recommended, try it --

Adam Bolonsky said...

Hi Willi,
thanks for the link. Great help. If I had to buy a gps to replace mine, I'd get one with an i/o port to up- and download routes.

But I'd save some cash by buying a non-mapping unit. I find charts easier to use.


Adam Bolonsky said...

Thanks for commenting with useful insights, Mike. I think most readers appreciate it also when you refer to a specific model.

That's the thing, getting so accustomed to your gps that it's no longer a distraction.

Right now, for example, I'm so astonished still that a waterproof HD vidcam captures video that, when I have it one deck, I fool with it continuously, at at my own peril.