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Global Positioning System: a piece of navigation equipment that uses satellites to determine position very accurately. Modern GPSs are small, light weight, accurate and inexpensive. They do not fall into the catagory of standard equipment but anyone venturing offshore or on extended trips should consider purchasing one. They give you a precise and repeatable location. They can help in fog or if you have a VHF radio you can relay your position to potential rescuers.

Even inexpensive GPSs can come equipped with charting capability. While these charts can be highly useful, they are not a substitute for carrying paper charts. You should also know how to use a compass and carry one at all times because batteries die eventually and you are using a piece of precision electronics in a saltwater environment.

Accuracy of GPS units is variable. Usually, they are accurate to within about 15m, 95% of the time. WAAS can increase accuracy to within 3 meters.

The accuracy of a GPS is also dependent on the operator to some extent. It is important that the operator learn to use the GPS correctly - blind use can get folks lost. See Common GPS Errors.

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Last edited October 20, 2005 2:03 pm by RichardP (diff)
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