Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Mac Mini Onboard

Our new boat, Speakeasy, a Catalina 320 does not have integrated GPS or chartplotter onboard. Last fall, I was introduced to MacENC, which is a very sophisticated GPS plotter and chart display that uses freely available NOAA bitmap or vector charts. We can easily bring a PowerBook on board, but it is no good at the helm because it is slippery. I can visualize it sliding off a lazarette or flying overboard. I was browsing in a sailing magazine and noticed that someone had cabled a Mac Mini installed below to a weather-protected LCD screen at the helm. It even had a metal track pad. Of course, none of this gear is inexpensive. A Mac Mini ($800), software ($150), display ($1000), cables ($100), and installation (?) can add up fast. Perhaps the handheld GPS and a paper chart are the best way for a while longer.
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