Originally Posted by newbiesailor
hello all, i'm new to this board and new to cruising....
we bought our first boat, 37 feet .... and off soon.
now i would like some advise from other sailors. as we are on a budget ... we need some setup for navigation. i have 500 $ to spend, have a laptop already.
You might find my answer strange. If I had $500 and only $500 I would purchase an AIS transceiver. IMHO the two biggest dangers in sailing are running aground and being run over (once for me, and one close call.) I presume you have some form of depth sounder. Why an AIS? An AIS transceiver will provide both a safety advantage (the big guys can see you) and also contains an GPS so you know where you are.
I have found that charts of any type (e.g. ENC, paper) are quite expensive. ENC coverage is free and exceptional in the USA - in the rest of the world not so much. Some passages (e.g. the St. Lawrence Seaway) require you to carry paper charts. The Seaway set costs several hundred dollars - that is why there are at least one if not more "hand me down" sets available most of the time on this site. Add to the mix "cruising guides." In the USA these are frequently marina and restaurant listings. In other places they are literally necessary. An example would be navigating the Yucatan Straight from the Gulf to Guatemala. The charts are terrible, the hazards numerous. Remember too that electronic charts, like paper charts, are no better than the underlying data. Many areas have not been surveyed in decades, in some cases more than a century. It looks all neat and clean on an electronic chart plotter until you anchor and find out that the chart has you 3 miles inland. A cruising guide provides waypoints and instructions from people who typically have navigated the area, in some cases multiple times. An area cruising guide might go $50. For an extended trip you might need several guides.
One last thought. You say that you are new to cruising and this is a new boat. I would spend some time in known and protected waters sorting out what you absolutely need to have and what is optional or not necessary. I distance raced Reboot
for five seasons before retiring and cruising full time. I assumed that there was nothing new I needed to purchase. Wow was I wrong.
Best wishes on your new boat, and may you have a joyful cruising life.
Fair winds and following seas.