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Author Topic:   Using a laptop computer & GPS at sea
Highwater posted 06-04-2002 12:05 PM ET (US)   Profile for Highwater  
The last three times I have been out on my 1972 Sourpuss 13' I have taken my laptop with me. I have velcrowed it out of the wind and spray, behind a seat back, next to the steering wheel. I have used it about 12 hours with no problems. It has not gotten wet. The DeLorme Road map and Nobletec charts look great on the 15" color display. I understand that laptops generally do not hold up well in this environment, but so far it is wonderful.
Boston Marine posted 06-04-2002 12:21 PM ET (US)     Profile for Boston Marine    
Yes Sir, The laptop will fail if it gets wet.
Most electronics will fail if they get wet.
Might want to invest in a Fieldworks laptop. They are only 7500.00. Then you can play.
ChrisCT posted 06-04-2002 01:22 PM ET (US)     Profile for ChrisCT  Send Email to ChrisCT     
I used to use that set up in my car a few years ago. The maps, features and detail are awesome. and the price for a gps receiver and the map software is really cheap. I got both in a box for around $120 a few yrs ago. Just make sure if you ever have to send it in for service or repair you make sure there is no salt residue on the machine. The laptops are much more durable than they were just 3-4 yrs ago. I saw one at work a yr or so ago that was in a car fire and the case was burnt and melted really bad - and it booted up no problem.
Highwater posted 06-04-2002 01:42 PM ET (US)     Profile for Highwater    
I use the laptop--mounted on a stand--in my car every day (I sell real estate). When the car is parked in the sun for a while, the laptop gets quite warm. Seems to me that this "abuse" is worse than bringing it out for some fresh air in my Whaler (assuming it does not get wet and I am not in a salt-water environment). Just a thought--I am trying to convince myself that this is okay :)

BTW, if anyone else is doing this and has a trouble with glare, you might consider getting a laptop hood from

Done Fudgin posted 06-04-2002 08:25 PM ET (US)     Profile for Done Fudgin  Send Email to Done Fudgin     
I have a boat to get away from things like computers and phones! To top it all off you probably have the wettest boat going!(12" shy from a surf board!)And bringing your laptop for some "fresh air" ? Get a dog ! I don't mean to "pick" on you, but that is one of the funniest things I ever heard of! I do just fine with dead reaconing and if needed a little help from my handheld GPS.(Which is waterproof).
Highwater posted 06-04-2002 08:37 PM ET (US)     Profile for Highwater    
Really, it is very nice. I have traveled with it over 100 miles and it has not gotten the least bit wet. I'm going to take it with me on my upcoming trip on the ICW from Savannah to St. Augustine.
Chap posted 06-05-2002 11:26 AM ET (US)     Profile for Chap  Send Email to Chap     
Sounds fun. How about a case that is less than $7500.


Highwater posted 06-05-2002 12:12 PM ET (US)     Profile for Highwater    
Excellent! Thank you!
ChrisCT posted 06-05-2002 01:15 PM ET (US)     Profile for ChrisCT  Send Email to ChrisCT     
Just got back from a Laptop presentation by one of the big laptop makers (You'd know of them). (I sell for them - but won't say who so it don't sound like I have an interest). I saw the presenter first stand on the laptop, then dump a glass of water into it! Laptop resumed fine and rebooted fine. Just thought you'd like to hear that. If I saw him dump saltwater into it I would have been really impressed!
ShrimpBurrito posted 06-05-2002 01:24 PM ET (US)     Profile for ShrimpBurrito  Send Email to ShrimpBurrito has that same case as landfallnavigation for ~$30 less. Of course, none of these help you actually use your laptop while underway.
triblet posted 06-05-2002 05:40 PM ET (US)     Profile for triblet  Send Email to triblet     
Pelican cases are great. There are several
wannabes (OtterBox, Doskocil come to mind),
but Pelican is the best. They have a great
advert showing some scientist in the artic
paddling off to her camp in a kayak towing all
her supplies in several steamer trunk sized
Pelicans. The Pelicans are floating.

Be a little careful pricing them. They have
two computer cases: the 1490 that Chap pointed
us at, and the the slightly smaller 1470. And
each of these comes in several flavors with
different innards. For example, the 1490 comes
in at least five flavors that vary from $115 to
$179 at .
The 1470 varies from $97 to $156.


Highwater posted 06-05-2002 09:58 PM ET (US)     Profile for Highwater    
I called the folks at and they were very helpful. A small laptop computer can be used while in this case, and it will provide an added degree of protection, even while the case is open. More importantly, it would be an ideal way to store the laptop while not in use. Unfortunately, my laptop has a 15" monitor and that is too large for this case. Thanks for the suggestion, though.
Highwater posted 07-11-2002 09:12 PM ET (US)     Profile for Highwater    
If anyone else is crazy enough to bring a laptop with them on their Whaler, you might be interested in how I managed to keep it out of the elements. One of the photos at shows this. Having the electronic charts on a 15" active matrix monitor, interfaced to a GPS was absolutely wonderful. I am typing on that same laptop right now--it still works great after several long trips :)
Done Fudgin posted 07-11-2002 09:30 PM ET (US)     Profile for Done Fudgin  Send Email to Done Fudgin     
I don't want to sound like a "sourpuss" but what on earth are you thinking having those 3 seats in front of the helm! I hope you trust whomever sits in them for handling the front of the boat.And I would hate to have to jump over those seats when I'm operating it alone! That's a diffinite safety hazard! P.S. keep the laptop at home,It's enough that we have deal with drivers with cell phones "stuck" too their ears!
Jay A posted 07-11-2002 10:27 PM ET (US)     Profile for Jay A    
Funny place for the wheel! Do you have a throttle man? Or a long right arm?
triblet posted 07-12-2002 12:05 AM ET (US)     Profile for triblet  Send Email to triblet     
The URL doesn't work -- comes back "not found".


Highwater posted 07-12-2002 07:34 AM ET (US)     Profile for Highwater    
The URL works for me--I just clicked on it. As for the the three seats in front of the wheel, it is no problem to step over them. It is a two-step process. The first step is on the mahogany board that runs across the boat (the "console" that the steering wheel in on). The second step is over the back of the chair onto its seat. If the back of the chair is folded down, it is even easier. Our whole family moves around the boat with ease.

As for the laptop, I don't see why it is a distraction from driving any more than other navigational devices are a "distraction." I'm not using it to write emails--I use it to read electronic charts. It is a lot easier than managing a paper chart in the wind. And, being connected to a GPS, it always shows me where I am. And I can zoom in and out. It is really very nice. I'm sorry that you feel I am being somehow irresponsible for using it. On the contrary, we would have gotten lost without it. We don't just use this boat to go a mile or two out in the lake. We have taken the Highwater on 100 mile trips and the navigation equipment was essential.

As for having the wheel in the center and the controls on the right, this has not been a problem. When I am alone or with one other passenger on the back row, I usually sit between the center seat and the starboard-most seat. They are not "bucket" seats so it is like sitting on a comfortable bench. On the few times that we have three people on the back row, I sit on the starboard side, next to the controls. I can easily hold the wheel from that spot, and the person sitting in the center (usually one of my daughters) can have an opportunity to pilot the boat. It has worked perfectly for our family.

JohnJ80 posted 07-12-2002 10:06 PM ET (US)     Profile for JohnJ80  Send Email to JohnJ80     
Why don't you just get one of those handheld GPS's that can handle chart cartridges (Garmin makes some great ones). I would think its just a matter of time before you get a shot to the laptop.

If you had come to rely on the charts and the laptop goes belly up, where would you be?

having done lots of navigating in all sorts of whether, this just looks a little tentative to me - unless you really don't need the charts anyhow.


Highwater posted 07-12-2002 10:33 PM ET (US)     Profile for Highwater    

I do need the charts and you may be right. My father has both the laptop and the ChartLink on his 47' Chris Craft Commander, and we have gotten so spoiled with the laptop that we never use the ChartLink anymore. It is wonderful.

But you are right about the potential danger of the laptop (or any electronics) failing to operate. I do carry paper charts as a backup. So far, though, the laptop has worked perfectly.

I am currently selling the 13' on eBay and giving my full attention to redesigning the interior of a 15' sport. One of my goals is to design it in such a way that the laptop will not get wet, even in a heavy storm. We'll see....

Thanks for writing!


Done Fudgin posted 07-13-2002 09:43 PM ET (US)     Profile for Done Fudgin  Send Email to Done Fudgin     
I still think that set-up of seating is a wee bit cluttered and a potential safety risk. But I like your aqua-trailer,I have not seen one of those before! Also I'm curious about the position of the wheel and how it got that way? All-n-all,I think you need a bigger boat! Not a 15 footer,but a BIGGER boat!
Highwater posted 07-14-2002 08:19 AM ET (US)     Profile for Highwater    
The steering wheel is original equipment; everything about it, including location and position, came like that from the factory in 1972. Aside from the Dauntless, the Sourpuss was the only center-steering 13' model made by Boston Whaler. The boat is also somewhat "one-of-a-kind" in that 1972 was the only year in which you could get the classic blue interior AND the "smirk" hull design (aside from the 1998 40th anniverary special edition). For picture of another 1972 Sourpuss with identical steering, see ("Chippewa Falls").

Someday I will buy a Montauk but right now the smaller boats are perfect for our family because we have young (ages 5 and 8) children who like to either be tubing or driving or stretched out horizontally, watching the water. All of the Whalers can pull a tube, but the smaller ones are easier for youngsters to drive (mine drive the Sourpuss standing up). And the children can lie down on that front row of seats or on the bow and can dangle their arms in the water. Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe that on the Montauk, they would be looking at the inside of the gunnel (rather than the water) if they were lying down. The smaller boats allow the kids to experience the sights and sounds and feel of the water to a greater extent than would be possible on a larger boat. And with the Sevylor Aqua Trailer, we can keep the Whaler uncluttered by storing up to 300 pounds of gear in this inflatible device and pulling it behind us.

I'm sad about selling it--someone is going to get a great boat.

Thanks for your comments! David

dogface posted 07-14-2002 08:36 AM ET (US)     Profile for dogface  Send Email to dogface     
I use my HP and a Garmin Legend in my Conquest and have learned to dislike it. Water is not a problem, it has been wet many times. In rough seas it sits on my dash just fine. Harder than H to use under way, often must stop to work all functions. Too many conections hanging around. It also likes to crash at very poor moments, then must reload all my numbers. It is nice to lay out your trip at home before and after. A big Garmin chartplotter is in my future.

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