Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Kayak Navigation - the Garmin GPSMAP 78sc

Navigating on a kayak trip, whether a day trip or longer expedition may require use of one or more of:

Proficiency in chart reading and the use of a compass is a vital skill when venturing out on the water.

 A good reference for Sea kayaking in the south hemisphere is Sea Kayaking - A Guide For Sea Canoeists by Phil Woodhouse.

This entry is primarily concerned with GPS use, though the Navionics software for iPad and mobile contains some GPS functions. This is not intended as a comprehensive guide, but does give a range of useful functions of this model. For further information contact us on 03 9597 0549 or info@eastcoastkayaking.com

Attend our Show and Tell session - Kayak Navigation
Coming soon in 2015

Why choose this GPS model

  • Colour screen - so different colours of marine charts can be seen
  • BlueCharts for AU, NZ & part of Sth Pacific preloaded
  • Memory expandable with a microSD card slot - you can purchase additional cards & load charts from other areas purchased
  • Buttons are that are easier & quicker to use on the water than touchscreens
And it gives you something to play with as you paddle!

Tips and Tricks 

  • Replace GPS unit’s batteries each day on an expedition, otherwise every 2 days
  • Do not leave open on Map pages as is burns valuable battery life
  • While on the water place GPS unit in an Aquapac 348 waterproof case
  • Understand how to also use a Base plate and Deck-mounted compass, and carry Charts copied onto waterproof paper.  Do not rely on technology 100%! Each person on an expedition should have and know how to use independent GPS units, in case one fails
  • Use Google Earth to plan your trip - useful for finding beaches and landing sites.
  • When working between your GPS, paper charts, Homeport software and Google Earth, make sure you are using the same Lat/Long units (eg. degrees & decimal minutes) and map series (WGS 84)

1. Setup

  • Batteries - use Lithiums - will last 2 days for longer crossings if used with Compass/Trip Computer screen, less for Map page. Select correct Battery type in System
  • Position Format:
    • Charts - will be preloaded & enabled in this model & correct map series selected (WGS 84)
    • Lat/Long - use decimals rather than seconds (hddd°mm.mmm’) - align with your paper charts
  • Display - Battery Saver - leave OFF - otherwise screen will blank and you will waste time pressing buttons to wake it up. Instead reduce battery consumption by reducing Backlighting (reduce Backlight Timeout) and reduce backlight brightness by quickly pressing the power button and use the toggle.
  • Heading - North reference - you can choose True, Magnetic, Grid or User. it is easier to leave as True and be aware of what the magnetic variation is. Also this is the menu where you should Calibrate the compass function.

2. Setting Waypoints

  • Setting a waypoint for the location you are currently at:
    - Hold down the Enter/Mark button and the waypoint screen is opened, recording Lat/Long. Use rocker button to navigate through various fields to add notes or descriptive waypoint name. Enter to select letter/number/Done.
    - Select Done to save & return to Page
  • Setting a waypoint from known Lat/Long to navigate to:
    - Read Lat/Long off chart / atlas / Google Earth or other record (eg. SPOT record from someone elses’ trip!). Make sure the units are the same when copy/pasting Lat/Longs, eg deg & dec minutes
    - Menu / Waypoint Manager / New Waypoint
    - Use rocker button to navigate through various field and add notes or descriptive waypoint name. Enter to select letter/number/Done.
    - For ease of use, if naming waypoints in an area use a meaningful prefix, eg. WP-001 for a waypoint at Wilson’s Prom
    - Return to map or other page or use Go to navigate to this waypoint

3. Creating a Route from a set of Waypoints

A route is a series of two or more waypoints that leads you to your destination. Either first ensure you have all the relevant waypoints already entered in your GPS or select them off the map page as you go.
  • Using existing waypoints:
    - from Main Menu, select Route Planner / Create Route / Select First Point
    - Select Waypoints, then first waypoint by name/number. Enter (selects Use)
    - Toggle to Select Next Point, Enter, then select Waypoints and the next waypoint in the route - continue until all the relevant waypoints are selected
    - Press Quit  button to save the route
  • Name the Route:
    - from Main Menu, select Route Planner
    - Select the route (eg. at this stage it is probably called Route 001), Enter
    - Toggle to Change Name, Enter, then use the keyboard screen & toggle to type a new name, the Done
  • View the Route on a Map
    - from Main Menu, select Route Planner
    - Select the route, then View Map
  • Navigate a Route
    - Press Find button and select Routes
    - Select a route, then Go
    - this will direct you to each waypoint in turn

4. Tracking & use of GPS for direction/speed monitoring - Pages

  • Compass - this page is useful for navigating to next waypoint on a Route - note that it is a straight line so if the waypoint is behind a headland it will point in that direction. Also has speed & distance to next. While in this screen use Menu button to bring up page-specific options - the fields being tracked can be varied.
  • Trip Computer - again the Menu has the option of varying which fields are monitored. Use menu to Reset the fields & Track as you are about to set off on your journey - otherwise the average speed & odometer will continue ofn from your previous journey (& even from the drive to the launch point)
  • Map - the map page displays the current map - two views are possible: North to the top of the map or the course direction to the top. Generally it is preferable to have north to the top as this is usually how we think when orienting a map. The alternate results in the view shifting around a lot with even minor directional changes. To change this go to Main Menu / Map / Orientation. Note that leaving the GPS open to the map page all the time severely reduces battery life.
  • Track Manager - recording your journey:
    • In Setup/Tracks/Track log select Record, Show on Map. Select Record Method - an option to record track points according to Distance, Time or Auto
    • Select Recording Interval - Normal will be ok for most purposes
    • Your track will record as you travel. at the end of your journey save your track by Track Manager/Current Track / Save Track. It is now ready to transfer to your computer if you choose (see below)!
    • Clear the track at the start of your next journey - Setup / Reset/ Clear Current Track / Yes

5. Trip Planning

    1. Charts on the PC/Mac

Rather than use up your GPS batteries, use your computer to aid in trip planning - you can use Garmin’s Homeport software allows you to connect your GPS unit to your PC/Mac and view the Garmin BlueCharts and create waypoints and connect them into routes for your day trip or expedition. You can also view any other purchased  marine charts on this software.
    1. HomePort Software Link

Homeport software is free and is designed to work with the BlueChart marine charts on your GPS so that you can download / upload from your GPS to/from your computer.
    1. Creating Waypoints & Routes ahead of time

  • First select where you want your waypoints / routes to be saved (eg. in My Collection)
  • Creating Waypoints:
    • Use the Waypoint tool in Homeport to simply click on the map where you want to place the waypoint. You can add notes and change the icon in the waypoint’s properties screen.
    • Alternately, click anywhere on the map to create a waypoint, then double click on that waypoint to open its properties window (Advanced tab), then type in the co-ordinates you have previously sourced.

Adding waypoints and connecting them to form a Route
  • Creating Routes:
    • To create a route on the Map - click on the Route tool and click on the locations on the map you want the route to follow. To end and save the route right-click or Esc.
    • To create a route from a set of waypoints, select a waypoint or use Command key to select multiple waypoints and and click Create Route from Waypoint(s). To edit the route hold down the Option key to add extra points to bend your route around land masses.
Create and edit Routes in Homeport

    1. Using Homeport with Google Earth

Use Google Earth to plan your trip - useful for finding beaches and landing sites. Use the Add Placemark button to mark a point. Copy the latitude & longitude from the Google earth placemark info window into a new waypoint in Waypoint Manager or in the Homeport software.

    1. Uploading and Downloading from your computer
  • Save your waypoints and tracks from your trip to your computer:
    - Connect the Garmin GPSMap 78sc to your computer using the USB lead and open Homeport software.
    - Use the Transfer / Receive from Device… menu item or Receive button
    - Select what you want to transfer - eg. waypoints and tracks. All the data of this type will be transferred so it is useful to clean up the memory from time to time.
    - The tracks and waypoints will be saved as a list in My Collection as Recently Read from [device name] - you should rename this list to something more meaningful
  • If you have created a set of waypoints and routes on your computer as part of trip planning you can transfer these to your GPS unit.
    - Connect the Garmin GPSMap 78sc to your computer using the USB lead and open Homeport software.
    - Select the list you want to transfer from My Collection
    - Use the Transfer / Send [List name] to Device … menu item or Send List button

    1. Other features - tides and currents

  • On the GarminGPSMap 78sc: go to Tides and Currents using the Find button and select either Tides or Currents. A list of nearby tide/current stations will appear - select one with the Enter button. Then Menu / Review Point will give you the high & low tides / currents for the current day.  Menu again brings up more options including a Chart of the tide heights and the ability to choose a different day (Change Date - then left or right toggle).
  • In HomePort: there are Tide and Current menu buttons - click on either to bring up a list of tide and current stations. Click on any one of these points to show tide or current data respectively - the “i” info icon will reveal a chart of the data.

Tides function in Homeport

Checking our route
- waterproof paper on our SW Tasmania adventure
Never rely solely on electronics!

Electronic devices can let you down so never rely wholly on them - trying to push batteries too far or ingress by salt water could spoil your day. Always have a back up - know how to navigate with a base plate compass and carry charts copied on waterproof paper on your deck. Enlarge the detail so they can be read unaided!

In December 2013 we kayaked the SW Tasmanian Wilderness of Bathurst Harbour and Port Davey in our Trak Seeker 16T Performance sea kayaks - the Garmin GPSMap 78sc performed brilliantly and we also referred to paper charts. 
Check out our YouTube of the journey!

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Trip Report - Team East Coast Kayaking at the Massive Murray Paddle

24-28 November 2014
It started with a phone call “Hey would you do the Murray Marathon?” I said “Yes, sure, …what the whole thing?” The promo posters arrived and an email – the Murray Marathon had been rebadged as Massive Murray Paddle and moved to the end of November. A quick “Who wants to join us?” post on Facebook and a couple of chats and the team was born.
The team in Yarrawonga - getting ready!

After a few weeks and not much training, we had a relay team of four booked in with various stages of preparedness. Peter was the only one to have done this before and we suddenly found another side of Pete we hadn’t suspected – Competitive Pete was going to crack the whip and exhort us to paddle faster – this was a little bit scary as the rest of us thought we were going for a nice recreational paddle down the river! Pete got hold of the Mirage 730 and spent the week prior to the event polishing and lightening it.

The logistics proved fairly simple: camping accommodation was plentiful at this time of year, we had group gear and food organised. The team set off – Neil & Peter left early to get set up and secure our race number; Rohan and I after work, arriving at 10pm. The Yarrawonga Holiday Park was still active with paddlers arriving and getting organised for the morning.

Day 1 – Yarrawonga to Tocumwal
We started in the third group – OPEN RKL2 (as we were a motley bunch of genders and age groups). Most of the other Mirage 730’s started in the earlier groups – did they know something we didn’t as to how long this would take?

Pete and Rohan arrived at the first checkpoint. At an average speed of nearly 12km/h possibly the fastest 25km of Rohan’s life! Neil and I can’t quite match those speeds but coming into the last stage the average speed was over 11km/h.

The headwinds were picking up and a big ominous, dark cloud loomed behind the trees and we approached the last few kilometres – never mind our race times, I wanted to be on land before that hit us. Just on 4pm the storm arrived as we were about 200m from the finish, with a huge gust of wind. Neil’s hat was gone and we just had to put our heads down and grunt through the gusts. A big branch crashed down in the car park. Lightning crackled and the gusts of wind and spray were blowing down the down the river bend. The K4 in front of us was being spun around just short of the boat ramp. We picked a gap and went for it. Where was the team? Another kind paddler helped us out of our kayak and we staggered up the ramp in the pouring rain.

We found them huddling in Pete’s car – then they locked the doors! We made them come out so they could reluctantly share in the exhilaration of the elements!
The power shortly went off in the town – fortunately we already bought beer (priorities!), so we drank beer and roasted lamb and potatoes on the caravan park’s backup gas BBQ!
The last 200m
Source: YMCA Massive Murray Paddle, Facebook site
Winds gusted over 40knots
Storm front on the radar
After the deluge...

Day 2 - Yarrawonga to Tocumwal again!
The storm dropped over 25mm of rain so the tracks downstream of Tocumwal were closed – we would repeat the previous day’s course. The pairs were reshuffled and I took the first leg with Pete. Another steady day of paddling with almost the same times as the previous day. We were perfecting the art of tailing the stern of faster boats to ease our passage.

We drove on to Picnic Point to camp in a peaceful bush camping ground. Peter rescued a tortoise as it tried to cross the road – it was very smelly! Glad I’m not sharing his car!
A sunny finish in Tocumwal this time
Why did the tortoise cross the road?
Day 3 – Picnic Point to Echuca
The day started well with bacon, egg and baked bean wraps.
We swapped the pairs again. The first leg was the scenic one through the Narrows and past the Moira Lakes – the biggest stage of the MMP at 28km. I could provide a bit of commentary but basically that was the fastest 28km I’ve ever paddled – under 2.5 hours. We hit maximum speeds of over 15km/h (briefly).
Peter and Neil were next – this was a sprint leg of 12km. We allowed an hour and only just got to the next checkpoint with the cars before they came in. Peter had worked Neil hard and they had had some good interactions with their fellow paddlers inspiring them to go faster.

The next leg of 18km was where I hit the wall – with only an hour’s break I probably hadn’t eaten or drank enough… With 5km to go my muscles were starting to cramp and we couldn’t keep up with the kayaks in our group. Neil didn’t look any better at the end of the last stage as they had run down numerous fast boats and everyone was feeling pretty tired (even Pete was hurting) when we arrived at our campsite in Moama.
We had worked hard though – we were 4th fastest boat on the water for the day and 10th overall.

We passed the Moama RSL on the way there – that looked pretty easy for dinner – even better when we found there was a free courtesy bus pickup and 10% of main meals with our camping ground key – bargain (true kayaker style)! After cooling down, rehydrating and relaxing for a while we were collected by the bus and hoovered down bread rolls, garlic bread, calamari and some rather good 300g steaks (the body craves protein!), before taking an early night.
Breakfast feast!
Spider found in my tent during pack-up!

Day 4 – Echuca to Torrumbarry
This was a day of shorter stages – 15km for both pairs, then two 16km stages. We kept the same pairs and everyone felt refreshed after a good night sleep. With estimated travel times of just over an hour the car shuffles would need to be efficient – don’t get lost! Rohan and I decided to forgo second breakfast at the bakery – a big sacrifice.
Relaxing at the finish, Torrumbarry

We all paddled strongly and were 7th fastest boat today, in 8th place overall. We tried to run down the Tathra Surf Boat but they came through with a big surge a few kilometres from the finish. We relaxed at the finish while they loaded the surf boat onto their trailer, with our feet up on the deck, listening to “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”. A great day’s paddling!

After sampling the Gunbower Lion’s Club steak sandwiches (more protein!) we drove up to Murrabit where the next stage is to start. The local footy club has hosted the Murray Marathon for many years and they opened their club for drinks and catered dinner.
Day 5 – Murrabit to Swan Hill
A lone paddler warming up before the start at Murrabit 
Packing up quickly, we headed down to the river to watch the earlier starts and were rewarded by a view of the tranquil river with mist drifting over the surface.

The day’s paddling was fast, with an unexpectedly strong current and also the competitive spirit kicking in. Everyone was feeling energetic and paddled strongly. Approaching the finish we were one of the earlier boats to come in and we benefited from Mad Mick’s (Team DILLIGAF) advice as the river narrowed and the currents swirled coming into Swan Hill. We finished 4th fastest boat overall, over the full distance for the day and 8th fastest for the 5 days – total time 34 hours (34:00:50) including the changeovers.
At the finish - Swan Hill

Sadly our commitments precluded us staying in Swan Hill for the celebrations and presentations – we soon headed back to Melbourne – a thoroughly enjoyable experience – we are already making plans for next year!
-Raia Wall

Who is interested in joining Team East Coast Kayaking for next year’s Massive Murray Paddle?

EastCoastKayaking on Facebook and Instagram
Massive Murray paddle on Facebook – for more photos and news