Another GPS Question

I have read the Garmin website in regard to the Map 76 and Etrex Legend units.

I have done an archive search here on P.Net and read several threads about GPS units in general and about these two. (sorry for yet another one)

I have a question about software for the units. The Etrex and Map76 come with Garmins standard marine software. In addition you can buy more marine software and download it to the unit. The addin software is advertised as offshore. Do I need, or better put am I going to want the additional software.

Ive been told that the Etrex units are not really waterproof. The Map76 and Etrex units are tested to the same water resitant spec, does that mean the both are not really water proof or that both are?

EBay units are selling at about 125 for the legend and 195 for the Map76. Is the additional money justified?



Map76 etc
I have the Map76CS. If you want to take advantage of the map display while on the water, you will definitely want the BlueChart software, and that is $100+ or more for one region. Look around for a decent price.

Presumably, having bought a mapping unit, you do want to see the maps while travelling. But just in case, if you just want the various numeric fatures (speed, lat/long, compass, tracks, waypoints, etc) and/or the ability to upload/download tracks and routes to existing software, you don’t need BlueChart. But for the up/download, you will need some kind of PC software anyway, which BlueChart also provides.

The Map76CS is quite waterproof, provided you close the various coverings securely. I can’t speak for the others.


thanks for your reply.

Are you saying that the standard marine software that comes with the Map76 is not the mapping software. That is confusing, or at least not clear on the website.

You also said that I will need some sort of PC softwere with the BlueChart. And you indicated that BlueChart has this. Does this additional software come in the same package as the BlueChart software?



The standard mapping software is…
… not very detailed. It would not serve for any kind of navigation, especially in a kayak. In fact, I think it’s called the “basemap” and it’s pretty basic.

Yes, BlueChart is mainly a PC program with a complete set of charts. You then buy a key to unlock a region, which shows the region in detail on the PC and allows you to download charts in that region to the GPS. When you buy BlueChart, you get rights to one region – your choice – and can buy others for around $100 each.

You can start exploring BlueChart coverage here

Don’t buy anything direct from Garmin – too expensive. I see from Froogle that you can get BlueChart (with one region) for about $95-$100 ($150 from Garmin), and add-on regions for $85-95.

Yep, it’s a razor/blades game, or printer/cartrdiges


Even though they are water
proof/resistent seeing that they are improtant and not cheap I put mine inside a water proof bag also. I really don’t want to take a chance with it.

Some things to think about…
I’ve had a Garmin GPS for years. I now own the Legend and I love it. As far as software, if you are using the unit for paddling you might want to ask yourself is the ocean software worth it. I just use Garmin’s regular Roads and Recreation software and Maptech’s Terrain Navigator software and I get more information than I can use. Both of the software programs I use cover (and this is a guess) about 5-10 miles off shore. I know I’ll never paddle more than that. And since it covers the entire USA I can use it for hiking and even in my car.

Also, in case you are wanting to put actual topo maps on your GPS, if you have a Garmin GPS you have to use their Mapsource Topo program for those maps. I believe most of the topos in Mapsource are 100,000. I thin they have a couple of the National Parks at 24,000, but not many. Outside developer’s programs may allow you to do waypoints, routes, etc. but they will not allow you to put the topo map on your GPS.

Hope some of this helps,


Sorry to change the subject a bit…
…but I’ll take advantage of the door that Mark opened.

I’m looking for one as well, but I’m leaning more towards the Magellan Sportrak Pro Marine. It ain’t cheap, but it seems to already have everything I’ll need for the basics, including tidal information for coastal waters. Another plus for me is a slightly larger screen with front buttons, and appears to hold a signal under trees better than Garmin (according to reviews). Any comments on this unit?

Get the GPSMAP 76 and Topo software

– Last Updated: Nov-30-05 3:50 PM EST –

GPSMAP76 (or GPSMAP76s) has much bigger screen and easier/larger buttons. No dinky little joysitck. eTrex is for hikers/canoers who like to stop and fiddle with the unit *L*

For nearshore and inshore (you're not really doing blue water navgation are you?) - get the Garmin Topo CD set. Detail to the side steet/small canal/creek level - and the buoys and navaids are there too. Also some depth info.

The Blue Water set would be nice to have - like a full set of nav charts - but I wanted to see further inland for rivers and lakes too.

Garmin has many options for mounts too. I have this:

The permanent adhesive disk really is - so be sure you really want it on deck! Only the oval bottom section stays on the boat - and it's low profile and all rounded edges. Pics of it on my 700:

Full accessory list here:

PS- GPSMAP76 has tide info too.


Safer and better prices than ebay.

Hey Mark
I was just fixin’ to email you and ask you a question. First I’ll tell you what I know and don’t know about GPSs:

I don’t know about the Legend. I had the yellow Etrex and wasn’t too happy with it as a kayak unit. For dry land it was fine. For water it wasn’t so good. It allowed water inside. Garmin calls it waterproof, then says “except for the battery compartment”. What kind of $*!& is that? I got tired of trying to see the screen through a sandwich bag and sprung for the MAP76 with the Atlantic Blue Chart CD. The MAP76 is absolutely waterproof. I have submerged mine many times and I rinse the salt off of it with a hose or a faucet. (It’s the unit I had with us on Friday).

Now for my question:

What kind of camera was that you had on Friday? I may search ebay for one for my daughter.


I use an Etrex Legend
all the time while kayaking. I keep it on the front deck, where it has been fully subjected to the waves and rolling with no problems. The only time I have had an issue was when it was 85F air temp and I was in 45F water, the screen fogged over on the inside. Since applying a light coat of silicone grease to the battery compartment door seal, this has never occurred again.

The unit is much more useful with the topo maps installed. I use mine all the time for paddling, hiking, and driving.

Watch for sales- Gander Mountain was recently selling the GPSr and Topo CD as a package deal for $199.

it all comes down to personal
preference. I existed without a GPS until recently and I always hated passing by great campsites and knowing that I had no real way to find them again. I now have an e-Trex Legend C and I got the Eastern US Rivers and Lakes Mapsource program. I find the unit very easy to operate, I have no trouble reading the screen (the color display is very clear) and the level of detail provided by the map upgrade is more than I expected. It displays all water - even drainage ditches. I believe all of the Garmin units come with sunrise/sunset/moon phases/ tidal data/etc. I really enjoyed having this with me on a recent three day float and was able to mark several excellent campsites that I will return to one day.

Hi Rex,

The camera I had on our paddle is a FujiFilm S5000 FinePix. It is several revisions down from their current and ebay had litterally hundreds of these on auction. I bid, one at a time, on several dozen before winning with a bid at the level I was after. Like most, I waited until the last minute or two before bidding.

Ive been getting an education on GPS units the last couple of days. The software was a little confusing to me. The differance between their base software which is included and the various optional packages.

I got out for short afterwork paddles yesterday and today. Cant beat the mid seventies this time of year.


You just brought up my real question, I think. The two pieces of software MapSource and BlueChart. I took a look at the BlueChart link from the site and it appears that whoever publishes this software it is a digitized package of the NOAA charts. As you say like having a set of marine charts. And, as you say, looks like it handles the coastal waters only. Not bad as that is where I normally paddle. On the other hand the MapSource appears to include more inland information.

I think Ive deceided that the Map76 is a better choise for me as compared to the Etrex.

thanks all,


Extrex - Water Resistance
Two summers ago I had my Etrex ( the basic model) in my polartech when we were in a Laundromat in Kirkwall Orkney. I went accross the street to buy some bread and my wife pitched my jacket into the wash and washed it. It still works fine.

Hey Mark
The Map 76 has all the bouys and channel markers that you would be looking for built right in.

The little Etrix is good for plugging in coordinates, and way points, but does not have the nav aids or good screen and read out that the 76 has.

I used a Etrix for a lot of years, but since getting the map 76 only use it as a back up.

We always get the U.S. coastal geodetic charts for the area that we are going to be paddling.

Nanci has the Topo software and uses the heck out of it.

From experience: If you are going to be keeping it on your deck for extended periods in hot weather, make sure you keep it in a weatherproof case.

Over a period of time the glue on the seams of the case will break down and if you dunk it you are liable to fry it. We killed two Etrixs before we smartened up.



Hey Jack
Thanks for the info. It sounds like I need to talk to Nanci about software. I do think that the consensous is to choose the Map76 over the Etrex. Rex really likes his, and Greyak, and you. Seems like I need to just do it.

I should have not gotten Steven’s running GPS, that is what got me started looking at a GPS for me, LOL.

I have been sneaking up on my new paddle decision. I tried Rex’s Werner and was amazed at how much more control it provided me over my paddle. It has much more surface area than mine and I am going in between current and Rex’s from a size standpoint, about 80% of the differance. Maybe I will be able to keep up a little better next time we paddle.

Knees, FL, and B&B. Are you still planning your race this year?


Topo goes offshore a bit
and show depth contours.

Beyond that - no features anyway! GPS still knows where it is and which way you’re headed.

Both are nice. Good bit of overlap. Topo is handy if you every want to play with the “freshies” too.

Keep and eye on the batteries anyway.
One drop in there is no big deal if you catch it post paddle. If it sits in there a week (particularly salt water) you’ve got a mess!

Mine has been dunked many times. Rolled with it exposed in it’s mount on deck many times. I also take it off and throw it in my damp under deck bag for hours at a time fairly often.

Has been fine - but did get a drop in the battery compartment once (pre-rolling days even!) that caused some minor corrosion, but no functional issues. Seal is good - and I don’t worry about it - but do try to remember to check it. Some silicone grease might make it 100%.

I am eagerly looking forward to it as I look forward to any and all races.

Too many races, not enough years left!

Do you think you might be heading down for it?


Jack L