Garmin GPSMap 176C — DataCards Still Available Special Order, Call West Marine NOW!

Remember our dilemma a few weeks back looking everywhere for the Bahamas DataCard to go with our trusty, but discontinued Garmin GPSMap 176C?   A tip from “Marquesa” a poster on the Lats & Atts Bulletin Board let me know to call West Marine, that they could still special order the DataCards.  Now West Marine is not my favorite marine purchase preference because of their pricing, but I called immediately.  I was surprised when they seemed to know exactly what I was talking about & transferred me to “Henry”.

Winterlude's Dated but Functional Electronics At The Helm, Including 2 Autopilots, Wind/Speed/Depth and GPS

Winterlude's Dated but Functional Electronics At The Helm, Including 2 Autopilots, Wind/Speed/Depth and GPS

Henry told me, no problem, Garmin originally was going to stop production on the DataCards December 2010, but because of demand for the discontinued GPS DataCards, they extended it to December 2011!     I didn’t even ask the price, but I’m assuming it’s around $149.  I was so excited, I just told him to order it & gave him our credit card number — maybe a foolish move, we’ll see.  He said it would be in within a week, so I’ll let you know.

In the meantime, if YOU have any charts that you’ve been wishing you’d purchased for your old but reliable Garmin GPSMap 176C, now might be a really good time to call West Marine and order the DataCard!    Just a thought.

The Saga Continues: West Marine called on Tuesday, after we special ordered the DataCard on the prior Thursday, saying it was in.  We picked it up and ……

🙁  No, it’s not the right DataCard.   David stops at WestMarine, it’s the same exact number card, but the date on it is 2008 (ours says 2003).  Hmmm…    Temporarily he decides not to get it.  By the time he gets home, we decide to take our trusty Garmin GPSMap 176C back to the store and compare a specific lat/long to see how 2008 compares to 2003.  So, OK, there are definitely more details in the 2008 version, but it’s $160 with tax….  We’re ready to buy it and walk out the door, when we made the mistake of drooling over the new Garmin 740S …. but at $1499 it was a really really expensive solution.

Secretly we were hoping that we’d have an excuse (although the money is not in the budget) to upgrade to the new Garmin 740S touchscreen GPS with the Bahamas Explorer Charts built-in, but the electronics we have got us all the way from Annapolis to Cartagena, Columbia and back to SW Florida, so for now, we should stick with what brung us!

So we left West Marine sans 2008 version of the same DataCard we already own … and also sans 740S touchscreen.   But thinking seriously about the  541S compromise that’s on sale for $599 … a freestanding GPS like our original 176C, but with a larger screen, new charts incorporating the Explorer charts for the Bahamas and an optional depthsounder/fishfinder/bottom sonar supposedly showing grass bottoms, where the sand spots are, where there’s deep sand for the anchor to sink into versus thin sand over coral or rock…. YIKES TOO MANY CHOICES!    We left totally confused about what the best course of action might be for our future cruising plans!

When we arrived back at the boat, I called Nobeltec (our electronic chart set-up for Florida to Columbia and back over six years was the small Garmin GPSMap 176C at the helm with Garmin Bluecharts and Nobeltec Passport charts on my laptop below for planning and a backup to the helm GPS — we loved this set up).

Despite what I heard previously, Nobeltec, now owned by Furuno and not Jeppeson, has not totally discontinued tech support for my Nobeltec Visual Navigation Suite 8.0 – and I can still buy a Bahamas chart for it, but it’s $350.  Again, I’d have the newest charts, but Windows XP based technology that might fail any time with no way to upgrade.  To upgrade, I’d need a new Windows 7 laptop.  After doing some checking, I found out I could buy a Dell Inspiron for $399, add the upgraded Nobeltec Odyssey software for $199 through March 2012 (including all the U.S. charts) and the entire Caribbean for another $300.  SO, for a total of $898, I could have a new computer and upgraded really cool Nobeltec Passport charts.

And if we add the cost of the Garmin 541S and the Nobeltec upgrade – including the computer, we’d still be spending LESS than the fabulous, but ridiculously expensive Garmin 740S touchscreen — only 7″, but still awe-inspiring….

What to do…. what to do….  there’s no money in the budget for this, but we like having good charts – especially when we’re gunkholing and trying to find anchorages that might not be on the charts…

One way or another, Bahamas, here we come!  🙂

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