14 May 2011



I have owned a Garmin Touch Screen Chart Plotter since late 2007, and thought it was god’s gift to boaters. No more, since my original was switched for a newer version recently, when I had locking up issues. I want everyone who has a Garmin, or everyone considering buying a Garmin to look at the pre-loaded charts and see if you see what I see. If you see what I am going to describe, then be forewarned before you buy, or if you own one, complain vigorously to Garmin, and maybe this once fine product can be turned back into a proper chart plotter. If you are only planning to cruise inside the Intercoastal Water Way, you will have no issue, but for those of you planning offshore hops, or long range planning to islands in the Bahamas, there are serious issues.

Let me describe overall what I mean, and then in some detail. When I look at a map, one that covers anything from the whole coast line of Florida, or from Florida to the Chesapeake, I would expect to see major cities on the coast, and major harbor entrances. For instance, going up the coast of Florida, Key West, Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Palm Beach, Ft. Pierce, Jacksonville, Fernandina, all having first class entrances, should be named. When you zoom in another level, more of the minor entrances, still reasonably safe, should be named. The closer in you go, the more detail it is possible to put on the chart, the more harbor entrances of lesser quality can be detailed, along with smaller towns, bridges and their details, until you get down to the information critical to those traveling the waterways. But lets stick with the major maps, the ones I have issues with.

I will pick just a few places to illustrate the point I am making, starting with Palm Beach and Lake Worth Inlet. Starting at the 30 mile scale, which shows the whole east coast of Florida from Miami to Jacksonville, both on the chart in the smallest letters possible, you are also given, Delray Beach, Pine Island, Kid Creek, Landing Strip. That’s it folks for a whole coast with four more major entrances left unindicated.

At the 20 mile scale, from Miami to 230 NM north you now see, Miami, in small letters, Ojus, large letters, Boca Raton, large letters, Lantana, even larger and in all caps, Everglades I. and Munyon I., in large letters as is Corset I., John’s I., Troust Creek, small, Tortoise I., large, then Cocoa, all caps, and Titusville-Cocoa Airport. Nothing else is indicated from there north to Jacksonville, written in very small letters.

At 12 miles, zeroing in on the Palm Beach area you still have Lantana, in caps, and Munyon I. north to Corset I.

At 8 miles Lantana has disappeared, instead you have Boynton Beach, in caps, Airport, then five miles north of that, Palm Beach International Airport, then on the coast in small letters some details on a red bouy and a red and white marker. North of that is Munyon Island.

At 5 mile scale, Lantana is back on the map, still in caps, Hunters I, Palm Beach Internatinal, and then Little Munyon I.

At 3 mile scale, going 9 miles north and south of Lake Worth Inlet, still unnamed, you have, Bascule Bridge, 33 Ft. at Center, in caps, West Palm Beach, in caps, Tarpon I, , and then small notes, such as Foul, Dump sites anhorage area, Wks PA.

You cannot check on these notes by zooming in since there are more and more of the I signs indicating info, and so often, what is on one scale is omitted on the next. Note the place names, which come and go.

At 2mile scale, going from 5 miles south to 5 miles north, you have Everglades i. , medium size, Royal Park Bascule Bridge, Flagler Memorial Bascule Bridge (at Center), all in caps, Lake Mangonia, small letters, then the notes at sea surrounding the entrance, still unnamed, Wks PA, North Palm Beach Waterway, very small, and Signs.

A mark with LW shows at the 1.2 mile scale, and the name Lake Worth Inlet finally shows in very small letters at the .5 mile scale but not near the inlet. The name shows, right in the inlet, at the .3 mile scale.

If you go to the west coast of Florida it is the same story, islands you never heard of which will come and go at different scales, and the only recognizable name is Sarasota. Tampa Bay, great and mighty Tampa Bay, or Tampa/St. Pete, Naples, Charlotte Harbor Ft. Meyers, Marco island, don’t show up until you are in a very small scale. You have to go to the 2 mile scale to find the names of Tampa and St. Pete, It is worth going in step by step on Tampa Bay to see what I mean.

Even the Bahama islands will leave major islands unnamed, like Long island, Crooked Island or Acklins Island. Pigeon Cay is the only identifier on Long Island at the 30 mile scale. I suspect this wide spot on what looks like was part of the salt pan dyke system was some one’s idea of a joke. The major town, Clarence Town is not named until the 800 feet scale, and Salt Pond, the other major settlement is never named, although Salt Pond Cay is, and Thompson Bay makes it in in small letters at the .5 mile scale.

If someone could make sense of this for me, I would appreciate hearing. Why one area is given multiple names, but not the initial important one you need, I will never understand. Final example, Final example, Port Royal Sound, a major entrance is marked at first Otter Island, then Hunting I on the 30 mile scale. Then it becomes Morgan Island on the 20 mile scale, then Lemon I. and Bay Point on the 12 mile scale, then Morgan, Hunting and Lemon I. are all on the 8 mile scale, Beaufort County Airport shows on the 5 mile scale, so you get a cue of where you are, Port Royal Sound finally shows on the ,8 mile scale.

Please protest to Garmin for me and for your own sake, if you want one of the best, most inexpensive chart plotters, but loaded with proper maps. As cruisers, we don’t need local airports before harbors, or islands reachable only by kayaks or canoes. If you only do the ICW, as I said before, this is not an issue, but if you are a stranger in a strange land or planning off shore jumps, it sure is.