The development of Marine GPS brought about a new era in boating and fishing. Gone are the days when sailors looked to the night sky to guide them on their voyages across the seas. Advances in marine navigational systems have transformed not only sea travel but also spheres like fishing, diving and marine conservation.
While car navigational systems may be described as convenient, marine GPS systems are indispensable and in many cases, even life saving. They allow seafarers to both plot courses and navigate safely even under even the most adverse of conditions. In their most basic form, marine GPS systems have the ability to determine a boat's position at sea with regard to longitude and latitude and chart a course from one point to another. More advanced systems will have the ability to lock onto four or more satellites. They will therefore have highly developed mapping capabilities and be able to supply three-dimensional information relating to altitude.
Advanced marine navigational systems may also incorporate autopilot functions and depth gauges. Newer models like the Trimble NavMariner which are designed specifically with the angler in mind may feature integrated radars and fishfinders. Fishfinder technology involves the emission of high frequency signals beneath the surface of the water. Data gained from the signals may include information like the number of fish in a specific area and the distance between fish and the vessel in question. This information is then displayed either on the GPS receiver screen or on a separate screen within the ship or boat.
The first manufacturer to patent a marine GPS system was Trimble . Long before GPS systems went commercial Trimble was already busy developing marine GPS receivers. In 1986 they introduced the LORAN GPS receiver which was officially the first marine GPS system to be used outside military circles. Today Trimble remains one of the leading manufacturers of marine GPS systems for sailing boats, fishing boats, container ships and luxury liners. Other leading manufacturers of Marine systems include Garmin, Lowrance, NavTrack and Magellan .
In addition to providing those on board with information on location and course, marine GPS units also provide those on shore with information on the exact location of specific vessels at sea. This can be particularly useful when ships are steered off course for one reason or another. Most major shipping and marine transport companies are currently installing GPS systems into their fleets so as to be able to pinpoint the precise location of every ship around the clock.