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Garmin Charts: Back on Course By Jonathan Stright

Take a heading; we’re back on course! Garmin’s new BlueChart g2 cards and g2 Vision charts are coming to a GPS near you. The g2 cards sell for less than $200 ($169.95 at The Binnacle in Halifax, NS). These cards have all the detail of traditional paper charts and cover all of Canada’s coastal waters. Finally. Almost a full year ago, Garmin set out to revamp the marine charts for their handheld GPS units and full-featured chart plotters. The sailing community was abuzz with talk of how cruising anywhere in Canada would become possible with little more than a handheld GPS and a single chart card. And it was possible — for about two months. In June 2009, Garmin recalled every single one of the new chart cards. The recall came with an ominous warning not to use any of the cards for navigation because “inaccuracies and/or omissions … could lead to risk of personal injury.” Garmin offered the relatively small number of people who bought the recalled charts a small replacement card to hold them over until they could fix the new charts. Since stores had already returned their old BlueChart cards, most other sailors found themselves up the creek without a, well, without electronic charts, anyway. A few brave sailors bought Garmin’s BlueChart CD, resigning themselves to paying Garmin $200 for every painfully 26 | May/June 2010 |

...when the batteries die or when nobody can find the GPS after that strange splash an hour ago... small region they wanted to unlock. Fewer still bought the old 2008 BlueChart cards when they started to resurface in the fall. It’s hard to justify spending $1,200 on charts for Atlantic Canada; harder still when you hang on to the unwavering conviction that the ever-elusive $200 Canada card could reappear at anytime. Then one fine day in March, it did. All our dreams became reality. And it was worth the wait. Garmin’s 2010 BlueChart cards are in stock and ready to go at The Binnacle in Halifax. The new lineup consists of two products: BlueChart g2 cards and g2 Vision cards. The g2 charts are the more popular of the two. These micro SD cards work in most of Garmin’s handheld mapping units and nearly all Garmin chartplotters. Although coverage areas are available for nearly any part of the world, most sailors in these waters will only require the

Canada-wide card, which actually covers as far south as the state of New York. Those looking for the latest and greatest will choose the g2 Vision cards. These cards are limited to much smaller areas. They sell for about $340 depending on the area you want to explore ($339.95 for Halifax to Cape Breton at The Binnacle). In exchange for the bigger price tag, the g2 cards offer 3D imagery, full-colour photographs of selected points of interest and even some information on coastal roads if you can tear yourself away from the boat. These cards are intended to help cruisers get the most out of their voyage. Just remember when the batteries die or when nobody can find the GPS after that strange splash an hour ago, nothing beats a good, old-fashioned paper chart. And don’t forget to look up every once in awhile. For more information on these or other Garmin products go to or Or contact The Binnacle by calling 1-800-224-3937 or 902-423-6464 or emailing at

Garmin Charts: Back on Course