And finally, we put the autopilot through its paces; it was, of course, integrated with the main multifunction display. I had our captain plot out a multi-waypoint route to determine how well the autopilot held to the plotted course line and what it did when it came time to turn on to a new leg of the route. The autopilot did an exceptional job of holding us on the plotted line, even in a sloppy, beam-to sea that was constantly trying to push us toward a lee shore. And when the time came, the autopilot dutifully made a 90-degree turn to port without prompting, which for some skippers could be an issue. Once you near a turning waypoint, the unit displays a very short text message on the screen, then goes ahead and initiates the turn with no further input from the captain. This is in sharp contrast to some other autopilots I've used, where you must confirm the turn before the autopilot will execute. While the company says it argued internally for hours over this decision to automatically make the turn rather than requiring confirmation, it pointed out that the captain did plot the course, meaning that he or she would want to make the turn at the appropriate time. My only issue with this is what happens if there's another boat nearby and the turn will put you right on it? Fortunately, at sailing speeds there's usually plenty of time to make a course correction if it's needed, and that can easily be done with the push of a single button to disengage the autopilot and take over manual control. Or you can simply use the joystick to maneuver around the other boat or any other obstruction that's in your way.
Overall, it's refreshing to see a "newcomer" to marine electronics that actually has 25 years of manufacturing under its keel. And given the fact that the new Geonav is part of the giant Johnson Outdoors organization—the makers of Humminbird fishfinders, Scubapro dive gear, and more—you know the company is going to be here for a long time to come. So if you're the type of navigator who likes to roll up your sleeves and really dive into the menus, the complete navigation system from Geonav has the ability to make you the coolest captain on the dock.