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Old 21-04-2012, 22:04   #1
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Charts and Ipad Apps

Hi Guys,

I'm new to the forum and to sailing. I recently got my boating license in Japan. I'm trying to find some good resources for charts for the coastal waters of Japan (specifically around Tokyo). Does anyone know of a good website or source where I can get these charts? Since it's Japan, it's difficult for me to just go buy a Japanese chart book.

Also, any recommendations on charting ipad apps, so I can just bring the ipad with me and view the charts through that? I would probably want to print out them as well in case the battery dies while I'm out on the water right?
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Old 26-04-2012, 09:13   #2
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Re: Charts and Ipad Apps

Hi Josh, I also live and sail in Japan. Have been boating for some time, but am not terribly experienced when it comes to sailing. Bought a (small but serviceable) sailboat some three years ago and keep it in a small fishing harbor on the Uchibou coast in Chiba.
Incidentally, I have been reading the Cruisers Forum with interest since a while back, but this is my first post.

First of all, congratulations on passing the notoriously difficult Japanese boating license test!

As for your question about charts, all three major navigation apps for the iPhone/iPad, namely iNavX, Navionics, and iSailor have maps for Japan. I am using iNavX (some $60 initial cost) and Navionics (forget how much, but wasn't expensive I think), and for good measure I recently bought iSailor as well (2,200 yen for downloading the Japan charts). The way this works is you first install the app and then search/download the charts you need. Just give it a try. The apps all have their drawbacks and advantages in terms of usability, and it may be a matter of personal preference which one you end up using. iSailor seems to have the fewest features, but it's very easy to use (intuitive). The quality of the maps is also a bit of a tossup. They are all slightly different, but none of them when you drill down have the detail of the official Japanese paper charts such as available here:

Japan Nautical Chart Web Shop | Japan Hydrographic Association

The web site is a bit of a mess and hard to, ehem, navigate (the Japanese side is slightly better), but you can look around and order directly from them. The paper charts are not all that expensive and will surely serve you better than printouts from iPad apps (which will be not detailed enough if large scale or too numerous if small scale). The charts available from the above web site are in Japanese, but they all have some English on them as well, and you should probably get some for your area. The same site also has electronic charts for maritime GPSes and such (very detailed and high quality, but expensive), and a chart program/map data for Windows PCs called, ehem, NewPec. I have that installed on a laptop, and the charts are more detailed than the iPad apps (which for example don't provide information about stationary fishing nets and such, which is quite important in Japan), but the NewPec software is a horror to use and requires both an external GPS and a copy-protection dongle to be plugged into the PC when you use it. And on top of that, it costs some 20 to 30 thousand yen, as I recall.

I'd say at first go with some paper charts and one or two of the above iPad apps. But make sure your iPad is a 3G or 4G model, not the wi-fi only type, because that won't work as a GPS on the water, unless you buy and plug in a separate GPS thingie (such as Bad Elf). The iPhone (any model) with the above apps is another option and okay for some quick orientation, but the screen is too small for serious navigation (easy to handle on a small boat, though).

Anhow, I hope this gives you a bit of a head start. Gambatte and have fun on the water! Japan is not the most pleasure-boat-friendly of countries but it does have some fine nooks and crannies in its coast line (at least until the next earthquake/tsunami hits...)

I'm off for a short cruise tomorrow...
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Old 26-04-2012, 18:23   #3
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Re: Charts and Ipad Apps

I should probably add that my Navionics with the Japanese charts (actually PACIFIC ISLANDS & JAPAN, chart code 34XG) that I originally bought for my iPhone does work on my iPad, but not in full screen. (I can hit x2 to zoom it, but the display then is more coarse.) It does not seem to work with Navionics HD which is a bit of a disappointment. Navionics does have the advantage of being able to overlay a Google satellite image with nav data though, which the other two don't have.
In your case, I'd probably start with the iSailor app (free) and the Japanese chart (2,200 yen or $24.99). It's the cheapest option, and it should get you going.
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Old 04-05-2012, 11:52   #4
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Thanks YowieBoy! Sorry to get back to you so late, I'm not receiving email notifications on these threads for some reason. This info is great!!! I actually found the isailor app but wasn't sure what I was gonna get if I downloaded the charts. I will definitely check the others you mentioned and purchase some paper charts as well.

Do you live and work in Tokyo?? Curious how much your dock fees are in Chiba...everywhere I looked in kanazawa Tokyo were either unavailable or really expensive.

I am looking into joining the Yamaha sea style club. Might be joining this month to head out on the water with a buddy that also took the boat test with me.

If you are in and around Tokyo it would be great to grab a drink and meet.

Thanks again for the useful information, much appreciated!!

Josh
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Old 07-05-2012, 07:01   #5
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Re: Charts and Ipad Apps

Hi Josh,

just got back from my cruise 2 days ago, somewhat later than planned because bad weather kept my little 21-footer (Yamaha 21C sailboat with a puny 8hp outboard) pinned at Shikine-jima (a small but very nice island of the Izu island group) for a while. It was good for exploring the island and enjoying the hot springs, but bad because of the lack of a safe anchorage, even in the harbor where the ferries dock it was very rough, and I had to shift the boat several times in pretty scary conditions.
During this trip the iPad proved less useful for navigation than I had expected. In a small boat with an open cockpit, it's really only practical in calm weather. When the spray was flying and I had my hands full, my iPhone in its waterproof pouch proved more manageable and useful for quickly checking my position and heading.
Incidentally, the iSailor map showed my position at Shikine as being on land while I was in fact anchored in a small bay! It was not a GPS problem but a problem with the low resolution/detail of the map data.
The Navionics software on the iPhone was what I ended up using most.

As for your other questions, I am self-employed and work mostly at home in Sakura, Chiba, but I do go into Tokyo fairly often. Yes, let's get together for a drink sometime. I am looking at a busy spell of work for a while, but towards the end of May should be good.

My boat is kept not in a marina (which indeed are very expensive, especially in the Kanto and Kansai areas) but moored in a small fishing harbor near Hota on the Uchibou coast of Chiba. I pay a yearly fee which is less than half of what a marina would be, but these spots are extremely rare and hard to come by. It took me a number of years and a lucky break (getting an introduction to the fishing cooperative) before I was able to put the boat there.

Before I got my own boat, I sometimes used the Yamaha rental boat club scheme, and it was alright for getting one's feet wet, so to speak, but in the long run, having my own vessel suits me more. The typically fussy rules, the requirement for booking ahead, and the fact that you still have to clean up the boat afterwards although it isn't yours to command was a bit off-putting.
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