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Old 06-07-2008, 17:53   #1
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Basic question about NOAA ENCs

I can't find an index for the names of the digital files. That is to say, Bellingham Bay, in Washington State, USA is paper chart 18424, but the downloaded ENC file is titled WS5WA45M. Is there a cross reference somewhere?

Perhaps I'm misunderstanding how these things are supposed to work?

Thanks,
Colin
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Old 07-07-2008, 17:17   #2
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The file contains multiple charts, and the name of the file should be irrelevant. Your charting program will not list the file name, it will list the names of the charts.

All chart programs I am familiar with have a discovery or installation process. You tell it you want to install charts, choose the directory (or directories) the files are located in, and it reads through them and builds a chart list.

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Old 07-07-2008, 18:48   #3
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Thanks Dan. I know what you mean about the discovery process. I learned about that when I played around with a demo version of Fugawi, but I'm just using a free viewer, not a charting program, and it doesn't have a "loading" utility. It's Caris Easy View. It will display charts and even align them when I open them, but I have to open them manually, and that means knowing which file is which, unfortunately.

I'm a complete novice, and I'm trying to figure out what I will probably end up purchasing. I was hoping to be able to use free, up to date, electronic charts and a free viewer for planning and then printing the charts to take on board as a back up to a portable mapping gps. Charting software seems like overkill for my purposes. Expensive too.
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Old 07-07-2008, 19:04   #4
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MacENC via it's chart manager, shows the cell (chart name) and all the objects it contains. An ENC unlike a RNC is a database made up of 1000's of objects that can be queried.




From the NOAA ENC Website

ENC Cell Naming Convention: ENC cells are 8 characters long (i.e., US3CA70M)

The 1st and 2nd fields are filled with the country or producer code.

The 3rd field is filled with the navigation purpose. The U.S. has five classifications.

# 1 is for overview charts with scales ranging from 1:1,500,001 or smaller

# 2 is for general charts with scales ranging from 1:600,001 - 1:1,500,000

# 3 is for coastal charts with scales ranging from 1:150,001 - 1:600,000

# 4 is for approach charts with scales ranging from 1:50,001 - 1:150,000

# 5 is for harbour charts with scales ranging from 1:50,000 or larger

The 4th and 5th fields are filled in the U.S. with the state, territory or region abbreviation.

The 6th and 7th fields are filled with an arbitrary number or letter.

The 8th is filled with the chart's unit of measurement. "M' is for metric.
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Old 08-07-2008, 11:17   #5
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Thanks for the reply. Being able to pick out the state from the file name helps.

Nonetheless, after thinking about this a bit more, I think I will just go with a mapping, handheld gps and paper chart backups. I'm not really going to be "cruising," but, rather, staying in Puget Sound and doing primarily day sailing. I know this is a cruising forum, but people seem so knowledgable, I figured I'd get good info (and I did). I can purchase paper charts for a reasonable amount of money for this region, and then I don't have to worry about batteries or dropping the laptop. I'll use the free ENCs and the free viewer to plan at home, and perhaps print specific areas with notes.

Thanks again for the help.
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Old 08-07-2008, 11:50   #6
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Download Seaclear II and use RNC charts instead of ENC's. RNC's make more sense if you are interested in printing paper charts. Seaclear is free and can be used for planning or navigation.

For ENC's you can try Opencpn . It will also read RNC's and is free but I prefer the way Seaclear works.

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Old 08-07-2008, 12:58   #7
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Thanks once again!

I was just now attempting to print portions of some ENCs, and was not having any success. I'll investigate the RNCs.

Thanks,
Colin
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Old 08-07-2008, 15:15   #8
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pirate I'll second SeaClear.............

I was schooled in the ways of SeaClear and its utility MapCal last week. Boris at Elite Yacht Electronics(Kemah Texas) walked me through from start to finish. He spent 4HOURS showing and reshowing me how to make it work without even one long sigh at my Luditedness. While I was at it I got an AIS receiver and now have a really user friendly chart plotter with AIS(and 2300+NOAA charts) to help keep me out of trouble.

My wife and I sailed down to ClearLake to watch the fireworks and the AIS paid for its self on the trip home when we encountered a barge that I could "see" with the AIS but was running dark. The boat behind us crossed in front of the barge I assume because they didn't know it was there. It could have been tragic had it been any closer. I only saw the barge after it lit up my friends boat(very close) with the spotlight. When the barge passed us you could just barely see the cabin lights. There were no running or mast lights of any sort. I should have reported him to Homeland Security. That would have made his day I'll bet.

SeaClear is an easy program to use once you understand it and of course the best thing is its free(really free not just a teaser).

I've used Fugawi and the Captain some with mixed results and find SeaClear a good deal easier to use and the NOAA raster charts are exactly the same as the paper charts and you can update them as ofter as you like electronically.

Some of the SeaClear instructions can be a bit confusing but if "I" can get it figured out almost any body with opposable thumbs should be able to.........martin
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Old 09-07-2008, 03:53   #9
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Originally Posted by cantxsailor View Post
... we encountered a barge that I could "see" with the AIS but was running dark. The boat behind us crossed in front of the barge I assume because they didn't know it was there. It could have been tragic had it been any closer. I only saw the barge after it lit up my friends boat(very close) with the spotlight. When the barge passed us you could just barely see the cabin lights. There were no running or mast lights of any sort. I should have reported him to Homeland Security ...
You also might have informed your friend, and everyone else, about a large object running dark (SÚcuritÚ ...).
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Old 11-07-2008, 16:17   #10
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By that time the local ship control WAS aware of him.

Weather they did anything or not I don't know....m
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Old 11-07-2008, 17:25   #11
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I was just now attempting to print portions of some ENCs, and was not having any success. I'll investigate the RN Cs.
The cross reference is contained in the ENC data file. Some software will let you deal with and other won't. Most ENC mapping application just let you install the maps and forget about chart names. It's p[art of the idea. You load maps and they are all seamless. The concept of loading specific charts is gone. You don't need to know the name of the chart. Do you really care? It is done based on location. Either cursor if you are planning or GPS if you are under way. The charts are just there as you need them.

Most software will do the same with RNC. Some of the free programs don't (not all) but if you have to specifically load charts it's a poor software application. Why should you have to know the name of the chart?
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Old 11-07-2008, 18:26   #12
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Thanks, Paul. Yeah, I was using a free browser as opposed to a charting application, so I did have to know which one to open. I have since figured out what I'm doing, with help from the folks here, and I downloaded Seaclear. And, yes, now I see what you mean.

I haven't decided what apporaches I will use to navigate, but if I end up up going the laptop/software route, I'll investigate other, more full featured programs.

And then there is the issue of buying a boat to to navigate.
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Old 11-07-2008, 19:28   #13
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And then there is the issue of buying a boat to to navigate.
Oh yes, the bigger issues sometimes matter more. If you take things one at a time you get there - eventually. It is all a matter of navigation.
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