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Old 26-02-2012, 09:03   #1
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Best Electronic Charts for Bahamas

I know this is a frequently discussed subject, but I'm looking for the most recent information. I would like to obtain electronic charts to run on my PC using OpenCPN for navigation. The NOAA charts are great for the US, but don't cover the Bahamas. I wouldn't mind buying electronic charts from another cruiser who no longer needs them. I'll consider all options.
Pete
PS I will be buying the Explorer chartbook which will give me good paper charts.
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Old 26-02-2012, 13:05   #2
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Re: Best electronic charts for Bahamas

The Mapsource Blue Chart chips for my Garmin were spot-on in the Abacos, but a good 100 meters off down in the Exumas. YMMV.
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Old 26-02-2012, 13:58   #3
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Re: Best electronic charts for Bahamas

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The Mapsource Blue Chart chips for my Garmin were spot-on in the Abacos, but a good 100 meters off down in the Exumas. YMMV.
Thanks. I'm looking for a source that provides electronic charts for my Windows-based tablet PC
Pete
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Old 26-02-2012, 14:54   #4
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Re: Best electronic charts for Bahamas

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Originally Posted by prroots View Post
Thanks. I'm looking for a source that provides electronic charts for my Windows-based tablet PC
Pete
Both Maptech and nv-charts have chart coverage for the Bahamas, that can be used with OpenCPN( windows only) through plugins.

I have no experience of either, so I can't say if they are any good.

Thomas
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Old 26-02-2012, 15:20   #5
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Re: Best electronic charts for Bahamas

Open CPN and SeaClear both work with raster charts. (Vector also on CPN) If you can't locate by internet search, try these guys on Yahoo Groups. You may have to join the group to post. I used to have a link to raster charts outside of NOAA but can't find it (or its gone)

seaclear_mapping : Seaclear GPS Navigation User Group
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Old 26-02-2012, 16:18   #6
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Re: Best Electronic Charts for Bahamas

The most accurate charts by far of the Bahamas are the Explorer chartbooks. Nothing else is close. Are they available in electronic versions? I don't know. Various NOAA and NIMA charts are available for offshore waters of the Bahamas, and are probably fine for offshore passages through the area, but once you get within a mile or two of the shallows and islands the Explorer chartbooks are the way to go.
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Old 26-02-2012, 18:16   #7
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Re: Best Electronic Charts for Bahamas

The wifes Capn Program on her laptop has pretty fair charts for that area, I was suprised how good they were compared to my paper and hand held! still needed to Eye Ball everything as always but I never trust any chart electronic, paper or ? always make mooring or anchorage way before dark and with sun on the water if possible !!but Im old fashion and don't trust much I can't personaly see with my own eyes !! just my 2 cents Bob and Connie
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Old 26-02-2012, 19:05   #8
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Re: Best Electronic Charts for Bahamas

The Explorer charts are the only charts for the Bahamas. There are old raster versions of these charts floating around. While old, they are spot on everywhere - surprisingly accurate. Many of the people cruising in the Bahamas have them. Ask around and you will probably find copies (look for, and make friends with, quiet older grizzled people on modest but well thought-out boats - the wide-eyed newbies on new boats having all the potlucks will not have them).

The only other version of them are sold by C-map as vectorized charts. I know they will work with Nobeltec and Maxsea, but doubt OpenCPN. They are also spot on (same data, only updated).

No other charts will be accurate in the Bahamas, except for a few of the very popular and easily accessed spots like the larger Abacos areas.

Mark
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Old 27-02-2012, 04:47   #9
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Re: Best Electronic Charts for Bahamas

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The Explorer charts are the only charts for the Bahamas. There are old raster versions of these charts floating around. While old, they are spot on everywhere - surprisingly accurate. Many of the people cruising in the Bahamas have them. Ask around and you will probably find copies (look for, and make friends with, quiet older grizzled people on modest but well thought-out boats - the wide-eyed newbies on new boats having all the potlucks will not have them).

Mark
Thanks. You jogged my memory. I do remember them from the last time we were cruising on an earlier sailboat. Wonder if I still have a copy in my archives? If not, I'll start asking the old salts

BTW, do you know Owen and Betty aboard Hiatus? They used to hang out in the San Blas.
Pete
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Old 27-02-2012, 07:41   #10
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Re: Best Electronic Charts for Bahamas

Yes, Owen and Betty are still here in the San Blas. Very nice people.

Mark
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Old 27-02-2012, 07:52   #11
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Re: Best Electronic Charts for Bahamas

We have found that the CMAP+ charts are basically electronic charts of the Explorer charts. They are spot on in the Biminis, Berrys and Exumas.
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Old 27-02-2012, 07:59   #12
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Re: Best Electronic Charts for Bahamas

The newer Garmin units advertise that the data in their Bahamas charts is the Explorer Data. Not sure about the referenced problem in the Exumas, but the Garmin 4000 series plotter performed perfectly in the Abacos and was a great companion to the Explorer paper charts. Don't go without the paper chartkits.
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Old 27-02-2012, 14:00   #13
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Re: Best Electronic Charts for Bahamas

I found a couple of CDs that are labeled Explorer charts of Bahamas, but OpenCPN doesn't display them. They have a folder entitled CHARTHDR with files with names like MEXUM1S0.HDR and many other folders with names like Mexum1s0 containing files such as Mexum1S0.A01. Any idea what kind of charts these are and if they can be converted to a form OpenCPN can display?
Pete
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Old 27-02-2012, 14:14   #14
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Re: Best Electronic Charts for Bahamas

This is from the Lewis's website for the Explorer Charts...

Explorer Charts – Electronic Format

We are often asked which electronic charts include Explorer Charts for the Bahamas. Until recently the answer has been Nobeltec charts for PC’s, Garmin Chartplotters, and chartplotters using C-Map cartridges. The Bahamas content of Nobeltec and C-Map products changed in 2011, and now Explorer Charts have been amended and blended with data from other sources in some areas. We have recently studied some of these products and have found a number of inaccuracies in the Bahamas data from other sources that has now supplemented and/or replaced Explorer data. Our findings of the current products follows:
Garmin Chartplotters with preloaded maps for all U.S. coastal areas, including Alaska and Hawaii, plus Explorer Charts for the Bahamas, have all of the Explorer Bahamas data, but this data is covered over in some areas by NGA charts. The NGA charts are produced by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and the coverage is for waters outside of the US. Where a NGA chart is available in areas at a larger scale than the Explorer Chart, the NGA is seen covering the Explorer Chart. In the affected areas the NGA data is usually older than Explorer data and sometimes omits important features shown on Explorer Charts. Some of the NGA charts in the Bahamas are based on surveys over 100 years old. We have advised Garmin of this problem and hope that changes will be made in future product releases. Most areas of the Bahamas are pure Explorer data on the Garmin products.
Chartplotters using C-Map cartridges (C-Map 4D, MAX’11, and NT+), and C-Map by Jeppesen programs for PC navigation (MAX Pro, MAX/PC, and NT+/PC) in the spring-summer 2011 release have the Explorer Charts for the Bahamas, but in many areas the Explorer Charts are covered up by chart data from other sources when zooming in to obtain a larger scale view. After studying the chart data from the other sources, we have found many inaccuracies that are correctly shown on the Explorer Charts being covered. We believe the other-source soundings in many areas show the water to be deeper than it actually is and correctly shown on the Explorer Charts. In some cases hazards shown correctly on Explorer Charts are omitted on the larger scale charts from the other source.
Jeppesen furnished us with a newer release of its electronic Bahamas Chart package for our review. This version, C-Map NT Max, September 2011 (M-NA-M022-14) was reported to have fixed the problem of two data sources in the same chart area showing different detail. As we were advised, no Explorer Chart data has been used in the Abaco, Grand Bahama, Little Bahama Bank area, and in the area east of the Crooked Island Passage, and the Turks and Caicos. These areas contain only chart data from another source. The remaining areas of the Bahamas are covered mostly by Explorer Chart data. After reviewing the C-Map product we agree with Jeppesen that this release corrects the problem of commingled data from two sources on a given chart area. It now segregates the data into two areas–Explorer and other source data. However, we find many inaccuracies in many areas not showing Explorer chart data.
The entire Little Bahama Bank area including Grand Bahama Island, Great and Little Abaco, and the Abaco Cays are void of any Explorer Chart data. We found a number of known hazards to navigation shown on Explorer Charts and on previous C-Map versions missing on the new C-Map product. We found courses drawn over shoal areas with no depths shown and depths shown in shallow narrow channels deeper than we have found to exist. The typical pattern of the data from another source is a jumble of closely spaced strings of soundings in some areas and other important areas empty of useful data. In a number of shallow areas, depths are shown generally deeper than we have measured. No Explorer Chart data is shown east of the Crooked Island Passage.
In a few locations in the areas that are covered by Explorer Charts, US NGA and UK (British Admiralty) charts are shown instead. These charts mostly are based on old surveys. An example is the New Providence and Nassau area where these outdated government charts fail to show the Albany Marina and its approaches and also the current dredged ship channel, buoys, and pier configurations in Nassau Harbour. Some coral heads and reefs that are hazards are not shown and some are shown that do not exist.
The few hours of reviewing this product leave us very disappointed with the Jeppesen’s decisions to eliminate Explorer data in favor of less accurate and less up-to-date material. We recommend the charts in the Explorer Chartbooks be used as the primary navigation reference in the Bahamas and particularly in the areas covered by data from other sources.
In addition to the chartplotter and PC products, C-Map by Jeppesen has recently released Jeppesen Marine Plan2Nav for iPad 1, iPad 2, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4. This app is downloaded free and East Coast and Bahamas may be purchased for $29.95 from i-Tunes. The app charts are similar to the other C-Map by Jeppensen products, but when metric units are used only the even meters rounded off to the lowest meter are seen. The app needs wireless or cellular service to work for navigation, but as the charts remain on the device after being downloaded, it may be used for planning.
Nobeltec PC products (Time Zero Trident, Admiral, and Visual Navigation Suite, Maxsea Time Zero Navigator C-map by Jeppesen, and Furuno NavNet 3D chartplotters with MM3-R01-P00 cartridges) now contain the same Bahamas chart data as the C-Map by Jeppesen products and will presumably will be the same with new releases.
Summary: After reviewing the above listed products we believe the Garmin Chartplotters have the best Explorer Bahamas chart data in the vector format. The raster Explorer Charts show the most accurate Bahamas data on the other C-Map by Jeppesen, Nobeltec, MaxSea, and Furuno products. Currently all of the electronic Explorer chart data is up to date only in the Exumas and Ragged Island area with the Sixth Edition. The various electronic versions use the Near Bahamas Fifth Edition and the Far Bahamas Fourth Edition both outdated now. All of the Explorer Charts for the Bahamas are currently converted to electronic format by Jeppesen, a division of Boeing. We will continue to work with Jeppesen to make Explorer Charts available in the future in products that are not corrupted by other source data.
No Explorer Chart data for the Turks and Caicos is available in any of the above products, and no Explorer Chart data is available in any Navionics products. Given the current shortcomings of the current electronic Bahamas chart products, it is important to use the latest Explorer Chartbooks for the primary source of navigational information in the Bahamas.
The Explorer Team
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Old 27-02-2012, 15:50   #15
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Re: Best Electronic Charts for Bahamas

We use Garmin charts which are integrated with Explorer charts. I wouldn't trust anything else.
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