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Old 26-10-2008, 10:11   #1
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Question Bluechart Caribbean Maps

My plan (which I've detailed elsewhere on here) is to buy a sailboat locally by selling my modest power boat and learn the ropes so to speak in the 3-4 years I have left until I cast off wherever I buy my boat. My plan once I hit the sea is to sail down whatever coast I buy the boat on, go through the canal if neccesary and make my way around to the Caribbean.

Either way I was going to buy the final GPS I am going to use, for use on my smaller boat I am learning on here in the Okanagan lake.

The GPS I had planned on was the 525s (with dual frequency transducer). I chose this one for 3 reasons:

1. I am already familiar with garmin products and have had very good experiance with them.

2. This one is budgetary. I get a sounder/fishfinder and a decent plotter, in one unit, all for less than most garmin plotters cost.

3. I don't have to pay for Bluechart (NOT G2) maps, or any other garmin maps/charts that come on CD from Garmin (I wont say why ). So this could save me a lot of money since I can essentially have the whole world in bluechart maps. This is why I picked the 525 over the 545 as well. The XM feature I don't care about and the only other difference is preloaded maps.

So here is my question:

How are the bluechart maps for the Caribbean? Fairly nice? Or is a lot of detail on reefs etc missing? How does the quality compare to a decent paper chart? I imagine I will be having backup paper charts or at least 1-2 laptops for redundancy.

Basically it comes down to is, if all I had were bluecharts, would I be OK ?

Thanks in advance!
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Old 26-10-2008, 10:18   #2
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No. You cannot rely solely on electronic charts. Not only because of an electronic failure but also because the charts might be inaccurate and you won't know until you're there!
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Old 26-10-2008, 10:58   #3
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Yeah I was definitely planning on augmenting with paper charts.

I was just curious about the quality of using Bluechart charts on Garmin plotter compared to other types of plotters (Raymarine, etc) with their own charts.

The plotter seems to be of obvious higher quality and I get the maps sans charge so this seems the way to go, but basically since I am making the purchase of a plotter now, I wanted to make sure I did not buy one with useless electronic charts.
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Old 26-10-2008, 11:26   #4
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I can only speak for the Bahamas area. The new (after 2005 or 2006) Bluecharts are very good, I think they're Explorer Charts. Prior to this they weren't very good at all. No one electronic chart will be the best for all areas. A word of caution, don't get a Raymarine with their lousy Navionics chips if you intend to go to the Bahamas.
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Old 26-10-2008, 12:36   #5
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The blue charts for the caribbean are fine. They are a combo of british admiralty, imray-iolaire and wavyline charts. A full listing of the actual charts used is here:
Garmin: Cartography - BlueChart g2 - Card: Southeast Caribbean, Jul 08 (2US030R)
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Old 26-10-2008, 12:44   #6
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I've used the Garmin 478 for past several years in the Virgin Islands and find them very accurate... but I also keep several scale sizes of coated paper maps at the helm when I'm moving about. Friends of mine in the Windwards also use one but as back up to thier prime "built in unit" have reported excellent results and sometime better results on the Garmin than the Raymarine maps in the built in GPS for their boat.

Of course some things DO change and while land masses and most obstacles don't go moving around, newer dangers may be present and the newer editions of each will probably leap frog each other at each up date.

One caution most have not mentioned is that you should always be marking your paper charts on position updates and getting the local marine advisory on chart updates. I typically mark these with a colored pen on my paper charts so they stand out better.....
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Old 26-10-2008, 17:08   #7
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Thanks everyone that is exactly what I need to know. I will be going for the 525s then! Hope the sonar is good as well, but the general reviews are good.

Thanks again.
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