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Old 29-07-2010, 14:22   #1
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Damn Paper Charts . . . I Hate Paper Charts !

I know this topic has been argued more times on here than BP/wings have on Scubaboard. Not trying to start another train wreck, although I'm sure that's what this will become.

I'm still a newbie, and kind of a nerd, so admittedly I've been using primarily electronics. Or just following markers, land marks, and watching my depth without using any charts at all. Currently using Coastal Explorer, iPhone...just upgraded to 4...and yes I know it's not the greatest thing to use as a hand held, and an old Garmin...which now that I think about it needs a new antenna. Throwing around the idea of a second cheapy laptop and and a spare usb antenna, that I can run a second version of Coastal on bringing it up to 4.

But...I still like the idea of paperback up...or at least non-gps backup. The problem, besides the obvious, paper charts are ridiculously over priced. The big ones just take up WAY too much room. I barely have the entire US East Coast and a few Bahamas charts and they're already overflowing out of the drawer in my so called nav station.

So, basically I'm looking for other ideas/options. I was looking at the NOAA booklet charts. Problem is NOAA to this day has one of the worst organized non-user friendly websites. There's about 50 or more chart books just for the US East coast, organized of course by chart #. I'm having a hard time trying to pick out just a complete set at a scale that's actually usable, but not so zoomed in that you can see the depths of swimming pools along the coast, and without a bunch of overlapping redundant charts of the same area. Would almost be easier to just print them all, if it weren't for the cost...well and back to the space issue.

The other idea I'm throwing around, although it will still bring up the paper vs. electronics debate. I've heard nothing but good things about the iPad and the Kindel. And the battery life on the Kindel is amazing. What about just loading PDFs of all the charts onto one of those? It's not really paper, but it's not relying on satellites and an antenna working either. And the battery on the Kindel is so good, that unless you ran it down before you needed it, should last no problem until you hit land...somewhere.

FYI - I'm not planning on doing any REAL blue water cruising anytime soon. Mostly just coastal and some island hopping. Nothing passages more than a day or so.
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Old 29-07-2010, 14:45   #2
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PocketCharts this is a Cute little booklet there is also an experimental pamphlet that is printable
for bsb charts you you can get a free version of seaclear II at the bottom of the next link you can select the chart by state
Chart Downloader for NOAA RNCs&#153.
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Old 29-07-2010, 14:48   #3
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I like I-Pad idea. I have often thought these would be great for for keeping all the service manuals that are on the boat.
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Old 29-07-2010, 15:10   #4
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the strongest argument i've heard against an all electronic system is the idea that a lightning strike could take out everything. a strike sounds likely enough to me so that we've opted for paper chart backups, even though by disposition i'd land more in the camp of those who'd at least consider foregoing paper.

you're right - no reason to rehash the paper vs no paper debate, but i bring that up only to suggest that an ipad or kindle back up would probably be no less susceptible than a handheld GPS to said lightning strike.

i think it makes sense to consider what exactly it is that you're backing up against - total GPS system shutdown? battery failure? lightning? general redundancy? once you know what you're worried about, you can asses the qualities of the considered backup system in terms of how those worries are addressed. again, for us, the ipad/kindle approach wouldn't do the trick.

i dig those pocket charts though
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Old 29-07-2010, 15:37   #5
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I have paper, laptops (multiple), iPhones (multiple), and an iPad 3G among many other smartphones onboard. I like having a set of old paper charts. I can't honestly say I use them much any longer although they are always out and we're always tracking with them, especially on overnight passages. We liveaboard for 9 months a year and never stay all season in a single place - we like to put on miles.

I have to admit that I like the iPad a lot. I didn't think I'd actually use it much (I'm a developer and wanted to experiment with it). I find so many things for my boat gravitating to the iPad (manuals, charts, video, other media). I can see it being a wonderful paper chart replacement in many ways.

The lightening strike argument doesn't hold much water with respect to the iPad. My iPad isn't connected to anything unless it's being charged and you don't have to do that like so many other devices. The battery life on it is amazing. In fact, I have an external charger that will completely recharge the iPad while not connected to any power (Google "new trent" for more information). Using that completely removes the chance of a lightening strike effecting the iPad. Heck, in most cases, if there's a storm nearby, unplug everything mobile anyway.

I think there's more danger in having paper charts fall overboard or drowned by a crashing glass-breaking wave than seeing all mobile electronics fry in an electrical storm. I'd rather have multiple iPhones with separate chart systems than rely on a single paper system because of that.

I think that sailors of 2030 will look back and think how backwards we were to cruise around with so much paper onboard (for many functions) much like we look at RDF's and wonder why anyone would have bought such a thing.
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Old 29-07-2010, 15:42   #6
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...
The lightening strike argument doesn't hold much water with respect to the iPad. My iPad isn't connected to anything unless it's being charged and you don't have to do that like so many other devices. The battery life on it is amazing. In fact, I have an external charger that will completely recharge the iPad while not connected to any power (Google "new trent" for more information). Using that completely removes the chance of a lightening strike effecting the iPad. Heck, in most cases, if there's a storm nearby, unplug everything mobile anyway.

I think there's more danger in having paper charts fall overboard or drowned by a crashing glass-breaking wave than seeing all mobile electronics fry in an electrical storm. I'd rather have multiple iPhones with separate chart systems than rely on a single paper system because of that.
...
i'd been told that a strike will send out a powerful enough pulse to fry everything - even if it's not plugged in to anything. not true?

i'd love to be wrong on that count, as i could see us going the ipad route also if there's really no worries about a failure.

seems like your ipad could fall overboard or get wet too though
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Old 29-07-2010, 15:50   #7
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i'd been told that a strike will send out a powerful enough pulse to fry everything - even if it's not plugged in to anything. not true?
Not true. If it were true, it would be powerful enough to defibrillate you which would kill you. I'm sure there are some odd cases where a piece of electronics close to a strike generated a field that did damage through air. I don't think it's something to worry about.

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seems like your ipad could fall overboard or get wet too though
Very true. Rain is an issue too. But that's where redundancy helps. If I lost the iPad, I'd still have everything on my iPhone and all the data backed up on my laptop.
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Old 29-07-2010, 16:08   #8
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Not true. If it were true, it would be powerful enough to defibrillate you which would kill you. I'm sure there are some odd cases where a piece of electronics close to a strike generated a field that did damage through air. I don't think it's something to worry about.
thanks for the info dunno if that'll change our plans, but it really helps in our consideration of the options.
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Old 29-07-2010, 16:21   #9
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So, basically I'm looking for other ideas/options..
Discounted Nautical Charts, Reproductions, Electronic Charts & Navigational Software | Bellingham Chart Printers

Whoops, you don't have room for the paper you have so forget that or perhaps get a bigger boat (-;
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Old 29-07-2010, 16:27   #10
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A close lightning strike can absolutely take out electronics through an RF pulse. It has happened to me twice, first 2 tillerpilots disconnected and stored below with the boat tied at the dock and the strike about 50yds away. Second was my car parked under the house and the strike about 20yds away. The ignition module and body control module both failed. Apparently no Faraday protection since the car was not grounded. So far as paper charts go I use Maptech chartbooks that fit in a transparent vinyl bag. 3 or 4 books will cover a lot of coastline and stay organized and take up little space. Dave
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Old 29-07-2010, 16:32   #11
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i'd been told that a strike will send out a powerful enough pulse to fry everything - even if it's not plugged in to anything. not true?
When we got hit it was pissing down rain
The strike killed off radio, sounder, autopilot, music, blew wiring out of conduits, blew the front off the log/speed in the cockpit, fried the fuses in the motor.

What it didn't kill was my $14 dollar fluro lights or hand held gps
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Old 29-07-2010, 16:52   #12
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Buy a chartbook and download all the small scale and large scale NOAA charts for your cruising area. Use the electronic charts normally and have the chartbook as your backup. There is no need to spend hundreds of dollars on full sized NOAA charts unless you are a larger vessel with a full sized chart table and chart drawers. Be sure to get your plotting tools.

Always bring a backup battery powered GPS or two that's not left wired to anything.
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Old 29-07-2010, 17:28   #13
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Buy a chartbook and download all the small scale and large scale NOAA charts for your cruising area. Use the electronic charts normally and have the chartbook as your backup. There is no need to spend hundreds of dollars on full sized NOAA charts unless you are a larger vessel with a full sized chart table and chart drawers. Be sure to get your plotting tools.

Always bring a backup battery powered GPS or two that's not left wired to anything.
Hi, guys,

This is from Ann, not Jim. I like the above advice. When we are in electrical storms, which do happen from time to time, I put the battery- powered backup GPS inside the pressure cooker, with the gasket removed from the lid, and place the whole deal in the oven. We've never been struck, so I don't know if my impromptu Faraday cage works or not! (don't bother to answer that, it makes me happy; I'll keep on doing it)

If you want to use charts for checking your position in the greater scheme of events (such as on a long passage or in a geologically "congested" area), IMO paper charts are better because the scale is more user-friendly.
[We had a bunch of paper charts get wet one time. It took a while to dry them all out. But they still worked fine after that. And to the OP, lots of folks store their charts under bunks.]

I 'spect y'all'll get what suits your style of cruising, so enjoy.

Ann, s/y Insatiable II, Queensland, Australia
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Old 29-07-2010, 19:26   #14
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perchance - On the other hand the Kindel is $130 cheaper. Even more when you factor in that Amazon doesn't charge tax, plus free shipping. It's the same size screen, although black and white, but has much better battery life. Also the Kindle comes with free 3G. On the other hand, I'm not sure if you can zoom the screen. If you can, then I think the battery life alone would make it the winner for this purpose.
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Old 29-07-2010, 19:28   #15
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i think it makes sense to consider what exactly it is that you're backing up against - total GPS system shutdown? battery failure? lightning? general redundancy? once you know what you're worried about, you can asses the qualities of the considered backup system in terms of how those worries are addressed. again, for us, the ipad/kindle approach wouldn't do the trick.

i dig those pocket charts though
Very good point. I'd say everything except lightning strike. I know that one always comes up, but not for nothing, I could give a **** if I have charts after I've been struck by lightning. I read a first hand account on Living Aboard from someone who took a direct hit. What he described was like something out of poltergeist. Forget the electronics, it ended with him being knocked unconscious. The post ended with him pretty much saying, "And that was the last time I stepped foot on a sailboat." I think he lives on a trawler now. If what he described in great detail were to happen to me, forget the trawler, I'd give p the dream and become a land lubber...in a cave...lined with rubber.
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