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Old 31-07-2009, 23:57   #1
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Electronic Chart Primer

A couple of years ago someone in Nassau decided they needed my Garmin 276C more than I did. I am familiar with the Garmin proprietary chart system but my ignorance of other chart systems is almost encyclopedic.

Since my Garmin was lost I have been using my laptop with a USB Holux GPS. For US waters I have been using SeaClear with the NOAA charts, downloaded from their website. For the Bahamas I bought a set of electronic and paper charts that came with Chart Navigator Light. They are at the boat and I am not, so I don't know the brand.

Here's my problem. I am going to get back to reality and buy a new chartplotter. The laptop works great but it's not very convenient. What I don't know is what chart options are available. I am pretty sure I won't go back to Garmin. I have used their GPS's for a lot of years but they ain't who they used to be and I don't like to be forced to buy into a closed system. Their chartplotter, their charts. No options. Free charts from NOAA are great, but can I use them? Does anyone make a chartplotter that uses either NOAA format? Are products like Navionics and C-Map cross platform?

Can anyone refer me to a good reference source or offer a basic explanation of what's around? I have searched this site but all the questions are a level up. I need a first grade primer.

Thanks and best regards,

Dick Pluta

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Old 01-08-2009, 02:34   #2
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The worst thing that has happened in chart plotters is that each type of chart is different, thus tying a plotter manufacturer to a single type of chart.

Personally with the take over of C-Map by Jepperson, my money is definitely on a C-Map based device.

"Be wary of strong drink. It can make you shoot at tax collectors - and miss."
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Old 01-08-2009, 04:00   #3
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This decision is driven by many factors; boat size, sailing style - do you drive the boat from the helm or let the autopilot steer most of the time? Do you sail short handed and not have time to get lost in a screen below decks?

I have found that I don't look at the below decks chart plotter very mush - it's a RayC80. I got it as a radar and added charts and then AIS. I wired the C80 to cockpit repeaters for the GPS, one was the KVH 103 compass and another B&G repeater. Between them I can see all the waypoint and GPS data I need in the cockpit. I would never interface an autopilot with a GPS.

A few years ago I got a Garmin iQue on a lark and bought their blue charts to give it a go. I find the little hand held compliments the repeaters perfectly and I have no need for a large cockpit plotter and no need to look at one below decks. I use the hand held to confirm what I see with my eyes "on watch". Now with an iPhone and the inexpensive Navionic app I have another alternative for a hand held plotter,. but one, like the iQue is not marinized. But from a data/information POV this works.

I only set one waypoint at a time if I set one at all and then adjust my steering and trim from the cockpit. Even for far off waypoints which I can fetch I use the heading line on the hand held to steer to the waypoint.

In foul weather and poor visibility I need to use the radar and be below decks. Being single handed this is troubling and a PITA going up and down keeping watch, looking at the radar and referring to the handheld.

I've worked with navionics, cmap and blue charts and prefer the blues, as being most like the paper charts I am familiar with. The problem I have with the fixed mount plotters is the user interface which I find pretty awful. Lots of data and menu drilling required, most of which is of little use in the end, which is why I am liking the hand held which has less and makes it simple to use. KISS.

Ray has crashed a few times as well.
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Old 12-03-2010, 20:35   #4
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has anyone used the GPS input (handshake) on Jepperson PC software useing C-Map charts. My question is what should I see? I expected a boat icon showing my position on the chart. All appears to be functioning com port input signal etc using NMEA language and Garmin GPS. Help only gives hook up instructions/settings but no more?
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Old 13-03-2010, 03:12   #5
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I have used a Raymarine E80 and the Navionics Gold series chart chips for 2 years and 10,000 miles... Puerto Rico to Gulf of St Lawrence then down the entire US Eastern Seaboard, through the Bahamas and then to Trinidad and back to PR via all the Caribbean Islands.

They have worked excellently with 99% accuracy...The charts are not acurate on the Bahama Banks because nobody knows where all the coral heads are and how they have grown since the last survey---probably before the Brits left---so you still need good light and your eyes and the island of Redondo north of Montserat appeared to be about 400 yds out of place.

My plotter in the cockpit is not at the helm but tucked under the dodger so that both the plotter and the helm keeper are out of the rain, at night, under autopilot. I have a second E80 plotter at the chart table for planning but in retropect I should have bought the bigger screened E120 for the planning.

The navionics charts are excellent value and the Gold series cover massive areas...the 'Mid-America and Caribbean' covers central Florida to Trinidad, the Western Caribbean through the Cannal and then parts of the Pacific coast of Central America and the US and Bermuda all for a little over $200 and I am still to use the Cenatral America and Mexico part..that come next.

"Remember, experience only means that you screw-up less often."
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