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Old 13-10-2007, 11:13   #1
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Electronics chart comparisons.

I know this has been discussed before but I can't find the thread. I am looking for comparisons on different types of electronic charts such as vector vs raster and Cmap or Navionics, etc for the US coastlines, Bahamas (Explorer Charts) and ultimately inland lakes, bays and rivers. What are your opinions and first hand experiences?
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Old 13-10-2007, 11:30   #2
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$50-$60 USB GPS, laptop (iBook for me) with chatring s-ware. All the NOAA charts can be d-loaded for free from NOAA.

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Old 13-10-2007, 12:05   #3
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If you're going to the Bahamas do not use Navionics chips. They are so inaccurate it's laughable. Go with C-maps which uses Explorer Charts. I think Maptech uses Explorer too. Navionics is too cheap to use Explorer Charts. Navionics is full of errors. Their geo-referencing is way off. When I complained they had the nerve to tell me they had new charts but would not tell me whether the specific errors I pointed out had been corrected. Only a fool would buy the new chips to find out the same old errors are there. It's a shame Raymarine went with Navionics with their new series of chartplotters. OK the rant's over.
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Old 13-10-2007, 14:29   #4
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I have a laptop, I have software, I have charts for half the world on the laptop. I would like some feedback on Nav chips for chartplotters since we are putting one at the helm, finally. I am not interested in the chartplotters themselves, just some comparisons of the electronic charts used in them and others experiences like Vasco's.
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Old 13-10-2007, 15:01   #5
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Good approach, Chuck. Unfortunately I had no choice as my boat came with the latest Raymarine plotter. C-Maps and Garmin until a year or two ago were useless for the Bahamas. Now I think they're both Explorer Charts. I too have a laptop with tons of charts (including better ones of the Bahamas than Navionics) but a chartplotter is so much handier, especially with the radar overlay. Unfortunately it's difficult if not impossible to determine the accuracy of these electronic charts unless you actually use them and then it's too late!
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Old 14-10-2007, 09:57   #6
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Chuck: Don't think I can add much here as the experience that you have, and Vasco as well, seems to far exceed mine. But will be glad to share the little that I have. I currently have Navionics charts on my year-old Raymarine chartplotter. Prior to last year, I had C-Map charts on an older model Raymarine chartplotter. If I had free choice for the replacement then I probably would have gotten a Garmin machine but that is a moot point because the insurance company was dictating the kind of machine that I got. As an aside, the boat got hit by lightning last September and all my electronics and a whole bunch of other stuff had to be replaced. The C-map charts did not have all available date included on them, especially depth data for very shallow waters in some places. For example, when I was sailing in Belize in 2006 I discovered that much of the really shallow areas between the reef and the mainland did not detail the really shallow areas (some near-shore areas might show up as just less than 10 feet or some other such number). The original charts that are used as a basis for the data would have more detailed numbers. I discovered this while looking at some paper charts and from looking at another cruiser's Garmin chartplotter. When I returned to Belize last spring I discovered that the Navionics charts for the area previously mentioned that covered the C-map charts of the same area has the greater depth detail that is needed for these very shallow waters. And the C-map charts of the Belize area had just been purchased shortly before I began my 2005-06 cruise in November so it was not a question of old chips. I did have to buy replacement charts for the new chartplotter but Navionics has a program that will give you a significant discount if you trade-in your old chips. Am going to do some more cruising in the same area this winter when I return to Rio Dulce to get aboard the boat so I will be double checking these Navionic charts.
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Old 14-10-2007, 10:16   #7
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[quote=alaskadog;105465] When I returned to Belize last spring I discovered that the Navionics charts for the area previously mentioned that covered the C-map charts of the same area has the greater depth detail that is needed for these very shallow waters. .[/quote

It depends alot on where you are as to which chart maker is going to have the best detail. All of the chartplotter charts, including Garmin have areas on the globe where they have not done a good job entering the data. Some are known to be beter in the pacific and others the Coribbean for example. Garmin does not get high marks for the milk run in the Pacific.

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Old 14-10-2007, 11:34   #8
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And, to make clear what folks above have touched on, the brand and model of chartplotter dictate what brand of electronic maps you will use. I would guess, for true flexibility, hook a GPS up to the computer and use the software based charts (which, for the most part, can be had for little or nothing).
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Old 14-10-2007, 12:01   #9
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Besides my chartplotter I have a laptop with a small gps engine and software and charts. I do not use the laptop because when you really need the charts you're piloting and the chartplotter at the helm is so much more convenient than running up and down. Also my chartplotter is interfaced with my autohelm and does an amazing job of keeping on track in strong tidal waters or the gulf stream or blustery conditions without me having to apply leeway or set. (yeah, I'm getting lazier and lazier). I guess on a pilothouse boat or trawler the laptop would be ideal. Also the laptop uses a lot more power than the chartplotter so it's my backup. If starting fresh you should get the plotter with the best chip for your main area of cruising.
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Old 14-10-2007, 12:58   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alaskadog View Post
If I had free choice for the replacement then I probably would have gotten a Garmin machine but that is a moot point because the insurance company was dictating the kind of machine that I got.
You should have told them to take a running jump of a short pier. A thieving scumbag broke into my boat last winter and I lost a lot of stuff. The insurance company was very difficult right up to the point I started to name names on a yachting forum and was talking about a visit to the court. Sudden change in attitude. If it was not what you wanted you should not have accepted it.
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