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Old 06-06-2014, 07:02   #151
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Re: More Thoughts About Paper

We operate like transmitterdan describes with the exception that it is rare we keep our computer going simultaneously with the chartplotter while underway.

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Old 06-06-2014, 07:02   #152
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Re: More Thoughts About Paper

"Plotters are never going to be good planning devices IMHO. I never plan a passage on a plotter. I plan on a PC and have more than one program for that."

Maybe. But plotters are getting better all the time. It seems like it should only be a matter of time before plotters have the capabilities that the current PC programs have now. Of course by then the PC programs will be able to do even more while cooking your breakfast for you.
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Old 06-06-2014, 07:18   #153
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Re: More Thoughts About Paper

Even the newest plotters always feel like I'm using a Windows 3.0 PC from the mid 90's. The software and hardware interfaces are very clunky, byzantine and slow. Even the new touch ones - which feel to me like they came from the iPad prototype trash bin. Our 2003 version of Coastal Explorer makes our 2012 Furuno feel like a Commodore PET.

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Old 06-06-2014, 10:20   #154
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Re: More Thoughts About Paper

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Originally Posted by colemj View Post
Even the newest plotters always feel like I'm using a Windows 3.0 PC from the mid 90's. The software and hardware interfaces are very clunky, byzantine and slow. Even the new touch ones - which feel to me like they came from the iPad prototype trash bin. Our 2003 version of Coastal Explorer makes our 2012 Furuno feel like a Commodore PET.

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The tool that most of us need or want beyond a basic chart plotter is a planning tool. The term used in commercial navigation is ECDIS (Electronics Chart Display and Information System). Most basic plotters don't come with really good planning tools. Furuno offers MaxSea Software. We have gone to Transas for our navigation systems. NaviPlanner 4000 has incredible route planning tools. Oh, and for those who want to maintain their paper charts, it can even help you update them. The reason it has the paper chart features is meeting commercial requirements.

"You can easily import your complete inventory or manually make a selection of paper charts held onboard. Navi-Planner can then directly connect to the Transas chart server ashore to gather all outstanding Notices to Mariners. You will get a clear overview of the status for your paper charts and any paper chart that may be used during your next voyage will automatically be listed in the passage plan"

Routing it can do from the simplest top level to detail. It has AtoBviaC Distance tables. You can set up rules to go as detailed as you want. You can include weather, speed, fuel consumption, under keel clearance, overhead clearance, waypoints, reference points and even surface and tidal currents. It even has a piracy overlay.

Now it's far more detailed than most of us need most of the time. But it does point out what most chart plotters and associated software aren't as strong in, and that's planning. For those using Furuno I would advise getting the MaxSea software to go with it.
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Old 06-06-2014, 11:16   #155
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Re: More Thoughts About Paper

Another reason that I like a different planning tool than my chart plotter is that if one of the systems does a firmware revision that has a glitch it won't mess up all my nav systems.
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Old 06-06-2014, 14:05   #156
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Re: More Thoughts About Paper

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I just went through a long conversation over an email list about computers on boats, and they definitely have an Achilles' heel, power.

If it's not built around a 12 volt power supply, converting battery power from the house battery to 120 and back to what the computer draws is an enormous drain, in part because the double conversion is inherently extremely inefficient.

If it is built from the ground up to be a boat computer, the monitor will still be one of the three biggest drains on the house battery. On every boat in our fleet except one, an Apple laptop, which is one of the most efficient battery designs, will drain the house battery in less than three hours when the engine isn't running.

I've seen exactly one boat that has a computer on it for navigation with a reasonable 12 volt setup. That boat's system has both a 12 volt power supply for the computer and a 12 volt supply for the monitor, and the monitor is modified to draw low power. The two of them together still draw 36W. That boat also has five Group 34 batteries in the house bank, in part because of the navigation station.

Using a laptop with a GPS puck for navigation is one of those things that sounds great when you first hear it, but the details make it a fairly expensive proposition. Running a computer on a sailboat constantly (which is one of the main benefits of a plotter in the first place) is not as simple as buying an inverter and a puck, downloading some free software and plugging her in.

Turning a laptop on and off for navigation means one thing: you need paper.
We have around 10k miles using our laptop with just a $20 GPS puck.

Unless you are talking about long offshore voyages, the power consumption isn't a big deal. Of course, if you are doing long offshore voyages, you don't typically need accuracy much better than the nearest 5 miles until you get close to shore.
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Old 06-06-2014, 15:27   #157
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Re: More Thoughts About Paper

Sounds like we really need to get Jeff Bezos hooked on sailing. Then we'd soon have low-power "paperwhite" e-ink displays for chartplotters.

On the down side, he'd probably borg out west marine, which might not be so bad after all.
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Old 06-06-2014, 17:15   #158
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Re: More Thoughts About Paper

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Aw shucks Dockhead - you don't need no paper for that. A good hand in the bows with a line throwing the lead, a little light-handed helmsman and away you go!

Been there done that - paper in that area is very useful
Then we add Fog to the discussion..
One of the main reasons I still carry detail paper charts of high density danger passages that Dockhead illustrates is to allow me to plan/plot/prepare a "parallel index" passage.
The radar offsets and courses are then all clearly printed and highlighted on the paper chart for my ready reference when blind piloting using Radar.

Then my primary navigational tools are the 2 each EBLs and VRMs on the Radar which are shifted to offsets to match the papers' parallel indexed course.

Monitoring waypoints on chartplotters should confirm my radar courses but my focus when making blind passages....is on the Radar
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Old 06-06-2014, 17:28   #159
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Re: More Thoughts About Paper

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I actually agree with all of this, just with the footnote that in complicated waters, the planning process on a plotter breaks down. If I have some time over the weekend, I'll make some screenshots from my Zeus for Finnish water and post them here. Not even the most hard-core electronic chartist could plan a passage with this plotter and vector charts in these waters, which will be obvious from the screenshots.

So I think on this question it's not just what method you are used to, but also where you sail. It's easy to assume that every place is just like where you sail, but it's often not true.


Concerning projected heading lines displayed TOGETHER with projected COG lines, rather than as an alternative -- I've never seen this system but, yes! I can imagine that this would be a very useful instant indicator of leeway and current set. I think I'll dig around in my plotter menus and see if I can get that to display like that, too.
Once you get amongst the Great Barrier Reef rather than the shipping channels it is a similar situation. A chart and eyes as well as the plotter are most useful. You night have planned a general course but its a matter of continuous pilotage observing all sources.
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Old 06-06-2014, 17:29   #160
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Re: More Thoughts About Paper

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Unless you are talking about long offshore voyages, the power consumption isn't a big deal.
On one of our fleet boats, we ran across the Straits to the San Juan Islands, about 9 hours under power, and managed to drain the house battery that night by eleven without using a laptop. A laptop would have drained it by around eight.

Everyone likes to talk about how robust their boat's battery is, but a bare boat charterer isn't as emotionally attached, and I've watched the lights fade and go out. Maybe that isn't a "big deal", but it's not as much fun as a boat where it doesn't happen.

There's only one boat in our fleet that I'd run a laptop in, the one with the five group 34 batteries in the house bank.
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Old 06-06-2014, 17:36   #161
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Re: More Thoughts About Paper

If you are draining your house batteries while under power, you have an alternator or other charging issue.

If you drain your house batteries in 9hrs without any charging, you have a poor house system or are running continual high-current spotlights, etc.

A power-hungry laptop draws 85W, which is 6-7A. Over 24hrs, that is a maximum of 168Ahrs. It is also a worse-case scenario running flat-out and never having its battery charged. Normal power-hungry laptop use would be half this, while a more reasonable laptop would be 1/4 of this. If your house bank cannot handle this draw, it is a poor design. In your example of 8hrs until the house battery is drained, then that implies a 60Ahr house battery - which is more appropriate for a jetski than a cruising boat.

In other words, the laptop is not your problem.

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Old 06-06-2014, 17:47   #162
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Re: More Thoughts About Paper

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Originally Posted by BandB View Post
The tool that most of us need or want beyond a basic chart plotter is a planning tool. The term used in commercial navigation is ECDIS (Electronics Chart Display and Information System). Most basic plotters don't come with really good planning tools. Furuno offers MaxSea Software. We have gone to Transas for our navigation systems. NaviPlanner 4000 has incredible route planning tools. Oh, and for those who want to maintain their paper charts, it can even help you update them. The reason it has the paper chart features is meeting commercial requirements.

"You can easily import your complete inventory or manually make a selection of paper charts held onboard. Navi-Planner can then directly connect to the Transas chart server ashore to gather all outstanding Notices to Mariners. You will get a clear overview of the status for your paper charts and any paper chart that may be used during your next voyage will automatically be listed in the passage plan"

Routing it can do from the simplest top level to detail. It has AtoBviaC Distance tables. You can set up rules to go as detailed as you want. You can include weather, speed, fuel consumption, under keel clearance, overhead clearance, waypoints, reference points and even surface and tidal currents. It even has a piracy overlay.

Now it's far more detailed than most of us need most of the time. But it does point out what most chart plotters and associated software aren't as strong in, and that's planning. For those using Furuno I would advise getting the MaxSea software to go with it.
Transas.

I had a look at the Transas system and didn't go ahead at present as I am not on the water at present and its quite expensive. Seemed simple to use.

But as you say its essentially the commercial system with all the updates used in the EDICS systems. When the time comes I will seriously consider it.

In the end may not be that much more expensive than the other systems and you certainly will have the updated charts. For me here in Australia it is the same chart system all the commercial ships are using to navigate the GBR.
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Old 06-06-2014, 17:58   #163
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Re: More Thoughts About Paper

Actually, I'm a bare boat charterer, in a club with a fleet.

I don't design the boats, and I don't own one. I take them out, and I report what I see.

I've seen this on more than one boat, and I've figured out how to keep the lights on. Unplug the laptop, and the lights last all night. Plug it in and watch a movie, and the lights will go out. In our fleet, there's one boat that is the exception to that statement.

The rest is arm waving and internet nonsense, as far as we're concerned.
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Old 06-06-2014, 18:26   #164
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Re: More Thoughts About Paper

OK - arm waving and internet nonsense. Jeez...

The rest of us who understand how to set up our boats properly to handle very minor electrical loads, and are discussing the actual content of this thread in regards to navigating with electronics, will just go talk to ourselves.

Those of you commenting on our situations and telling us "how it is", while not having any actual experience with owning boats and setting up and operating their systems because they just hop on charter boats and don't ask any questions or understand how they work - you can just go talk to yourselves.

It all works out!

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Old 06-06-2014, 18:40   #165
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Re: More Thoughts About Paper

> and watch a movie

That's you big power draw! You are constantly spinning either the hard drive or the DVD drive and hammering the GPU to render the video - both power hungry component of a PC which also generate more heat so your cooling fan works more too.

That hardly compares to running a nav program.

Here's a little test. Charge your notebook batteries and see how long they last:

a: watching movies.
b: running a nav program.
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