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Old 26-05-2014, 09:03   #1
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More Thoughts About Paper

Further thoughts about paper charts.

We’ve had a number of discussions (maybe, to be honest, arguments ) about whether or not paper charts are essential.

I’ve always held that, despite my great love of electronic navigation (I am no Luddite!), there are certain things which are extremely hard to do well with an electronic chart. The most important of these is to plan a passage across a complicated piece of water, where you need to see whether your proposed path is free of obstacles or not. The problem is that you have to have a certain level of zoom to see all the details on an electronic chart, but by the time you reach that level of zoom, you can’t see all or even a big piece of your proposed passage. You really need to put a protractor or a ruler to a paper chart to do this efficiently.

I am sailing in the Baltic, for the first time in my life without paper charts. It is awful!! The waters are complicated and rock-strewn. You can’t see anything zoomed out on the electronic chart. It takes hours of zooming in and out, tracing different routes, putting down waypoints (which you CAN see at lower zooms), and scrolling through potential routes, and even after all of that, you really don’t get a clear grasp of the big picture. I have vowed never to attempt this again – navigating in such a place without paper.

I have learned a couple of tricks, however, to make it easier to deal with the electronic chart, which I thought I would pass on. Maybe someone has some others.

Number one – set the Safety Depth. I was unfamiliar with this feature as it did not exist on previous plotters I have owned. With the Navionics charts in my Zeuses, I can choose 2, 5, 10, or 20 meters as a “safety depth” which will display a different color, visible at all zoom levels, at this depth contour. I finally set this at 5 meters, and this saved me an enormous amount of grief and trouble, and made the zoomed-out scales vastly more useful.
Number two – set the “Course Highway”. I had never paid attention to this, as it sounded like the awful Garmin “highway” screen which I have always hated. But in fact, what this does, is to draw a line across the chart showing your exact path to the next waypoint. So if you set a waypoint and navigate towards it, you can much more easily check to see what lies along your potential path.
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Old 26-05-2014, 09:21   #2
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Re: More Thoughts About Paper

Regarding #2 - isn't that just making a route? Or are you talking about the heading or COG predictor line? On our Furuno, the heading line goes completely across the chart, while the COG predictor line is user-set to predict as far in the future as one wants.

Also, when you make a route on the Furuno, you have the option of "flying" the route, which zooms in and moves along it looking for obstacles you may have missed. Perhaps your Zeus also has something similar?

Regarding #1, our Furuno also allows you to use different color depth and land schemes on charts. Some charts really benefit from choosing a different color scheme.

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Old 26-05-2014, 09:57   #3
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Re: More Thoughts About Paper

I like and use paper charts, would not want to be without them. I would not like to rely on only one source of information for safe navigation.
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Old 26-05-2014, 10:39   #4
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Re: More Thoughts About Paper

Dockhead - excellent post.

The size of paper charts is what attracts me to them. The Pacific NorthWest is also quite rock strewn.

As for electronic charts, I still prefer raster charts. Second party vectors charts have some odd interpretations. For example, military area WK south of Victoria BC, is shown as a wreck. (Then so does the NOAA small scale chart).
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Old 26-05-2014, 10:45   #5
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Re: More Thoughts About Paper

Both have their advantages and disadvantages, that is exactly why I like to have both.

Raster for me. Vector leaves out too many details.
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Old 26-05-2014, 11:15   #6
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Re: More Thoughts About Paper

Both is good. Nothing like a paper chart in your hand going thru that tricky channel with coral heads or rocks etc. Trying to push buttons, and trying to avoid the glare of a screen just distracts from paying attention with your eyes!
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Old 26-05-2014, 11:24   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by colemj View Post
Regarding #2 - isn't that just making a route? Or are you talking about the heading or COG predictor line? On our Furuno, the heading line goes completely across the chart, while the COG predictor line is user-set to predict as far in the future as one wants.

Also, when you make a route on the Furuno, you have the option of "flying" the route, which zooms in and moves along it looking for obstacles you may have missed. Perhaps your Zeus also has something similar?

Regarding #1, our Furuno also allows you to use different color depth and land schemes on charts. Some charts really benefit from choosing a different color scheme.

Mark
Not like making a route - it shows the path to the next waypoint, even if there is only one. Not COG predictor line (called "extension line"). Extension lines are really useful for other purposes, even life savingly useful, but for different purposes. Useless for planning.

"flying the route" sounds great - don't think my Zeus does that. Perfect for checking your route. But again, useless for planning, other than making trial and error easier.
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Old 26-05-2014, 11:30   #8
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Re: More Thoughts About Paper

This is an interesting (and sad) read, particularly with respect to the dangers of software induced delays - they always come at the worst time!

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I hope the guy doesn't give up and goes to sea again!
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Old 26-05-2014, 12:33   #9
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Re: More Thoughts About Paper

Raster charts. Don't like to click down through multiple layers to see things I should be able to see when I look at the chart.

Here in Puget Sound, the NOAA charts are now available as PDFs, and I'm playing with a graphics program and a 13x19 printer to make my own, smaller version of the charts I use most.

Once you get graticules figured out, it's not hard to have paper charts that are exactly the right size, completely up to date, and if I use them up, I just hit print.

David, I'm with you. They tell me that the details are still there, and more, but I'll be damned if I'm going to hunt for them by clicking down through layers of junk when I want to know something.

In my opinion, classic paper charts of beautiful works of art. They're a balance, honed through literally centuries of use, between what you need to know and what you don't.

Modern vector charts, not so much. Probably because they've just been in use since last Thursday.

All that said, in a narrow pass between rocks in the San Juans, it was a raster chart on an iPad in my left hand.
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Old 26-05-2014, 12:55   #10
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Re: More Thoughts About Paper

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
Not like making a route - it shows the path to the next waypoint, even if there is only one. Not COG predictor line (called "extension line"). Extension lines are really useful for other purposes, even life savingly useful, but for different purposes. Useless for planning.

"flying the route" sounds great - don't think my Zeus does that. Perfect for checking your route. But again, useless for planning, other than making trial and error easier.
OK, I understand. On our Furuno, that function is on all the time and I don't even think you can turn it off. Whenever you tell it to navigate to a waypoint, it draws a thick red dotted line from the boat to the waypoint. If you go off that path for any reason, it keeps the original dotted line, but draws a solid line from your boat to the waypoint - so you see your path to the waypoint, along with the original path. If you then reset the cross track error, it turns that solid line to your waypoint into a thick red dotted line and keeps a thin grey line of your original path.

I guess I don't have problems using vector charts on a computer/chartplotter for planning. Zoomed out, I draw a rough route. I then zoom in until the next level of detail is available and adjust, or add to, the route's waypoints as needed. Then I zoom in and run the route to see if there are any small scale obstacles I need to be aware of. This is natural for me and takes far less time than plotting a route on paper and transferring it to a computer/chartplotter. I also don't seem to lose any situational awareness of the chart when it is zoomed out - my brain understands that there are hidden details (and appreciates the fact that they are not cluttering up the larger picture).

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Old 26-05-2014, 13:19   #11
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Re: More Thoughts About Paper

With paper charts I always had planning charts and navigation charts; each using different scales and each having different levels of detail. Exactly like my electronic charts work now.

Do I understand correctly that people do their planning on paper navigation charts that include all details? I can see that work for 100-200nm trips but not much longer ones?
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Old 26-05-2014, 14:07   #12
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Re: More Thoughts About Paper

"I am sailing in the Baltic, for the first time in my life without paper charts. It is awful!! "
Dockhead, are you locked into some proprietary charting software which cleverly will not allow you to print the charts, or even print the screen, in order to enforce copyright? Or some other nonsense?

I've yet to figure out how electronics can match paper when the driver says "Everybody on the rail!" and you're holding a paper chart there, trying to plan ahead. Seems like most of the silicon critters would just up and die, not to mention, skip off to Davy Jones' locker.

But did they lock you out from printing? (I'm sure you've got printers on that boat!)
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Old 26-05-2014, 15:11   #13
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Re: More Thoughts About Paper

Humans are pretty much analog devices. The big piece of paper lets you weigh a lot of data regarding rout planning, hazards, alternate bail-out routs & safe harbor, etc. You just can't get the big picture on an 8-inch screen with dumbed-down details. On the other hand, the 600 foot river cruise boat we took in France had 30-inch monitors and a 12-foot radar.
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Old 26-05-2014, 15:16   #14
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Re: More Thoughts About Paper

I would like to do a survey of paper Vs Electronic with age as the indicator.
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Old 26-05-2014, 15:28   #15
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Re: More Thoughts About Paper

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I like and use paper charts, would not want to be without them. I would not like to rely on only one source of information for safe navigation.
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