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Old 25-04-2009, 21:41   #16
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Originally Posted by Bash View Post
Knowing the wind gods as I do, I'm willing to bet that the folk who pre-plan their waypoints get a bit more cooperation from friendly winds than the folk who don't.
Get off the sailboat....you make a ass of us :-)
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Old 25-04-2009, 22:39   #17
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I am just getting ready to get back into sailing and cruising. Whatever happened to old days of tide and current books, dead reckoning? I learned all that stuff in the Sea Scouts. I remember rowing from Pawcatuck Ct. to Mystic Ct. On the return Charlie Clackerie was with the compass and chart. Said, he knew exactly where we were and pointed to the chart a few seconds later....Crunch! Charlie just moved his finger a few inches on the chart and there we were. We were fogged in also, I might add. But reading this you rely on a chart plotter to calcuted course, current, etc. Isn't it just as easy to get a coordinate of your location plot a course and check your coordinates every once in a while and adjust as you go?
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Old 26-04-2009, 05:09   #18
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Frankly, I can't imagine planning a three week cruise from CT to ME along the coast and expecting it to work like clockwork. I don't see what a laptop is going to do for you. Show me.

Preparation is prudent and necessary. You should review the charts of your intended journey on perhaps a daily basis, know the currents, and study the landfalls. Then based on the weather you can depart and monitor your progress.

I worry about the route planner power boat operators users who program a complete series of legs, waypoint to waypoint - look mom no hands - run on autopilot connected to their plotter (software) and fiddle with their bar or their fishing gear and don't maintain proper watch while blasting along at 15 knots.

A friend developed some complex nav performance softare about 15 years ago which he ran on a laptop which could take a number of inputs of predicted weather over a few days, the Gulf Stream prediction and the polar VPP performance of the boat and do WHAT IFs to see the optimal route from NY to Bermuda. It would show the course to take and generate waypoints. It was way ahead of its time and was way cool. BUT it depended on a lot of WHAT IFs which invariable changed over the time frame. It would hardly apply to a day sail in coastal waters.

Prudent sailors don't take that approach. Sailing is a BE HERE NOW experience.
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Old 26-04-2009, 06:14   #19
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The Op asked a technical question of how to transfer routes from a laptop to a chartplotter which is a valid question, and a challenge given the proprietary nature of todays charting software and hardware I, for one, am interested in how people have solved this.

The argument for or against electronic route planning, or paper vs electronics has been explored in great detail on the site. Route planning is just that a Plan, whether it's done on paper charts, on a laptop, or chartlotter. Just because someone chooses to plan on a laptop, doesn't mean they blindly follow that plan or turn on the autopilot and take a nap. An electronic plan, just like any other plan can be adjusted to the conditions. I don't think anyone expects their plan to work like clockwork all the time regardless of the tools used. Electronics are robust planning and tools that have firmly established themselves in navigation, in a similar way that CAD has established itself as the standard in design and construction. Except, in electronic charting we have proprietary hurdles to jump.
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Old 26-04-2009, 07:52   #20
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Can We Get Back to Topic Please?

Oh yes, and kindly leave the nasty remarks behind also. You guys are not helping to solve the original problem or question.
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Old 26-04-2009, 14:56   #21
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Thanks Mark. I am still trying to figure out how to use a new generation Garmin chartplotter with preloaded charts to do passage planning. Surely I don't have to phone Garmin on this one?

Meanwhile this got me looking at alternatives. Jeppersen's C-Map has a solution. They sell a C-Map card reader and PC software (PC-Planner) that allows the user to plug the C-Map card into a laptop to do planning on the laptop with the actual charts, and then transfer the waypoints and routes to the chartplotter via a blank C-Map card. The sell the whole thing in a kit.
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Old 27-04-2009, 22:28   #22
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What I do to plan using Garmin

Here's what I'm doing using a Garmin 76; it's really simplistic but it works.

I'm using a charting software (MacENC, but substitute any good charting software) on the laptop with the appropriate charts. This particular software interfaces with a tide prediction software, and can overlay weather maps which it can request for the specific region of the chart I'm working on. (Plus loads more functionality that I don't use. Yet.)

For day passage planning:

Using the tide data (I'm in a region where tidal currents are often much greater than my hull speed) I determine *when* I need to be at places, or need to depart for places, and sometimes what alternate courses I might choose. Using the weather forecast overlays I can get an idea of what the weather might be like when I need to be at different locations. The tide predictor is not as good as a text tool I have for this region - in fact just yesterday I discovered that in one bay there is a counter-current on one side of an island which saved us beating into a strong foul current. Similarly, the weather overlays are not as fine-grained as a regional weather reference which discusses local variations on larger wind patterns as well as specific gap winds.

Using the software and other references I select my departure time, create waypoints and route, and upload to my gps. During the day passage I can monitor my progress, the software helps by calculating cross-track distances and suggesting courses to each waypoint, as well as time to point and vmg. (If I had additional instruments it could help me by calculating actual leeway/drift/set and optimal course.) I can save my track, adjust how often the software samples the GPS for the track, and export the track data in a variety of ways - including for Google Earth.

For voyage planning:

The software isn't particularly beneficial for me in the north Pacific, but I understand it can overlay the USHO digital Pilot charts (which aren't available for my region yet.) This could be helpful in laying out an optimal wind and current course, but it's only one of many resources to use in planning a long voyage. However, it's an improvement over standard projection charts because it can calculate great circle routes and automagically create waypoints to be downloaded to the gps. (Such routes will require close examination to insure they do not pass over/through hazards, but that's true of *every* GPS waypoint route.)

Because the software allows multiple chart collections, I can organize my charts/databases in useful manners - keeping all my French charts in one location and my USA charts in another, for example. The software allows me to add my personal annotations to the chart, if crudely, so I can mark good restaurants or suggested anchorages. For ENC charts, I can avoid depth datum errors by having them all display in meters, or fathoms, or feet, or whatever system I need.

I can create incredibly detail routes, or just start/end waypoints, or a hundred variations to meet whatever criteria I feel like. I can even create branching routes. I use pilot charts (paper atm), cruising guides, advice from fellow cruisers, BA Ocean Passages for the World, Cornell's book, and every other reference I can get my hands on to make the best decisions about when to go where by which route. During the voyage I can download the waypoints and routes to the GPS (within reason; the software can create tens of thousands more waypoints than the GPS can store!) or use the software as a live plotter, or both.

Mechanics:

I use a Keyspan serial-to-usb adapter to connect the GPS to the laptop.
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Old 28-04-2009, 03:30   #23
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Here's what I'm doing using a Garmin 76;
Thanks, I was interested in reading your solution and your good planning practice, but it does not solve my problem. Your solution requires having a redundant set of echarts, in addition to the BlueCharts on the Garmin chartplotter. I have several navigation programs and can do the same with BSB4 charts.

I've used a 76C for years, and have no problem with passage planning with that older device. The original BlueChart echarts come on a DVD which I loaded to the laptop, and from there to the 76C. Garmin's software security allows me to have the charts in those two places, but not share them. The 76C connects to the laptop by USB for either receiving planned waypoints and routes from the laptop, or to act as an antenna for the laptop. I've used it on my boats, charters and deliveries, and in automobiles. Beautiful, elegant setup.

But, I am in the market for a system for a new-old boat (want a larger screen), but cannot figure out how to get BlueCharts onto the laptop when they come preloaded on the new Garmin models, short of buying a redundant set of echarts on a DVD for the laptop, which doubles the price. For example, according to the manual I read online, the new 640 allows users to copy the basemap to an SD card to install on the user's laptop, but a basemap is not sufficient for passage planning. The manual says nothing about getting the BlueChart g2 echarts from the 640 to the laptop. Am I missing something?
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Old 28-04-2009, 14:27   #24
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Charts...

So your real question is how to get a set of charts to work with on the PC without having to pay for a second redundant set, since you're only transferring waypoints/routes.

For me, since I'm currently operating only in US and Canadian water, I'm getting by with the US ENC charts. These are no-cost, and let me do my planning on the PC and upload to the GPS. There are some other online sources for free ENC charts.

I have read about some illegal methods of circumventing Garmin's security systems online, but have never felt the need to test them. It does seem extremely unfortunate that you pay for a machine with resources aboard, but you can't actually do what you need to with the information you paid to own.
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Old 29-04-2009, 08:55   #25
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Garmin Says "Not Possible" - Bad Marketing Move IMHO

OK I called Garmin tech support today since I have been considering an upgrade to one of their new units.

They DO NOT provide the ability to transfer maps, routes, waypoints to/from a laptop as we've been able to do with Bluechart software for years. The new charts are geo-referenced differently so even your waypoints from Bluechart will not transfer.

The rep said it was a conscious decision made by Garmin. They believe that you can adequately perform your route planning on the device itself.

I for one think this is a huge mistake on their part and I will not buy any more Garmin chart products that tie me to their device for route planning. (Imagine how that would look on a 545 for example....)

So I asked that they document my feedback and send it to the marketing geniouses who have now driven me to look elsewhere for new chart plotters & cartography. Damn shame if you ask me.

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Old 29-04-2009, 09:32   #26
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I have used several Garmin units and while they did have software to transfer waypoints, I quickly got fed up with the out dated software.

The charts that come preloaded ,come from NOAA with out any fee to the GPS firm yet none will allow transfer of cartography to a computer. The reason may be the extras like satellite photos etc. that they don't want to give away.

The unit I now use is a Raymarine E120. It comes with software to run on your computer. The same CD charts that I had (Maptech) work with it. The transfer is done by memory card, the same ones my camera uses. All that is great but I don't think that I will use the computer at home. After an hour with the new unit , was able to lay in a route from Newport RI through Fishers Island sound to Milford CT in about ten minutes.

The computer at home is great for planning (I also use Google Earth!) but the unit on the boat is just too quick and easy for laying in routes. I think it's quicker than fooling around with the memory card.
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Old 29-04-2009, 14:28   #27
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Does anyone here like their Garmin 545? I was thinking about buying one, but now I have my doubts. I do not like Raymarine either, they had me 4 miles off course going into land one fine day. Chart plotter off? Satellite on the blink? We will never know. Just turned it off and sailed with a compass, paper charts and our eyes. It really works you know
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Old 29-04-2009, 15:37   #28
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Newt,

I was very pleased with my 545. I've only used it for one season but it worked out great for me. I have it at the helm on a garmin swing arm mount. I can remove the unit itself and store it below or take it home. The screen is large enough for me.

The 545 does not interface with radar...which I think I want to add...so I may upgrade to a 4208.

I do my route planning on the laptop with either mapsource or nobletec. I like to do all my planning on the laptop at home..and save all the routes even my alternate routes.

The night before I plan on leaving a port, I will review my saved route on the laptop and then manually enter the waypoints into the 545....once they are in the 545...you can save them and always come back to them. it doesn't take very long at all to enter a waypoint or a route. Last years trips are already in there from NY to Cape Cod...so I'll never have to enter them again. You can also save tracks...
The 545 has good tide and current data...it has local marinas information and all the charts are preloaded and the antenna is internal...pretty good for under a boat unit..imo.
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Old 29-04-2009, 17:33   #29
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The rep said it was a conscious decision made by Garmin. They believe that you can adequately perform your route planning on the device itself.
Thanks for checking. C-Map, here I come. I can get a C-Map card reader/blank card/PC-Planner software kit for $200, a C-Map echart card covering all of the East Coast with the Great Lakes tossed in for $200 that I can use on the laptop and the chartplotter, and a chartplotter for whatever. And regular updates for about $80/yr. I'll keep the old 76C for backup.
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Old 29-04-2009, 17:45   #30
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That's the Garmin way-- keep sending money.
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