I just came back from a two week trip around the Chesapeake using the new ENC charts
with Fugawi Marine software
. It was installed on a laptop
and tied to my Garmin
128 that is also on a bus so it can display way point info on the radar
display as well as drive the Simrad
auto pilot (I don't use the latter in the real world).
The charts are exceptionally nice to work with and provide seamless vector coverage when you load adjoining charts. Good news is "the bay" is currently all available today along with assorted rivers and nearly 100% of the DelMarVa pennisula.
Sailors that generally sail "the bay" should just go and do it. They are nice and you can really use it today!
1 Charts are the same data you get if you order "Print On Demand" paper charts. Many of the charts I left for the trip last month with were only two days old! Oh yes, the download is fast and free of charge. You'll always have current
charts. later on you'll be able to download only patches with just the updates. FWIW, the whole bay and vicinity takes only 18 MB for the download.
2. The Fugawi Marine
program right now is about as good as it gets for ENC
charts. It also supports Maptech
charts and some others plus a scan your own interface system too. For $200 US you also get a ful set of planning level maps from Maptech
and a full US GDT road map you can overlay on raster. I think Canada
users get something a bit different.
The bad news is the chart coverage is not complete, but it is the only official international standard for vector charts. This is the way it will be going. One good thing that I did first was to order the Fugawi ENC viewer. With shipping
it's $20, but it gives you a feel for looking and zooming and geenrally anything you can do with loking at ENC charts.
Note that old slow computers
that do raster charts won't be fast with vector charts. Vector charts take more processing power, but offer more flexibility such as the ability to turn features on and off. I really like being able to set the custom depth
levels for the contours.
Fugawi does most all the things with way points, tracks, and routes all the rest of the software
applications do and it supports a lot of formats so you can crusie with whatever is available.
The Fugawi web site has some nice images
as well as the ability to order on line.