Something to consider. A lot of the product in terms of maps are being rresold with no updates.
All Garmin charts
are derived from Soviet satelite imagry they bought a long time ago. They are nice charts
as the imagry was pretty good, but always consider the updates. For US charts the standard is Maptech
(they have a contract
wth NOAA - the folks who pay the big money) and the new ENC
formats come off their digital vector systems. You'll soon be able to get all US charts as PFD
files too free. The bad news is they slice up a normal chart into 16 or 20 sheets
. Printing them in color is costly but you'll get them free.
The future is vector but if you need the whole world you need flexibility. The world does not run on one standard yet. ENC
aks S-57 is the world international standard - period. They internationaly legal
for ship rerquired to keep charts too. The software
you buy is peanuts compared to what you pay for the actual charts. Don't be penny wise and pound foolish. Consider that some times more that one software
application is the cheaper course.
Based on my research
for ENC Fugawi
is the tops for ENC. It displays better and use all the ENC features well. For raster there are a whole host of packages to pick from. Raster formats are old and will die in enough years but it may be the only source you can get for where you want to be. The ability scan a paper chart is also sometimes all there is.
I looked at SeaClear - sometimes free is not worth the money
. SeaClear is a good example of a minimal product worth it's price
. I'm sorry, I worked in GIS for many years and I write software for a living and it's a free product because no one with a brain would pay for it. It works to a point but is not what I would call worthy sofware to use in a situation where it may be important. Even high priced packages are at least very functional and for the cost insigificant compared to the cost of a complete set of global charts.
Persoanlly I think CMap format is dead, but not if you already have the charts. Just know that updates may be your issue later on. Poor charts can send you to to a wreck as fast as poor navigation
skills. You need charts where you are going (or end up). It will clearly not be all in one format and some will be only paper and you may want paper backups in every situation.
There is a bigger picture to consider, so don't let the price
of software be the only measure. Look at the quality of the chart data. You want the better chart no matter what format it comes in.