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Old 26-08-2014, 14:13   #1
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Selecting charts

Hi,

First of all, this is my first post, so be kind!

I was curious how you cruisers go about selecting charts for new sailing areas? I know NOAA offers free downloads of their charts, but selecting the right ones on their site seems a bit clunky.

I built a site on which you can place your waypoints, and the relevant charts show up with download links for PDF and BSB versions.
charts la carte!

I've found it pretty useful so far, but would like to get some feedback. Perhaps there is some easy way I'm overlooking (I'm pretty new to all this).

Thanks!
abacaxi
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Old 27-08-2014, 14:12   #2
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Re: Selecting charts

Welcome to CruisersForum, abacaxi
When planning a cruise in a new area, I usually do it in 3 steps:

1- I get a set of small-scale (1:150,000 to 1:600,000) charts for this area, to decide if it is really worth cruising.

2- I get a cruising guide to have pictures and some information about the sailing conditions (climate, tides, etc.).

3- With that information, I define more precisely the area I will be able to cruise in one season and I get the large-scale (1:60,000 to 1:10,000) charts for this area, generally with a big margin: sometimes, the conditions are better than anticipated and I am able to go farther than planned.

I use paper charts (expensive, heavy and cumbersome in the boat but reliable).

In addition to that, I have a "Navionics Silver" chip with charts covering W and S Europe from Norway to Turkey, but without the details. As I noticed some errors, I don't trust this fully for navigation but it is useful in the planning stage.

Alain
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Old 28-08-2014, 04:19   #3
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Re: Selecting charts

Cool site abacaxi. Well done.
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Old 28-08-2014, 04:51   #4
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Re: Selecting charts

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, abacaxi.
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Old 28-08-2014, 05:03   #5
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Re: Selecting charts

Yeah, you SHOULD be intimately familiar with how to read & use paper charts, period.
Once you've got that down, only then look at some of these electronics. Even after a few decades of development, it's not really all that tough to make/have a failure in ones electrical system, & thus have your toys go TU. Despite their being handy as heck.
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Old 28-08-2014, 05:54   #6
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Re: Selecting charts

Thanks for the feedback and comments! I also prefer paper charts . The question is where to get them and which ones to get.

Hydra, your process sounds good. Where do you get the initial small-scale charts? Online? At a store?

Thanks!
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Old 28-08-2014, 06:54   #7
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Re: Selecting charts

I completely understand what you're saying- which charts to get???? When we moved to the gulf coast my husband asked for charts from MS sound to Mobile bay. I got on line to order them and was totally confused. He didn't say how far out, what scale etc. Not wanting to let hubby down I ordered a bunch of charts that covered that area- big ones, little ones, detailed ones, big picture ones- when they came in my husband was a bit miffed- he pulled out 2 from the almost 25 I ordered and said "this was all I wanted, how much did all this cost?!" Well needless to say they cost a LOT! We now have tons of charts for that area of the gulf, most never used. I learn my lesson, but still not sure which charts to get once we start cruising....hope to learn more by take a navigation course.
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Old 28-08-2014, 13:51   #8
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Re: Selecting charts

I select the charts online. I use the websites of the hydrographic offices:
www.shom.fr for the French Navy hydrographic office
Home for the UK Royal Navy hydrographic office
On both, you can see an image of the area covered by charts. UKHO even proposes free software to install on your computer.

I buy French charts at a store: I live in a seaport and local commissioned agents can supply any chart in a few days, without additional charge. I buy British charts online, there: Seachest | Nautical Charts & Sailing Instruments. Sometimes, the delivery is delayed by the British or French postal service, it can take a few weeks...

When trying to decide which large-scale charts to buy, I consider the proportion of rocks and reefs in the area. For example, I have all the detailed charts for N Brittany, where the tidal range is 10 to 12m (33 to 40 feet) in springs. In S Brittany (less rocks, tides about 4m / 13 feet), very detailed charts are still useful but less necessary.

Alain
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Old 28-08-2014, 14:08   #9
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Re: Selecting charts

NOAA themselves will let you select charts from outlines that same way. As will all the free nav software packages. So a separate app to do that? Superfluous. If you're going by paper, a regional chartbook will accomplish the same thing most of the time.

You're going to Kentucky? OK, so you call the AAA and ask for maps of Kentucky. Problem solved long ago.
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Old 29-08-2014, 01:14   #10
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Re: Selecting charts

I suppose if one were an electronics wizard, you could figure out how to wire up a chart plotter to a BIG printer... and custom make whatever you desired. And forgive me, as I'm FAR from up to date on electronic nav anymore, but might you do something like I just described, only, burn your "custom made" charts onto a disc, or USB flash drive, & take a visit to the local Kinko's or printer, & make hard copies of whatever you desire.
If someone's done this, I'd be both curious & appreciative to know how. It'd likely save me some coin on charts when I get ready to re-splash the boat.
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Old 29-08-2014, 03:49   #11
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Re: Selecting charts

[QUOTE=abacaxi;1615586]Thanks for the feedback and comments! I also prefer paper charts . The question is where to get them and which ones to get.

Hydra, your process sounds good. Where do you get the initial small-scale charts? Online? At a store?

Landfall Navigation is a good place to get paper charts for just about any place in the world.
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Old 29-08-2014, 11:02   #12
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Re: Selecting charts

"you could figure out how to wire up a chart plotter to a BIG printer"
Why do things the hard way? A dedicated chart "plotter" has no printer interface. But stick the same charts on a computer, and you can just plug the charts in to viewers and software and plug a big printer into the same computer. Click "PRINT" and you are done.
Go online from a terminal at Kinko's and you can do the same thing there.

All you need is the oversize printer, and those are easily bought. Anything above 11x17 is going to start getting pricey, though. And waterproof "paper" isn't cheap either.

Oh, wait, there are shops that print and sell the current updated charts that exact same way, as well.(G)

So this is just reinventing the wheel. Either you buy your own, or pay someone else to use theirs. It is "off the shelf" either way.
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Old 29-08-2014, 17:26   #13
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Re: Selecting charts

Here I enter coordinates into the NGA's Hydrographic Catalog software (you can also use the hard copy) and select which charts are required for the transit. After gathering the required chart numbers I go through our drawers to verify that we have each chart available and that it's the most recent edition. If required I will download the needed chart and print it off.. if you do this make sure your printer will print to the required dimensions on the chart and verify the six inch line at the bottom of each chart. If you don't, you'll run into some major issues.
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Old 31-08-2014, 04:11   #14
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Cool Re: Selecting charts

Quote:
Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
"you could figure out how to wire up a chart plotter to a BIG printer"
Why do things the hard way? A dedicated chart "plotter" has no printer interface. But stick the same charts on a computer, and you can just plug the charts in to viewers and software and plug a big printer into the same computer. Click "PRINT" and you are done.
Go online from a terminal at Kinko's and you can do the same thing there.

All you need is the oversize printer, and those are easily bought. Anything above 11x17 is going to start getting pricey, though. And waterproof "paper" isn't cheap either.

Oh, wait, there are shops that print and sell the current updated charts that exact same way, as well.(G)

So this is just reinventing the wheel. Either you buy your own, or pay someone else to use theirs. It is "off the shelf" either way.

Like I said, get a USB drive, then just go online, & find a local print shop. They can make you BIG charts. And as to the waterproof paper thing, no worries. Get some; Map Seal, Map Proof, or Thompson's Water Seal... Basically the stuff which is used by hikers to waterproof their maps. And paint it onto your custom printed charts (several coats, both sides).
It makes them waterproof, as well as improving the strength of the paper a LOT, depending on what you choose. Also, make sure to use enough to fully permeate the paper.

The trick to making it easy to apply this stuff, is to get some bubble pack, & lay it onto the table with the bubbles side up. Then paint on your Map Proof.
Between the slickness of the plastic, & the bubbles letting the extra drain out, the charts/maps don't stick to it like they do to say plastic sheeting. Just make sure to tape the pieces of bubble pack together with plastic packing tape so that the Map Sealing agent doesn't leak onto the table/surface below.

Ah, & I haven't fully tested the Thompson's Water Seal vs. Map Proof, but I don't think that it adds quite as much extra strength or rain protection. Still, with any luck, you won't be playing rugby, or scuba diving with your charts anyway.

PS: In a pinch you can always go lo-tech and use tracing paper to copy someone elses charts. Or if you have one handy, a scanner, & then tape the 8.5x11 pieces together.
I'm guessing that silk or nylon, like they use for military pilot's escape & evasion maps might work for tracing too, albeit with waterproof ink in lieu of pencils on the tracing paper. So if you have a white cargo parachute, & are desperate...
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