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Old 08-05-2012, 21:05   #121
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I think a plotter is in the "critical" section on my equipment list, but doesn't rule out having paper. The electronic charts are regularly updated (where the paper ones are most definitely not), and the new smaller plotters are inexpensive. If you rely on paper there are areas of the world where up to date charts are very difficult to find (going down the central American coast, or even areas of Mexico). For a very good inexpensive plotter, check out the Standard Horizon CPF190i. It is inexpensive and small and will allow adding a radar later if you can afford it. An iPad with the GPS chip isn't a bad backup, or planning tool. Your $500 investment will save you hours of time and will generally keep you more aware of where you are. I'm not advising you to not buy paper, but plotters are worth the money. Read a few cruising guides and you will see several instances where they warn you that the paper charts are out of date and an entrance is silted shut or there is a wreck that hasn't made the popular chart book for the area you are sailing in. At the least, buy yourself an iPad, waterproof case, and the $20 Navionics app. Having offered my endorsement of electronics, I should also mention that we carry a sextant, current nautical almanac, and paper charts. You could get struck by lightning and lose the plotter and all.. we just use electronic charts far far more often (as do almost everyone we meet out here). Best of luck on your trip!
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Old 08-05-2012, 21:07   #122
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Re: To Plot, or Not ? Is a Chart Plotter a Luxury or a Necessity ?

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Originally Posted by Ex-Calif View Post
A chart plotter is a luxury. A chart is a necessity.

If the position information from the gps component is not used than it is simply a chart.

Isn't navigation simply current position vs. desired new position?

Position information can and has been derived in many ways. Hand bearing, adf/rdf, vhf (vor), celestial, loran, gps etc.

The most accurate fix must be bearing information off known landmarks. I could be standing at the base of a light with known position and cellestial might get me within 1/4-1/2 mile. GPS will get me to 30-300 feet. But I know I am at the light and the position is known. So nothing works better than the MKI eyeball.

Integrating position (GPS) with chart information has to be a good thing. However no navigation works without looking out to verify position.

Future position requires having a chart and plotting a course that avoids hazards. Paper or electronic works fine. Margin of safety from known hazards is a function of accuracy of position. The gps being able to update position continuously affords the ability for lesser margin. However blindly following the magenta line will eventually lead to tears.

I use the plotter extensively. Especially at night. It allows my to have a large and unweildy paper chart at my fingertips and helm. I don't know about others but I dont simply hit "goto" and follow the magenta brick road. I look for navigational aids on the chart and then verifiy by looking outside that the aids are where they are supposed to be and that I have positively identified those aids.

I have paper charts. They are stowed. If I need to get them out and have a look I do. Hasn't happened in a long time.

Navigation is pretty darned important. Proliferation of boaters and electrtonic gear must have had some effect on the frequency of collission with objects but it is not the navigational tool. It is the navigator.

And yes while there is growing attention to navigational errors related to electronics, don't forget that Amelia Earhart got lost too.

"
Isn't navigation simply current position vs. desired new position?"

I disagree with that. If that were true, all we would need would be a compass. We need a compass AND a chart precisely because there's a lot more to it than that. We have to take effects of current, leeway, etc. into account. Without a GPS we can only estimate how well we're staying on course. That's a skill that (in my experience anyway, and I'm not terribly stupid) develops over time. I absolutely have backup electronics. I choose to also develop my non-electronic skills and I think anyone who does not do that is foolish, but there will always be foolish people. Let's not assume the OP is one of those without cause.
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Old 08-05-2012, 21:10   #123
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Originally Posted by Fishspearit
I'm sure when the first caveman decided to attach a wooden handle to his rock and call it a hammer, there were a bunch of idiots standing around the campfire telling him it was never going to be as reliable as just a rock, that if he couldn't hit something with just a rock he had no business hitting things. They had been hitting things with rocks for years, there's no need to put a wooden handle on it, and that wooden handle will never make it any better than a rock.

Having a chartplotter onboard does not mean that you can't also use other more primitive means of navigation. It does not mean that you won't also look around and pay attention to where you are going.
This could not have been put better in my mind...
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Old 08-05-2012, 21:13   #124
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Re: To Plot, or not ? Is a Chart Plotter a luxury or a necessity?

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"1. A handheld GPS is simply a small chartplotter. I have no idea why so many folks think otherwise. I guess I'll find out...."

Technically, yes. In reality the screen is so small that it can't really do what it does best in a slightly larger version. I have a handheld as a backup. I can EASILY connect what I'm seeing on my bigger chart plotter to what is on the paper plot. I can zoom in on the CP -- can't do that on paper.

But on the handheld, the picture is so small that I find it harder to connect what I see on the handheld to the paper chart. The only thing I would use my handheld for would be to get an accurate lat and long -- although that's a big "only."
When a hend held GPS is connected to a laptop w/electronic charts and nav software via a data cable it becomes an a chart plotter. Used laptop and GPS <$100 + software and charts.
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Old 08-05-2012, 21:24   #125
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Originally Posted by rebel heart
If you're approaching shore the last thing you should be looking at is the chart plotter.
I would argue that if you are approaching shore, the last thing you should be doing is looking at a piece of paper. If you are in an unfamiliar area, taking sights on things you have never seen, versus keeping track if your, course, speed, and GPS fix, you are likely unnecessarily putting yourself in danger. This especially applies at night. Having new tools doesn't rule out primitive backups, but when there are better tools it's foolish not to use them.
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Old 08-05-2012, 21:59   #126
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rakuflames

"
Isn't navigation simply current position vs. desired new position?"

I disagree with that. If that were true, all we would need would be a compass. We need a compass AND a chart precisely because there's a lot more to it than that. We have to take effects of current, leeway, etc. into account. Without a GPS we can only estimate how well we're staying on course. That's a skill that (in my experience anyway, and I'm not terribly stupid) develops over time. I absolutely have backup electronics. I choose to also develop my non-electronic skills and I think anyone who does not do that is foolish, but there will always be foolish people. Let's not assume the OP is one of those without cause.
Not sure I understand your post.

The line above the line you quoted says, "A plotter is a luxury, a chart is a neccesity."

- "...all we would need is a compass" - A compass tells you nothing about where you are and it is impossible to determine current position or heading to new desired position without a chart - I dont understand your meaning here.
- "We have to take effects of current, leeway, etc. into account" - Neither paper nor electronic chart does that? I am still confused.
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Old 08-05-2012, 22:38   #127
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Re: To Plot, or Not ? Is a Chart Plotter a Luxury or a Necessity ?

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Originally Posted by Ex-Calif View Post
Not sure I understand your post.

The line above the line you quoted says, "A plotter is a luxury, a chart is a neccesity."

- "...all we would need is a compass" - A compass tells you nothing about where you are and it is impossible to determine current position or heading to new desired position without a chart - I dont understand your meaning here.
- "We have to take effects of current, leeway, etc. into account" - Neither paper nor electronic chart does that? I am still confused.
A compass can be used to find position if you can take a bearing on two or more known points (unless you are in a line between two points you can triangulate with only two points) the more referance points the more accurate.
My nav software does have tides and currents on it and the new DSC VHF radios allow for downloading wind and wave conditions onto the chart.
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Old 08-05-2012, 23:13   #128
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Re: To Plot, or Not ? Is a Chart Plotter a Luxury or a Necessity ?

In this case I agree with rebel. I know that many are using the chartplotter and almost no charts at all. Zoomfactors and accuracy may obfuse your real position. But a chartplotter sometimes come handy. It is a costly gadget and I would not depend on it.
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Old 09-05-2012, 00:19   #129
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wolfenzee
A compass can be used to find position if you can take a bearing on two or more known points (unless you are in a line between two points you can triangulate with only two points) the more referance points the more accurate.
My nav software does have tides and currents on it and the new DSC VHF radios allow for downloading wind and wave conditions onto the chart.
Needless to say I am splitting hairs and hoping not to be argumentative but without a chart how do you know what the "points" are?

I could argue that with a coastal chart and the sun I could reasonably find out where I am and navigate to a port without a compass making the compass a non-neccesity. I don't need exact bearing to locate myself pretty close.

It would probably be necessary to tell me what coast I am on and that I am in fact located somewhere the chart area covers. Sorta hard to be dropped on the US west coast with an Australia east coast chart.

Basic deduced reckoning starts with identifying big objects like mountain ranges and working down to smaller charted objects like lights, rocks and buoys.
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Old 09-05-2012, 00:58   #130
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Re: To Plot, or Not ? Is a Chart Plotter a Luxury or a Necessity ?

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"
Isn't navigation simply current position vs. desired new position?"
Navigation isn`t about where you are but where you are not
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Old 09-05-2012, 04:20   #131
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Re: To Plot, or Not ? Is a Chart Plotter a Luxury or a Necessity ?

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Planning to set sail this Fall for parts lesser known. Being less experienced a sailor than my partner I am wondering if anyone has fallen in love with any of the lesser expensive(smaller) chart plotters while cruising. Though i intend to learn and use paper charts i feel like a plotter would make me more comfortable/safer. Is this an illusion? How hard is it to find cards for the more remote parts of the world, i.e. westerns south America, south pacific...
Hi Lindsay,

After reading this thread I lost track of your original question. Perhaps you did as well. *grin* I gather you are spending more time on the boat than on the Internet. Good for you.

Ultimately you are asking a budget priority question aren't you?

Without getting into whether a chart plotter is a luxury or a necessity it is unquestionably useful. It is easier to develop a big picture from a large paper chart but underway a chart plotter or plotting software on a laptop is very helpful.

On Auspicious the chart plotter is the primary charting tool and paper charts are secondary. On delivery (I'm an active delivery skipper) I generally use chart plotters as primary as long as 1. there is a reasonably current chart chip and 2. I can figure out the menus.

But budget decisions aren't made in isolation. We generally spend everything we have on our boats and so the decision is not whether to buy something or not but whether to buy thing A or thing B.

For applications beyond day sailing and fair weather harbor hopping I personally would prioritize radar first, then AIS, then a chart plotter. Radar is a tool for navigation, collision avoidance, and weather tracking. Good stuff. AIS is becoming increasingly important because commercial traffic is now used to be called by name and rarely respond to "white over blue commercial ship at lat and long" any more.

Since the implication of your question is an underlying budget limitation I suggest you explore OpenCPN (free) on your laptop (which you presumably are using for Internet access and so already own) and a GPS puck (cheap) or integration with the NMEA bus on your boat (should be cheap). The downsides are you will want to keep the laptop below so you have to pop down and up to look at it, the screen is generally not viewable in direct sun, and you're dependent on the reliability of the underlying operating system (usually Windows).

If you do decide to buy a dedicated chart plotter don't fall into the trap of mounting it on the binnacle (helm). Underway and on watch you will be under the dodger so mount the plotter on the cabin top. As so many have noted in this thread when you are piloting (inshore, running an inlet, in a harbor, etc.) and behind the wheel you'll still be able to see the plotter but the distance will keep you from being distracted as easily from the real world.

Regardless, spend some time going over charts (paper or electronic) ahead of passages so you have an overview of what is ahead of you. Post-it notes are a great tool either stuck to your chart with notes or in your pocket with piloting notes (buoy numbers, tides, currents, landmarks, bearings, whatever).
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Old 09-05-2012, 04:40   #132
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Re: To Plot, or Not ? Is a Chart Plotter a Luxury or a Necessity ?

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Regardless, spend some time going over charts (paper or electronic) ahead of passages so you have an overview of what is ahead of you. Post-it notes are a great tool either stuck to your chart with notes or in your pocket with piloting notes (buoy numbers, tides, currents, landmarks, bearings, whatever).
I think this is an underrated aspect of, particularly, costal navigation. In out of the way anchorages that I tend to use there are often hazards shown on only one or two souces.
I have 3 different types of electronic maps, paper charts and often 2 or 3 pilot books, I often check goggle earth, so it can add up to a lot of pre- planning. Hazards listed from other sources can be plotted on the chartplotter and saved.
If nothing else it scares you into having someone up the bow when coming into an anchorage you have not been in before.
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Old 09-05-2012, 04:51   #133
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Re: To Plot, or Not ? Is a Chart Plotter a Luxury or a Necessity ?

Remember ActiveCaptain for hazard information and local knowledge.
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Old 09-05-2012, 05:43   #134
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Re: To Plot, or Not ? Is a Chart Plotter a Luxury or a Necessity ?

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A chartplotter will tell you where you are - 99.99% of the time.

A chartplotter will never tell you it is a good idea to be there - 100% of the time!


A chartplotter does not care whether you live or die.
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neither does a compass or a dot on a DR chart
But no one would blindly follow a compass or a pencil off (into!) a cliff....."safely" .

Well, most wouldn't .
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Old 09-05-2012, 05:47   #135
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Re: To Plot, or Not ? Is a Chart Plotter a Luxury or a Necessity ?

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But no one would blindly follow a compass or a pencil off (into!) a cliff....."safely" .

Well, most wouldn't .
They might if they were down below plotting pencil lines on the chart
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