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View Poll Results: What charting software do you use as primary navigation tool?
OpenCPN 11 32.35%
Nobeltec Visual Navigation Suite (or Admiral) 8 23.53%
Rose Point Coastal Explorer 7 20.59%
Maptech Chart Navigator or Offshore Navigator 2 5.88%
Fugawi ENC 1 2.94%
Dedicated chartplotter 3 8.82%
Strictly paper 0 0%
Charts? I don't need no stinkin' charts! 0 0%
Other (please specify) 2 5.88%
Voters: 34. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 18-01-2011, 19:27   #31
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Chart work doesn't need to be complex and a dedicated plotter seems to be all that one really needs.

You want to see you vessel on a chart (accurate chart and accurate position).

You want to be able to set some waypoint and get steering information and some goodies such as time to go or time of arrival.

But most plotters are going to display your track and you can see if you are making leeway or getting a lift from the current.

And then there are the data "overlays" which can be useful... such as radar and weather and tides and currents and now AIS.

Most plotters these days handle all this and give the navigator so much information you are faced with overload or perhaps having too much "fun" doing what if's and not standing watch!

Since computers are not designed for the marine environment they will inevitably fail even if they have all that computing power and do a whole host of other useful not navigation tasks.

The risk benefit seems to indicate that we go with a dedicated plotter from a reliability POV as the main nav position fixing device and carry a PC/laptop/net book for back up and all sorts of other things.

My $.02
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Old 18-01-2011, 19:38   #32
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Originally Posted by defjef View Post
The risk benefit seems to indicate that we go with a dedicated plotter from a reliability POV as the main nav position fixing device and carry a PC/laptop/net book for back up and all sorts of other things.
I actually came to the opposite conclusion - use the laptop running software as the primary device, with the chart plotter as the backup. The ultimate backup are the paper charts (also on board).

My primary concern with using a chart plotter as the primary charting tool has two factors:

1. a laptop will have significantly better resolution than a similarly priced chart plotter, and viewing a chart is all about being able to see the data.

2. updating charts on a laptop is a lot simpler and quicker than updating charts for the plotter - therefore the chart data will be most current on the laptop.

And you're right, a waterproofed/sealed chart plotter is far more likely to handle wet conditions than a relatively delicate laptop. Like many things on board, adapt to the gear's limitations to minimize the risk of equipment failure on board.

I have on board Coastal Explorer on a Dell laptop using NOAA, Maptech, and Chartworld charts, and a Furuno radar/chartplotter using Navionics chart chip/card.

I also carry a complete set of paper charts as well. Never can trust all the pesky electrons to come out of the battery when you want them to

- rob/beetle
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Old 19-01-2011, 06:33   #33
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Originally Posted by Ziggy View Post
Keyspc,

Thanks. I tried your suggestion and it helped--to a point. Now instead of crashing immediately, it crashes when I try to open a new chart. I'm not sure if VNS is worth a lot of effort to make it work with W7. I've been playing with PolarView, and I think its functionality meets all my needs, and also seems to be responsive and so far pretty reliable.
You really should give open CPN a look. i fix boat computers and installs. I love this program, everyone i've set up has been up and running the first shot. I usally get out of there within 30 min.
BTW i offer CPN,US,Cuba and garmin drivers,VSP and google earth set up for 75 installed wich refelcts my first hour 75 and every other@35. For 45 i'll put it all on usb stick and mail it.
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Old 19-01-2011, 07:56   #34
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I actually came to the opposite conclusion - use the laptop running software as the primary device, with the chart plotter as the backup. The ultimate backup are the paper charts (also on board).

My primary concern with using a chart plotter as the primary charting tool has two factors:

1. a laptop will have significantly better resolution than a similarly priced chart plotter, and viewing a chart is all about being able to see the data.

2. updating charts on a laptop is a lot simpler and quicker than updating charts for the plotter - therefore the chart data will be most current on the laptop.

And you're right, a waterproofed/sealed chart plotter is far more likely to handle wet conditions than a relatively delicate laptop. Like many things on board, adapt to the gear's limitations to minimize the risk of equipment failure on board.

I have on board Coastal Explorer on a Dell laptop using NOAA, Maptech, and Chartworld charts, and a Furuno radar/chartplotter using Navionics chart chip/card.

I also carry a complete set of paper charts as well. Never can trust all the pesky electrons to come out of the battery when you want them to

- rob/beetle
I'm with you on all of this. We're just vacation cruisers, but using Coastal Explorer makes it easy to update charts to the latest NOAA versions of both raster and vector before we leave home waters. (Just click the sync button while connected to broadband Internet).

I have had frequent situations when a nav-aid appeared to be off station using the Garmin C-P at the helm, and a check at the nav table laptop running C-E showed the nav-aid to be on its proper position (in the updated version).

Vector charts used in all C-P's and some navigation programs (such as Nobeltec VNS Passport Charts) remove critical detail, including islands and major reefs as you go to a larger view.

Another factor is that higher resolution of the laptop screen allows practical use of raster charts. Raster charts contain more visual information, and (at a given scale) don't remove detail information from view as you zoom out.

I almost ran my boat aground on a granite reef years ago because I was using vector charts and had set up a route leg (over the reef) while zoomed out! This was a reef that covers at high tide, and had it not been for the luck of the tides I wouldn't have seen it at the last minute. It would have been certain disaster. (After that I always zoom all the way in and audit every route screen-by-screen when using vector, but prefer to use raster for route planning in C-E so this isn't an issue).

Nobeltec VNS does support raster charts but it is not easy or free to get updates, and Nobeltec VNS Passport Charts are easy to update but offer updates less frequently than NOAA's continuous updates (and you need to pay quite a bit extra for those update disks).

I used to use VNS but found overall that it was better to use Coastal Explorer. VNS is more feature-rich, especially for sailors, but C-E has other advantages that outweigh those features. Both programs have a learning curve, especially if you use keyboard shortcuts, but if you take the time to learn them you'll get a lot more out of them.
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Old 19-01-2011, 08:18   #35
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Well, let me give another plug for OpenCPN. I've logged about 2000 miles with it. It works great. I can't for the life of me think of anything I would want navigation software to do that it doesn't do. I usually carry a very cheap, old laptop as backup, plus some paper charts and a battery powered, hand-held GPS. So that's triple redundancy.

The laptop screen is bigger and clearer than a chart plotter. The program is free. The charts are free. My USB GPS cost about $30 on ebay. You're probably going to have at least one laptop on board for other purposes anyway- in which case that's not even part of the cost equation. At any rate, the cost on Ebay or Craigslist for a serviceable laptop that will handle Open CPN is as low as $100.

The support is spectacular. You post your problem on one of the forums, and within minutes half a dozen people have chimed in with the solution. If your problem is so persistent that you have actually found a bug (happened once to me), the bloody author of the program may actually chime in to help resolve it.

I have no financial interest in the program whatsoever. It's nice that computer support people are offering to help install it, but it's so easy to do yourself, you wonder how anyone could need the support.

It astonishes me that people are actually still paying money for this stuff. The best product on the market is the FREE one, IMHO.

I'm glad you got the Nobeltec program cheap. But from what I've read above, I believe you should chuck it and go with OpenCPN.
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Old 19-01-2011, 10:15   #36
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To clear things up a bit, we never went back and modified old versions of our program to work correctly with the architectural changes of Windows 7. Our latest versions, 10.7 and now 11, work just fine with Windows 7, and Vista, and XP. Almost all software available today continues to evolve as the technology around it (hardware, OSs, etc) evolve around it.
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Old 19-01-2011, 10:45   #37
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Couple of questions on 11, since I didn't know it was out. Also didn't find anything useful to me that would make me want to upgrade from 10.7. Although maybe you fixed the alphabetical issue I posted above?
1. How much is the upgrade from 10.7 to 11? I bought 10.7 in Sept 2010 to use VNS under W7. I have my dongle hanging.
2. Is there a planned (free) upgrade to 11.x that will support ENCs?
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Old 19-01-2011, 11:16   #38
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Joel -
Some feedback to your product manager: If you're adding back support for ENC in VNS one thing you should also do is make it easy to sync the NOAA chart updates online (both raster and ENC). I stopped using VNS because of Nobeltec's withdrawal of ENC support (other reasons too, but this was the deciding last-straw), and now that I'm using CE I wouldn't consider switching programs unless the new program had that feature. CE makes it so easy and convenient to stay current, whereas the NOAA downloads take quite a lot of time/effort to do manually.
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Old 19-01-2011, 11:31   #39
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And if you are re-adding ENC support to your product, I want it returned to version 9 - where it was taken away during a routine bug fix without ever telling the customer it was going to happen. Not only that, your program had the gall to search through my hard drive and DELETE the ENC charts I had installed on it without any notification whatsoever!

I paid for v9 with ENC support - it was taken away in an underhanded, if not illegal (deleting unrelated data on a hard drive), manner and I would like it back.

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Old 19-01-2011, 12:10   #40
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And if you are re-adding ENC support to your product, I want it returned to version 9 - where it was taken away during a routine bug fix without ever telling the customer it was going to happen. Not only that, your program had the gall to search through my hard drive and DELETE the ENC charts I had installed on it without any notification whatsoever!

I paid for v9 with ENC support - it was taken away in an underhanded, if not illegal (deleting unrelated data on a hard drive), manner and I would like it back.

Mark
Wow I don't remember that deletion! I did remember being equally outraged that they took that away without prior notice. I had bought a VNS upgrade ONLY because of ENC support (don't remember the version but do remember I didn't need any other feature in the upgrade) and felt ripped-off because of losing that. Nobeltec placated me at the time by offering a free chart update and the sailing feature pack as recompense, but I was locked-in at the time to Nobeltec because I had RadarPC. When I sold that boat with RadarPC the Nobeltec went with it, and I switched to Coastal-Explorer and never looked back.

Nobeltec obviously wanted to protect its proprietary Passport chart revenue, but in the face of "free" (we pay with our taxes) NOAA charts that's "not happening" at least where many of us are concerned.
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Old 19-01-2011, 12:42   #41
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Joel: Thank you for asking for feedback. I have yet to see a Tech Spt person from any vendor solicit feedback on their products.
I have been a very satisfied user of Admiral since 1984. I have the IR2 radar unit and have had no software or integrations problems using any version of them up to my current 10.7. Don't use ENC charts so not a problem. We are currently in the Med and use it constantly nine months of the year sailing etc. We find the product easy for planning the whole summers routes and then saving them for future planning. The thing I especially like is the integration of radar, ais and chart plotting/navigation. The program has far more capabilities than we use, but it works for me.
The one thing I would like to see is the creation of a Nobletec bulletin board where users can discuss issues and solutions to their problems. This way Joel, you might get some more direct feedback yourself. FWIW, I use WIN XP and the only issues I have run up against are Windows issues.
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Old 19-01-2011, 13:02   #42
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Here are two Q/A from the FAQ Nobeltec put out at that time:

Q: What will happen to my S57 charts that I loaded previously?

A: The S57 charts that you may have imported will be deleted or otherwise rendered unusable by Nobeltec Admiral or VNS by this software update.

Q: I applied the software update and my chart data has disappeared. What do I do now?

A: As stated, this software update will remove all S57 chart import functionality and any ability for Nobeltec Admiral or VNS to display previously imported S57 charts.


And yes, as promised, Nobeltec searched my hard drive and deleted the S57 ENC charts (not just removed the ability for Nobeltec to display them) without asking permission or even letting me know it was going to do it.

And the FAQ came out long after the update was released to the unsuspecting installed base.

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Old 19-01-2011, 15:05   #43
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Couple of questions on 11, since I didn't know it was out. Also didn't find anything useful to me that would make me want to upgrade from 10.7. Although maybe you fixed the alphabetical issue I posted above?
1. How much is the upgrade from 10.7 to 11? I bought 10.7 in Sept 2010 to use VNS under W7. I have my dongle hanging.
2. Is there a planned (free) upgrade to 11.x that will support ENCs?
I really don't mean to hijack this thread, but there are some great questions and discussions here that are hard for me to avoid. Answers to your questions:
1. For that I'll have to refer you to our Sales department. I honestly don't know what kinds of deals/specials they might have going on. Additionally you might get a better price on your upgrade from one of our Dealers as we like to support our Dealer network as much as possible. Sales can help you find a Dealer near you.
2. As much as I'd like to, I cannot talk about future products yet to be released or announced. Also I'm not a Product Manager, so what I believe might be in or out of a future release, may not make the cut in the end, and I don't want to be the one setting false expectations. Hopefully that's understandable.
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Old 19-01-2011, 15:13   #44
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Joel -
Some feedback to your product manager: If you're adding back support for ENC in VNS one thing you should also do is make it easy to sync the NOAA chart updates online (both raster and ENC). I stopped using VNS because of Nobeltec's withdrawal of ENC support (other reasons too, but this was the deciding last-straw), and now that I'm using CE I wouldn't consider switching programs unless the new program had that feature. CE makes it so easy and convenient to stay current, whereas the NOAA downloads take quite a lot of time/effort to do manually.
Great feedback, all I can say at this point is, as cliché as it sounds, stay tuned. As an interim solution, we've been offering (free of charge for all v10 & v11) Customers, the NOAA raster charts compiled on a disk with an installer so you don't have to collect them from NOAA and figure out what to do with them. Yes, they're not the ENCs, trust me we hear that loud and clear.
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Old 19-01-2011, 15:24   #45
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Joel: Thank you for asking for feedback. I have yet to see a Tech Spt person from any vendor solicit feedback on their products.
I have been a very satisfied user of Admiral since 1984.
Thanks Gary. It's always nice to hear from people that enjoy using our products. As you can imagine, not many people call Tech Support to talk about why they like our products. To be clear, I wasn't trying to illicit feedback here, this is the wrong place for that. Very recently (in conjunction with the v11 release actually) we launched a UserVoice page specifically for that purpose. If you or anyone feels strongly about something we can do to enhance our products for you, please do let us know here: Customer Feedback for Nobeltec, Inc.

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The one thing I would like to see is the creation of a Nobletec bulletin board where users can discuss issues and solutions to their problems. This way Joel, you might get some more direct feedback yourself.
Funny you should mention that, because at one point we did have our own Forum, but nobody who works here now can remember why it was taken down. I've been working on getting a new Forum back up on our website and you should see that in the next few weeks.
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