We have used OpenCPN as a backup to the chartplotter, and for planning routes, it worked very well for that. We also used it as the primary navigation source when we brought our new to us boat from Massachusetts
, and the boat did not have a plotter. Again, it worked well for that use, and I thought I would be happy with it as the primary source.
Then I took a job at a marine
service/sales company in Maryland
, that happens to be a dealer for Nobeltec
. I was able to install the software onboard so I could get used to it (Trident, but Odyssey would work for many if not most users here) I was and am blown away at how comprehensive and fast the software is. I had installed a sunlight touchscreen in the cockpit
, and have a big monitor
down below. It took some time to learn the interface, and how to use some of the more advanced features, and I am still learning
. openCPN is great, there is nothing better than free, but it has a long way to go before it can compare to the features/benefits of the Nobeltec
software. It has improved over time, and I am sure it will continue to do so as long as there is active development.
I have now installed it on two computers
. The boat specific computer is a low power
(AMD E-450) but with an SSD and 8gb or ram. The program is very slow to load, but once it is loaded, it is VERY fast in operation. The second computer is a higher-end laptop. It loads and runs very fast.
I would NOT rely on any chartplotting system that had any component in the cockpit
that was not waterproof, and somewhat sunlight readable. I also would not rely on any tablet solution.
A GREAT solution for getting GPS and AIS
to the computer is the EM-TRAK B100 transceiver. I imagine there are other products to can do the same. One black box, two sources of needed data.