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Old 26-04-2018, 08:58   #1
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Basic question regarding charts.

I'm new to OpenCPN and I'm confused about what charts are actually available for use with the SW. Can I buy up to date, non-pirated chart data for use with OCPN? Can I buy chart data from Navionics and C-Map? And most specifically, can I buy charts for the Bahamas based on the Explorer charts (if available would most likely be from C-Map.) I understand that there is some older version of charts which are likely out of date and of questionable license status that can be used, but what if I want/need current cartography? I get that the software is open / free, but it seems to me that it's really of pretty limited use to me if current, legal, cartography is not readily available for the areas I need. Am I missing something? I hope I am BTW. I don't mean for this to sound judgy or dismissive. OCPN seems like a great solution and I'd be really excited about it if the charts are available.
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Old 26-04-2018, 10:35   #2
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Re: Basic question regarding charts.

On one hand the manual gives a quite good overview about the available charts and their sources.
The chart downloader plug-in gives access to the free chart portfolios.

As a navigation and plottter program without charts is something like the famous fish on a bicycle, we are working to broaden the offers and to make more actual charts available.

Expect in the next two weeks some solutions, for example for the aforementioned Explorer charts for the Bahamas.
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Old 26-04-2018, 10:47   #3
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Re: Basic question regarding charts.

It also depends on where you sail. In the US and NZ, for instance, all official charts are freely downloadable in electronic format suitable for use in OpenCPN direct from their hydrographic offices. No license required (or rather, open license terms if you want to quibble). On the other side, Canada, for example, does not offer free charts, they must be bought through an official source.

I don't use them, so not familiar with the details, but OpenCPN does support S63 licensed electronic charts through a plugin.

Have you read through this?
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Old 26-04-2018, 12:56   #4
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Re: Basic question regarding charts.

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Originally Posted by bcn View Post
On one hand the manual gives a quite good overview about the available charts and their sources.
The chart downloader plug-in gives access to the free chart portfolios.

As a navigation and plottter program without charts is something like the famous fish on a bicycle, we are working to broaden the offers and to make more actual charts available.

Expect in the next two weeks some solutions, for example for the aforementioned Explorer charts for the Bahamas.
Thanks! The Explorer charts are a deal breaker for me. They're a must have. The NOAA charts in US waters are great for there. I plan to have a MFD at the helm in any case, and I plan to use OCPN as at the Nav station and for backup and passage / route planning. What would be really great (though I would think not likely) would be for OCPN to be able to use the same chart data that I've already purchased for my MFD. I get why this would not be likely, but I can dream. My thinking is that if I've paid the cartographer to license their chart data, I should be able to use it with any software or hardware platform I choose. It's like buying music. Once I've licensed the content, I can play it on any platform I like. If my platform of choice is OCPN, great! If my platform is a B&G MFD, also great! This would allow the platforms to compete on their own merits (features and performance) and not based on who they have a license agreement with. I'm looking forward to hearing more details regarding the new chart availability.
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Old 26-04-2018, 13:08   #5
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Re: Basic question regarding charts.

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Originally Posted by Dsanduril View Post
It also depends on where you sail. In the US and NZ, for instance, all official charts are freely downloadable in electronic format suitable for use in OpenCPN direct from their hydrographic offices. No license required (or rather, open license terms if you want to quibble). On the other side, Canada, for example, does not offer free charts, they must be bought through an official source.

I don't use them, so not familiar with the details, but OpenCPN does support S63 licensed electronic charts through a plugin.

Have you read through this?
Yep, the NOAA charts are great for US coastal areas. But what are my options in the Bahamas and Eastern / Western Caribbean? How about the south pacific islands? Eventually, I'd like to believe that the cartography companies and the platform providers will agree on as single (or at least a small set of) licensing protocols. I want to buy my charts from Company A and use them on Company B's platform. Or on Company C's platform. Once I have license to the chart data, they should not care what platform I view it on. The big "but" is that the paid PC based platforms will not like this since it will hurt them and likely make them irrelevant. I.E., why would I buy Explorer when OCPN does the same thing better and for free. Of course, people still buy MS Office when LibreOffice is available, so what do I know.

From what I could tell, the S63 charts won't have much detail around the small out of the way islands I plan to visit. Typically, these are the areas where I really need accurate and detailed cartography.
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Old 26-04-2018, 13:53   #6
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Re: Basic question regarding charts.

"I'd like to believe that the cartography companies and the platform providers will agree on"
Neither one of them has the final say in the matter of charts. The base cartography does not come from companies, it comes from government agencies and each of those is in turn bound by sovereign policies.
In the US, the NOAA charts are, like all government publications, actually property of and copyright to "We the People". (Which brings up the odd question, is it really legal for non-citizens to use those charts freely?) In the UK and former colonies, it is usually "Property of the Crown" and the information and charts belong to the Sovereign, who decides what price they may be licensed for, and what terms.
And for every island nation...that's a different set of rules. While some of the larger naval powers (US, UK) have surveyed large areas of the world, outside of their domains, and make that information available, in other places that would be UK charts from the age of exploration, sometimes the 1800's without a lot of detailed updates.

Sometimes the software companies are just being piggy and playing free market rates. Other times, there's just no reasonable data to be resold. Mapping a world is a fairly expensive job. Incredible actually, what has already been done.
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Old 26-04-2018, 17:00   #7
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Re: Basic question regarding charts.

If chartdownloader does not have it in the catalogue, then try finding bsb charts or go to ocharts or oesenc (plugin & purchase)

There are other charts that work but are relatively old, if you can find them. Many would call them out of date.
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Old 27-04-2018, 05:08   #8
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Re: Basic question regarding charts.

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Originally Posted by Saltyhog View Post
This would allow the platforms to compete on their own merits...
There's your explanation, right there. They don't WANT to compete on their own merits! They want to lock you in to their hardware and software, charts and all.

One day, I expect, they will come to realize that this approach is costing them customers. I do not, however, expect that day to come any time very soon.
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Old 27-04-2018, 05:22   #9
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Re: Basic question regarding charts.

Yes and of course they want you to rebuy their stuff again and again by changing compatabilies, hardware, software and the new oh so wonderful (I hate them!!!!) subscription services.
Some of the latter ones even have purchased charts disappearing again from the end users devices.

I am considering a Yeoman with papercharts from Bellingham or the like for those areas where electronic charts are to costly or not available.
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Old 27-04-2018, 05:30   #10
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Re: Basic question regarding charts.

The truth of the matter is that not very many governments (and even fewer companies) are shelling out the money to update charts for the out-of-the-way remote locations. There's no economic sense is doing so.

The French government, for instance, did do a fantastic job of bringing all of French Polynesia onto a modern, corrected datum and they updated some charts from aerial imagery, but the core sounding information in most locations is still > 100 years old.

As you get further out into truly remote locations the chance of updates is even less. Beveridge Reef is still out by several miles no matter whose charts you use. The best charts there are the sketches and GPS coordinates collected by cruisers.

If you really want to go to the remote locations then older electronic charts have the same information as current versions and coupled with downloaded satellite imagery (which OpenCPN can overlay excellently) probably gives the most reliable information. In less remote locations, where bouys, marks, and man-made structures change much more frequently an up-to-date chart set is a must.
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Old 27-04-2018, 05:53   #11
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Re: Basic question regarding charts.

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Originally Posted by Dsanduril View Post
As you get further out into truly remote locations the chance of updates is even less. Beveridge Reef is still out by several miles no matter whose charts you use.
When you look for this location and its coverage by official charts - NZ is editing charts for the zone - the best available scale is 1.500.000. Not for navigation really..
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Old 27-04-2018, 13:04   #12
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Re: Basic question regarding charts.

We are very lucky to have OpenCpn, Chartdownloader, Noaa Charts, o-charts, and a growing choice of oesenc charts. Its only going to get better. If cruisers would survey depths carefully and crowdsource we would have little need for much else.
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Old 28-04-2018, 03:49   #13
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Re: Basic question regarding charts.

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Originally Posted by denverd0n View Post
There's your explanation, right there. They don't WANT to compete on their own merits! They want to lock you in to their hardware and software, charts and all.

One day, I expect, they will come to realize that this approach is costing them customers...
For companies, competition is bad for profits, and any business will naturally seek to avoid it. Been there, done that.

Luckily for them, customers are very much attracted to closed systems. Hence the world is all about closed systems, and it should be no surprise if it works the same with charts.

There is a reason Apple is the world's most valuable company, and I dare say, it is not their design...!

This will continue until people change and actually prioritise choice and freedom.
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Old 29-04-2018, 21:23   #14
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Re: Basic question regarding charts.

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Originally Posted by Dsanduril View Post
Beveridge Reef is still out by several miles no matter whose charts you use. The best charts there are the sketches and GPS coordinates collected by cruisers.
Here's what Navionics and cm93 show for Beveridge Reef.

And here's a writeup with satellite imagery that's even different. The shallows reported in this posting plot as shown on the third image. RIBnet Forums - Powered by vBulletin

Terry
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Old 30-04-2018, 00:37   #15
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Re: Basic question regarding charts.

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Here's what Navionics and cm93 show for Beveridge Reef.
Yes, we were there last season about 10 days before Avanti piled up on the reef in the middle of the night.

Was trying to point out that in remote places having 'up-to-date' electronic charts is no guarantee - a lot of the remote places are just electronic copies of the paper versions developed centuries ago. Where there's commercial shipping or interest things get updated and having current versions is useful/necessary, but in the remote places it frequently doesn't matter if your version is a year or a decade old, all the same data.

The HOs seem to be limiting their efforts to only places with commercial interest, are slow to move regardless, and aren't (yet - I hope) taking full advantage of the views from space to update the out-of-the-way places. As noted, the French actually did a fantastic job in French Polynesia, they used aerial imagery to move all the islands into WGS84 on their charts and did limited additional depth work, some from aerial imagery as well. What's funny is that a couple of the commercial vendors still have not updated to the current French versions (which were released anywhere from 5 to 15 years ago) and thus you still get reports of passes/channels being out by 100 meters or so, when in fact with up-to-date charts they are dead on.
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