reader is fine but the ENC Marine software
they make really does a whole lot more. By next year the ENC charts
(aka S-57) should be out for all US waters and all free and all updated as much as any other MOAA source. I have been using tem for the Chesapeake now for about 2 years since that area was pretty complete early in the development by NOAA.
The NOAA charts you download are the same data base as the dead tree NOAA "Charts on Demand". NOAA uses a CAD ssytem for chart maitenance and has for a long time. The new ENC format now allows for update downloads. This means after you download a chart, all you would do is download the updates. The ENC format stores the base map in a base file and the updates are released as smaller files that the format allows to be read in order and thus replace, add, or delete data from the earlier file. There is no other update capability in any other chart format except a brand new chart.
The Fugawi viewer is pretty reasonable but it won't do the one thing I like about the ENC charts. - make a seamless chart! It only loads one chart at a time. It also is just a view and while you can measure distance and bearing that is about all you can do other than view functions like pan, zoom and query. The viewer does however show you what ENC charts look like in full detail. Being raster charts they do display a bit slower than raster charts but unlike raster charts they don't turn to mud as you zoom in. The real product supports varios GPS
read and write formats via serial
port. It will output various signals too.
The ENC chart format (S-57) is the international vector chart standard and I think the Fugawi product has the best viewer. The charts look better than on other viewers I've tried. The navigation software
stacks up well against the leading products at half the price
plus the US charts are free. It also supports other popular raster formats as well as the ability to calibrate scanned paper maps yourself so it's not the only format it will display. The brand new version 4.0 added a streets overlay for ENC charts. It's handy when going ashore to know where the roads are. It even does a decent address location function. Installed in your laptop
, a pprtable GPS would also give you an in vehicle nav system too. The product also includes support for Pocket PC and Plam PDA's for really portable displays so you can upload from a PC into a hand held device.