Cruisers Forum
 


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Rate Thread Display Modes
Old 28-04-2021, 07:25   #1
Registered User

Join Date: Apr 2021
Posts: 5
Best option for great lakes navigation on PC

Hi all,

I'm just wondering what the best app is for navigating the great lakes. I've tried (and paid for) two already, and they've got issues that make them far from ideal. I'm looking for something that is available on PC. Being able to use on android would also be nice. I'd also like the charts to be relatively affordable, such as a subscription system. Obviously being able to chart waypoints would be a requirement, and autorouteing would be a plus. I'm really not that picky.

I have already tried navionics, but their lack of a windows option and forcing me to plan a route on a little screen kills it for me.

I've tried an love OpenCPN, but maps for Canada are only available through O-charts and their licensing is ridiculous. I hate the idea of extra unnecessarily adding failure points with no utility when it comes to safety, and they've added a ton. There also seems to be countless forum posts with issues and I don't want to have to do that. When I read that you could use a USB key, I thought they meant you could store a license file on a USB stick, and you could do it on 2. That made sense, as you could have one as a backup (that you shouldn't need, but I digress). But they force you to use theirs, which is another unknown potential failure point. Unfortunately the Canadian government charges an arm and a leg for the charts, so want to avoid that route.

I don't mind paying for a usable app with decent quality. I've looked through a number of forums on here and tried some of the suggestions, but most seem based on bluewater cruising. Any help will be greatly appreciated.
Scoticus is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 28-04-2021, 07:55   #2
Registered User
 
sv_pelagia's Avatar

Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: British Columbia
Boat: Sceptre 41
Posts: 711
Re: Best option for great lakes navigation on PC

What is "ridiculous" about o-charts Cdn chart licensing? It seems reasonable to me. Annual cost <C$30 for 2 devices.

But then again, I'm one who believes charts are not something to go cheap. (I prefer others to find "new" rocks....) I buy CHS raster chart packs. Yes, pricey for essentially 3 seasons of updates (if you buy in May) but unequalled. I even pay even more ridiculous (compared to o-charts or CHS) annual update cost for my chartplotter's CMAP card.

Even have Navionics app charts updated, but definitely not a fan of Navionic's charts or app.

(All the above do allow me to regularly compare.)

So perhaps I'm an outlier.
sv_pelagia is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 28-04-2021, 08:09   #3
Registered User

Join Date: Apr 2021
Posts: 5
Re: Best option for great lakes navigation on PC

Quote:
Originally Posted by sv_pelagia View Post
What is "ridiculous" about o-charts Cdn chart licensing? It seems reasonable to me. Annual cost <C$30 for 2 devices.
Pricing is fantastic, licensing restrictions are ridiculous and archaic. USB dongle based systems are known to have issues, and I don't want something that important becoming worthless because of arbitrary restrictions. I also believe in multiple redundancy, and restricting that is unacceptable IMHO. The idea that I could lose my ability to navigate because something got wet, on a boat, should set off red flags for most.

I have a set of paper charts, and an old school old faithful GPS, so do have backup there, but want to teach myself how to use them in parallel as opposed to relying on them for safety until I'm comfortable with them.

I get that charting is generally expensive, so might just have to bite the bullet and buy the Canadian charts right from the source and use that with OpenCPN, just really surprised there isn't a subscription based option with a PC or even web interface.

Thanks for the input though.
Scoticus is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 28-04-2021, 08:11   #4
Registered User

Join Date: Apr 2017
Location: Minnesota
Boat: Jeanneau SO 34.2
Posts: 83
Images: 7
Re: Best option for great lakes navigation on PC

Navionics has a browser-based chart viewer that allows you to create routes and save them to your account. I use it to build routes on my Windows laptop, then view them later on a tablet and phones.
steffan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 28-04-2021, 08:16   #5
Registered User

Join Date: Apr 2021
Posts: 5
Re: Best option for great lakes navigation on PC

Quote:
Originally Posted by steffan View Post
Navionics has a browser-based chart viewer that allows you to create routes and save them to your account. I use it to build routes on my Windows laptop, then view them later on a tablet and phones.
I honestly don't know how I missed that lol. Was looking all around the menu systems, and didn't notice the big save button on the bottom middle. Navionics it is!

I kind of started to fall in love with the options in openCPN, but navionics does everything I NEED, so looking like the best option.

Thanks again
Scoticus is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 28-04-2021, 08:20   #6
Registered User

Join Date: Apr 2017
Location: Minnesota
Boat: Jeanneau SO 34.2
Posts: 83
Images: 7
Re: Best option for great lakes navigation on PC

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scoticus View Post
I honestly don't know how I missed that lol. Was looking all around the menu systems, and didn't notice the big save button on the bottom middle. Navionics it is!

I kind of started to fall in love with the options in openCPN, but navionics does everything I NEED, so looking like the best option.

Thanks again
I have OpenCpn on a RaspberryPi and a big monitor at the nav desk. Doesn't hurt to run both!
steffan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 28-04-2021, 09:42   #7
Registered User

Join Date: Aug 2014
Location: St. Joseph, MI
Boat: 42' Heritage East Nova Sundeck
Posts: 72
Re: Best option for great lakes navigation on PC

I don't think it was mentioned, but Aqua Maps is another option. I'm on Lake Michigan and use Navionics and OpenCPN on a PI, but I am looking hard at Aqua Maps also.
mcgann454 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 28-04-2021, 11:58   #8
Registered User
 
StoneCrab's Avatar

Join Date: Jul 2019
Posts: 388
Images: 2
Re: Best option for great lakes navigation on PC

I'm assuming that you want detailed information where you can go in shallow places safely and have some fun. For that you can't beat GLCC or Great Lakes Cruising Club.
https://www.glcclub.com/
You get their guidebook and charts with a subscription to their club. You can't beat the port descriptions and detailed charts.

If you want charts for the middle of the Lake, this is not what you want.
StoneCrab is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 28-04-2021, 12:19   #9
Marine Service Provider

Join Date: Apr 2019
Location: Georgian Bay, Ontario
Posts: 20
Re: Best option for great lakes navigation on PC

I have used most charts apps there is. I even worked for 9 years at the West Marine store we had in the southeast corner of Georgian Bay and my personal preference was and still is Navionics. On my Raymarine chartplotter as a Gold micro-card, plus my tablet, phone and home computer. I find it extremely easy to use, and it kept me off all but 2 rocks while years of sailing around the 30,000 Islands and the North Channel.
And both those rock hits were, in the words of Jimmy Buffett, my own damn fault.
Piratenorm is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 28-04-2021, 14:30   #10
Registered User

Join Date: Apr 2019
Posts: 2
Re: Best option for great lakes navigation on PC

I sail the great lakes- mostly in Canada (Georgian Bay, North Channel, Lake Huron, Lake Superior), and occasionally in the USA (Mackinac, Lake Michigan) and I use the following software:
1. On a PC, I use Coastal Explorer (by Rose Point) with the Canadian Hydrographic Services (CHS) raster charts. The program is rich in features, and was written by an ex Microsoft employee. I have seen coast guard vessels use their professional software. They are now developing companion tablet products, but at the moment I don't think that the Canadian charts are available. I have a few S57 CHS Vector charts and Coastal Explorer handles them quite well. When I sail in the USA, both vector and Raster charts are readily available on Coastal Explorer.
2. I use AquaMap on my IPADS. Where possible, they use the detailed CHS Raster Charts (e.g. along the inside routes of Georgian Bay). Elsewhere they use vector charts. A really great inexpensive program, but the interface between vector and raster charts is not seamless.
3. I use Navionics as well- but their rendering of the Canadian Buoys (floating and fixed) is not great- and can be confusing - hence close to shore, I prefer CHS raster.
Ed
jenessa is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 28-04-2021, 20:02   #11
Registered User
 
StoneCrab's Avatar

Join Date: Jul 2019
Posts: 388
Images: 2
Re: Best option for great lakes navigation on PC

I really don't want to juggle that many systems.

To be honest, I am at my best with a paper chart. I feel involved in the process, relaxed and aware of my surroundings. Zooming in and out is a matter of changing my focus on the chart. I always know where I am relative to other features which is often not the case on an electronic chart.

North up or Course up is also a simple fix.
StoneCrab is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 29-04-2021, 06:24   #12
Registered User

Join Date: Dec 2019
Posts: 35
Re: Best option for great lakes navigation on PC

@scoticus
As you like openCPN you could listen to this guy how to create for free your own maps any were in the world if you don't mind listen him in french language, I am sure there must be somebody did it in english. But this guy is fantastic, you will learn a lot.

JonathanX is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 30-04-2021, 19:10   #13
Registered User

Join Date: Dec 2019
Posts: 22
Re: Best option for great lakes navigation on PC

Quote:
Originally Posted by StoneCrab View Post
I really don't want to juggle that many systems.

To be honest, I am at my best with a paper chart. I feel involved in the process, relaxed and aware of my surroundings. Zooming in and out is a matter of changing my focus on the chart. I always know where I am relative to other features which is often not the case on an electronic chart.

North up or Course up is also a simple fix.
I second that! The way charted features appear and disappear with different zoom levels on my Garmin is not only frustrating when planning a passage, it is downright disconcerting when using the screen for navigation. With a paper chart, you see everything that is there, along with useful things like a source diagram, which helps you to decide how much confidence to place in the accuracy of each area covered by the chart.

It is true that you have to do a bit of work to fix your position, but that can often be done with sufficient accuracy for the circumstances by finding on the chart what lies directly ahead and directly abeam of you, which gives a two-point fix. If you are running down a transit, or range, you can stay on course more accurately than you can by steering for a GPS waypoint. Besides, the GPS-derived position is not always as accurate as we think, or it may be too accurate for the charts that are loaded into the device. On one occasion I know that I left a red buoy to starboard, while the Garmin showed me leaving it to port. On another, I know I was moored to a wharf, but the Garmin showed me to be on a nearby road! I use paper charts as my main method of navigation, and GPS as a backup. Yes, I also have a Navionics on my phone, but I can never see it very well in the cockpit on a bright day.
__________________
Edward
Edward Bairstow is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-05-2021, 11:05   #14
Registered User

Join Date: May 2015
Posts: 58
Re: Best option for great lakes navigation on PC

You can also download this Windows application as a backup.

i-Boating Windows Plotter

If you are going to stay on the US side, opencpn with NOAA charts would be sufficient for your needs.
__________________
-- opencpn.org
-- charts.noaa.gov
karle is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
great lakes, navigation

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
For Sale: (New) Waterway Guide Great Lakes (with Great Loop) 2015 - $20 skipgundlach Classifieds Archive 5 05-02-2016 15:10
Great Lakes, Taxes, and Navigation. decca Navigation 8 19-02-2012 10:47
Best Route - Norfolk to Great Lakes larson2032 Great Lakes 1 23-09-2010 19:29
Best Way from East Coast to Great Lakes in July andreavanduyn Great Lakes 8 04-06-2010 12:01
Best of Great Lakes? freetime Great Lakes 59 27-07-2008 13:42

Advertise Here


All times are GMT -7. The time now is 14:14.


Google+
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2021, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Social Knowledge Networks
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2021, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

ShowCase vBulletin Plugins by Drive Thru Online, Inc.