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Old 24-01-2021, 11:21   #1
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Issues with Explorer Charts

I have been cruising the Bahamas from the Abacos to Mayaguana for several years. I have used Navionics on my MFD, TranSAS on my iPad, and NV Paper charts, and been 100% happy with them. OK, Maybe 98% happy with Navionics, and 100% with the other two.

But... I kept hearing from the "crowd" over and over, "Explorer charts... Explorer charts... Explorer charts..." So the last time I was in Bluewater in Fort Lauderdale I got the Explorer chart book for the "Near Bahamas".

I fail to see why they have the reputation they do. In most places the level of detail was much lower than what I was used to on the NV charts, and it added nothing at all to what I was seeing on Navionics and especially TranSAS. I haven't scanned every page, of course, but in going to places I know, there wasn't a single one where the data on the Explorer chart would have lead me to a different decision than my "regular" sources.

The chart book did have a lot of text to it, almost a "cruising guide," but we found a lot of our favorite places were dismissed as either not worth visiting, or just too difficult to be worth the trouble. Granted that might be a matter of taste, but if our tastes are significantly out of whack, it greatly diminishes the value of the guide's advice.

Am I missing something? Are the electronic versions of the Explorer charts MUCH more detailed than the paper versions? Are there places you can point me to where you feel the Explorer charts are better than other options?

This might just be a case where our preferred destinations are different. We'd enjoy spending a night at anchor in the lee of West Plana Cay, while a night in Georgetown ranks up there with a root canal.

Screen shots or pictures are likely to be helpful at making your point...
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Old 24-01-2021, 19:19   #2
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Re: Issues with Explorer Charts

Nobody? I was thinking I was missing something...
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Old 24-01-2021, 19:37   #3
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Re: Issues with Explorer Charts

I used Explorer Charts in the Bahamas for 15 years, swear by them.
Can’t really compared to other brands, but I know Explorer have saved my bacon a few times.
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Old 24-01-2021, 19:46   #4
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Re: Issues with Explorer Charts

Compared the Explorer Charts to the Navionics app on my cell phone in the Exumas a couple of years ago. Generally they were similar, certainly didn't see any dramatic difference with the Explorer charts and in some spots the Navionics were more detailed. Didn't see anywhere that the Explorer charts were noticeably better.
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Old 24-01-2021, 20:04   #5
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Re: Issues with Explorer Charts

We have used Explorer charts for the Bahamas for the past three years, never had an issue with them, they are spot on. I will happily admit that others likely have more experience than us, but we have not found that the information on these charts try’s to persuade us away from going wherever we’ve want to go. NV charts are quite good, we have some of theirs as well. Maybe it’s a style thing?

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Old 24-01-2021, 20:08   #6
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Re: Issues with Explorer Charts

The best version of the Explorer charts are the electronic ones you can buy with AquaMap. They don't have all the cruising info but the colors are right. Up to date. And cost less than the chart books.
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Old 24-01-2021, 20:50   #7
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Re: Issues with Explorer Charts

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Originally Posted by CarlF View Post
The best version of the Explorer charts are the electronic ones you can buy with AquaMap. They don't have all the cruising info but the colors are right. Up to date. And cost less than the chart books.
Some of the C-map charts have the same Explorer data. I have the chip in my B&G plotter.
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Old 24-01-2021, 21:02   #8
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Re: Issues with Explorer Charts

in 2019 I used c-map explorer on my raymarine, and explorer on aqua map and Navionics on my iPad. I found that the “level of detail” on Navionics, especially the sonar charts was misleading in both directions. That is sometimes there were shallow details that I never saw, and other times depths looked fine and suddenly I was holding my breath. Explorer told me enough and then I used the color of water to guide me after that. I had a feeling that Navionics’ accuracy was legit in areas travelled more frequently like around New Providence or in much of the Abacos, and even near Georgetown. Mostly in the Exumas I went by Explorer but cross checked on Navionics. When the agreed it gave me confidence. When they diverged was much more attentive. Bottom line, learn to read the water.

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Old 25-01-2021, 10:36   #9
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Re: Issues with Explorer Charts

I cross check a number of chart products. These include Garmin installed chart plotter charts, Navionics, and AquaMap, and Explorer.

I have noted considerable differences up to 1 meter in charted depths throughout the Bahamas between these publications. While about 3’ doesn’t seem like much at the shoal drafts in the Bahamas it makes a big impact on navigation, especially when choosing an anchorage.

Given the differing publication dates and updates as well as the changes resulting from currents and storms it is really not too surprising.

So far I have found recently updated Garmin chartplotter charts have been the most accurate. However good due diligence is always prudent.
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Old 25-01-2021, 11:27   #10
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Re: Issues with Explorer Charts

In the Abacos I have never found Explorer to be wrong to any noticeable degree (or any degree, actually). I have a 5.5 foot draft and I use what works, and that's been Explorer for me.
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Old 25-01-2021, 19:44   #11
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Re: Issues with Explorer Charts

I have navionics(lighthouse 3) on the chartplotter and aqua maps with explorer on the tablet.
Explorer charts are very acurate, certainly within a foot, everywhere we have been in the bahamas the last 2 years.
Navionics often is out by several feet, sometimes close to 10 feet, in both directions.
It's hard to trust something that is so often off.
That said, visual is key regardless of the chart you use. The charts should be a guide, look up and see what's real and out in front of you.
My guess is that's what the OP has been doing and partially why there hasn't been any problems.
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Old 26-01-2021, 08:56   #12
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Re: Issues with Explorer Charts

The comments so far fall into three types:
  • "I have only ever used Explorer Charts, they work."
  • "The Aquamap charts have pretty colors."
  • "Navionics is worse than Explorer"

The two are worthless as a comparison. I never said the Explorer charts were BAD, just that the level of detail compared to NV charts and TranSAS charts was very disappointing, and that they offered no extra value.

And yes, Navionics has issues but is has never left me stuck either--except that once...

I really come to the conclusion that the awesome reputation the Explorer charts have on this forum is just of an echo chamber of people who never used any alternative other than Navionics.

It is always a bad idea to rely on any ONE source of data--if at all possible. I actually had far more difficulty with inaccurate charts in the Canadian Maritimes than the Bahamas. And as far as I can tell all the charts publishers there use the SAME data set, so when one is wrong, they are ALL wrong in the same way!
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Old 26-01-2021, 09:14   #13
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Re: Issues with Explorer Charts

Quote:
Originally Posted by BillKny View Post
The comments so far fall into three types:
  • "I have only ever used Explorer Charts, they work."
  • "The Aquamap charts have pretty colors."
  • "Navionics is worse than Explorer"

The two are worthless as a comparison. I never said the Explorer charts were BAD, just that the level of detail compared to NV charts and TranSAS charts was very disappointing, and that they offered no extra value.

And yes, Navionics has issues but is has never left me stuck either--except that once...

I really come to the conclusion that the awesome reputation the Explorer charts have on this forum is just of an echo chamber of people who never used any alternative other than Navionics.

It is always a bad idea to rely on any ONE source of data--if at all possible. I actually had far more difficulty with inaccurate charts in the Canadian Maritimes than the Bahamas. And as far as I can tell all the charts publishers there use the SAME data set, so when one is wrong, they are ALL wrong in the same way!
Pretty much agree. Explorer not bad but the Navionics we used in the Exumas did show greater detail BUT we didn't really push the limits to see how accurate that additional detail might be. So for me, the jury is still out on that one.

Not so sure they all used the data. Reading the individual guidebooks they all claim to have people in the islands assembling their own, actual data.

BUT bottom line, eyeball navigation is what everyone should use for the final tool.
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Old 26-01-2021, 10:30   #14
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Re: Issues with Explorer Charts

Quote:
Originally Posted by BillKny View Post
The comments so far fall into three types:


  • "I have only ever used Explorer Charts, they work."
  • "The Aquamap charts have pretty colors."
  • "Navionics is worse than Explorer"



The two are worthless as a comparison. I never said the Explorer charts were BAD, just that the level of detail compared to NV charts and TranSAS charts was very disappointing, and that they offered no extra value.



And yes, Navionics has issues but is has never left me stuck either--except that once...



I really come to the conclusion that the awesome reputation the Explorer charts have on this forum is just of an echo chamber of people who never used any alternative other than Navionics.



It is always a bad idea to rely on any ONE source of data--if at all possible. I actually had far more difficulty with inaccurate charts in the Canadian Maritimes than the Bahamas. And as far as I can tell all the charts publishers there use the SAME data set, so when one is wrong, they are ALL wrong in the same way!
Facebook has a Bahamas Cruising group that i am a member. There have been a lot of side by side comparisons of maps. I dont remember any of the examples showed Explorer less accurate.
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Old 26-01-2021, 10:35   #15
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Re: Issues with Explorer Charts

I think the biggest issue Navionics has had to overcome, was the charting they put out for a while, that resulted in a catamaran ( it may have been more than one, now that I think about it) driving through a non-passage over a reef, down in Georgetown, that Navionics had incorrectly charted (that the Explorer Charts had correct) as a real passage.

If you searched, I'm pretty sure that has been posted about here on CF, at least once or twice, maybe more.

That's been a few years now, but that's where they got their bad reputation, in my opinion.

I'm sure there are errors in the Explorer Charts somewhere, but I've never found one.
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