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Old 03-04-2006, 16:01   #16
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Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Hayes, VA
Boat: Gozzard 36
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Well Maptech does some funny things with their products. The full featured product is Chart Navigator Pro ($499).

Offshore Navigator only uses uses the raster charts you can download from them or (same raster not vector charts) from NOAA. So you really can't go far offshore. It won't use any other formats. Offshore Navigator isn't a full featured product but it is only $100. It's seems like a poor investment.

They do have a nice $49 PDA program that you might want if you had a PDA. I just got back from a weekend trip using a PDA. Pretty nice if you have 12 volt power adapters handy at the hem as batteries on PDA's don't last long. MY wife had an iPaq so I added a Navman GPS Sleave and it can use the PDA version of Fugawi that comes included with Fugawi. Worked slick and you make the charts from your PC version of Fugawi using the charts you have loaded for the full Fugawi. It's a very simple process to make them. The Maptech PDA software will let you upload maps you can get for free from Maptech.

I use Fugawi 4.0 ($199) and it will use these raster charts plus all the ENC charts. I like ENC charts as you just load them all and forget about chart boundaries. You can download the BSB charts from NOAA for the whole US free (it's about 1500 files for a toal of 4 GB of charts). Fugawi is full featured at $200 BUT it won't communicate with SeaTalk (RayMarine) and it won't use CMAP charts that you need to use if going global. There is no one chart format that is every place. You need a full featured system to read all the various formats and you may want a second system. Non US charts are usaully not free or cheap.

Free Software - Lots of people love the free software more because it's free than because it's got many features or is easy to use. For charting I really hate Free And Clear. It's free but not clear. For all the extra hoops you need to jump through just buy something better. It's worth it.

The only free software I like and use boating is WXTide32 (web site has the same name) this is a map based tide computer for all the world tide stations. It's completre, accurate, and very feature rich. If you are looking for free stuff that one is the best but it won't do charting but it does do tides great though. I've tride as many of the free programs as I can find and frankly to me they are worth what they charge.
Paul Blais
s/v Bright Eyes Gozzard 36
37 15.7 N 76 28.9 W
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