Chartplotter recommendations

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  • February 26, 2013 10:47 AM
    Message # 1226891
    Deleted user
    What are people using, satisfied with, recommending?
  • February 26, 2013 11:51 AM
    Reply # 1226945 on 1226891
    Toughbook (mil spec laptop) with OpenCPN. Interface to anything with a USB or serial port. The latest version of OpenCPN allows you to configure output data for a tillerpilot etc. I can steer to apparent wind, or to waypoint....etc etc
    I have AIS, all instruments (Wind, boatspeed, depth) displayed with free charts from NOAA

    Have 2 because the toughbooks can be had on e-bay for a good price (~$300) if you are patient.
    Last modified: February 27, 2013 3:58 PM | Anonymous member
  • February 26, 2013 1:23 PM
    Reply # 1228255 on 1226891
    Deleted user
    We have been using a Raymarine C-80 chart plotter, radar and fish finder with Navionics charts with no complaints when inshore since about 2006.  Offshore we use a Raymarine GPS plotter daily to get our position  We can use the Navionics charts on our computer but we're not real big fans on using a computer for navigation.  We find it much less cumbersome for us to use the C-80 which is dedicated just for navigation and more energy efficient. 

    IPODS are becoming popular for navigation, but we haven't found a real need to get one yet.  We still plot our positions on paper charts.

  • February 27, 2013 4:46 AM
    Reply # 1228689 on 1226891
    I have no personal experience, just anecdotal but I wouldn't buy a Raymarine anything anymore.  It seems like all the cruisers around me are replacing a Raymarine this & that all the time.  Especially radar domes that have sat idle for a few months.  Raymarine chart plotter display failures seem to come in second after domes.  I'm sure there will be those that disagree and maybe it has something to do with being in the tropics (heat, humidity) but I've seen enough Raymarine failures to make me look elsewhere.

    I use a Standard Horizon color chartplotter that uses CMAP charts.  To me the charts are the key ingredient.  In my sails up/down the NW Caribbean I've only found 2 instances where the charts don't match reality (neither of which were potentially dangerous errors).  I've actually navigated inlets and passes thru reefs via the chartplotter alone.

    I also use a laptop with a USB GPS 'dongle' running MaxSea & CMAP charts.  Fine combination.

    Finally, a color display is important if you want to be able to see anything in the sun.
  • February 28, 2013 8:16 AM
    Reply # 1229785 on 1226891
    Deleted user
    Wonder if that's because there is more Raymarine out there on boats than other makes?

    I've looked at a few chartplotters in the 5-7 inch screen size range:

    Garmin--found inaccuracies and lack of detail in their "proprietary" maps, maybe good for cars.

    Lowrance (I like the Navionic maps which have the look and detail of paper charts) although the model I looked at seemed slow with a delayed response (reloading?) to the push-button operation. 

    I haven't seen a Standard Horizon and their C-maps, so I'll have to check that out.

    I liked the new Raymarine, uses Navionics maps and seems more powerful in that there's no delayed response when changing views. 

    It looks like Lowrance is coming out with something similar to the Raymarine soon. Lowrnce comes preloaded with navionic gold maps for all of North America and at half the cost of similar Raymarine which which doesn't have the preloaded maps.

    Thanks for the responses everyone.
  • February 28, 2013 10:59 AM
    Reply # 1229996 on 1226891
    Deleted user
    Differing opinions are often the most valuable and in this case I'm going have to disagree. There are literally tens of thousands of Raymarine products out there being used successfully for years on end.  We ourselves have used them for over twenty five years    and have only had problems twice and the support was excellent.

    The first was a GPS plotter that started to glitch some time after the warranty expired.  I sent it back with our credit card fully expecting to pay for the repair.  They sent a brand new one back free of charge saying they did have some problems with a small batch and were replacing them in or out of warranty. It's been well over ten years and we still use it for an anchor alarm and backup GPS.

    The second was the power head on the autopilot was dropping out. We were on a one week trip home and sent it in next day air, explaining our need to rush it.  They checked it immediately, called me to say there was nothing wrong with the head and the problem had to be the cable. They sent it back next day air and only charged for the cable.  It turned out the problem was actually in a cheap fuse holder I had used.

    All electronics will eventually fail. I personally won't be to sorry  when our C-80 fails as I would really like to get an E-Series. In reality they are all pretty close to being equal and I would pick the one that looks, operates and has the options you want. We were down to choosing between Garmin and Raymarine. We went with Raymarine because their charts covered more area for less price. That was many years ago and I don't know if it's still true.  I believe what Mike has said.  In mathematics clusters are statistically normal, so it would be perfectly normal for one brand or another to stand out higher in a failure rate at any given time or place. 

    Lastly, in a move to diversify, Flour Corp. had purchased Ray marine and I was told last summer they are putting a ton of money into it for research and development.


  • March 01, 2013 1:31 PM
    Reply # 1231042 on 1226891
    Interesting thread... I was curious how it would play out. It sounds as though I might be "odd man out", as my primary hardware is all Apple. I was one of the original authorized "value-added resellers" for NOAA's RNC charts when they first went into the public domain in Nov, 2005. As such, I've experimented with most of the popular charting software on both Mac and Windows OS. There are many good options out there, both laptop-based and standalone GPS. At last count, I had over 40 different ways to get GPS on my boat. That may sound absurd, but it counts each of several Nav Apps on my two primary Macs (each with Mac & Windows installed), an eeePC, 2 Garmin Chartplotters, 1 Garmin NUVI 500, iPhone and iPad. I primarily puchased the 3 Garmins as backups, since I already had every Garmin chart for the world.

    Of the lot, I believe the iPad to be the most promising platform, both now and future. (I'm assuming that you were referring to the iPad, when you mentioned iPod, Jim.) The developer of the best Nav app for iPad (iNavX) is also the developer of the two best Nav apps for the Mac (GPSNavX and MacENC). Both of these are exceptional apps, though MacENC is the way to go of the two, as it will load both RNC and ENC charts. Rich Ray, the developer of these apps and a business colleague, firmly believes that the iPad is unquestionably the future in marine navigation... at least as far as non-dedicated devices go. He has, in fact, pretty much put the Mac-based apps on the back burner, in order to concentrate on iNavX development. From my own experience, I would definitely tend to agree.

    There are lots of products available, in both hardware and software. And there are pros and cons to each. If you haven't taken a serious look at the iPad for navigation, you owe it to yourself to do so.

    Just another man's opinion...

  • March 02, 2013 5:19 AM
    Reply # 1231394 on 1226891
    Although I don't have an iPad I can't help but agree they appear to be an extremely cost effective solution.  Correct me if I'm wrong but it's essential to have the 3/4G model to have GPS capabilities, right?

    I go back to my statement that no matter what the hardware, it's really the charts you are buying and while they are all "good" there are still different levels of quality, accuracy and coverage

    I'm not sure why, but for digital I prefer vector charts over raster.  I just like the ability to 'customize' the appearance (colors, etc.), ability to layer and incorporate (or not) different levels of detail in the vector charts.

    What vector charts are compatible with the iOS nav apps you recommend?
  • March 02, 2013 8:29 AM
    Reply # 1231471 on 1226891
    The answer to your question regarding the 3G/4G model would be YES and NO, Mike. Only the 3G/4G models have a built-in GPS receiver. The WiFi only models do not. Using WiFi... even on an iPod Touch, you can get reasonably accurate GPS fixes. Obviously, it is not practical to consider the likelihood of being constantly connected to a WiFi while sailing. So, for all intents and purposes, one needs to purchase a 3G/4G model, in order to get true GPS. You do not, however, need to subscribe to 3G/4G service. It's just that the GPS receiver is only available in the high-end models.

    iNavX uses X-Traverse as it's primary source of charts, along with NOAA and other sources. These charts are indeed RNC (raster navigation charts), but they are quite good and have the look and feel of the paper charts we are so used to using.  The application itself is exceptional.

    If you happen to own a MacBook, you can use iNavX on the WiFi connection of the iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad to act as a repeater for popular marine navigation software that supports NMEA data over TCP/IP such as MacENC and Coastal Explorer. This includes GPS, AIS receivers & transponders, and Instruments (Depth, Speed, Wind, Engine, Batteries, etc.)  Visit the iNavX website for more information.

    There are many other options available for iPad, I just happen to think that iNavX is hands above the others as a full-featured chart plotter alternative. Another that you might check out is one or more of the Navionic's apps for the iPad.

  • March 02, 2013 9:04 AM
    Reply # 1231489 on 1226891
    Deleted user
    Jack I did mean IPAD,  that was close enough for me as I don't even own a phone.  I was at Waypoint marine the other day to get a small scale chart for the Pacific.and the owner told me that all the new electronic devices like IPAD, Iphone etc. were really hurting business. Even the owner at Latitude 38 writes in his magazine how great the IPAD is.  I totally agree that it's the wave of the future.

    I love chart plotters and wouldn't want to cruise without them.  But they can be extremely inaccurate.  Especially in Mexico and the south pacific they can be way off. We were in an anchorage and the chart plotter showed us anchored in the center of the island. We recently asked some friends just back from the so pac. why so many boats are lost down there, it's more than most people hear about. They said it was stupidity and over reliance on chart plotters.  

    As cool as chart plotters are we still use paper charts and plot a coarse and DR. We even carry a Sextant

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