Chartplotter recommendations

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  • March 02, 2013 3:57 PM
    Reply # 1231706 on 1226891
    You have an excellent point about chart plotters often being inaccurate, Jim (and I assume that you refer to all GPS, as well as conventional "chart plotters". Often the occasional inaccuracy is due to inaccurate data used to create the charts... the same inaccurate data used to create the paper charts. This is very common in the South Pacific. Of course, sometimes the is due to limitations in the technology itself.

    I would also agree with your friend's observation regarding over-reliance on chart plotters. Though, to be kind, I tend to think of it more as being "less than totally competent" with the technology than sheer stupidity. Many of those cruisers would never have ventured forth had it not been for the apparent simplicity of GPS. As long as they know where they are, what else could go wrong? We both know the answer to that... anything and everything. When it comes to electronic navigation, it's not a question of IF something will fail, but WHEN it will fail. That's why I prefer to carry multiple GPS systems and redundant methods to provide power to them.

    Your reliance on paper charts is wise, as is carrying your sextant. I'm sure you keep up with it on a regular basis just to keep in practice and have at least one set of tables that are not stored in your laptop.

    Thanks for sharing your observations.


  • March 02, 2013 8:24 PM
    Reply # 1231809 on 1226891
    Deleted user
    Jack, there are two other points that I'm sure everyone knows but I 'd like to mention.  The first is the Datum used.  Pretty simple, but I've had the wrong datum myself.  Second is zoom.  Vector charts can loose important detail when you zoom out.  A Bavaria 50, Nevillus, was recently lost out of Tonga on Late island, a large rock-like island clearly on the charts. The speculation is that they were on auto pilot with the wrong way-points and it took them right on the island instead of around.  Or they were zoomed out and didn't show the island on the chart plotter. We'll never know as both crew were lost.  It would probably be just as important to discuss vector vs raster scan charts as the hardware. 

    I agree statement "stupid" may seem a little strong as I know two boats lost whose owners had more experience than I'll ever have.  But our friends who are only in their early forties have spent years in the So Pac. and have crossed the equator six times were driving the point home, even the most experienced cruisers make "dumb" mistakes.

    Yes, we always brush up on our navigation skills before leaving on a cruise.  I review my celestial navigation, have a new almanac and both H.O.249/229, which one I'll take I'm not sure.  My wife is currently taking the online "Marine Weather Coarse" by Starpath navigation out of Seattle.  It's really intense and she already knows more about weather than I ever will.


  • March 02, 2013 9:21 PM
    Reply # 1231829 on 1226891
    Deleted user
    Are Ipods waterproof? Touchscreen operation only? I suspected pads may be the future (it's partly why I asked), but these qualities would be important for primary use on a boat.
  • March 03, 2013 10:56 AM
    Reply # 1232458 on 1226891

    Suffice to say that it is foolish to rely on any single method of navigation, when so many options are available. It's easy to become overconfident with a method we use frequently. But whether it's problems with datum, satellites, or too much rum the night before. When approaching a landfall, nothing beats a late morning landing in clear water, with a clear sky and the sun over your shoulder. Even better with good local knowledge. But even when the charts are reasonably good, we all know things do change. And charts do have the potential for both human and technical error. We've all made mistakes and will likely make more before we quit sailing. Good preparation is paramount... and the kind of caution that you clearly take.  May you make many more safe landfalls.


    iPods are not waterproof. There are, however, some excellent cases on the market that do a pretty good job of it. Still, I tend to leave my laptops and iDevices below deck. I have a waterproof Garmin chart plotter for the cockpit. It is not nearly as sophisticated or effective as an iPod, but it serves the purpose in foul weather. You can link an external keyboard to the iPad, but to my knowledge there is no way to link a mouse, trackpad or similar input devise, as the software is not written to support it. But, who knows? Things do change. It would surprise me if this ability was not added eventually.

  • March 06, 2013 10:58 AM
    Reply # 1235353 on 1226891
    Deleted user

    We have Garmin 5212 with radar overlay. The NMEA 2000 connectivity makes it very easy to add  NMEA 2000 'smart' devices to a single 'network' cable routed to the chart plotter.

    While the Garmin 5212 offers the ability to connect up a wireless router Raytheon's latest chart plotters offer IPAD connectivity with the ability to control the chart plotter functions from the IPAD.....not just 'repeater' of what is on the chart plotter display.

    The ability to control the chart plotter from below deck or when not standing at the helm would be desirable to me.

    My Garmin 5212 is only a few years old so it will be a while before I replace this unit.

    Tom (W42 Second -Line)

  • May 22, 2013 5:00 PM
    Reply # 1299444 on 1226891
    Deleted user
    I recommend paper.
  • May 23, 2013 8:32 AM
    Reply # 1299872 on 1226891
    Deleted user
    Got paper, wouldn't leave home without it. Thought I'ld dip my toe into 21st century technology. I've been using a very basic handheld (no map) gps for the past 10-15 years, mostly as confirmation of my position and course from traditional coastal navigation methods.

    I decided on a raymarine e7.  It uses both touch screen and/or 4 buttons, a knob and toggle for controls and operates smoother than any of the others I looked at. I also preferred the look, detail and accuracy of the Navionics mapping. I already know I'll prefer to have a paper chart in my hand, but one chip, smaller than my pinky fingernail, holds a complete set of charts for a continent.
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