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Old 04-17-2013, 05:15 PM   #21
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Capt Tom et al,

thanks for the great debate. Exactly what I needed.
Helps me appreciate the inexpensive option of Polar View and Active Captain.

Also, confirms my idea of using laptop for planning and navigation in pilot house in addition to Raymarine and get a readable tablet for fly bridge and portability.

Now, just have to get GPS data to laptop,

Richard
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Old 04-17-2013, 07:41 PM   #22
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Now, just have to get GPS data to laptop
Amazon.com: GlobalSat BU-353 USB GPS Navigation Receiver: GPS & Navigation
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Old 04-17-2013, 08:41 PM   #23
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So....

After having my 15-year-old Garmin 230 since I got the boat, I went out and bought the Garmin 740s. But, I have a vague idea I want to purchase the blue chart g2 add-on for my area NC, but would like to hear if anyone has had experience with this and what they think. Is this best? Are there cheaper options? Better options?

Thanks,
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Old 04-17-2013, 10:00 PM   #24
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I came to marathon key from va. All I used was an iPad with a new Garmin software called blue chart mobile which is compatable with active captain and it was only $30 I'm thinking of buying another iPad for back up. I have a couple of other software navigation programs along with weather and my email of course. I have a Verizon phone number for it and it updates itself. Along the east coast I was hardly without service. The software works fine without service as the new iPads has a GPS built in.
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Old 04-18-2013, 07:38 AM   #25
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To each his own. The added value is in making the chart work with the plotter. If you see no value in that, fine. It doesn't bother me.
Agreed that this isn't a bother one way or the other. Based on the market, I'm obviously in the minority and you're in the majority here.

Maybe it's the cheapskate in me, or my 30+ years in Information Technology, but I see it differently.

The company has to program their hardware to read at least one chart format. There are open-source (free) routines to read the standard chart formats, so that should be easy.

The electronic charts are also free.

The solution here seems simple to me, but again, I'm an IT guy, not a business major.

The marketing folks have found that we will pay extra for a commodity if they can "brand" it somehow. Frank Purdue comes to mind. Or when I'm down at the fuel depot watching all the trucks with different gas station brand logos filling up from the same tank.

The chartplotter manufacturers have figured this out. They pay programmers to write routines that encrypt the free chart formats into their own proprietary format. Then they load that data onto chips that only fit into their hardware. They throw in some fish icons to make us feel like we're getting "added value".

All I need to navigate are the free charts, updated regularly, and something to display them. Encryption, proprietary chip form factors and extraneous data don't add value for me.

I would buy from a company who would sell me a chartplotter or MFD without trying to hook me for a lifetime of chart updates. Otherwise, a tablet or dedicated laptop is the best option.
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Old 04-18-2013, 07:50 AM   #26
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About OpenCPN

Features
  • BSBv3 raster and S57 ENC chart support.
  • CM93 vector chart support, with per cell offset corrections.
  • IHO S52 compliant display of S57 vector charts.
  • "BSB4" and "nv-chart" support through plugins.
  • Single-chart and Quilted display modes.
  • North-up, Course-up and Chart-up display modes.
  • Moving-map display mode.
  • Route navigation with ship tracking functions.
  • Waypoint navigation.
  • Dashboard for configurable on-screen display of ship's NMEA data.
  • NMEA 0183 GPS interface at selectable baud rate.
  • OpenGL support for enhanced performance on modern hardware.
  • Advance NMEA message handling structure, with built in multiplexer.
  • Autopilot output support.
  • AIS input with full target tracking and collision alerting.
  • AIS support for SART, DSC and GPSGate Buddies.
  • Anchor watch/alarm functions.
  • GRIB file input and display for weather forecasting.
  • GPX Waypoint, Track and Route input and output file support.
  • Tide and Current prediction and display by location.
  • Route planning with tidal support.
  • Builtin great-circle routing.
  • Integrated weather routing through qtVlm.
  • GPX Layers for annotation of charts.
  • A selection of display themes.
  • A growing number of plugins. Google Earth, World Magnetic Variation, Voyage Data Recorder, AIS -radar, SAR and a LogBook.
  • Multi-language support.
NOAA's Chart Update Service

From this site, you can access the same chart updates that NOAA uses to update their Print-on-Demand paper charts, Raster Navigational Charts (NOAA RNCŪ), and Electronic Navigational Charts (NOAA ENCŪ). This site also provides advance notification of chart updates affecting hazards to navigation and other information considered essential for safe navigation, including:
  • Channel conditions,
  • Bridge and cable clearances, and
  • Regulatory changes that NOAA has identified and forwarded for publication in both the LNM and the NM.
Dec-Apr (2200 miles) on a laptop problem free...
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Old 04-18-2013, 08:10 AM   #27
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Originally Posted by Ben View Post
So....

After having my 15-year-old Garmin 230 since I got the boat, I went out and bought the Garmin 740s. But, I have a vague idea I want to purchase the blue chart g2 add-on for my area NC, but would like to hear if anyone has had experience with this and what they think. Is this best? Are there cheaper options? Better options?

Thanks,
I've had a Garmin 740 not 740s for a couple of years and love it. I've never used Garmin's g2 add on. If funds are available get the add on but I've never thought I needed anything more than the imbedded charts already on the plotter.

For you Garmin folks, Active Captain has just been added to Garmin's homeport software. It's a free upgrade if you already have homeport.

I recently installed a Raymarine E90W plotter and plan on using it as my primary plotter with the Garmin as a back up. Raymarine's PC software called Voyage Planner sticks. Homeport is much better and I use it to plan routes and upload them to both the Raymarine and Garmin plotters.

For anyone who has a Garmin or Raymarine plotter I highly suggest you purchase Garmin's homeport software. 29 bucks I think and with Active Captain now on it, it's hard to beat. However one note of caution; Raymarines Voyage Planner software will only accept a route with a max of 50 waypoints if you are importing from other software. I talked to the software developers for Raymarine and they are aware of this limitation and have no plans on fixing it.
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Old 04-18-2013, 09:41 AM   #28
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So....

After having my 15-year-old Garmin 230 since I got the boat, I went out and bought the Garmin 740s. But, I have a vague idea I want to purchase the blue chart g2 add-on for my area NC, but would like to hear if anyone has had experience with this and what they think. Is this best? Are there cheaper options? Better options?

Thanks,
You are thinking of the G2 Vision card, right? Your plotter already has charts for the entire USA coastal areas, right?

I have a pair of Garmin 5208s and after a while I sprung for the G2 Vision card. For me, it wasn't worth the cost. There are photos of marinas and such which can be a small help if they are current. The G2 Vision card enables the auto guidance feature which in theory will plot a safe route for you from point A to point B, avoiding land, shallows, etc. It didn't work for me at all. It often suggested a detour that was several miles out of the way.

The G2 Vision card disables the internal chart when it's in the plotter. On a trip, I left the G2 Vision coverage area and the chart went blank. I had to go to the lower helm, remove the card, and reset everything.

Your experience may differ, but for me it wasn't worth the money. There are no other options, cheaper or better except for the internal charts you already have.
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Old 04-18-2013, 09:48 AM   #29
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I have been using Garmin's HomePort since it came out and the predecessor, MapSource before that. HomePort will read the charts copied from your plotter and you can sit at your PC and plan your routes, fuels stops, and anchorages and then upload them to your plotter.

A point was made above about limitations on the number of turns in a route. My 5280 is limited to 250 turns so I often have to break routes into segments. You might not have to do that in some areas, but for the AICW, you do.

Once I have uploaded my routes into my plotter, I can hand the wheel over to my wife and take a nap. She knows to believe what she sees on the water over the plotted route and will wake me if she doesn't understand anything.
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Old 04-18-2013, 10:15 AM   #30
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The G2 Vision card disables the internal chart when it's in the plotter. On a trip, I left the G2 Vision coverage area and the chart went blank. I had to go to the lower helm, remove the card, and reset everything.

Your experience may differ, but for me it wasn't worth the money. There are no other options, cheaper or better except for the internal charts you already have.
Whoa. Very critical feedback. Thank you Captain Widman. You just saved me a future impulse buy. I will look to manage and download routes with some of the cheaper/freeware options available.

Thanks again! Owe you a beer or ten.
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Old 04-18-2013, 10:18 AM   #31
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At the risk of dragging this thread out, several references have been made to using old or built-in charts.

I made an offhand reference to the LNM and needing regular updates in an earlier post. Let me explain. Every week, the CG publishes changes to the charts. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of them in each region. This is the Local Notice to Mariners.

For example, a bridge that I need to pass under this weekend is scheduled for maintenance from Friday night through Wednesday. Because I knew this, I'm leaving Friday instead of Saturday so I'm not trapped above it. Last year, I took the South passage around an island instead of the North. Next week, the LNM included a chart update reporting a rock on the North passage. It was only dumb luck that it wasn't me who "found" that rock. But now I know which way I should go next time.

Buoys are moved, shoaling and wrecks can infringe on the channel, lights are removed, and depths are updated. Construction and marine events can affect your plans. Fish farms and other aquaculture facilities are built where there used to be a passage.

The only way to know this stuff is to keep your charts updated. You can read each week's LNM and mark your paper charts yourself. Or you can download the latest electronic charts before getting underway.

Believe me, I've been burned by using old charts, even in waters I'm familiar with.

I would never rely on built-in charts, second-hand chart chips or old paper charts.
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Old 04-18-2013, 10:19 AM   #32
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I've had a Garmin 740 not 740s for a couple of years and love it. .
The sounder part is outlandishly accurate. I dipped mine in the water this past weekend and was amazed at graphics and detailed plot data.

My only issue now is how much squirming through the boat to do to get the transducer installed!

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Old 04-18-2013, 10:21 AM   #33
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I am with Ron... While my plotter is a Standard Horizon, the card I bought with it only has shoreside info on it and does NOT enhance the charts or navigation aspect. TBH, it was a waste of money for me because of our limited boating radius and a lifetime in NC, I already knew a lot about the things on land we could reach. There are also plenty of more thorough resources for the same info.
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Old 04-18-2013, 11:57 AM   #34
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Whoa. Very critical feedback. Thank you Captain Widman. You just saved me a future impulse buy. I will look to manage and download routes with some of the cheaper/freeware options available.

Thanks again! Owe you a beer or ten.
Glad I could help.
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Old 04-18-2013, 12:01 PM   #35
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At the risk of dragging this thread out, several references have been made to using old or built-in charts.

I made an offhand reference to the LNM and needing regular updates in an earlier post. Let me explain. Every week, the CG publishes changes to the charts. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of them in each region. This is the Local Notice to Mariners.

For example, a bridge that I need to pass under this weekend is scheduled for maintenance from Friday night through Wednesday. Because I knew this, I'm leaving Friday instead of Saturday so I'm not trapped above it. Last year, I took the South passage around an island instead of the North. Next week, the LNM included a chart update reporting a rock on the North passage. It was only dumb luck that it wasn't me who "found" that rock. But now I know which way I should go next time.

Buoys are moved, shoaling and wrecks can infringe on the channel, lights are removed, and depths are updated. Construction and marine events can affect your plans. Fish farms and other aquaculture facilities are built where there used to be a passage.

The only way to know this stuff is to keep your charts updated. You can read each week's LNM and mark your paper charts yourself. Or you can download the latest electronic charts before getting underway.

Believe me, I've been burned by using old charts, even in waters I'm familiar with.

I would never rely on built-in charts, second-hand chart chips or old paper charts.
CaptTom,

I believe you are the exception rather than the rule. Most boaters can get by just fine with older charts. Remember, we have our eyes, our ears, and other navigation equipment to help us find our way.
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Old 04-18-2013, 01:00 PM   #36
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I believe you are the exception rather than the rule. Most boaters can get by just fine with older charts. Remember, we have our eyes, our ears, and other navigation equipment to help us find our way.
I suppose I am the exception. I am only speaking for myself.

I spent years navigating by eye, ear, compass and depth sounder. I have used outdated charts. I know it CAN be done. But that was in familiar waters, and I was out there every day so I knew right away when something changed.

Old charts will not help me avoid a recently-discovered submerged rock. They will not tell me that the draw bridge can't open this weekend. They will not tell me that there's now a fish farm in that passage I used last year. They will not tell me that there's a new offshore LNG terminal being built and the whole area is off-limits to me. And if I find myself out at night or in fog, it is nice to know that a foghorn now has to be activated by radio, or which lights have been removed, or moved, or reduced in intensity.

Your brain is your primary navigation equipment. Everything else is just input.

And I want the most accurate input I can get.

If that makes me the exception, I'm OK with that.
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Old 04-18-2013, 02:50 PM   #37
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I suppose I am the exception. I am only speaking for myself.

I spent years navigating by eye, ear, compass and depth sounder.
You are not the exception. I grew up on the Chesapeake as the navigator on my Daddy's boats. The sense of adventure of going to some unknown port hooked me. It was like Star Trek to me except the Chesapeake was our space and the ports our planets. I never encountered a green chick, however...

So I explored every page of the chart book wondering what was on the next page. Learned the markers and the light flash durations and figured out compass deviation. Our depth finder was some odd rotating dial with a blinking light.

GPS is a great convenience, but your senses and brain is what's really important.
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Old 04-19-2013, 06:37 AM   #38
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"Most boaters can get by just fine with older charts"

The waters don't change very much ,tho over the years the buoy numbering changes feequently.

Our ICW charts from the 60's and 70's have 7 or 8 changes to nav aids , in the same location.
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