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Old 10-11-2016, 12:46 PM   #1
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Looping, and into Canada, too

Presuming I actually get our Revel adequately prepared for cruising, we're planning to take her up into Canada next summer. While laid up with a shoulder replacement and other repairs, I'll be looking more closely at the various routes including - for sure - the Rideau Canal and the Trent-Severn Canal. Penurious (mostly; we own a boat after all) I've been looking at some of the various free chart-reading and route-planning software, as well as free charts, available online.

OpenCPN ( About OpenCPN | Official OpenCPN Homepage ) seems pretty dandy in the way you can add your own routes and waypoints to charts, read out distances, account for tides and currents based upon your chosen dates, and in the way you can zoom closer and automatically view larger scale charts.

Can it really be true that one cannot access Canadian charts for free? Seems pretty un-American to me!
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Old 10-11-2016, 12:59 PM   #2
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Presuming I actually get our Revel adequately prepared for cruising, we're planning to take her up into Canada next summer. While laid up with a shoulder replacement and other repairs, I'll be looking more closely at the various routes including - for sure - the Rideau Canal and the Trent-Severn Canal. Penurious (mostly; we own a boat after all) I've been looking at some of the various free chart-reading and route-planning software, as well as free charts, available online.

OpenCPN ( About OpenCPN | Official OpenCPN Homepage ) seems pretty dandy in the way you can add your own routes and waypoints to charts, read out distances, account for tides and currents based upon your chosen dates, and in the way you can zoom closer and automatically view larger scale charts.

Can it really be true that one cannot access Canadian charts for free? Seems pretty un-American to me!
Yes I'm afraid you are correct.
Canadian charts must be purchased. Go to the AGLCA website. There are usually Loopers looking to sell their charts after they leave. Which is right about now. Big demand to buy in spring when they are headed that way.
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Old 10-11-2016, 01:08 PM   #3
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If your navigation system can run Navionic, they sell a PNW/Canada/SE Alaska card. I have 2 of them and Coastal Explorer on my lap top. BTW I also borrowed Canadian charts which I only used twice. Didn't really need them.
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Old 10-11-2016, 02:01 PM   #4
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When we did the Trent-Severn and up into the North channel in 2012 I did not have paper charts. I bought a card for my Garmin for $100 and it had everything on it in Canada.
When I did the Rideau in 2013 I had all the Canadian paper charts but didn't really need them.
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Old 10-11-2016, 02:03 PM   #5
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I confirm none of the map for Canada are free unfortunately.
I plan to cruise the Rideau and Trent Severn next year from opening and during a month, maybe we will cross each other there!
Not sure if you are aware but next year all locks are free of charge to celebrate Canada's 150th anniversary so it will be a good time to visit us!
I just hope it will not be too much crowded.
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Old 10-11-2016, 03:53 PM   #6
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Lou, we do indeed know that the locks and the national parks are free in celebration of Canada's sesquicentennial. The last sesquicentennial I celebrated was in Canada, too, while I was studying at McGill in 1971.

Jay, I'll check that out. Seems cheaper than buying the cards sold in CA.

Seems to me that I read somewhere (not having seriously researched requirements yet) that the Canadians require you to carry paper charts.
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Old 10-11-2016, 05:34 PM   #7
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It was/is somewhat true regarding carrying paper charts. Vector charts are acceptable when used with a plotter, strangely raster on a plotter do not qualify unless backed up by paper (??? they are digitized paper) No charts required at all if your in home waters and within X miles of shore.

Whatever you use must be "official CHS" charts in all formats. While it isn't / wasn't legal in meeting chart carry regs, at one time the overlap was so great between the US and Canadian charts you could get by nicely with either. That has changed and the two countries have agreed to eliminate this overlap.

All charts must be up to date. It is unfortunate the charts are not free to all mariners but if its any consolation CHS are masters of the art and the charts are highly detailed and insanely accurate.

As a footnote, the piracy protection used is "border line paranoia" so "loaning" digital charts is very difficult...... but not impossible.
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Old 10-11-2016, 07:00 PM   #8
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Try the Navionics web application. It is on-line only, but works well. I think it has Canadian charts and you can get a good look at places you might like to go.
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Old 10-11-2016, 07:30 PM   #9
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We did the Triangle (New York Hudson, Erie Canal, Rideau, Ottawa River, Montreal, Lake Champlain) last year and the Loop this year including the St. Lawrence Seaway, Montreal, Ottawa River, Rideau, Trent Severn, North Channel. I have paper and two sets of digital (Navionics and C-Map), plus Garmin app with charts on the iPad. I used the C-Map every day as my primary chart and the Navionics as the parallel chart. The Navionics chart is one chart for the entire area. C-Map needs two charts to cover the New York and Canadian areas. I was never asked about having the paper charts aboard and used them almost never. We thought we would use them in the Georgian Bay and had them "marked" at one of the marinas but most never came out of the plastic bags. If I was looking to go with just one set of charts, it would be Navionics probably. Coast Explorer with C-Map is very easy to use.
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Old 10-11-2016, 07:52 PM   #10
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For the laptop, we used the companion software for the Garmin chartplotter (HomePort) which used the same SD cards containing the Canadian charts we purchased from them. Presumably other manufacturers have similar arrangements.

For tablets and smart phones, we used an Android app called i-Boating Canada, $25 for all Canadian charts (you download what you need in sections) for one year. It's actually pretty good for the price, used it a lot.

That one-year limitation is a CHS requirement, I think you'll find it in all of the (legitimate) apps.
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Old 10-12-2016, 12:37 AM   #11
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For us, it was an extremely pleasant surprise to find out how good Garmin is at charts for the Great Lakes, for Canada and for US lakes and rivers. Someone we were talking to this evening was shocked to see our Illinois River charts. What navigation electronics do you have?
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Old 10-12-2016, 08:24 AM   #12
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For us, it was an extremely pleasant surprise to find out how good Garmin is at charts for the Great Lakes, for Canada and for US lakes and rivers. Someone we were talking to this evening was shocked to see our Illinois River charts. What navigation electronics do you have?
Primary chartplotter is a Garmin 740s, backed up by a circa-2000 NavMan 5600 which takes C-Map cartridges. Those are backed up by various Android phones and tablets, and Windows laptops. We do have paper charts and use them, but nowadays usually only for "big picture" stuff.

We found no complaints with the Garmin BlueChart cartography for coastal regions. We were pleasantly surprised when one of our C-Map chips for NY also included all the canals, well into Canada, too. Original plan was to turn off the Navman when we crossed the border.

I will say that ALL of our cartography sources showed us hard aground in several locations along the canals, consistent with our experience on the Erie some years ago on a different boat with different electronics. Then again, you really don't need that level of accuracy on a canal.

While the underlying data is pretty good, the displays can be poorly implemented. One big complaint was the way place names are displayed. Often it's unclear what the label is associated with. But the biggest frustration, and need for paper charts, was that place names were largely not shown.

What makes it even worse is that the few names which were shown tended to be for the most useless features. Some small inland pond might be labelled, but not the name of the harbor, town or river!
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Old 10-12-2016, 08:33 AM   #13
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I will say that ALL of our cartography sources showed us hard aground in several locations along the canals, consistent with our experience on the Erie some years ago on a different boat with different electronics. Then again, you really don't need that level of accuracy on a canal.
That was also the case for me on all my trips thru the Erie, especially in the dug out sections which is really strange.
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Old 10-12-2016, 10:26 AM   #14
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Primary chartplotter is a Garmin 740s, backed up by a circa-2000 NavMan 5600 which takes C-Map cartridges. Those are backed up by various Android phones and tablets, and Windows laptops. We do have paper charts and use them, but nowadays usually only for "big picture" stuff.

We found no complaints with the Garmin BlueChart cartography for coastal regions. We were pleasantly surprised when one of our C-Map chips for NY also included all the canals, well into Canada, too. Original plan was to turn off the Navman when we crossed the border.

!
I'm not sure about compatibility with your equipment but Garmin's Lake Vu charts and their Inland Rivers charts are excellent.

Now, on a river or a canal I do use charts differently than on the ocean as I'm looking for markers and other items that I visually can identify. A little more like road maps.
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Old 10-12-2016, 01:12 PM   #15
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DHeckrotte

One thing I'd like to mention that has not yet been, is that you should have some kind of "indicator" on your helm to easily and quickly tell you which side the red and greens are on.
I say this because depending on which way you are going and where you are in the canals it can change.
I use and have been for years, a red and green plastic bottle cap that I move as required. See below. It's a quick way in case you get temporarily disoriented, or if some one has to take the helm for a while or a few moments, etc.
There are also ones you can buy that swivel, or you can make something cool that works.
In my mind this is important.
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Old 10-12-2016, 01:14 PM   #16
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Indeed, the Navionics site has a web app that works well and has Canadian charts. Interestingly, lakes and the Canadian-side information is quite detailed with contours at 1' intervals (not Metric(!)). American navigational info is no better than the charts we're used to. They're not very pretty, graphically, and it's a little slow on the zoom and re-displaying. Additionally, the land-based graphics are a little fanciful; highways are not well presented and tend to end before reaching water.

Jay, neat idea! (Of course, I've never - what, ever? - made that error.)
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Old 10-12-2016, 01:57 PM   #17
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... contours at 1' intervals (not Metric(!)).
That's the other odd thing we noticed in Canada. Much as they insist that they've converted to the metric system, it's clearly not 100%.

Guy at the fuel dock asked "how many gallons?". Went to buy some line, in meters, and they only sell it by the foot. Asked directions to the grocery store and it's so many miles down the road. EVERY marina we encountered charged by the foot. Obviously "official" things like product packaging in the store, road signs or the fuel pump itself, showed metric values.

We've been watching a Canadian reality TV show filmed in BC and Alberta, and we're noticing the same thing when the characters talk among themselves: "We're supposed to get 18 more inches of snow" or "the car is 100 feet down the embankment," etc.

Makes us feel a little better about being US citizens. Until the election news comes on, that is
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Old 10-12-2016, 07:29 PM   #18
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That's the other odd thing we noticed in Canada. Much as they insist that they've converted to the metric system, it's clearly not 100%.

Guy at the fuel dock asked "how many gallons?". Went to buy some line, in meters, and they only sell it by the foot. Asked directions to the grocery store and it's so many miles down the road. EVERY marina we encountered charged by the foot. Obviously "official" things like product packaging in the store, road signs or the fuel pump itself, showed metric values.

We've been watching a Canadian reality TV show filmed in BC and Alberta, and we're noticing the same thing when the characters talk among themselves: "We're supposed to get 18 more inches of snow" or "the car is 100 feet down the embankment," etc.

Makes us feel a little better about being US citizens. Until the election news comes on, that is
The metric system is only a"suggestion" to those Cdn's that live within US television & radio range. I couldn't tell you how much 30grams is to save my soul. Get away from the border and those folks couldn't tell you what an inch is.
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Old 10-12-2016, 07:49 PM   #19
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DHeckrotte

One thing I'd like to mention that has not yet been, is that you should have some kind of "indicator" on your helm to easily and quickly tell you which side the red and greens are on.

I say this because depending on which way you are going and where you are in the canals it can change.

There are also ones you can buy that swivel, or you can make something cool that works.
In my mind this is important.
I agree and have used 2 pieces of colored nylon line or webbing.
We like to keep one at the helm and Admiral keeps a second one...we try to coordinate at nav aide changes and start of each days cruise...also when we switch steering.


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Old 10-12-2016, 07:57 PM   #20
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I like both the red and green ideas- BRILLIANT thank you!
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