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Old 07-27-2015, 05:34 PM   #1
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Route Planning

I've learned so much from the collective experience on this forum, so I'd like to ask another question. When you are heading out for a specific destination, how do you all do your route planning?
1. Do you use an app like Garmin Blue Chart or Navionics on a tablet or computer the day or night before?
2. If you use a tablet do you actually build a route and then transfer it to your chart plotter?
4. Do you do the planning right on your chart plotter?
5. Do you use cruising guides or Coast Pilots for information along the route?
6. Does anyone still route on paper charts?

Lastly, how strong do you think the connection is between the thoroughness of your planning and the safety of your trip?

Thank you for any thoughts you're willing to share.
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Old 07-27-2015, 06:04 PM   #2
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I route plan using the Garmin Homeport software on my Mac. I can transfer the routes to my plotter using an sd card.
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Old 07-27-2015, 06:13 PM   #3
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We've been using Visual Passage Planner. It has overlays of your route (s) with pilot charts with or without currents, water temps, predicted wind and waves for the time of year. You can also put in your vessel performance specs with fuel burn. It's pretty nice but just another tool. Lena says we have too much information some times.

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Old 07-27-2015, 07:26 PM   #4
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I do all my route planning on Coastal Explorer on the PC and then export the routes in a form I can import into my Raymarine C-120 chart plotter.

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Old 07-27-2015, 07:46 PM   #5
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We used to figure out our basic route by using a chartbook or individual charts. Today we use an iPad app called Navimatics to figure out our basic route. Navimatics is NOT a navigation app. It's a charting app. But it's a great way to plan a route because you can zoom in and out with finger swipes to get the in-close chart detail and the "big-picture" overview..

It also interfaces with Active Captain so all the information and user comments and reviews are available by tapping the little colored squares overlaid onto the chart. We also check the the two or three primary cruising guides we use for any detail information we may need regarding things to watch out for, where to anchor, etc..

Once we figure out where we want to go and how we want to go there we enter the route directly into our two plotters. With the Furuno Nav Net we create waypoints and then create a route by selecting the relevant waypoints from the master list that we want to connect.

With the older Echotec plotter we have to create each route independently by placing the first waypoint, then the second one, and so forth through the route. We do this on the chart display itself.

There are ways we could pre-plot the routes on a computer at home and then upload them into the Furuno (but not the Echotec) but its such a fast and easy process to punch the route info directly into the plotters we've never had any incentive to do it any other way. When we're not actually dealing with a boat we don't want to take the time from doing what we're doing to think about or mess with boat stuff and that includes pre-plotting routes and whatnot at home

We are very familiar with the layout of our cruising region because we've spent so much time flying over it in the floatplane. So if we decide we want to visit such-and-such a bay or harbor, even if we've never been there in the boat we know where it is and pretty much what the islands and stuff look like on the way to it. So figuring out a route to it, either before we start a cruise or while we're on it, is a pretty simple and quick process.
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Old 07-27-2015, 07:55 PM   #6
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I'm old school...like really old school and use a small scale chart and a string marked every 7 nautical miles...which is our average-ish speed. This gets laid on the chart following the curves and contours of the intended route, then guestimates follow in terms of time and fuel useage.

These routes are never inked in as unexpected discoveries enroute often result in deviations from the intended route and/or destination (see signature below).

Navionics on an ipad is helpful in scouting tight passages or anchorage possibilities, and "Exploring the North Coast of British Columbia" by Fine Edge publishing has been comforting through first hand desciptions of their travels in our home waters.

As far as planning and safety goes, I think it's more important to know when to bail from a planned route and seak shelter when conditions are worsening, rather than doggedly push on as the risks escalate.
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Old 07-27-2015, 07:58 PM   #7
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("We are very familiar with the layout of our cruising region because we've spent so much time flying over it in the floatplane".)

I love this idea, we try our best to mimic this with Google Earth. Even though it can be old satellite images, it's still been helpful.

I was not familiar with Visual Passage Planner, it looks intriguing.

Thank you!
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Old 07-27-2015, 09:05 PM   #8
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In my early stages of planning a long trip I use Google Earth. it lets you plot a "path" using multiple waypoints, turning points, etc., and automatically calculates the distance in knots or miles for you.


It's great because you can move waypoints to make a shorter (truer) course line.


After that part of the planning is done I then enter them on my chart plotter.
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Old 07-27-2015, 09:29 PM   #9
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I don't really plan in the sense of establishing waypoints for each turn.


I use Active Captain's path feature to plot a path to see how far I have to go in a day. I zoom in AC to find any obstructions or shallow spots along the way once I have the path drawn. Sometimes you get surprised and have to move your turning point, but AC makes this easy. I do all of this at home on my laptop.


I could convert the path to a route and then interface that route to my chartplotter, but A) I haven't bothered to figure out how and B) It is just too much work.


Then in the boat I just advance the curser to where I need to make the next turn (usually around a shoal or point of land), note the bearing to that point and then set the autopilot to that bearing. I zero in on that point when I get closer. Yes I could mark a waypoint and have the autopilot steer to that waypoint, but I like the point and shoot approach better.


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Old 07-27-2015, 09:30 PM   #10
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I generally use my PC which I run a program called SeaClear on. I have downloaded NOAA raster charts. Basically I just look the area over and decide where I want to go. SeaClear has a route function that is useful for determining distances. I prefer raster charts to ENCs and use the same PC with a GPS puck as my nav system on my cruiser. I also use my chartkit on board the boat for planning.

I never follow a route though. I just have a general idea of where I want to go. The details of my course are based on conditions, traffic and lobster trap density.
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Old 07-29-2015, 06:05 AM   #11
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The general overall route needs to be planned , mostly to assure you have the charts aboard.

The weather will play such a large part of most cruises only at the start of each day can the desired distance to the next anchorage be planned well.

Underway in the AM its pretty easy to decide if today will be a 30mile day or a 90 mile day.

Being locked into a Sked can be dangerous.
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Old 07-29-2015, 11:03 AM   #12
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Starts with Active Captain and just poking around getting ideas of possible new places weeks/months in advance, but after 30 years of cruising there isn’t too many, even the ones off the beaten path we haven’t been on. Then sit up in the bridge with my old Garmin 2010C and program in the routes. Many times I can reuse one I had before. While on the trip I’ll look at the iPad with Navionics app and a cup of coffee in the morning and just re-review the plan, find I can get complacent and that puts me in the most dangerous of position.
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Old 07-29-2015, 11:52 AM   #13
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1 yes but not for planning.
2 no
3 what was 3?
4 no
5 yes
6 yes.
Since the first casualty of the cruise is usually the plan we leave everything up to Mother Nature and just sail the boat accordingly. No schedules no worries. Pilot charts are quite helpful for answering the when question though.


Via iPhone.
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Old 07-29-2015, 12:25 PM   #14
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I have done around 30 trips from Florida to the Northeast from the days of loran numbers to more modern equipment. I have not used the latest apps and want to know if any of them allow you to put notes on the digital charts.
I have old ChartKits of the ICW, on these the paper charts I could put in hand written notes. I would write in the height of bridges and opening schedules, places where the ICW markers would switch from red to green when going on rivers, shoaling spots, notes on marinas, no wake zones and more.
Do any of the new apps allow you add notes on a digital display?
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Old 07-29-2015, 01:45 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Just Bob View Post
I've learned so much from the collective experience on this forum, so I'd like to ask another question. When you are heading out for a specific destination, how do you all do your route planning?
1. Do you use an app like Garmin Blue Chart or Navionics on a tablet or computer the day or night before?
2. If you use a tablet do you actually build a route and then transfer it to your chart plotter?
4. Do you do the planning right on your chart plotter?
5. Do you use cruising guides or Coast Pilots for information along the route?
6. Does anyone still route on paper charts?

Lastly, how strong do you think the connection is between the thoroughness of your planning and the safety of your trip?

Thank you for any thoughts you're willing to share.
For my trip from Ketchikan, AK to San Francisco, CA in April I did extensive planning. I had never navigated the waters and I was on a boat that was new to me in every respect. I wanted to reduce risk by having a thoroughly planned route.

First off I did a lot of research on the internet - looking for cruising logs of boaters who had done the route. From that I came up with a route, a list of anchorages and a list of ports/marinas that were well known. This wasn't a trip for me to take risks and go exploring the unknown.

I bought copies of Waggoner's, a couple of cruising books and two Coastal Pilots. From all this I built a route using Coastal Explorer on the laptop that I took with me and used as my primary navigation tool for the trip. I had backup systems - but this way I could be completely familiar with the system before stepping on the boat. Tides and currents were significant - so I wrote a detailed float plan for the 9 day trip from Ketchikan, AK to Anacortes, WA. It included notes taken from the guides and tide/current information for the likely days of travel so that I wouldn't get caught out. Arriving at Seymour Narrows at the right time is a good example of the need for planning.

The planning really paid off. We had one weather hold day and an overnight from Nanaimo to Anacortes to make up some time.

I used to do something similar when I started sailing the SF Bay Area and coastal regions. Now, however, I'm familiar enough with the area that I just do the usual weather and tide checks but no formal route planning.

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Old 07-29-2015, 02:47 PM   #16
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Use the garmin app for the iPad to get an idea of time/ fuel/ currents/ AC notes/. Sometimes I'll transfer waypoints to the boat, sometimes just not. Usually will if others will be at the helm, especially overnight. Not otherwise.
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Old 07-29-2015, 02:51 PM   #17
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I'm guilty only of #5. Not a straight line person.

Buddy boated w a guy that was a straight line person and turned at the waypoints like a good boy. Worked out as he was a 6 knotter and I went forth at 7.35 at that time w my Albin. I was all over the place getting closer to whatever seemed interesting at the moment. We almost always got to where we were going at the same time.

On a long trip like going to Alaska don't even ask me where we're going to be in the pm as I would'nt know. It varies though. That's what I like ... things that vary. I keep my Garmin chart plotter on the view in front and explore everywhere ahead for anchorages even if it's closer than my roughly intended destination. Flexability is the name of my navigation. And no more dwelling in the matter unless it seems necessary or unless I'm enjoying myself looking ahead (I often do and just for the fun of it) but often I spend much more time and effort than others ... like checking out an anchorage w my two sounders.

Despite my loose navigational style I've not often found myself in the dark anchoring our boat.
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Old 07-29-2015, 02:56 PM   #18
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I can use a MaxSea on a laptop to create routes/waypoints, and export those to our Furuno NN3D plotter. I can use Active Captain to get an idea of useful stopping points, marinas, etc. And I can use any guidebooks we might purchase for a specific long-range trip. Yes, Coast Pilot.

That said... I usually don't try to over-achieve. Basic leg lengths, sometimes with a few options available (as in, today's trip is going so well, we have time to press on to the next target stopping point) and some bail-out points noted along the way.

I don't lay in many turning points; found that to not be very useful for most places when were coming up the ICW last time. Too much work for not enough benefit.

When we're underway, we have a pilot (whoever's steering) and usually a navigator (the other one of us)... and find that to be one of the things we enjoy doing along the trip. We also prefer short trip legs, early starts, early stops. Happy to stop a leg early, if we happen to see something interesting along the way.

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Old 07-29-2015, 03:12 PM   #19
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I for one probably use a collection of many of the posts.

Well, except for the marked string....never did that one.

When doing multiple runs in the ICW.... some days are mostly following a river or canal that is so unvariable...and the distances published...plotting a route is just a waste of time.

Other runs are more open water an worth a line or two on a computer or paper chart in case things go wrong while following the intended route.

One thing that is a dead give away...is the amount of experience and confidence of the captain to get where they need to go...with especially the "backup plan" clearly explained to the crew if they were wondering.

But any, all, some or none of the suggestions are necessary.....but only the captain knows what he/she is capable of when navigation skills are truly required and to what level.
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Old 07-29-2015, 03:24 PM   #20
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I have a chart of Desolation Sound on my wall by my desk at work and a set of dividers.

More dreaming than actual planning, I guess.

Most of my planning is on an iPad with Navionics. Sometimes I even follow the route.

To paraphrase Eisenhower, "Plans are useless, but planning is indispensable."
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