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Old 12-22-2010, 04:34 AM   #1
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SeaClear II vs Open CPN

For you folks that use a computer for chart plotting and navigation there seems to be two free chart readers available. SeaClear II reads raster charts and Open CPN reads both raster and ENC charts. For those not*familiar, both types of charts can be downloaded free from NOAA.*

I did not like the detail presented when using Open CPN with the ENC charts. In a related thread a couple of weeks ago, David M seems to agree.

My question:

For you folks that are familiar with these two programs, which do you like the best?
SeaClear II is a little difficult to set up, but there is help available via a SeaClear yahoo group. Open CPN has a dedicated sub forum under Navigation in the cruisersforum.

They both present raster charts pretty much the same way of course, but for routing and navigating which do you like the best and why?

Lastly, any body know of a free or really cheap good RNC reader/plotter.

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Old 12-22-2010, 09:16 AM   #2
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RE: SeaClear II vs Open CPN

I've used SeaClear before and liked it. I recently downloaded it again on my home computer. It's actually pretty easy to set up but the instructions on the website aren't too clear. I found it pretty easy to use.

Downloading the charts from NOAA is a lot easier now than it use to be. I will review the steps again at home and add some steps here that may be helpful.

Free and useful program, free NOAA charts - can't complain!

I haven't tried Open CPN but it looks interesting. Coastal Explorer (~$300) also looks interesting. It was developed by one of the millionaire Microsoft engineers after he left MS and wanted to spend time cruising.

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Old 12-22-2010, 12:44 PM   #3
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SeaClear II vs Open CPN

What is the situation with getting the charts when you head north of the border into Canadian waters? The Canadian Paper charts are wonderful but I've never found them for free. I have been using Nobeltec VNS for many years so it seems a little silly to change now as I have a bit invested already in my Puget Sound/Southern and Northern B.C. charts as well as Alaska all the way out to Kodiak. When you are traveling in these northern waters you will not have access to the network most of the time so don't plan on going online to update your charts! Carry paper charts in addition to your Plotter charts.

Rob & Anne
"Lady Anne" W40PH
La Conner, Wa./Girdwood, Alaska

-- Edited by Rob on Wednesday 22nd of December 2010 02:45:32 PM
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Old 12-25-2010, 07:26 AM   #4
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RE: SeaClear II vs Open CPN

I need to understand some basic information about charts and charting.

* The free NOAA charts that are available from their website, do they have the latest available information?

* Do any of the commerical vendors use raster charts?

* Where do the commercial vendors get their ENC charts, ie do they use NOAA's ENC charts or do they develope and update their own?
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Old 12-26-2010, 09:53 AM   #5
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RE: SeaClear II vs Open CPN

While I routinely use Maxsea Time Zero and Coastal Explorer as my preferred chart software (run simultaneously, fed by seperate GPS),*I keep OpenCPN on another laptop with dedicated GPS as a backup. I think the user interface in OpenCPN is superior to SeaClear II, and easier to use. You can go into the vecor chart settings and adjust the level of detail shown on the charts.
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Old 12-27-2010, 08:29 AM   #6
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RE: SeaClear II vs Open CPN

Like many things you get what you pay for. We use the MAC ENC program which we paid $139. it has alot more functionality then the free ones. I would have liked a free one but since the charts are free it made it easier to spend the money for the program.

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