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Old 12-18-2014, 02:56 PM   #21
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Marin,
If we ever meet and you're running my boat, i want you looking at vector charts. I entirely understand you are more comfortable with them. For me, I would rather look at a raster chart if i was traversing that 100 ft wide area, and then concentrate more on what my depth under the keel is and where the boat is. If i was doing it at night, rather than a chart with blinking marks, I'll rely on the radar to show me where they are in relation to us. Just my comfort level.

I think it boils down to sometimes I would rather have less options and settings on viewing my chart actually. Keep it simple, and don't distract me with options and settings I guess.
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Old 12-18-2014, 04:05 PM   #22
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Well, everyone has their own preferences and what they are comfortable with. To me, the advantages and flexibility of vector charts are so glaringly obvious that to be honest I didn't think anyone even supplied raster charts these days until this thread. Nobody I know personally who uses a plotter on their boat has raster chart displays. I have for years now assumed they had gone the way of eight track cassettes.

In narrow passes, unfamiliar harbor approaches, etc., the vector plotters give us outstanding clarity of detail no matter how zoomed in or out we are, while the depth sounder and radar continue to be the same valuable tools they've always been. For us, navigation is a matter of using all the systems available to us just as it is in a plane, rather than focusing on just one system. So when we are in fog, for example, we are actively using both plotters (with different displays on each one), the compass, the radar, the depth/speed display, the intercom, the horn, our eyes and our ears. But not the bell.

When we are navigating in good visibility, nothing changes other than we don't have the intercom on, we aren't using the horn, and we don't give the radar as much attention as we do when the visibility is poor or nonexistant.

Below is an example of what I'm talking about with regard to what I believe is the superiority of vector displays. These screen shots were just taken off my iPad 2 using a charting application called Navimatics. This is not a plotter app but a chart app. While not nearly as detailed as the displays on the big plotters on the boats, and the iPod 2 is not as sharp as the displays on the plotters, they are still vector charts and so will serve as illustrations. I have no idea who creates the vector charts for Navimatics.

The charts show a narrow, dogleg passage between a pair of islands in lower BC near Sidney. This passage averages 170 yards wide and has shallow, rocky ledges all over the place, lots of kelp, etc. It also gets very strong tidal currents running through it. The upside is that it shortens the time it takes to get from the one side of the islands to the other; the alternative is to run around them. But it's critical to follow the right path through the pass, and this can be made fairly challenging when the current is running. We've been through it several times and it's always an interesting experience.

The first screen shot shows an overview of the passage. The second shot is zoomed in as far as Navimatics will go on where the dogleg course changes have to be made. The chart plotters on the boats will go in much tighter than this if one wants to, with no loss of detail or clarity.

I cannot imagine driving a boat through this kind of terrain with anything less than the clarity and flexibility of a vector plotter. And as described earlier, on our newer plotters any lighted navaids will portray the actual light color and flash pattern if that's of value, and in this particular passage, the direction and speed of the current through here is displayed in real time.

Again, these are iPad screen shots from a charting app. They are not shots of the display on one of our plotters.
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Old 12-18-2014, 04:20 PM   #23
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Oh great, Now I feel old too

Guess I better spend a bit less time alphabetizing my 8-track collection this winter and I'll play around with vector charts more.
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Old 12-18-2014, 04:26 PM   #24
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What's an 8 track?
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Old 12-18-2014, 06:21 PM   #25
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What's an 8 track?
Its what we put in our cars because our reel to reels wouldn't run on 12 volts.
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Old 12-18-2014, 08:00 PM   #26
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What about the 45s?
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Old 12-19-2014, 05:37 AM   #27
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I'm with Marin on this one.
Having been at sea for over 40 years and using chart plotters for the last 20 I haven't had a raster chart ever. Always hated they way they blew up when zooming in.
Always vector , accuracy has never been a problem and I travel thru the uncharted (virtually) Great Barrier Reef all the time.

My new Garmin system radar overlay and all is terrific but i do miss my Nobeltec and will probably get it back up as a standby unit. I run this via a very small footprint fanless computer ( Compulab Intense ) but may transfer it to a dedicated laptop to make it more portable.
I also want it back as so far I have not been able to transfer all my old fishing and anchorage marks over to the Garmin system
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Old 12-19-2014, 07:02 AM   #28
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Marin got it right. I've been running PC navigation for 12 years. I've always run vector chart's. I can't see why anyone would want to use raster.

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Old 12-19-2014, 08:54 AM   #29
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I think it boils down to personal preference and hardware. I have no issues with raster because I'm not viewing it on a 7" screen. I think whatever chart gives the captain enough information to navigate safely and effectively works, everything else is just bragging rights. Running a vector chart plotter with a raster backup on a laptop is a pretty good setup.


Just think, 15 years ago all you had was a set of coordinates in front of you on a 4 color display. I go from blip A to blip B and use a paper map to make sure there is nothing in between them. It's all relative
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Old 12-19-2014, 10:01 AM   #30
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I use OpenCPN on an old cheapo laptop (a discard from work - too old to run current software fast enough). More than capable for OpenCPN.

I have both vector and rastor charts loaded - in some cases the rastor ones are better - dependent on location. Most cases I use the vector. Open CPN lets you toggle between them.

I also run a touchscreen monitor - a restaurant POS station (ELO brand) so is it somewhat splash resistant. Purchased off eBay for under $100. Most of the functions one uses when underway can be run via the touchescreen so the laptop is out of the way. Dimming for night running is fine.

I have AIS connected to the laptop via simple USB with AIS targets via OpenCPN. Works well and a highly recommended.

I also have an iPad with Navionics for backup, which works well. Too bright for night-time use though even when dimmed down as far as possible.
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Old 12-19-2014, 12:57 PM   #31
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I've been running Coastal Explorer for 9 years and use raster, vector, or CMAP depending on location. Most of the time I use CMAP. At times I run split screen with different charts on each screen. I run on either a Dell laptop under Win 7 or an HP laptop on Win 8.1.

Solved the two helm problem by running a USB cable to the upper helm and installing a Lenovo 14 inch USB monitor on a RAM mount. My Bluetooth trackball works at the upper helm so I have full control. That way I don't need to transfer routes between computers. It worked well last summer.

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Old 12-19-2014, 02:59 PM   #32
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...I have AIS connected to the laptop via simple USB with AIS targets via OpenCPN. Works well and a highly recommended.
What AIS receiver are you using?
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Old 12-19-2014, 03:11 PM   #33
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I don't have much experience, however; at this time, I prefer paper charts. The Kingfisher, a 37 foot Nordic Tug, has a great, large chart table. You can unroll a full chart with plenty of room for navigation equipment. I have only chartered one other trawler, a 32 foot Nordic Tug. There was not a good place for paper charts. This spring we are chartering a 41 foot American Tug. Unfortunately, in the photos, it looks like there is not a good place for full sized paper charts. We got spoiled on Kingfisher! We will have a couple of other adults with us in the spring so we opted for 2 full size cabins and beds.

Of course, we always back up our navigation with the chartplotter/GPS.

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Old 12-19-2014, 04:09 PM   #34
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I've been running Coastal Explorer for 9 years and use raster, vector, or CMAP depending on location. Most of the time I use CMAP. At times I run split screen with different charts on each screen. I run on either a Dell laptop under Win 7 or an HP laptop on Win 8.1.

Solved the two helm problem by running a USB cable to the upper helm and installing a Lenovo 14 inch USB monitor on a RAM mount. My Bluetooth trackball works at the upper helm so I have full control. That way I don't need to transfer routes between computers. It worked well last summer.

Tom
I run CE as well. I switched over from another product in July. I'm currently using the NOAA supplied vector chart's
Is there an advantage in your mind to paying for the CMap versions?

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Old 12-19-2014, 07:54 PM   #35
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While some vector charts may actually be more accurate...a lot of you are kidding yourself if you think the vast majority are.

I have current data overlay on my raster charts and they often have more data such as bridge info and some notes that some of the vector charts I have used didn't.

I have navigated a ton with both and neither form has kept me off the rocks/bottom or put me on them....it's usually something other than style of chart.

Whichever you can interpret quickly and find useful is the best for you....for certain type of work....sure vectors can be more practical. For general pleasure boating nav....either is just as useful...it is only preference at that point.
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Old 12-19-2014, 09:48 PM   #36
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What AIS receiver are you using?
I use a 'EM TRAK MARINE ELECTRONICS B100 AIS Class B Transceiver'. simple and (reasonably) inexpensive.
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Old 12-19-2014, 11:04 PM   #37
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While some vector charts may actually be more accurate...a lot of you are kidding yourself if you think the vast majority are.

.
The accuracy and data content of a vector chart is totally dependent on the person, code-writer, programmer, or computer that generated the data base that drives the plotter to display the chart layers. I have read of inaccuracies people have found with C-Map and other brands of charts in the Caribbean for example. We have not found any in the cruising we've done in this area, but we obviously have not checked every detail of our C-Map vector charts against every detail of the real world.

And raster charts, which are essentially pictures of paper charts, will reflect any inaccuracy that may have ended up on the paper chart.

So you pay your money and take your chances either way.

The plotter is just one tool. As such, it's not smart, in my opinion, to put all one's reliance on it. This is why we have two plotters at the helm of our PNW cruiser, augmented by our iPad charting application, augmented by the big paper chart book the iPad sits on top of. All these are augmented by our eyes, which in turn are augmented by our inerhent sense of caution and common sense.

At the top of the navigation heap is what we call our Golden Rule of Boating. And that is that if my wife and I do not agree on the best course of action we stop the boat until we do.

(We did not come up with this; it was told to me by Bob Hale, the long-time publisher of the Waggoner Guide, the most popular cruising guide for this area. It's a rule he and his wife established after they'd had a disagreement about the best way to get through some small islands and reefs. I believe it ended up as a sidebar in the guidebook.)
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Old 12-20-2014, 01:56 AM   #38
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The discussion here about chartplotters and apps, and especially the charts made me revisit my understanding of the state of things. It cannot hurt to have yet another backup on my Mac. So sometime earlier this week I have downloaded OpenCPN, plus some NOAA raster and vector US charts. I could not get any Canadian charts … I am sure they are available somewhere for download for a fee.

Some background ... in addition to waterproof paper "raster" charts based on government issued charts, I use two Garmin chartplotters at helm with their BlueCharts G2 Vision charts loaded, plus an iPad. The iPad is loaded with various nav apps and charts that are available from the vendor who offers the app. I use iPad, and specifically Navionics app and charts, as a backup and route planning and tracking tool.

Back to OpenCPN and NOAA charts … NOAA charts, especially raster charts have not added anything to what I already have … actually as the raster version is concern, I prefer the paper charts as the user interface is much better and faster …

When it comes to charts, IMO, the difference between NOAA raster and NOAA vector is not that significant. The real difference between charts comes from the added value provided by different chart publishers and/or app vendor. Please look below, and draw your own conclusions.

Below is a series of screen captures with some comment. Since I have dumped the OpenCPA, the NOAA charts are shown using demo MacECN application that I happened to have on my Mac. Click on images below to see full size and more details.


NOAA Raster chart ... using MacENC application …



NOAA Vector chart ... using MacENC application …



NOAA Vector chart ... using MacENC application … zoomed …



Navimatics app and chart ... seems to be derived from NOAA vector chart … does not offer much if any enhancements to NOAA charts … the app supports ActiveCaptain and I use it for AC data mostly …



Garmin BlueChart app and chart ... seem to provide some enhancements to NOOA charts … they are very similar to the charts I see on my Garmin chartplotters minus the bathygrahic data and satellite imagery overlay available on GARMIN chartplotters with BlueCharts G2 Vision charts installed … but the BlueChart app supports Active Captain … note the US/Canada border problem ...



Navionics app and chart … they offer some added value but the app does not support ActiveCaptain (yet?) … normal view … the dotted shallow area is an app feature that allows user to highlight the shallows, it is set at 6 feet here ...



Navionics app and chart … zoomed view with bathygraphic data …



Navionics app and chart … zoomed view with bathygraphic data and satellite imagery overlay … one thing worth noting here is the updated and correct placement of all human made structures on the shoreline …



Hope this helps ...
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Old 12-20-2014, 06:42 AM   #39
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Not sure I can understand how a vector chart can be inherently more accurate than a raster chart.

There's a bridge nearby -- but with no clearance given on at least one of the vector charts I have (NOAA and C-Map, maybe both, can't remember). That clearance data is clearly included in the raster chart.

If a given vector chart is developed from a given raster chart, I don't see how it can be more accurate... and would have expected instead that the process could actually have added some inaccuracies. Like that bridge clearance, or lack thereof.

Or...

Perhaps the chartmaker added some value. How? By including data from some other source? OK, I'd think it's not the vector-hood-ness (?) of the resulting chart that might make it more useful, but rather the additional source material that wasn't available on the counterpart raster chart.

??

The only sorta-kinda example I can think of off-hand is the marina info C-Map included in their charts. Of course, that info wasn't available on the raster charts of the same areas. But that doesn't (to me) make the C-Map vector charts more accurate per se; instead it makes them useful because they include additional information.

Perhaps another example might be where vector chart features are updated (with source data from somebody, somehow) even though the counterpart raster chart hasn't been updated since Cap'n Cook's days. I think that can happen? Again, not sure vector-hood-ness is the heart of the matter here. In this example, it's about chart currency, and the same new source data could just as easily have appeared in the raster version... had the raster chartmaker gotten a round tuit.

??

Anyway, I certainly agree with Scott and others: individual preference rules. At least within the limitations of the presentation medium, given some plotters will only display one or the other style, given large paper charts can sometimes be awkward, etc.

FWIW, we use both styles, side-by-side. Not a recommendation, just an observation.

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Old 12-20-2014, 09:09 AM   #40
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I use a 'EM TRAK MARINE ELECTRONICS B100 AIS Class B Transceiver'. simple and (reasonably) inexpensive.
Thanks!
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