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Author Topic:   Comparison of various mapping software
Marsh posted 04-20-2006 01:15 PM ET (US)   Profile for Marsh   Send Email to Marsh  
I am curious as to any first-hand observations any of you boaters may have, comparing the various map software products available for marine navigation. For example, for my local East Tennessee waterways, I have found the detail far superior on the Elite series Fishing Hot Spots maps to the detail available from either MapCreate6 or MapCreate 6.3. I have never used Navionics, but am curious as to their quality.

Furthermore, I feel the clarity and shore detail of MapCreate 6.0 (the two CD set) is better than 6.3 (the 6 CD set).

I am particularly interested in software recommendations for mapping of southeast Louisiana, but find the MapCreate series to be of less than accepable quality detail.

Any observations will be appreciated.


willa posted 04-20-2006 10:46 PM ET (US)     Profile for willa  Send Email to willa     
I sure like Nobeltec the dominant PC based system
jimh posted 04-21-2006 09:08 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Marsh--Are you interested in the digital map cartography or in the software that uses the digital map cartography?
davej14 posted 04-21-2006 12:48 PM ET (US)     Profile for davej14  Send Email to davej14     
I just went through a comparison of the map chips offered by Lowrance and Navionics. You can do the same at Bass Pro, where they installed the chips I was considering in the GPS unit I actually have. My conclusion is that the best was the Navionics Hotmaps Premium East (PREM-E2).

This is the same chip for Tennessee. It had bottom profiles for small lakes that none of the other chips had. It also provided color depth contours and not just outlines so it was easier to see the bottom profile. It also had correct coloration for the navigational aids. Some of the other chips were not designed for color and therefore the nav-aids were displayed incorrectly.

FYI, if you present Bass Pro with a legitimate website that offers the chip for less, they will match the price. I paid $133.95.

Marsh posted 04-21-2006 08:30 PM ET (US)     Profile for Marsh  Send Email to Marsh     
To tell the truth, I don't know which I am interested in: cartography or software...the cartography, I suppose. What I'm really trying to get at is which chip to buy for my particular GPS/sonar unit. My unit happens to be a Lowrance LMS-332 series (to the best of my memory), but it has practically zero mapping capability out of the box. To be of any navigational value, one must separately purchase a MMC/SD chip. I first bought an Elite Hotspots chip at the recommendation of Lowrance user support, but found that one lake only 40 miles from my home is not on the chip, because it apparently is not deemed "navigable". The Hot Spots chip apparently only contains "navigable" waters. I also fish extensively in south Louisiana, and will need a chip for that area as well. Earlier this week, I bought yet another package, the Lowrance MapCreate system, with which one may creat maps of anywhere in the U.S. (navigable or not). However, I found that the detail available from the MapCreate software is far below what I had hoped. For example, the marina/boat launch I have used for over 20 years is not listed. Nor is the canal I most frequently travel. When I find missing from maps objects of which I have first-hand knowledge, it severely undermines any confidence I would have for the product.

Consequently, I have already spent over $250 on two different ventures in attempts to make my GPS usable, and have yet to find any maps in which I would place any dependence whatsoever.

My first 40 years of fishing and marine navigation was done with paper maps. My recent experience with GPS technology perfectly illustrates the reason for the disclaimer that flashes on the screen when the GPS is powered up: "Do not rely on this unit as your sole source of navigation aid".

Navionics Platinum, anyone?


davej14 posted 04-22-2006 10:39 AM ET (US)     Profile for davej14  Send Email to davej14     
Marsh, you make a good case for "try before you buy". If your local store cannot demonstrate the Navionics chip for you, let me know the name and location of the Tennessee lake you are interested in knowing about and I will check it out for you.

Unfortunately for you, the Navionics chip for Tennessee does not cover Louisiana so you will need to get two of them. Another $265.00 (ouch). On the positive side you will probably be able to sell the chips you have in the marketplace section of this site at a reasonable discount.

whalerwanter posted 04-22-2006 03:07 PM ET (US)     Profile for whalerwanter    
I will second what davej has said.

I have Navionics BlueChart CD for Atlantic region. It works well for me. Everything is loaded onto this CD, but I have to pay for a code to unlock each of the various regions. When unlocked, I can load portions of the charts to my Garmin unit. I can't put everything on my GPS at once because of limited memory space. (I don't have memory chips.) If your unit accepts chips, you can buy blanks to load up.

Navionics also contains route planning and trip log functions. Original purchase cost $129- for CD and code to unlock one 'area'. Additional 'areas' require purchase of new codes. Of course, there are lots of 'areas'. Blue charts permits you to interface and copy charts onto two, only two, different units. No extra charge for this. I have a fixed-mount and a handheld, so this is a useful feature.

With the pc cable, I can load my spots at my desk. The detail is that of a paper chart, with some added points of interest, like marinas, fuel docks, ramps etc. At home, my bad eyes don't need the magnifying glass because I can zoom in pretty closely. There are periodic updates available online; bi-annual, I believe. No substitue for LNM.

I find it easier to become accustomed to if you can experiment with it before you head out on the water. Too many other things to worry about when under way.

Chuck Tribolet posted 04-22-2006 03:27 PM ET (US)     Profile for Chuck Tribolet  Send Email to Chuck Tribolet     
MapSource is a Garmin product, not a Navionics product.
And I don't think the charts were done by Navionics (though
think some of the pre-BlueChart chips (ca 1998) were), I think
they were done by a British company. And I think the inland
fishing hots spots were done by yet another company.

I have Garmin MapSource, with both their US topographic and
California BlueCharts. It's pretty well done. The detail
on the Blue charts is not quite as good as paper, but close.
Things I don't like about it:

Text does some strange stuff, for example, as I zoom in, I see

San Clemente I

In some other cases you see some of the words but not all of the

And the text isn't tied to the feature as you zoom in, it can
appear to get farther and farther from the feature.

And BTW, unless you JUST bought it, you have to pay for updates.


whalerwanter posted 04-22-2006 04:19 PM ET (US)     Profile for whalerwanter    
Yeah, you're right, Chuck. Just looked at the box. Mine isn't Navionics brand. It's "Garmin MapSource BlueChart".

I do like it, though.

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