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Author Topic:   Charts for PC
sapple posted 05-02-2009 10:55 AM ET (US)   Profile for sapple   Send Email to sapple  
I am looking PC software of charts of the east coast including the ICW. I am mostly interested in using them to review navigation information for planning boating trips around east coast locations including the ICW. My boat has a chartplotter so I don't anticipate using them for actual real time navigation. Does anyone have a recommendation?
Fishmore posted 05-02-2009 11:13 AM ET (US)     Profile for Fishmore    

These are the on-line charts available from NOAA.

sapple posted 05-02-2009 05:55 PM ET (US)     Profile for sapple  Send Email to sapple     
Thanks Fishmore. I have seen these but was looking for something that I could use as an off line application.
jimh posted 05-02-2009 07:38 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
You can download the entire NOAA electronic chart catalogue and use it with your own computer. Trying to rasterize these large charts is really a good test for most home computers. Most of them can't handle these large image files and run very slowly trying. It makes you appreciate the speed of the dedicated chart plotters in your boat.
20dauntless posted 05-03-2009 05:27 PM ET (US)     Profile for 20dauntless    
Like others have mentioned NOAA offers free raster charts for US waters. These charts are exactly like the paper charts they offer and are easy to understand for anyone familiar with paper charts. I use Macs and run GPSNavX. While nowhere near as powerful as something like Coastal Explorer or Nobeltec, it's a whole lot cheaper. And I don't have to run a virtual machine from my Mac or buy a PC.

GPSNavX cost me $50 or $60. Since I do a lot of boating in Canada I had to spend quite a bit of money to get Canadian charts, but it's nice to be able to plan everything out at home and always have a complete set of charts with you. I believe there are some free programs available for the PC that can open raster charts. The USB GPS receiver I got was about 30 bucks. I do not use the laptop on the Whaler. There is no good place to set it down and it would probably get destroyed in short order if exposed to the elements. It does, however, work great in the fully enclosed pilothouse of the C-Dory and it's sometimes nice to confirm information on two completely independent chart systems (Government charts on the laptop, Raymarine C80 running Navionics). If I'm out cruising, I carry a MacBook and MacBook Pro, both with the full set of charts and navigation software installed.

JimH, it's interesting that you make a note about the speed that computers draw the charts. I have a very slight lag when I'm scrolling through charts, but it's certainly quicker than my Raymarine C80. I'm running GPSNavX on a brand new MacBook and three and a half year old MacBook Pro. Both are more than adequate.

jimh posted 05-03-2009 06:49 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Perhaps one reason the boat's chart plotter seems faster is that we are generally letting it redraw in real time as the boat moves. When zipping around electronic charts on a laptop, you move the cursor much fast than the boat does.
20dauntless posted 05-03-2009 07:11 PM ET (US)     Profile for 20dauntless    
Jim, I was saying the opposite. The computer definitely redraws quicker than the chartplotter. It isn't quite instant, but the delay is very short.

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