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Author Topic:   Navionics Gold Micro SD vs Lowrance BaseMap
seacraft posted 08-01-2014 01:40 PM ET (US)   Profile for seacraft   Send Email to seacraft  
If anyone has seen the difference between a Lowrance BaseMap chart prog and a Navionics Gold Micro SD add-in, I 'd like to hear what you think. I am about to lay out $150-200 for a Navionics chip & I'd like to know why I should. It's going on a 20 Ft 73 Seacraft (Potter built hull) just being 'upgraded' from a Garmin 128 Marine GPS unit (recently passed after 12 yrs problem-free) to a Lowrance Elite 4 Combo. (Unfortunately the robust design of the Garmin 128 was NOT even close to being met by a new Garmin 550; the latter was built like a delicate meter system in wiring and fittings..mostly flimsy plastic) It looks up to the task of year-round marine near-shore fishing and diving in FL Keys.
Hoosier posted 08-01-2014 02:50 PM ET (US)     Profile for Hoosier  Send Email to Hoosier     
Don't even give it a second thought, get the Navionics Gold SD card. I just upgraded my 1978 Outrage to a Lowrance Elite-7 CHIRP [i.e., the model name is CHIRP] and got the Gold card because I sometimes venture into Canadian waters. I was in a well known area of the St. Mary's River in Michigan and the Lowrance base map didn't show a visible rock next to the channel that was a clearly marked hazard on the Navionics chart.
jimh posted 08-01-2014 03:13 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
There are some comparisons of Lowrance and Navionic digital cartography illustrated in a prior discussion. See

Electronic Charts for Isle Royale

Peter posted 08-02-2014 09:58 PM ET (US)     Profile for Peter  Send Email to Peter     
I just installed a Lowrance Elite 5 HDI Gold on a recently acquired Edgewater 155cc today. Haven't had but 10 minutes of run time on it but the difference between the Navionics gold map and the Lowrance default base map was like night and day. The Navionics Gold map is much easier on the eyes and worth the extra cost. I'm surprised that the cost would be $200. I believe it was well under $100 to get the Gold micro SD card when bundled with the Elite 5.

Peter posted 08-03-2014 06:42 PM ET (US)     Profile for Peter  Send Email to Peter     
Spent about an hour and 1/2 with the Lowrance Elite 5 today. For coastal waters, the Navionics Gold chip is a MUST HAVE. The base Lowrance map isn't sufficient.

It has also become quite clear to me that this Lowrance unit has freshwater heritage -- no tide chart.

jimh posted 08-04-2014 01:23 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
In Lowrance chart plotters the supplied cartography is usually in two tiers:

--a chart package that is bundled with the device at the lowest price point; the Lowrance chart plotters come with some sort of base cartography no matter what; or

--an upgraded Lowrance chart package, branded sometimes with the name INSIGHT, which is a considerably better set of charts than the base package; these are usually about a $100 up-charge from the base package.

Note that the Lowrance chart packages are also available in options for coastal regions or for inland lakes. Coastal means USA coast line and Great Lakes, and inland lakes means a focus on every little fishing lake in the USA.

My HDS-8 came with the upgraded Lowrance INSIGHT cartography for Coastal and Great Lakes. I also have Navionics + Platinum package that covers most of the upper Great Lakes, although not every inch of them.

If you know in advance that you are going to be boating exclusively in a limited region, the least expensive option is to get a Lowrance chart plotter with the no-cost base chart package, and buy a set of charts for the water you will be piloting. These chart packages vary in the sort of hydrologic data they contain, the presentation of the data, and the breadth of the area covered, and the prices reflect this. If you want the best charts for a very wide area, it may be $400. Decent charts for a smaller region may be $100.

In my case, I like having the upgrade Lowrance INSIGHT cartography because I might find myself in waters not covered by my Navionics chart. A few years ago I had a greater tendency to haul the boat a long distance away from home, but lately I have not. As a result, I am using the Navionics charts most of the time because they are much better for Canadian water, which is where most of my boating is done. The Lowrance INSIGHT charts are very good in USA water, but not as nice in Canadian water as the Navionics.

Chart data for the USA is a bit unique in the world. The government of the USA gives the charts away in digital form for free. This means a digital chart publisher for USA water can get a tremendous amount of base data for a digital chart from the USA government at no cost, There is also no copyright restriction.

Other countries, like Canada for example, are not so generous with their digital navigation chart data. They sell it at quite a nice price. For a small set of charts for Lake Huron, for example, the Canadian Hydrographic Service (CHS) sells their vector digital charts for $600. And they are rather strict about copyright. I imagine that a company like Navionics has probably negotiated with the CHS to incorporate some of the Canadian data into the Navionics chart packages.

Hoosier posted 08-05-2014 08:28 AM ET (US)     Profile for Hoosier  Send Email to Hoosier     
I believe that if you go here:

you can "preview" what's on the Navionics chip for any particular area. It's a pretty neat app; it looks like they've stitched all their individual map tiles together into a single world map, like Google Earth.

Don SSDD posted 08-05-2014 01:05 PM ET (US)     Profile for Don SSDD    
Cool link, it popped up the area in front of my house when I opened the link, so it must track IP's.


Jefecinco posted 08-05-2014 07:31 PM ET (US)     Profile for Jefecinco  Send Email to Jefecinco     
Great link, now bookmarked.

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