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Old 02-01-2011
harbin2 harbin2 is offline
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Uses for Chart plotters and chart plotting software

A year ago, I could see little value in having a chart plotter other than as a toy. I got one anyway and now my view has changed fairly drastically. In the last year, I have spent a lot of time trying to understand a lot of the features but I still feel like I have a ways to go in understanding what to use it for. As an analogy, you think of your car as something that gets you to work, gets you to the store, takes you on vacation, etc. You don’t really think much about how the engine or transmission work. What you use a chart plotter for is not quite so obvious – not to me anyway.

Unfortunately, none of the GPS instructions I have seen tell you what to do with the devices. They just tell you how they work. So I now know how to create a waypoint but knowing why I would want to create one isn’t so obvious. Below is a list of what I can think of that I have used my chart plotter and software for.

If anyone routinely uses their software or plotter for anything I don’t list, please add your uses so we can all get maximum benefit out of these amazing devices.

Software
1. Trip planning – casually, almost day dreaming, about cruises.
2. Trip planning – creating actual routes that will be used to cruising destinations.
3. Record good anchorages that normal charts would have you believe are inaccessible.
4. Locate and get info on marinas.
5. Great for tide info. – for planning

Chart plotter
1. Determining current position when position is uncertain or unknown
2. Cutting corners – following shoal lines vs. navigating buoy to buoy to save time and distance.
3. Provide detailed depth information to assist in anchoring up small creeks.
4. Provide trip data such as speed.
5. Determine actual tide current by comparing gps speed to knotmeter speed.
6. Backtrack out of a morning fog by following yesterday’s track.
7. Determine distances to objects over a mile away.
8. Tide Info.
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