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Old 02-03-2011
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Once again my two cents - People, it's generally OK to use your Chartplotter as your primary navigation device. You don't have to feel bad about it. We use it as our primary navigation device (with our CoastalExplorer software as our primary planning tool for longer trips). Even without regularly updating the chartplotter cartography the only places you really have to worry about (in the US), when using it as your primary navigation device, are areas prone to shoaling. New islands don't pop up overnight, so even five year old cartography won't have you bumping into some new landmass that didn't exist before. AND, since most US cartography is based upon the NOAA charts, if your chartplotter is off your paper charts will be too (not talking about buoy numbers but rather navigational hazards). Just don't be stupid and don't put a blindfold on. Use your eyes to make judgement calls. We also take a quick look to see if there's a difference between the latest NOAA charts on CoastalExplorer vs. the charts we have on our chartplotter (this is how we found out that all of the Ambrose Channel buoys going into New York Harbor were renumbered a month before we transited). Yes, buoys are moved, added and changed, security zones are put in place, etc. but general navigation is fine. There are few places I'd always want to make sure I had the latest cartography (like New York Harbor), but outside of that I'm OK with working on charts from a couple of years ago. We've sailed over 10,000nm this way.

What are our paper charts good for (and we do carry paper charts for every area we visit)? We mostly use them as an activity to pass the time on longer passages - charting our GPS position on them every 30-60 minutes so we have something to do. And yes, they will be there in case of a lightning strike (which we've ALMOST had).

I guess what I'm saying is you should always have paper charts aboard, but don't feel guilty about using your chartplotter as a primary navigation device.
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