gps vs chartplotter - Page 3 - SailNet Community

   Search Sailnet:

 forums  store  

Quick Menu
Boat Reviews  
Search SailNet 
Boat Search (new)

Shop the
SailNet Store
Anchor Locker
Boatbuilding & Repair
Hatches and Portlights
Interior And Galley
Marine Electronics
Other Items
Plumbing and Pumps
Sailing Hardware
Trailer & Watersports
Clearance Items

Advertise Here

Go Back   SailNet Community > General Interest Forums > Gear & Maintenance
 Not a Member? 
Old 05-17-2007
Senior Moment
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Michigan
Posts: 222
Thanks: 0
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Rep Power: 0
RickBowman is an unknown quantity at this point
Originally Posted by Valiente
My choice is PC and paper and to avoid the proprietary cartridges of the chart plotters. My experience is that some skippers pay more attention to the creeping movement of the little boat icon of the chartplotter than they do to the sea around them. Needless to say, this is not only a grave navigational error, but also turns the experience of sailing into, in part, a glorified video game.

No thanks.

Good luck. Play with these gadgets at West Marine, and view the simulations. But if you just coastal cruise, I think paper and GPS and plenty of practice alone will suffice.
After having using Maptech Chartplotting Software on a Compac laptop computer mounted at the inside helm for one year and a Raymarine Chartplotter for 4 years at an outside helm before that on a previously owned sloop I wish to offer an experienced opinion to add to your opinion about chartplotters.
I have found them to be useful and costly. From a saftey point of view, they are useful. From the expense column, they are costly. Ray Marine that used C-Map chips was very expensive, but a laptop at an outside helm was out of the question at that time 6 years ago. Now with an inside helm the maptech chartplotter software has eliminated that expense with free electronic online NOAA chart downloads. The original maptech software package cost about $100 US last year with good tech support.
I could explain of one instance where I have been at the helm and was able to pilot my vessel safely using a chartplotter through an unmarked channel at Rogers City, MI at night during restricted visability, where the buoys were removed "what a stupid city manuver and only the 2nd week of October" and I needed to stay inside of the channel due to draft restrictions. The chartplotter gave me the information that was needed and I made it to safe harbor, and made it out again the next day before light. Day or night would have made no difference as without a chartplotter I would have had to remain outside of the harbor in unprotected deep water.
I would go again with a chartplotter if I had only an outside helm in a future vessel as they provide the same grapical information as does the PC ran chartplotting software. Of course the PC is much easier on the eyes, and can also provide real time satelite graphical XM Weather information.
As far as chartplotters cost, what is ones saftey worth? Does a skydiver look for a deal on equipment? Scubadiver? Home security? National Security? As long as it's afordable a sailor should have a saftey mindset and hopefully a safe vessel.

Last edited by RickBowman; 05-17-2007 at 11:34 AM.
Reply With Quote Share with Facebook
Old 05-17-2007
sailingdog's Avatar
Telstar 28
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: New England
Posts: 43,291
Thanks: 0
Thanked 8 Times in 8 Posts
Rep Power: 13
sailingdog is just really nice sailingdog is just really nice sailingdog is just really nice sailingdog is just really nice sailingdog is just really nice

BTW, it is WAAS...not WASS...

I think Tubsmacker is dismayed by how much time it took for people to figure out where they were on the chart, based on the GPS coordinates.... Some people just have a tough time getting the X and Y coordinates down properly.

One thing that seems to be missing is that all chartplotters are GPS units, with some additional graphical features. Not all GPS units are capable of displaying graphical chart or map data.

Also, I would emphasize that the GPS has to be setup to match the Chart Datum, or it will be wrong—and often wrong enough that you could lose your boat to the errors involved.

To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.

Telstar 28
New England

You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.

—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)

If you're new to the Sailnet Forums... please read this
To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.


Last edited by sailingdog; 05-17-2007 at 12:35 PM.
Reply With Quote Share with Facebook
Old 05-17-2007
Senior Member
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 225
Thanks: 0
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Rep Power: 8
geary126 is on a distinguished road
Backups are good. Critical, actually. And I'm all for paper charts. Actually, in the 70s, my parents and I had Loran and extensive chart / guides in 4 year circumnavigation (well, most of the way, anyway). Loran promptly crapped out, along with other electronics.

That being said, I just bought, for 550$, a sweeeeeeeet smallish chartplotter / sounder combo (bear in mind, the replacement cost on the mediocre depth gauge alone was $400), and this thing 1) doesn't wrinkle 2) doesn't require a flashlight. 3) is windproof 4) impresses at least other guys.

Assuming I figure out how to mount it adequately, a 37% likelyhood, I'm going to be very, very happy.

I would say, on the chart side: waterproof paper, 15 x 22 books are super handy. Even on deck.
Reply With Quote Share with Facebook
Old 05-17-2007
Tubsmacker's Avatar
It's the Appeal of Steel
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 44
Thanks: 0
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Rep Power: 0
Tubsmacker is on a distinguished road
Send a message via Skype™ to Tubsmacker

Rick, It was the time taken to plot a lat long whilst on a night sail in a busy shipping area. We were using pilotage not DR as we were in the Solent UK and some people were using a lat long to check position. On this occassion I only used buoys lights and transits for my nav leg and didn't bother to use the GPS hardly at all. The Yachtmaster instructor liked the aviation VOR/DME concept though which is why i thought i'd share it on here. After all, handhelds are so cheap now that most people can justify having one.

Really it's just a fast reliable way of checking position accurately whilst on deck armed with just a folded chart and any gps.

Here's another possible Example that occurred to me whilst writing this.

Imagine sticking a compass rose on a transit line to your home port that you would normaly use visually. Under normal conditions, you can see the lighthouse is in transit with a church or whatever. (you can check the accuracy of this in good weather). If the vis then drops so you cant see the transit, the compass rose means that you can actually see your heading line on the paper chart using a straight edge rather than just relying on the info presented. you can also see (on the paper chart) any Xtrack error that a new gps bearing might indicate.
OK, if you have a c-map laded colour chartplotter in front of the wheel, then you might not be interested in this (unless it fails of course!)

I famous for boring fellow yachtspeople with aviation stories, but I actually like Navigation and never fitted a GPS or Decca Loran in any a/c I owned.
So if I'm boring anyone I apoloise for this.

PS. The reason that airliners always fly directly over your house/office, is that they in airways that usually have a VOR (VHF Omnidirectional Range) beacon at each end or leg. Modern GPS emulates the VOR positioning too I would suspect.

PPS I used to fly low level below VOR reception using a compass+ stopwatch + Plastic ruler with knicker elastic (graduated in minutes for the map scale) it worked a treat and you always knew where you were going to be rather than just where you were. You cant get more DR and low tech than that!
Reply With Quote Share with Facebook
Old 05-17-2007
Paysay's Avatar
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: SE Pennsylvania
Posts: 59
Thanks: 0
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Rep Power: 8
Paysay is on a distinguished road
This should stir things up: paper charts are very quickly becoming a thing of the past.

Quote from the NOAA website FAQ:"
Question - Do NOAA ENC®s enhance marine navigation and will they replace the paper chart completely?

Answer - NOAA ENC®s and RNCs will eventually replace paper charts for vessels using electronic navigation. NOAA will continue to produce paper charts for those users who do not choose to use electronic navigation. NOAA ENC®s and ECS are the greatest advancement in maritime safety since the introduction of radar to ships."

The US Navy is in the process of fitting out with chartplotters, ECDIS - N (Electronic Chart Display and Information System - Navy), and will be retiring paper charts (see:

Advantages of electronic charts:
-Current, (Because of the logistics involved NOAA updates paper charts every two years while electronic charts are posted on the NOAA website with all current Notice to Mariners.)
- Free, (all you need is a high speed internet connection)
- Faster, more accurate plot (with GPS, or Loran).
- Far more versital.

I still carry paper charts for the areas I cruise in, but I don't think I'll be saying that 5 years from now. I also carry three GPS receivers a chart plotter and a laptop with a full set of electronic charts and navigation software. I don't plot my position on a paper chart, but I do record the Lat/Long every hour (well, I try to remember to record it every hour.) If I ever find myself in a position where I cannot navigate electronically, I'll transfer the last several fixes onto a paper chart and navigate home the old fasioned way.

Paper charts are a dinosaur.
Reply With Quote Share with Facebook
Old 05-17-2007
Tubsmacker's Avatar
It's the Appeal of Steel
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 44
Thanks: 0
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Rep Power: 0
Tubsmacker is on a distinguished road
Send a message via Skype™ to Tubsmacker
Lol. I hope Rick isn't reading this or he'll be insisting on a course for you as well
Reply With Quote Share with Facebook
Old 05-17-2007
jrd22's Avatar
Courtney the Dancer
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: San Juan Islands., WA, USA
Posts: 3,787
Thanks: 3
Thanked 14 Times in 14 Posts
Rep Power: 14
jrd22 will become famous soon enough
Dinosaur maybe, but until they make chartplotters that don't require electricity I think I'll keep mine on board as a backup. Besides, it's just not the same to huddle around the chartplotter screen at night and plot or dream about the next destination like we do with our "dinosaur" charts.
SV Laurie Anne

1988 Brewer 40 Pilothouse

Reply With Quote Share with Facebook
Old 05-17-2007
Boasun's Avatar
Senior Member
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: New Orleans, LA
Posts: 3,048
Thanks: 0
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Rep Power: 9
Boasun will become famous soon enough Boasun will become famous soon enough
Chart plotters, laptops with charts are great. I use the latter with a GPS. But when you lose power you need to go back to the paper charts and plot your position quickly. So don't get me wrong in that you should have both on board.
As when I finually get my next boat; Would have a GPS readout at the steering station with your way points plugged into along with paper charts, down below, backing up the GPS.
The vessels I work on have their generators running 24/7 and we don't worry about having power. But most sail boats don't have the resource of that generator and rely on solar, wind gens and deep charge batteries. So you have to conserve your power resources
Reply With Quote Share with Facebook
Old 05-17-2007
hellosailor's Avatar
Senior Member
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 10,040
Thanks: 0
Thanked 50 Times in 49 Posts
Rep Power: 10
hellosailor has a spectacular aura about hellosailor has a spectacular aura about
Paper ain't dead yet. The electrical systems on small craft aren't quite as reliable as those on warships and commercial ships and I for one like the idea of knowing that even when all the toys are having hissy fits, I can find a sheet of paper and if it isn't as fast or elegant to use--at least it beats looking around and chanting "We're the Fugawi!"

I think I see what tubsmacker is getting at with stick-on compass roses, though. Instead of fumbling around and trying to plot lat/lon intersections on charts, all you need to do is find the compass rose, and measure off the same distance/bearing that your GPS is showing to it. One motion with a ruler, or one motion with a good eye, and you've got the distance and direction quickly. The downside is sticking on compass roses, but isn't there always a downside? I'm not about to run out and buy (or print up) a pack, but I can see the point.
Reply With Quote Share with Facebook
Old 05-17-2007
leave blank
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 128
Thanks: 0
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Rep Power: 8
EscapadeCaliber40LRC is on a distinguished road
In some parts of the world, neither paper nor electronic charts are sufficient. Once you leave the USA things seem to go downhill. On the leg down to Luperon the chart and the chartplotter both are in error. Eyeball navigation at close quarters is required. Don't try it at night and don't trust someone else's GPS coordinates. However back tracking on the chartplotter when heading back out is quite cool, so long as you didn't hit anything on the way in.
Reply With Quote Share with Facebook

Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may post attachments
You may edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Deciphering what I need in a GPS chartplotter rryan14 Seamanship & Navigation 18 03-13-2007 01:43 PM
Handheld GPS Overview Tom Wood Seamanship Articles 0 05-31-2001 08:00 PM
GPS Gets More Accuracy Jim Sexton Seamanship Articles 0 05-21-2000 08:00 PM
GPS Gets More Accuracy Jim Sexton Gear and Maintenance Articles 0 05-21-2000 08:00 PM
GPS Gets More Accuracy Jim Sexton Cruising Articles 0 05-21-2000 08:00 PM

All times are GMT -4. The time now is 12:48 AM.

Add to My Yahoo!         
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
SEO by vBSEO 3.6.1
(c) LLC 2000-2012