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Old 03-19-2012
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Chart Plotter vs Software + Laptop or iPad???

Hello,

After our first long distance sail, it became obvious that we needed to purchase some sort of navigation assistance device. I wanted to get opinions out there on whether I should purchase a chart plotter, or if we should buy software and keep a laptop on board.

Kep in mind that I have spare laptops, so that part is a freebee, and I have USB GPS adapters for laptops also.

The third option is an iPad with a waterproof case, which we have also. It has buily in GPS, just wondering if there is any good plotting software for it.

Thanks in advance for your input!!
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Old 03-19-2012
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Re: Chart Plotter vs Software + Laptop or iPad???

We've used Polar Navy on a $99 netbook successfully for years. When it rains the netbook sits on the end of the galley counter, otherwise it's in the cockpit.

No issues thus far and no plans to spend 10X more on a chartplotter (which has a smaller screen) until we decide to head offshore and out of sight of land. Even then I'm not totally convinced it's an absolute must but I'll see at that point.

Have also tried SeaClear (clunky and temperamental and no longer supported) and OpenCPN (OK). I found Polar Navy the easiest to use and it has the same features as OpenCPN.
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Re: Chart Plotter vs Software + Laptop or iPad???

How does it find it's position? I'm assuming external GPS? I have two different Microsoft ones.
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Re: Chart Plotter vs Software + Laptop or iPad???

Answered my own question by going to their website.

Don't you have any concerns about sea spray wetting the laptop? I had planned on the laptop being inside, which of course isn't as convenient...
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Old 03-19-2012
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Re: Chart Plotter vs Software + Laptop or iPad???

Quote:
Originally Posted by BreakAwayFL View Post
How does it find it's position? I'm assuming external GPS? I have two different Microsoft ones.
Yes. We use a GPS puck with bluetooth.
sy muriel likes this.
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Re: Chart Plotter vs Software + Laptop or iPad???

Quote:
Originally Posted by BreakAwayFL View Post
Don't you have any concerns about sea spray wetting the laptop? I had planned on the laptop being inside, which of course isn't as convenient...
We have not had a problem. The dodger provides good cover from top and sides. If we get caught in conditions that are so bad that everything is battened down, I know how to read and use a paper chart for navigation. I put the chart in a waterproof chart thingy. Depending on where we're going our route was already plotted on both the electronic and paper charts before we left the dock/anchorage.
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Re: Chart Plotter vs Software + Laptop or iPad???

Quote:
Originally Posted by DRFerron View Post
We've used Polar Navy on a $99 netbook successfully for years. When it rains the netbook sits on the end of the galley counter, otherwise it's in the cockpit.

No issues thus far and no plans to spend 10X more on a chartplotter (which has a smaller screen) until we decide to head offshore and out of sight of land. Even then I'm not totally convinced it's an absolute must but I'll see at that point.

Have also tried SeaClear (clunky and temperamental and no longer supported) and OpenCPN (OK). I found Polar Navy the easiest to use and it has the same features as OpenCPN.
While I have been content with the Mac navigation software from MacENC, I'm also curious about PolarNavy.
(We keep our old iBook down on the nav table with a GPS antenna plugged into it.)
They say it runs on Linux, Mac, and Windows. You are the first sailor to mention running the PolarNavy app.

Have you any further comments about it or screen shots you might share?

Thanks,
Loren
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Re: Chart Plotter vs Software + Laptop or iPad???

I just downloaded and installed the Polar Navy NS software with the free 30 day trial, and was very quickly able to import the over 50 charts I have downloaded for free from NOAA. I'm going to test this out, but so far it seems great! Have to test GPS integration and plotting.

Sea Clear is awful.
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Re: Chart Plotter vs Software + Laptop or iPad???

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Originally Posted by olson34 View Post
Have you any further comments about it or screen shots you might share?

Thanks,
Loren
Their website has screen shots. Did you have specific questions?

The software isn't free. It costs $40 (one time charge) to connect to the GPS and for use on up to five machines and I considered it worth the money. Route planning can be done without paying. OpenCPN will run concurrently with Polar Navy should you feel the need to do that. I did it to see which I found easier to use while underway.
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Re: Chart Plotter vs Software + Laptop or iPad???

I use Fugawi ENC on my laptop with a hockey puck usb gps. It stays in the cabin at the nav desk, as I don't "steer" by the chart program. The main advantage to a chartplotter in my opinion, is that it draws less power from the batteries.

Since I use the laptop for multiple purposes, it seems redundant to have a stand alone chartplotter. (I do have a handheld gps)

btw, the Fugawi runs about $280 and I've been quite happy with it.
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Last edited by PBzeer; 03-19-2012 at 12:11 PM.
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