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Jhooley 03-06-2004 08:28 AM

GPS and electronic charts?
I am planning to sail along the north coast of Cuba and then to Jamaica. Does anyone have any experience with electronic charts. No matter where I look I can hardly find exactly what I am looking for, and when I find something close to what I want, it always includes something I dont want and at a crazy price. I expect to pay 150-200 dollars for each electronic charts of the north coast of cuba (including detailed ports and anchorages) and the same for Jamaica. So I am willing to spend about $500-600 for electronic charts. I already figured out that if I buy Britisch Admiralty paper charts, I can expect to spend about $800 dollars for all the charts I need. Another difficulty is that alot of GPS charters only use a specific chart software, and nothing seems to do give me completely what I want. If anyone has some advice or is struggling to find the proper charts for their GPS let me know. I am wondering if it is worth the aggrevation. I could just use the GPS and plot off the paper chart, but it wont be that accurate. Let me know. Thanks. James

WHOOSH 03-06-2004 08:51 PM

GPS and electronic charts?
James, your inclination to rely solely on paper charts and a GPS is not a bad idea. Somehow, we''ve come to adopt the notion that without seeing the chart electronically, our (GPS-based) navigation is unsafe; that''s hooey.

The areas you are planning to visit have not been of strategic interest to the First World countries for many decades now (except the local waters around Cuba''s SE coast where Guantanamo Bay is located) and so you will not find the BA or NIMA charts to be especially detailed nor regularly updated. (This means by definition that any vector or raster chart based off those data sources is also deficient). The exception to that statement is the beautifully detailed Cuban charts (now sold under license by Blue Water Books), which were originally developed by the Russians and now maintained by the Cubans. These are available in paper and electronic formats, and you''ll need to sort out how to match your budget with their cost and your cruising plans - especially since a visit to Jamaica might also include visits to a number of Cuban pors and coastal areas on both coasts (all heavily controlled, by the way). Keep in mind due to their limited resources, even the Cuban charts will vary from reality due to storm damage. (We had planned a run along their S coast in 2002, departing from Port Antonio, but gave up after getting reports from boats leaving Cuba that couldn''t find channels, buoys etc. where their Cuban charts said they existed; this was right after a major storm passed thru).

You might consider another alternative re: equipping your boat: a Yeoman Navigator Pro, which is a graphics tablet the likely size of your chart table, and plot off of it using paper charts. The Yeoman takes a GPS input, has a mouse which is used on top of each paper chart, and one can create and upload (to one''s GPS) waypoints when plotting routes, instantly see via the mouse the boat''s location on the paper chart, it will work on ANY chart, and it allows you to enjoy GPS accuracy on paper charts with no manual plotting...BUT only to the degree the paper charts permit this.

FWIW the rest of that part of the Caribbean (Haiti, Jamaica, Caymans, Honduran Bay Is., Belize and Mexico) do not IMO require electronic charting; it''s just a convenience. With the exception of the changes in the large, often remote Cuban waters due to storms which have not been recharted, things are pretty straightforward everywhere and the charts + select guides (e.g. Rauscher''s guide to the W Caribbean and John Lethbridge''s dated but still very useful guide to Jamaica) provide more than adequate pilotage info.



Jhooley 03-10-2004 10:33 AM

GPS and electronic charts?
Jack...youve been very helpful. Thanks again. Everytime I pose a question I always get such good, thorough advice, and I can see that you take time out to answer me. JIm

chuck711 03-17-2004 04:08 AM

GPS and electronic charts?
Electronic Charts are great. Garmin best!
Ozie explorer pretty good! Both are different
formats. Raster and Vector. Ozie cost $75 off
the net and sharewhare avail for 30 days free. It''s really quite good. However out of the US I''ve found 3 times the electronic charts to be off as much as 1/2 mile( putting you on land ). That is less than 1000 % of the time.

pspsail 03-18-2004 05:52 AM

GPS and electronic charts?
charts, check out:

software, I use:


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