Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Swarthmore, PA
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Re: Charting a course
I do this all the time, and once you figure it out, it's easy to use a computer plotter for planning, and then transfer it into a handheld for use on the boat.
One of the benefits of using a computer program is you can download NOAA raster charts for free. The raster charts are just scans of the paper charts, and are the same files that most printers use to make on-demand charts for you. Since you're plotting with the exact same chart you'd have if you used paper, it gives you a "second opinion" vs. the electronic chart in your GPS. When you transfer the route to your GPS and see it over the electronic chart, you have added confidence knowing that the route was plotted against the actual NOAA chart.
I've used most of the programs mentioned above, but IMO the one that is by far the best of the freebies is OpenCPN (which was not mentioned above). You can plot routes, save them, change them, transfer them, etc.
My Garmin handheld GPS will record your track even if you have not plotted a course. I keep it on all the time even if I'm not using it, just so I can check where I've been.
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2001 Catalina 34MkII Breakin' Away (at Rock Hall Landing Marina)
PO of 1998 Catalina 250WK Take Five (new owners relocated to Baltimore's Inner Harbor)
1991 17' Trophy (Lake Wallenpaupack)
1985 14' Phantom (Lake Wallenpaupack)