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  #1  
Old 12-03-2006
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NOAA ENC charts

Can someone help me, I have just purchased Fugawi Marine ENC for my laptop/GPS as a back up. Fugawi supports the free NOAA charts so what is the difference between the NOAA ENC charts which are free and the ENC maps that each distributor charges a fee for. For example Fugawi offers Navionics Gold ENC maps for the area I want (Bahamas/Keys) for $200. There must be some additional features over the NOAA ENC charts. Can someone answer this as I dont want to spend the $200 if I dont have to.

Thanks in advance
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Old 12-03-2006
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The major difference is that the proprietary ENC charts have been modified to be readable by certain types of hardware, rather than just generic PCs. The Navionics ENC maps can be used in a range of GPS chartplotters, but the NOAA ENC files can not AFAIK.

There are also companies that distribute the NOAA ENC charts as a DVD, but "add value" by changing the way they are organized and listed.
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Old 12-03-2006
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So would you say there is not difference in quality?? When I load the NOAA they dont seem very detailed, I was thinking that the proprietary software (ie Navionics gold) may be better.

I charter so the chartplotter has its own pre set software. This is just for my laptop that I run as a redundant system in case the primary has problems.
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Old 12-03-2006
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Your fugawi reads both ENC and BSB charts so you might want to look at the free USA BSB version charts rather than the ENC's...they look like the real thing.
ENC's from private companies are NOT necessarily the same charts that you get free from the government. this is particularly true in the Bahamas where depending on the company you can get THREE different basic charts as the base and each of these is then further enhanced by the different mfr's add-ons like photography, marina info etc.
You can get the BSB's here:
http://nauticalcharts.noaa.gov/mcd/Raster/Index.htm
They call them RNC's for raster nav charts but the format is BSB
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Old 12-03-2006
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Thanks again Camad,

Can you tell my trip is getting closer..haha Lots of questions..

So who is buying the propriatary software from these companies and better yet why would someone buy the charts at $200 ish per region when they can get them for free from NOAA with no difference in quality?
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ENC charts often look fairly strange to people not used to them, since they are vector-based, rather than raster-based maps. At low magnification factors, the detail on them will often be determined by the software setup rather than what data is actually there.

The raster charts that cam is talking about are essentially scanned versions of the standard charts. ENCs are very different, as the data in them is not really graphical, but actually stored in a database format of a sort.
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Old 12-03-2006
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Sab... a few thoughts in answer to your question.
1. Lets remember that the use of PC's for actual navigation duties aboard boats is low. Chart plotters and cartridges are far more common and since they are proprietary...there are no government free charts for this market. And so...chart cartridges can be sold for whatever the competition/free market allows.

2. Many people who plan to cruise outside of the USA have to pay for their charts. Example : Canada

3. Some people will pay for the RIGHT electronic charts for an area. Example...the Explorer charts in paper are the BEST charts for the Bahamas. Only 3 mfrs. are using them to produce electronic charts for the Bahamas. Avoiding running aground once pays for the software! Avoiding putting a hole in your boat pays for a lot more!

4. The proprietary charts now come with a lot of extras that people like. Harbor photos, NavAid identification,3D Views, marina info etc. that some are willing to pay extra for...sometimes just to impress their friends!




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Old 12-04-2006
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Cam, do you know which mfrs. are using Explorer charts for their electronic charts?
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Ebs...http://www.explorercharts.com/
lists blue charts, CMAP and Nobeltec's Passport as the 3 vendors which use the electronic versions of their charts.
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Old 12-06-2006
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Not to steal the thread, but can any of the NOAA electronic charts be loaded into my Garmin handheld chartploter? Is there a conversion program? I've got the BlueChart for Hawaii, but like the look of the NOAA charts better.
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