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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance > Uses for Chart plotters and chart plotting software
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Thread: Uses for Chart plotters and chart plotting software Reply to Thread
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Topic Review (Newest First)
10-07-2011 11:03 PM
KnottyGurl I have the Garmin 441s and it really is a great navigation tool, I keep a chart opened to the area I am in for a quick reference of where I am heading and to get a bigger picture. My plotter is set to 800 ft so I have depth detail and what I feel is a good range from my position.
It also has a quick MOB button which if needed in snotty weather could be a great feature, though have never used it except in drills.
The anchor alarm works great and in night mode with screen off it draws little power but if we move alarm will wake me, which is a good feature too.
The laptop is used to plan out trips and points of interest along the way and what great is having a few routes to one place for contingencies of weather, sickness or friends, all I need do is bring up an pre done route switch it over to new destination and load plotter with new info, how simple is that. Obviously the MK1 eyeball is used throughout the route and tracks are then loaded in to laptop for re route updating to have a more accurate route plan at my disposal.
how many grease marks can your chat hold before you loose it.
honey holes, big fish I have trolled for get marked as well and the plotter will show me them as were moving along, great reminder if fish chowder should be added to the menu that night.
Also and lastly I single hand alot and it gives me (well maybe wrong) it gives me a good feeling to just look over zoom in or out to get a quick reference of my position which I can eyeball verify.
Having my exact position is not always imperative, but general position is nice.
10-07-2011 10:03 PM
Ritchard
Quote:
Originally Posted by DRFerron View Post
I hope I do not come across as mean-spirited or full of myself, but, when electronics die from a lightning strike, when the GPS fails because of solar activity or an outage (and there are planned outages that can last for a long time) do you know how to transfer what those tools do to your paper charts? I don't mean just "referring" to the charts. Can you take a fix to get your position so that you can accurately provide your location if you have a mayday situation? Plot a DR course on the paper chart and run it? If you can, than I misunderstood your use of the word "refer" and I apologize.

I agree that electronic chart plotters are easy to use, they're fun, they give you all the information you need quickly, they won't fly overboard in a breeze, etc. They also fail.To me common sense means knowing how to seamlessly use a paper chart and plotting tools to give you the exact same information that your electronic chartplotter can give you. I respectfully disagree that advocating knowing how to use a paper chart is anything other than responsible boating.
Re: para 1. I probably could get pretty close in a pinch, but I am in no way proficient. But as I said, I am a brand new sailor, and all of my journeys - other than bringing the boat home after purchase - are within 20 miles of home (Toronto). I know this side of Lake Ontario quite well.

In my above post I am in no way suggesting that I am any kind of expert. nor did I advocate the abandonment of a paper chart navigation system. I think that for anything other than the very local cruising that I do, you probably want to be proficient with old school navigation skills, even if you never have to use them. I am sure that I will do more navigation studying before I do more adventuresome cruising, but for now, my skill level suffices.

All this having been said, I stand by my statement that some of the early posters in the thread were pretty full of themselves. But I should not be at all surprised, as that's common to the forums I follow for diving, aviation, motorcycles, and whatever else.

The main point of my post was actually about the iPad, which is brilliant as a plotter, easy to use, and CHEEP compared to the schmansy ones from the boat store.

Respectfully,

R
10-07-2011 03:34 PM
DRFerron
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ritchard View Post
I am a very new sailor, and while I have paper charts for every place I have ben/intend to go, I rely heavily on iSailor on the iPad. It is SO easy to use, so easy to get a quick reference of this buoy, or that light, or to touch to make waypoints, or take measurements, I cannot see navigating without it. I can also hardly imagine using an old school fixed chartplotter that you cannot swipe and pinch etc.

...
Of course I would refer to paper charts, and of course there is a need for paper backup to electronics, and of course there is a need for visual verification, and of course there is a need for common sense. I think at least a couple of posters in this thread were kind of full of themselves, not very open minded, and kind of mean-spirited in their replies.
I hope I do not come across as mean-spirited or full of myself, but, when electronics die from a lightning strike, when the GPS fails because of solar activity or an outage (and there are planned outages that can last for a long time) do you know how to transfer what those tools do to your paper charts? I don't mean just "referring" to the charts. Can you take a fix to get your position so that you can accurately provide your location if you have a mayday situation? Plot a DR course on the paper chart and run it? If you can, than I misunderstood your use of the word "refer" and I apologize.

I agree that electronic chart plotters are easy to use, they're fun, they give you all the information you need quickly, they won't fly overboard in a breeze, etc. They also fail.To me common sense means knowing how to seamlessly use a paper chart and plotting tools to give you the exact same information that your electronic chartplotter can give you. I respectfully disagree that advocating knowing how to use a paper chart is anything other than responsible boating.
10-07-2011 11:55 AM
killarney_sailor I guess I was off sailing with this discussion surfaced before so I apologize for my late comments. A marvelous use of a plotter is as an anchor monitor. As soon as we anchor and get the engine off we turn the plotter to north at the top and zoom down to the highest magnification - in our case, Raymarine C80 with gold charts, 1/32 of a mile. Then we turn track on (if not already on from entering the anchorage). We leave it on for at least a couple of hours to make sure we are not dragging. You can come back a few days later if you are not sure and let it run again and see if the pattern is any different. Given time and a few wind, current shifts you can see where the anchor is by the pattern made by the track function.

Something else to remember is that the cartography on electronic charts comes from somewhere and the quality of the electronic charts is directly related to the quality of the sources. In the Bahamas, Garmin have rights to Explorer Charts and if I was going to spending a lot of time there it would be a good enough reason to buy a Garmin plotter. In the Eastern Caribbean, Navionics charts have the Imray/Iolaire chart data so they are best there.

Someone mentioned using a plotter to navigate into an anchorage that was not well-shown on the paper charts. I would want to know where the electronic data came from. It is a gross mistake to overzoom on a plotter. Just because you zooming in does not mean that there will be infinitely more data to be had at a tighter scale.

We have done just under 20,000 miles in the last two years and did not have the paper charts out except for Bahamas (Explorer Charts are remarkably good) and around really isolated islands like Easter, Pitcairn, and Suawarrow where you will use every bit of data you can get (plotter, paper charts, cruise guides). In US waters and places like French Polynesia where there are good paper charts there are good electronic charts. In some places the paper charts and electronic charts are both terrible and the cruising guides (if they exist) are best. BTW, we make sure to have up-to-date electronic charts but are happy to have older paper charts - otherwise the cost of long distance cruising can get out-of-hand - even with reproductions.
10-07-2011 09:34 AM
HeartsContent It's funny how people feel obligated to state that they have "paper charts" as if they have blasphemed a religious figure if they don't.

I am not condoning that paper charts have no place but, depending on what you are doing, their relevance can fade pretty quickly. Even as backups, they are not as accurate as the electronic charts, so they are a step down in quality. I have a chart plotter and an iPhone for backup that can be charged via the 12v outlet. My charts are ancient.

Social software like Active Captain sets a new direction with current information that complements any guide book.
10-07-2011 09:21 AM
Ritchard I am a very new sailor, and while I have paper charts for every place I have ben/intend to go, I rely heavily on iSailor on the iPad. It is SO easy to use, so easy to get a quick reference of this buoy, or that light, or to touch to make waypoints, or take measurements, I cannot see navigating without it. I can also hardly imagine using an old school fixed chartplotter that you cannot swipe and pinch etc.

During a recent overnight transit of Lake Erie, it was especially useful for giving some sense of position where there was little in terms of visual reference.

Of course I would refer to paper charts, and of course there is a need for paper backup to electronics, and of course there is a need for visual verification, and of course there is a need for common sense. I think at least a couple of posters in this thread were kind of full of themselves, not very open minded, and kind of mean-spirited in their replies.
09-28-2011 10:34 AM
harbin2 Since this was my original post, I guess it’s OK for me to update or revive it. I just re-read all the responses from several months ago and made a new list of additions to my original post (below). Again, thanks for all the great responses – both supporting and being critical of the use of these devices.

As much as I like technology and gizmos, I do admit to often struggling to really learn to use it effectively. Many of you (like Dog) go way over my head with technical details on software formats etc. I do have SeaClear and NOAA charts on my laptop but don’t use it much. I also have Garmin HomePort on my laptop and use it a lot. I also use Active Captain a lot –great service. I’m considering loading a new chart plotting app and an Active Captain app on my new Android phone once I figure out how to use 25% of the other things it came with.

I have used my chart plotter a lot more than I ever thought I would and now wouldn’t do without it. I really do like my Garmin 441 but I don’t believe Garmin has done a very good job of providing instructions on it’s use. I would sure welcome something on what many of the features are intended for. The units do so much, a good instruction book would be 500 or 600 pages in length.

Additional Uses:

1. Get an idea of how long it will take to some waypoint/destination.
2. Speed over ground when getting ready to drop anchor.
3. To record alternative landfalls in case of an emergency – mark the entrance and make notes as to hazards, best anchorages, etc.
4. Set up proximity waypoints when anchoring so you can see if you are dragging based on wind directions and shifts.
5. The cross track screen can help you realize if you're being blown or pushed off course
6. Saving tracks for possible slide shows/presentations.
7. Using the GPS and checking your COG versus your heading, you can see what the effects of set and drift are on your course in many cases. Heading is the direction the boat is facing, COG is the actual direction the boat is moving in, and rarely are they the same.
8. One thing I haven't seen mentioned yet is using the DSC position function when you're buddy boating. Three of us Sailnetters kind of kept track of each other's location this past summer while cruising the same area.
9. I use the Post-It tape flags to keep the position of the boat updated on the chart, especially if I'm in unfamiliar waters.
10. used a GPS track to backtrack out of creeks with skinny water
11. plot to waypoints I've never been to always erring on the side of the deeper water
12. Getting into small anchorages where detail is not shown on the charts.
13. integration of Google Earth with my chart software. It is amazing. I can zoom in on a marina and tell if it is primarily sail or power.
14. Due to power draw, turn unit on only to record (track) entrances to anchorages, etc. and not long tacks in open water.
15. in stormy weather or when sailing at night as an aid
16. To show alterations to aids to navigation such as modifications to the channel North of Kent Narrows. Of course, opening your eyes will show the same alterations but a note might help remind you of how bad the area is for shoaling.
17. ETA and ETE features for purposes of selecting the destination for the day, when we need to depart, etc.
18. to get real time current set and drift if you have a GPS, compass and log connected

Cautions:
1. Don’t use waypoints you have created for planning purposes for actual navigation without visual and chart checking.
2. When cutting corners, consider whether the buoy or day marker is intended for commercial shipping or to mark shoals in smaller channels.
3. Charts and GPS are more reliable in popular cruising areas and less reliable in more remote areas.
4. Don’t plan buoy to buoy since that can cause you to hit the buoy and that is what lots of other boats are doing too. Create waypoints a couple hundred yards off the buoy. Also, plan routes out of commercial channels and perpendicular to them.
03-01-2011 08:55 PM
night0wl
Quote:
Originally Posted by sailingdog View Post
It probably wasn't ported, it is probably running under WINE or something similar, as the SnowLeopard OS is only for INTEL chip Macs.

If you're a geek, you could get SeaClear II or most any of the other PC options running on a Intel-based Mac.

Defintely not WINE or other emulation. Its a full port

Download OpenCPN | Official OpenCPN Homepage


Special Mac Release 2.3.1 beta:

Download OpenCPN 2.3.1 for Intel Mac. (This is an untested, special beta build of 2.3.1 for Macintosh)
03-01-2011 08:29 AM
sailingdog It probably wasn't ported, it is probably running under WINE or something similar, as the SnowLeopard OS is only for INTEL chip Macs.

If you're a geek, you could get SeaClear II or most any of the other PC options running on a Intel-based Mac.

Quote:
Originally Posted by night0wl View Post
Recent development for Mac...someone ported OpenCPN to OS X (Snow Leopard at least). Check the OpenCPN thread on the "other" sailing/cruising forum.
03-01-2011 07:32 AM
night0wl
Quote:
Originally Posted by sailingdog View Post
Do you have a PC or a Mac? If you're on a PC, SeaClear II, OpenCPN, are possible choices, though you may need a translation utility to load the waypoints and routes to the GPS. If you're on a Mac, MacENC (not free), is a possible choice.


Recent development for Mac...someone ported OpenCPN to OS X (Snow Leopard at least). Check the OpenCPN thread on the "other" sailing/cruising forum.
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