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Over Hill Sailing Club
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I have two forms of chartplotting navigation. One is a very old, rugged, and reliable Garmin 376C but there are no longer recent charts available and it's not compatible with NOAA Raster or Vector. So, a perfectly good piece of hardware is good for the trash bin because it has been thrown under the bus by the company that made it....what else is new? The other is a Toughbook CF31 and a couple of different programs (Sailcruiser and Open CPN). Along with NOAA charts, both of these programs work very well. I am wondering if there are any systems such as Navionics which might be better alternatives as the backup nav system. I would not buy another Garmin because of the proprietary restrictions and Garmin map only approach. We only do USA sailing now so NOAA charts are really all we need. Would like to have the most accurate system on board whether it be Windows, Android or other. Thoughts?
 

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The tablet app based systems, such as Navionics, are pretty simple and routinely updated. Generally, you have to pay annually, but it's pretty inexpensive considering.
 

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One is a very old, rugged, and reliable Garmin 376C but there are no longer recent charts available and it's not compatible with NOAA Raster or Vector.
Yep, my Garmin 76cx has died and I wont replace it with a Garmin for the same reasons as you... their proprienty charts BS.

[Your Toughbook CF31 must be decades old? Whats it running Win 3.1? LOL. Time to upgrade that too, eh?]

All charts except NOAA are crazy expensive.

I love my OpenCpn on a laptop because I love the freedom, speed and accuracy of a mouse.

I have a trans Atlantic passage next year and am starting to think about the upgrading of redundancy. Im kinda thinking about a twin laptop, wireless (wifi) system linking everything. (Yes, I would buy a second wifi router for redundency).

Main reasons are that a new small fast laptop is just a few hundred dollars (OK about $300 to $400). Beware the very cheapest new laptops dont have USB connections nor number pads, so you cant use them with a wired mouse.

I find the iPad and smartphone apps too small or too paired down to use useful. but remember, I do lang range cruising and need different things than coastal.

Anyway, buying 2 laptops that are connected, but independent may be the way I go.


Mark
 

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Not following why the redundant laptop needs to be connected to the other. Fire it up, when and if needed.

I still like the ipad for backup nav. It's multi function capability, far beyond navigation, is immeasurable. Much easier to bring to shore too, for comm, internet, etc, etc.
 
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For offshore if you are not using a chart plotter or MFD... what do you use for the GPS signal/antenna with a laptop?
 

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For offshore if you are not using a chart plotter or MFD... what do you use for the GPS signal/antenna with a laptop?
I'm sure there must be laptops that have integrated gps now, but you can plug an inexpensive gps receiver into a usb port. They are no bigger than a memory stick. There are also bluetooth receivers.
 

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Not sure what you mean. A receiver is a receiver. They may have different ways of connecting to the laptop or different communication protocols. How your laptop apps connect to the gps may differ.
 

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Over Hill Sailing Club
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Discussion Starter #9
The CF31 is actually a fairly new Toughbook. It's running Win10 with no problems. It also runs my decade old Sailcruiser 3 program which has all the whistles and bells. I originally had a CF29 which ran XP but XP has become too outdated to use for more than a few tasks. Security is non-existent. Sailcruiser will run my old C-Map charts which have all the Caribbean charts as well as NOAA charts. The 31 also has a great sunlight readable display, unlike almost any of the android devices or standard computers. It's also virtually indestructible. I tried a cf52 which quickly succumbed to a wave over the side:) The two problems with any computer are size and mounting in a good visible location and power consumption. I have only 200w of solar (above the alternator when motoring) which runs refrig, radar, etc. so there's not much power to spare. Keeping computers charged is an issue.
 

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Not sure what you mean. A receiver is a receiver. They may have different ways of connecting to the laptop or different communication protocols. How your laptop apps connect to the gps may differ.
You did not understand...

my Laptop has no GPS.... it needs an external one to use as a plotter.

Which external GPS antenna/receiver do people use? What the options? The differences and the costs? Which port do they use?
 

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Learning the HARD way...
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I have a Windows XP laptop running Polar Navy's PolarView NS with a BU-353 USB receiver. Unfortunately, PolarView has been discontinued, and my NOAA chart updates (raster and vector) for PolarView will end in June 2020. I have tried OpenCPN, SeaClear, and others, but PolarView was FAR easier to use. I hope to figure out a work around for chart updates.

Like others, I refuse to purchase a Garmin since my GPSmap 478 has been relegated to a paper weight by Garmin.

I have a Raymarine eS78 at the helm (tactical), and use the Windows laptop at the navigation station for route planning (strategic).
 

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Over Hill Sailing Club
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Discussion Starter #12
I have a Windows XP laptop running Polar Navy's PolarView NS with a BU-353 USB receiver. Unfortunately, PolarView has been discontinued, and my NOAA chart updates (raster and vector) for PolarView will end in June 2020. I have tried OpenCPN, SeaClear, and others, but PolarView was FAR easier to use. I hope to figure out a work around for chart updates.

Like others, I refuse to purchase a Garmin since my GPSmap 478 has been relegated to a paper weight by Garmin.

I have a Raymarine eS78 at the helm (tactical), and use the Windows laptop at the navigation station for route planning (strategic).
I also tried and subscribed to Polar View. I found it slow, at least on my gear, and very basic. Open CPN has worked much better in its latest iterations. When I first tried it a few years ago on XP machines, it repeatedly crashed but this seems to have been fixed. Sailcruiser by Navsim also discontinued its product although I was recently able to still contact very capable tech people there and get updates and access codes to change computers. Sailcruiser has all the right stuff for sailing including use of polars. It has more than I'll ever utilize. Am sad that this sailing-specific program has been discontinued.
 

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Hey,

I don't understand the Garmin hate. Garmin owns Navionics, and I don't think that (modern) Garmin gear requires a proprietary chart. I may be wrong because my only garmin GPS is a GPSMAP 78, but I run Navionics on it.

Just because you can't get new charts doesn't seem like a good reason to stop using a functional plotter. How often do charts change? How often do you actually update the charts (and your paper charts)?

I use Navionics on my Iphone, Ipad, and laptop (laptop used for planning purposes only, not for actual navigation) and I love it. My Garmin is stand alone (I use on other people's boats) so I don't need to share routes, tracks, etc. with other gear like on my own boat. There have been a number of review of Navionics on this site recently. I'm sure you can find them.

My last comment on old gear. How long do you expect old gear to be used and supported? Five years, 10 year, 20 years? IMHO if you get 10 years from electronic gear then that's pretty good.

Barry
 

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I'm betting Garmin bought Navionics, after realizing their proprietary BlueChart was a failure. Literally the worst nav system I've used.
 

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Hey,

I don't understand the Garmin hate. Garmin owns Navionics, and I don't think that (modern) Garmin gear requires a proprietary chart. I may be wrong because my only garmin GPS is a GPSMAP 78, but I run Navionics on it.

Just because you can't get new charts doesn't seem like a good reason to stop using a functional plotter. How often do charts change? How often do you actually update the charts (and your paper charts)?

I use Navionics on my Iphone, Ipad, and laptop (laptop used for planning purposes only, not for actual navigation) and I love it. My Garmin is stand alone (I use on other people's boats) so I don't need to share routes, tracks, etc. with other gear like on my own boat. There have been a number of review of Navionics on this site recently. I'm sure you can find them.

My last comment on old gear. How long do you expect old gear to be used and supported? Five years, 10 year, 20 years? IMHO if you get 10 years from electronic gear then that's pretty good.

Barry

Totally agree Barry,
 

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Just curious:
How do you get weather? We use satphone email, Sailmail via 802 SSB/ pacnor, voice on SSB
But also pay attention to radar. Usually leave radar unfiltered so rain shows up early.
How many crew do you have? Are they good or just sit with earplugs in and tunes going as they look at their phone/pad? We like having Radar/AIS on all screens and active alarm zones.
Do you hand steer or use a AP or vane? It’s no issue in the middle of the passage but usually fix with a pin so windvane is off and use the AP for the first day and last day of passage.
Charts usually aren’t the issue mid ocean but only at the hard edges. Hand steering gets old fast even with a big crew.
 

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dadio917
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check out Coastal Explorer for a windows system. Its really a great tool for planning and cruising, very easy to use yet extremely rich. One license covers 3 systems so you can have it at home and on the boat surface pro. It is windows only. NOAA charts are free. Couple it with an AIS device like vesper marine 8000 (which you should have anyways for safety) and you've got GPS over nema, usb, or wifi. Our boat is well equipped with simrad (with wifi) so we currently use coastal explorer for planning and backup but we used to use it exclusively for coastal sailing. worked fine for coastal but wanted more for offshore. it does cost a few $hundred but in my opinion well worth it.
 

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OK, were I to go the tablet route, how would I mount it at the helm (in a pod?), and be able to alter screens and views as I do on my MFD, use the touch screen, have a power cord running to it, and have it waterproof enough to take water (not spray) on it?
Nothing anyone has said here addresses these factors.
As for Garmin, how often do any of you, other than Mark, travel far enough that you would require more than a few of Garmin's proprietary charts chips? I use one for Bermuda, one for the eastern Caribbean and one for the western Caribbean. Big deal; 3 chips! Even if one was sailing from the PNW to New England, only 4 or maybe 5 chips would be necessary, considering all US waters (even Ak & Hawaii) are preloaded into all Garmin chartplotters.
That certainly wouldn't (hasn't!) put me off buying a Garmin GPS chartplotter that has given me excellent, reliable and consistently accurate service for over 14 years now, with the last 12 sitting in a pod 24/7/365 at the pedestal, exposed to rain, sun and humidity. It is handy to the helm, easily reached to change screens, view the radar, weather (if in range of SiriusXM Marine Weather), always plugged in and never needs charging, easily read in daylight or dark, 100% waterproof.
And, if one is stuck on the helm for an extended time steering through some heavy weather near shore, what would you folks touting the computer/tablet route use for navigation once your battery has worn down, given that the computer/tablet you are using has survived the several waves that most likely have engulfed the cockpit in those conditions?
 

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You did not understand...

my Laptop has no GPS.... it needs an external one to use as a plotter.

Which external GPS antenna/receiver do people use? What the options? The differences and the costs? Which port do they use?
Here, I have one of these:

https://www.thegpsstore.com/USGlobalSat-BU353-S4-USB-GPS-Receiver-P3219.aspx

It works as it should, no problems. When you run the programming software (included with purchase) you'll want to continue to use the same USB port moving forward. The laptop may not able to "find it" plugged in elsewhere.

This is really very simple stuff.
 

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Over Hill Sailing Club
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Discussion Starter #20
Hey,

I don't understand the Garmin hate. Garmin owns Navionics, and I don't think that (modern) Garmin gear requires a proprietary chart. I may be wrong because my only garmin GPS is a GPSMAP 78, but I run Navionics on it.

Just because you can't get new charts doesn't seem like a good reason to stop using a functional plotter. How often do charts change? How often do you actually update the charts (and your paper charts)?

I use Navionics on my Iphone, Ipad, and laptop (laptop used for planning purposes only, not for actual navigation) and I love it. My Garmin is stand alone (I use on other people's boats) so I don't need to share routes, tracks, etc. with other gear like on my own boat. There have been a number of review of Navionics on this site recently. I'm sure you can find them.

My last comment on old gear. How long do you expect old gear to be used and supported? Five years, 10 year, 20 years? IMHO if you get 10 years from electronic gear then that's pretty good.

Barry
Actually, charts change quite often. CG moves buoys constantly, eliminates buoys, and updates shoaling and danger areas. Having updated charts is important when making any kind of extended trip. Keeping up on the CG "Notice to Mariners" is equally important.

I have heard that the Navionics system is good. Some like the charting accuracy better than NOAA charts. I have never had a problem with NOAA charts myself and have travelled up and down the East Coast and ICW a number of times using primarily the NOAA Raster/ENC formats. I have found the updated ENC (Vector) depth charting on the ICW, even through the problem spots on the ICW, to be very accurate and dependable. They are regularly updated. No way would I trust outdated Garmin or any other charts for that. Navigating difficult sections is an exercise in trusting the buoys. It sure helps when you know what is coming up by being able to see accurate charts.

I expect any expensive electronic gadget to be supported until the end of any reasonable expected lifespan. My 376C, a great little unit, still works 100% but is largely useless now because no charts, chart cards, Bluecharts, or any updates are available. I believe 2012 is the latest chart set produced by Garmin that will run on the 376C. We have a throw-away psychology that people have come to accept as normal, such as $1000 smartphones that have irreplaceable batteries or the wonder of the "no flip" mattress. Unless we consumers demand better quality and value, we get what we deserve.
 
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