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We have been underway going on 12 years now. We have a Raymarine chartplotter as our primary source but we have OpenCPN on 2 laptops, one big one small, and a tablet. They all run Microsoft - I am not a techie but getting them to run is not difficult.

We use OpenCPN to do all our planning and as back up if the Raymarine has an issue. We have lost our Raymarine a couple of times so we simply boot up the computer or tablet and bring it to cockpit and use it.

In fact last year when we were sailing the coast of Cyprus we lost our GPS signal multiple so we brought up the laptop and zoomed in our last position and used the charts to start navigating to an anchorage before the gps came back. And it was getting dark - worked great and kept the anxiety level down.
 

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I gave up. ended up buying and downloading Navionics app. Great stuff

Sailorjane
I tried to get this to work on my PC... find and load charts and so forth. I am too dumb to get it to work... I use my Raymarine, B&G, Horizon and navionics on Mobile devices.

Having said that all I want from these nav tools is to show my position on a decent chart and a heading line out to infinity. I rarely both with waypoints.. and when I do, I set one on the fly.

Haven't ever had to need to do "route planning", but as in olden times.... I look at the destination on the charts well in advance of having to make my way to their anchorage.

Be prepared.
 

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I’ve just recently installed OpenCPN on a Raspberry Pi 3b. I intend to run it headless, and use laptops and tablets to access it via VNC. I’m familiar with embedded systems, and I still had a few hiccups getting it to work well over VNC. It only wanted to run in 700x412 or some goofy resolution, which was not ideal. I’ll be writing up a blog post on it, but basically I had to drop back to the fake KMS GL driver, manually specify the HDMI mode in config.txt, then enable hardware acceleration in OpenCPN. None of these things are hard to do, but they are not obvious.

I’ve been running the setup on my dining room table for several days now, with a USB GPS attached (GlobalSat BU-353-S4), and it has been rock solid. It is quite responsive over VNC, which was important to me. And its touchscreen mode is done well. It isn’t as quick as running it right on my laptop, but still much faster than some dedicated GPS units I’ve used.

I have it set up with the NOAA ENC charts, which work well. I also set up the o-charts plugin so I can use the S63 charts and license I have for Canadian waters (via chartworld.com). This was pretty easy, overall.

We still have a few months before we are in the water for our first season on our new-to-us boat, but I’m looking forward to getting this system installed and seeing how it works underway.

Jonathan
 

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I bought a 2-year-old refurbished Dell 'ATG', which was an old semi-ruggedized laptop model (from a Microsoft-licensed reseller--critical for getting Windows updates), probably about 6 or 7 years ago, popped in a 216gb solid state hard drive when the original died, and am still using it. It's been a tank. With a GPS hockey puck plugged in to a USB slot, it works great with OpenCPN and stores all the NOAA charts for the Eastern US with plenty of room to spare. It's handy to have a computer on board for other uses, as well. I found a power adapter that plugs into the 12 volt system. I keep it on a nav desk that I can see from the cockpit, but also have a 12 v outlet topsides, so space isn't a problem.
 

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Laptops do not like being on a boat... Desktops are not terribly practical and most will fair no better. Moving parts and salty air don't get along well. Then there are the solid state drive small form PCs.. which may do better, but the keyboards and mouse may be problem getting a display into the cockpit becomes another problem. I think you're better off with a marine chartplotter or a smart phone/tablet with charting software.

No one has convinced me of the wisdom of route planning or extensive waypoint libraries in any case.
 

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(2) iPads and (2) iPhones that both link to our Garmin chart plotter using Garmin Active Captain, been especially useful in downloading Bob423 AICW way points. Also a solid state hard drive in a Panasonic Toughbook as backup
 

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Laptops do not like being on a boat...
Wouldn't know--only had the same one on mine on board for about 6 years now, in salt water, including offshore (and as my only PC at home, winters) and I've realized how unhappy it was. I guess I'll have to wait and see how it works out over time.
Meanwhile, I like word processing, chess software, internet connection with a keyboard and larger screen, though it's all a matter of personal preference. A 12v cig lighter outlet in a cockpit cubby gets it into the cockpit, unless the weather is real bad. Laptops have disadvantages--size, for one--but the ruggedized laptops seem to be sufficiently protected from moisture ingress around the keyboard, ports, etc, that, at least in my own experience. And refurbed ones are cheap. You can probably own 2 with identical hard drives, for the price of a dedicated plotter or one of those little tiny things you see people playing with while they're driving. But to each his own.
 

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Wouldn't know--only had the same one on mine on board for about 6 years now, in salt water, including offshore (and as my only PC at home, winters) and I've realized how unhappy it was. I guess I'll have to wait and see how it works out over time.
Meanwhile, I like word processing, chess software, internet connection with a keyboard and larger screen, though it's all a matter of personal preference. A 12v cig lighter outlet in a cockpit cubby gets it into the cockpit, unless the weather is real bad. Laptops have disadvantages--size, for one--but the ruggedized laptops seem to be sufficiently protected from moisture ingress around the keyboard, ports, etc, that, at least in my own experience. And refurbed ones are cheap. You can probably own 2 with identical hard drives, for the price of a dedicated plotter or one of those little tiny things you see people playing with while they're driving. But to each his own.
My laptops beginning with an Apple all crapped out. I too like a bigger screen for work and entertainment. I got an MFD to have radar and it's fine. I also will use smart phone as a plotter. I don't bother with route planning or waypoint libraries. It would be nice to have radar and AIS on a small mobile device. I have 2 working laptops I no longer use. On board I have a NUC with an 27" HP monitor all running from a buck transformer. HP can be moved any convenient place for entertainment or *computing*... which is more comfortable on a table top/desk top.
 

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OpenCPN is a geek's dream, with infinite possibilities for integration of navigational data. The power (and complexity) may get even greater with the upcoming version 5, for better or worse. But you do not need all that complexity, as it can function very nicely as an ordinary chartplotter.

There are two unescapable aspects of using OpenCPN that may make it a little more difficult to set up than a turnkey chartplotter:


  1. OpenCPN does not come with charts out-of-the-box. You need to bring your own charts. For those in the US, free charts are available and easily downloaded, especially with the downloader plugin. So the first time you use OpenCPN you may need to select the folder where the charts are located. This is not hard to do, and it puzzles me that it intimidates some people so much. Once you have them, they are always available even if you're out of Wifi range. One benefit of this approach is that you can put the charts anywhere, including on an SD card so you can take them home for updating (where you likely have faster Internet) and/or move the SD card between different computers to have them readily accessible. You could also sync them to the cloud, though they may take up a lot of space that requires paying for upgraded capacity. That's why I keep them on SD cards.

  2. OpenCPN may need to be interfaced with a GPS dongle. This is true for any navigation program. Most laptops do not have internal GPS. Virtually all smartphones do, so if you buy a smartphone app you don't need to worry about this. But we all know that there are many iPad owners who are shocked to learn that their Wifi iPad model does not have an internal GPS, so even Apple devices are not always that simple. I run OpenCPN on three inexpensive Windows tablets, two of which have GPS built-in. On my own boat I don't actually need the built-in GPS because I have a GPS antenna that feeds my DSC radio that also broadcasts over Bluetooth and Wifi, which OpenCPN easily picks up. But the internal GPS is very handy when I take my tablet onto charter boats or friends' boats.

Maybe these two issues are too intimidating for some. But personally, I find the user interface of OpenCPN to be extremely intuitive, and the first-time setup of charts and GPS is a distant memory that I quickly moved past. I really like having the exact same program running on my big screen at home (for planning future routes) and on my little tablets on the boat, where I automatically synchronize the routes, waypoints, and tracks using Google Backup and Sync whenever I'm in Wifi range.

I think that OpenCPN has a lot going for it, but I'm fine if some prefer to use a smartphone app, fixed mount chartplotter, or handheld GPS. I have those too, but OpenCPN on a Windows tablet (with no moving parts) has become my default navigation tool with all the others playing backup.
 

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The charts have always been an issue for me. My cruising ground is the Mediterranean. I have a subscription for Navionics charts for the Med (which I use on my B&G chart plotter via an SD card. Am I right in thinking that these won't work on OpenCPN?

If so does anyone know of charts that would work on OpenCPN for the Med that don't cost a fortune.

I do like the idea of planning routes on my PC rather than at the chart plotter which is outside.

Sent from my LYA-L09 using Tapatalk
 

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OT... can some sailboat person describe one of their route planning *sessions*? What does this consist of? Is it a set of waypoints saved to a named route to be followed at some point in the future? How does route planning take into consideration currents (set and drift) and wind speeds and polars for the boat?
 

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OT... can some sailboat person describe one of their route planning *sessions*? What does this consist of? Is it a set of waypoints saved to a named route to be followed at some point in the future? How does route planning take into consideration currents (set and drift) and wind speeds and polars for the boat?
I have always wondered what a Rout Planning route is.

When I plan a route thats the route. isnt it? Sometimes I initially just do a rough route: France to New York and the line might go straight over a few islands etc (England? :grin), but that gets fixed up.

I use OpenCpn as my primary navigation program. its the best free one in the world.

Auto current stuff and Polars I think you need one of the more expensive bits of software. I know I have some auto-routing siftware on my IPad and I have clicked on Auto-route for fun but I would never use it.

For currents I use Total Tide (if you can still find it on the net.)


OpenCpn has a good website opencpn.org

They did something really STUPID a few versions ago and made the previous Tracks disappear if you zoom out!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! So I lob into some French port and the Coast Guard want to see where I have come from: I say "Voila! Look at me plotter!" BUT all the tracks have disappeared! How utterly stupid. But its not the first stupid thing OpenCpn have done, so you gotta keep the other .exe files too to replace with an older pre-idiocy version :)
 

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I have always wondered what a Rout Planning route is.

When I plan a route thats the route. isnt it? Sometimes I initially just do a rough route: France to New York and the line might go straight over a few islands etc (England? :grin), but that gets fixed up.

I use OpenCpn as my primary navigation program. its the best free one in the world.

Auto current stuff and Polars I think you need one of the more expensive bits of software. I know I have some auto-routing siftware on my IPad and I have clicked on Auto-route for fun but I would never use it.

For currents I use Total Tide (if you can still find it on the net.)


OpenCpn has a good website opencpn.org

They did something really STUPID a few versions ago and made the previous Tracks disappear if you zoom out!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! So I lob into some French port and the Coast Guard want to see where I have come from: I say "Voila! Look at me plotter!" BUT all the tracks have disappeared! How utterly stupid. But its not the first stupid thing OpenCpn have done, so you gotta keep the other .exe files too to replace with an older pre-idiocy version :)
I hear ya! Routes in the ocean really make little sense as the passage takes days to weeks and the weather and currents are often the major variable that ANY charting/route planning software does do.

Cruising locally it's the same issue but *scaled* down. If I wanted to sail from City Island to Nantucket.... I could select the light at the entrance to Nantucket harbor as a waypoint. The rumb line obviously crosses over land so I would have to add some intermediate WPs to avoid the land obviously. I might notice some buoys on the route or near to it... I could or could not choose to use them as WPs. I would have to check for thin water and underwater hazards. I could motor this route... and leave the driving to Alison the AP. But if I am sailing I likely can't stay on the route.... having to tack or gybe to get to the next waypoint. Current needs to be considered on this journey as it runs at different velocities close to and further from the shore. I might want to ride a max fair current and then move away when it reverses.... but I could be as much as 40 miles along the way...

Route... why bother? Look at the chart and select a waypoint from City Island eastward in safe water and try to sail as close to this rumb line as possible. Might make sense to move north or south if I can to take advantage of fair currents. No accounting for scores of fisherman which become floating hazards never shown on the charts.

Going home have a track makes it easy to know you're in safe water if you can follow it getting into an anchorage.
 

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I use route planning (now Navionics auto-route) for the most rudimentary time and distance calculations. Unless motoring, I’m never going to stick to the route anyway. I can mentally estimate the additional time it will take to sail. Helps a bit. I like it for planning purposes, more than nav. However, when in foreign waters, the auto-route can be useful to leave up. We were sailing through merchant row in Maine and nothing was familiar. The auto route kept my eye on the best cuts and channels to sneak through the islands and get where I was going.

If I’m going through a current of over 1kt, I just adjust the boat speed in the route set up.
 

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I have used Navionics for years with virtually no issues. My MFD can Bluetooth into/ and from my I pad both utilizing the same Navionics program. Navionics also has a great currents program.

As far as route planning I use the feature when on longer trips, but just for generalized info like Sander does.

My choice to go with an MFD and it's Navionics makes sense for the type of sailing we do. My wife who shares the helm is not a computer geek by any stretch , but with a MFD running Navionics she has learned and has become quite adept and using the MFD info easily. Since our sailing is a shared experIance with her piloting Haleakula utilizing a simplified program like Navionics, and understanding it helps in over all safety IMHO. She also understands navigation by being able to follow along while not at the helm using one of our IPads when not at the helm. Course she can also read the pAper charts we carry. It makes no sense for only the Captain to have or be able to use and analyze the information because he/ she is the computer geek.

For me it important and adds to the experinice so she or find that matter any guest on board can follow along while on the boat. If something should happen to me while we are out, she will have no issues navigating. I don't want her to try and deccipher Open on some laptop in the cockpit or down below. Simplified in this case is better.

The MFD with Navionics

It is marinized so no sorry about weather
It networks with the radar imposed on the chart
It networks with the AIS on the chart
It can be synchronized with the sailing instruments including autopilot
It is back lighted for night time operation and has no sun glare during the day
It is hardwire and you don't worry about it's charge


I'm not on the boat to be a computer geek with Different labtops and screens for the charts and the radar and AIS. It's much easier to have them and Navionics overlaid In one spot....the MFD.

As far as cost...the MFD which has the Navionics has come way down vs compared to a laptop running Open. Cost is now a non issue

No MFD programs are perfect, however the safety and one stop shopping more thann outweigh any advantage for the minute ability to update on Op EE not.
 
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What model MFD do you have that supports Navionics and Bluetooth? My old instruments are working great, but I'm always on the lookout for what I would do if I had to do a refresh on my electronics.

Regarding above comments on the usefulness of routes, all my routes are plotted as the most direct course that I would only follow if I were motoring. I walk through it at home (using both raster RNC and vector ENC charts) to make sure I've avoided any charted obstructions, stayed out of the shipping lanes as much as possible, etc. I rarely follow it exactly - it's just a guideline.

When I go to actually sail, it goes without saying that I may be tacking back and forth across the rhumb lines. As an inland sailor, I never plot my individual tacks. But having the rhumb lines is very helpful for visualizing where I should tack once out on the water. I watch my VMG to optimize my heading vs. wind direction, and always look for when the next waypoint (or cove entrance) is 90° to my port or starboard, since that means it's about time to tack (with some intuitive corrections for current and leeway). Sometimes, once on a tack, I will tap on the screen and select "Navigate to here" and put the autopilot on track mode. That way the boat adjusts its heading to maintain a stable course to the desired point (XTE=0) and beeps when I've arrived at the temporary waypoint. But usually I just hit the "pilot" button on the autopilot and have the boat maintain a constant heading (which due to leeway and current is not the exact course).

For me, the biggest benefit of a pre-plotted course is at the end of a long day, with sweat and sunscreen getting into my eyes and late day sun glare, when I am at greatest risk of missing a marker on the way into an inlet. Those are the times when I'm most likely to skip a marker and cut a corner into skinny water. In those conditions, where your judgment is impaired by fatigue, it helps to have the blue line from one marker to the next.
 

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Rick some good thinking here. I suppose if the entry is *tricky* the prudent thing is to prepare/study in advance...something I have done since pre plotter / gps days... so when I actually have to thread the needle I have already done it in my mind.

Most useful to me is the track and the heading line and knowing the wind direction and speed and of course current.... which is of course rarely constant. Sailing is very dynamic over time spans of hours... and the notion of planning as if there are no environment/local factors is kinda nuts. APs w/ GPS can stay right on a course line making the small adjustments a helmsman likely couldn't.
 
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