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I have been using a cell phone for a chart plotter since about 2014.

Cell phone chart plotters are not a good match for every ones navigation purposes but may be an acceptable solution for some, especially on smaller boats with less robust electrical systems.

Here is a vid I shot explaining why it works for me :)

 

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I am using iNavex on an iPhone and it works just fine for me. I get to pick the charts I want from a variety of suppliers.
 

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I find Navionics is effective as a plotter... and handy too! When I have a destination which is tens or scores a miles away AND I am able to fetch it sailing (of course motoring) there is no need to even entering a waypoint... though you can. And routes for sailboats make no sense with any plotter.... though powered boats can use them. The current information is very useful

All you need is a heading/course line out to "infinity" which will show where you will end up if you maintain your heading and there are no current influences. But when there is current you simply are adjusting your heading to keep the line crossing the destination.

As a convenience I DO enter a waypoint into the fixed mount plotter which then has data repeat to cockpit dash displays. I get data such as: DTW - distance to waypoint, CTW - course to waypoint, TTG time to go to waypoint, SOG - speed over the ground, COG - course over the ground. Also it sends cross track data which I don't bother with.

If you want a larger display use a tablet!
 

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Generally, I use Navionics on my ipad and iphone as a backup to the plotter. However, my phone is always in my pocket and the app running, while underway. I will sit on the side deck, next to the helm wheel and can't always see the plotter. I often take it out of my pocket to check course and nearby obstructions, or to double check that nearby ATNs confirm the GPS location (always crosscheck all instruments when you can).

I also keep it with me, when down below and someone else is on the helm so I can monitor heading and speed.
 

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Generally, I use Navionics on my ipad and iphone as a backup to the plotter. However, my phone is always in my pocket and the app running, while underway. I will sit on the side deck, next to the helm wheel and can't always see the plotter. I often take it out of my pocket to check course and nearby obstructions, or to double check that nearby ATNs confirm the GPS location (always crosscheck all instruments when you can).

I also keep it with me, when down below and someone else is on the helm so I can monitor heading and speed.
Right... and this is why may pedestal pods are often not useful and they require you to be sitting or standing behind the helm... where you usually can't see the head sail trim as well... and if you can you can't work the winches.

Precise position is only critical to avoid charted hazards - ledges, shoals, rocks, submerged objects, ATONs. For sure you can get a quick fix on your heading with a hand held device and a snap shot of local hazards.

But you still need to watch for other near and approaching vessels of course.

Most will find a comfortable spot and let the AP steer...while they monitor progress and the environment,
 

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Definitely a problem... But if you can get some shade... these screens have very high res.
 

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We use Navionics on a Samsung tablet as a backup to our e7 Raymarine chartplotter (that also runs Navionics charts). I also have Navionics on our phones as a backup to the tablet. This came in handy last year when I dropped the tablet and broke the screen during a trip.

Navionics on the tablet is more than a backup though. It's easier to pan and zoom than doing that with the plotter, so easier to get an idea of the big picture and our track. Easier to plot direction and distance to our destination, and estimate time of arrival with the tablet. It's also easier to use the tablet for route planning, active captain info, tide and current info, etc. It's also a convenient way to save and label all your tracks when on a cruising trip, which you can review via computer on their site from anywhere. The Samsung screen is pretty easy to see in the sun, even with sunglasses on. So it's our go to source for planning and checking progress.

One difference we have noticed, though, is the plotter Navionics charts sometimes have more depth detail in some shallower waters than the Navionics app does. Not sure why this would be, but for watching depth in areas of concern, we always default to the plotter.
 

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active captain info
Is the crowd sourced info staying current? It was voluminous in early stages, which is critical for crowd sourced data to be meaningful. I drifted away, after Garmin bought them and bungled it up at first. It stopped interfacing with my nav app at the time.
 

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Is the crowd sourced info staying current? It was voluminous in early stages, which is critical for crowd sourced data to be meaningful. I drifted away, after Garmin bought them and bungled it up at first. It stopped interfacing with my nav app at the time.
Yes it is. Of course much depends on where you're cruising. Up on the the Great Lakes we just don't get the number of comments you get along the coast. They do seem to be added to the app as they come in.
 

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Crowd source data needs to be time/date stamped.
If charts can indicate with some code or color that some bit of data is crowd sourced it is important to know the age of the data No?
 

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Hello,

As many of you stated, it's not an either / or thing. I use both. I love my B&G Vulcan that is mounted at the pedestal. I also love Navionics running on my phone and IPAD. I use both. When I am planning a trip somewhere, it's much easier to plan the route on my IPAD than on the Vulcan.

I can use the IPAD at home, or on the boat, and I can easily zoom in / out to see the entire picture. If I'm going somewhere far away (far away being more than 50nm) I will start with a chart book and when I'm comfortable that I know the obstructions I will do actual planning on the IPAD. When that's done I save the route, and it will be available to my phone. When I get to the boat my iphone will sync with the Vulcan and both devices have the info.

When underway I typically use the Vulcan. The screen it bigger, brighter, waterproof and it runs on ships power so I don't have to worry about the battery dying like w my phone.

Regarding routes, I am a big fan of them. When I'm doing a long trip, anything I can do to lesson MY workload is a benefit. This past summer I sailed (really motored) from my home port to Shelter Island. It's not a complicated trip and I've done it before. However this time I left at midnight and motored all night. My daughter was with we and having the trip planned ahead of time and the route set made it easier for me to spend more time looking outside of the boat and less time worrying about our course. When we reached a waypoint it was a simple 'accept' on the screen and the AP routed us to the next waypoint. I was able to rest while my daughter was on watch and she was able to concentrate on other boats (we did see a few) and not worry about our heading. I was in the cockpit the entire time but I was able to lay down and relax.

Admittedly this is not a big deal, but since it's so readily available I take advantage of it.

When I long deliveries on the boat I race on (from Port Jeff to Liberty Landing for Around Long Island Regatta, or Mystic CT for Off Soundings, or Block Island,etc.) The boat owner does not enter routes. Instead he picks a heading and off we go. So someone has to pay more attention to where we are, when we need to change course, where are the obstacles, etc. Again, not such a big deal when you have 3 or more experienced sailors but for short handed work I like to have done the planning ahead of time so I don't have waste brain power on it.

I admit that I'm also a gadget geek I love all of the electronics and toys. I like knowing my VMG, DTW, TTD, TTW, Sailng time on port, etc. All the things that my Vulcan provides but Navionics on my phone does not.

Barry
 

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I tried using the cell phone but it was too small for my eyesight. I could not see the screen at all in bright sunlight. Dennis
I'm using a 10" Dragontouch Android tablet running Navionics and OpenCpn. Same apps and function as the phone but with a nice big screen. You have to get a cellular capable version to get the built in GPS, but they're easy to find. $120 on Amazon. You often hear people say they're using an "iPad" for this, but I hope they're using the term generically like using "Coke" to mean any kind of soda. A real iPad is about five times the cost of the Dragontouch, and in this application doesn't do anything the Android won't.
 

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You often hear people say they're using an "iPad" for this, but I hope they're using the term generically like using "Coke" to mean any kind of soda.
Not here. Actual iPad. It does so much more for me than just navigation and is inherently plug and play and fully integrated across multiple devices, with zero effort. I buy the app once and it appears on all.

I know there are strong feelings for one tech or the other and I have no interest in convincing anyone to agree with mine.
 

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I've really enjoyed supplementing my aging chartplotter with mobile navigation aids. The real drawback is having to charge so many mobile devices and keep them going. That's the big reason I don't rely on them exclusively. My current setup:
  • Garmin 525 chartplotter and depth sounder. Came with the boat. This is all I use if I'm just day sailing and not trying to get anywhere.
  • IPad Mini/Bad Elf GPS/iNavX. Used for route planning and course setting on longer trips. (The Bad Elf is needed because my version of the Mini doesn't have integrated GPS)
  • IPhone XR: used for weather and anchor watch applications. Also big fan of Boat Beacon app if I'm crossing a shipping channel. For daysailing, use iNavX as Garmin backup.
 

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Why not add a USB port in your cockpit to keep your mobile device charged?
 

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Discussion Starter #18
That's my solution. My power pack, has 4 USB outs.

The power pack claimed to be IP67. Not sure if that's true, you can see in this pic how much seawater has corroded the USB ports, but oddly it still works just like new.
20201112_162541.jpg
 

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You can buy a cig plug which has a USB and one with a USB and another cig plug/outlet.
 
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