The choices of electronic charts and chart plotters are very wide indeed.

If you consider that the charts may cost more than the chart plotters, depending on how many maps you have to get in addition to your installed basic map, the selection of chart plotter should also include the consideration of what the chart will be worth for the planned area of crusing.

There are a few options when considering charts:
1- Nautic Path
2- Navionic
3- C-Map
4- Garmin own maps

Additionally when considering chart plotters:
1- Radar compatibility
2- Price of the chart plotter + radar.

Any one has any experience with the vaious different electronic charts? And chart plotters.

Can you recommend your preference, when you have compared it against another system? And why you prefer your recommendation.

Thank you,

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This may not be of much help, but I have some knowledge... For the most bare-bones solution, I had bought a $79 package of Microsoft Streets & Trips that came with a USB GPS receiver to plug into my laptop, and then bought another $99 package (approximately) - "Offshore Navigator" from Landfall Navigation, that included charts for all of the Eastern Caribbean. This combination works fine as a nav-station backup and monitoring system. Much of the time I do my primary navigation with a hybrid of the the old fashioned (paper charts, parallel rules, dividers, compass, visual etc. with basic electronics (simple non-plotting GPS, Depth/Wind/Speed instruments) - so this is plenty...

I'm also somewhat familiar with the Raymarine line (see, as our boat came with an older monochrome plotter that I've been looking into replacing since the display has faded to being almost unreadable. I do like the functions that tie into the autopilot to steer routes programmed into the plotter. Of note there is that, if you want to have multiple installations (i.e. at helm and at nav station, you need the considerably more expensive E series, rather than the C series. These really are multifunction - with inputs that will handle everything from radar to a DVD player. I'm not so sure about the software; for our existing one I was able to buy charts covering the whole Eastern Caribbean for a couple $ hundred - I believe they were C-Map "NT" series, which I have been happy enough with. However I'm sure that's quite obsolete technology by now.
Hi I have a 440s and its Garmin, and my boat is set up w transducer not compatible don't use the s, but use the depth finder on the boat

Would I want to use my laptop on deck? Scares me

Also still learning..hardly sail
I definitely don't use my laptop on deck - but in our cat the nav station is in the main saloon, at just about deck level and with decent visibility in almost all directions - and when I'm there, it doubles as my desk so my laptop is out and running anyhow much of the time.

I do think having compatibility is nice. Took awhile and replacing the old autopilot control panel when the old one died, but it's really nice to have the apparent wind indicator linked to the autopilot - so I can set it to steer a fixed apparent wind angle as an alternative to a fixed compass course, or to steer whatever course is necessarily to stay on a track programmed into the plotter. I'm sure newer systems do even more exotic stuff, if you want to take the time to learn and understand them.

One caviat, however - I do find the more you rely on this kind of stuff, the more likely you are to miss something and get into trouble. We've all heard stories of boats on the rocks with indignant owners who insisted the GPS said the reef couldn't be there... Hence, keeping my paper charts and old fashioned instruments. I guess it's easier having grown up learning this stuff when the only electronic navigation enhancements available were the RDF and an electric light for your compass. However, I've been glad to have had that background on more than one when on one Gulf Stream crossing by the time we got halfway back from Cuba we had no engine, dying batteries, a dead Loran and two dead handheld GPS units. But the charts (though waterlogged) and compass, along with DR and luck, got us safely back!

When you hardly sail, it may not be worth interconnecting the instruments.

If you want to though, the right hardware to convert the Raymarine Instrument to the 440S chart plotter will be the Miniplex Multiplexer.

Not cheap.
Add compatibility with AIS to your list, I'm sure most new units are but I'd check just to be sure.

I think one of the biggest factor would be where you are going to be sailing. For example, Garmin uses the Explorer Charts in their chart plotters. So if you were going to be in the Bahamas, the Explorer Charts are the preferred charts so the Garmin would be a good choice.

s/v Veranda
Thank you all,

I have already have a Garmin 540S, with the Blue Chart G2 Vision chart. But my experience with it is this. The 5" scrren is too small to have a clear idea. When you are zoomed in to show depth contours, the map coverage shown is so small that it is almost useless.

Did not realize this before purchasing.

Now I am considering a 10" with 600 x 800 H x W pixels resolution. In PC world, we have to go back to the late 1980s to have a screen so bad. May be the 1990s for a laptop PC with that kind of screen.

Looking at wehre I planned to cruise (AU + SE Asia), Nautic Path will take 2 chart @ 200 USD. Navionic 2 charts @ 290 USD. and C-MAP 3 charts @ ??? still waiting for the quote.

Paper chart is a must. But when you consider the number of paper chart each electronic chart covers, it would send anyone broke to get the equivalnet paper charts. So the strategy here is to get a paper chart for the general area. But not the very detailed charts. Enough paper chart to get you out of trouble and maintain the seamanship required when navigating.
You might want to look into electronic charts for PC, where you could print out sections to have paper backup. For at least some areas they can be had pretty cheaply; and combined with plug-in GPS module can be a plotter (like I do in Caribbean). But, one way or another I wouldn't want to go far without detailed paper for wherever you will be. What happens when power is out or electronics fail??? You know that guy Murphy was a sailor...

I don't know anything about AU & SEA, but for the price of a 10" plotter you can buy a lot of paper charts...especially if you look around, and can find some used ones (maybe look/pay-as-you-go). Maybe not as convenient, but combined with a cheap (non-plotter) GPS or two you'd be fine and safer...
Looking at where I planned to cruise (AU + SE Asia), Nautic Path will take 2 chart @ 200 USD. Navionic Gold 2 charts @ 290 USD. and C-MAP 3 charts @ 386 USD.

From this it is also clear that it is better to go with the previous edition of Chart. Like it is better to go for Navionic Gold than Platinum+. Garmin G2 vs. G2 Vision. For its larger coverage and lower price.


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