Category: Charts

On The Water ICW ChartGuides, more great work from Mark & Diana Doyle

Sep 7, 2015

OTW_ChartGuide_ICW_vol1_ed1_aPanbo.JPGMy expectations for the recently announced On The Water ChartGuides were high, but darn if checking out a whole 120 page review copy didn't blow me away (and I'm already familiar with most of the Intracoastal Waterway that Volume 1 covers). The two new ChartGuides are also remarkably inexpensive in print or electronic formats, just like OTW's other ICW guides. My only complaint? The Doyles are such skilled and prolific communicators that I feel like a piker!

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The paper chart, still the best?

Jun 2, 2015


It's true that I don't navigate on paper charts anymore, but I appreciate them and use their electronic equivalent more than ever. One reason is what I learned last January while preparing for a TrawlerFest seminar called "Soup to Nuts Navigation" (which I'm reformulating right now for the new Cruising Boat Expo here in Essex, CT). The other is having just run up from North Carolina -- including the entire New Jersey ICW, which can't fit much more boat than Gizmo -- with just about every chart type and brand in view. I think we would have had more trouble than we did because my mate and I learned navigation starting with paper charts and we referenced the equivalent heavily...

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Raymarine Chart Store, the Lighthouse format go international

Mar 15, 2015


I heard in Miami that the online Raymarine Chart Store would soon open, but I had no idea how well stocked the virtual shelves would be. It was great when Ray enabled its own Lighthouse raster and vector chart format a year ago even though they only duplicated NOAA's entire free coverage of US coastal waters. Now there are more free charts available -- for other nations that also give their data away, like Brazil and New Zealand -- as well as access to an interesting array of commercial charts...

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Shouldn't our community sourced marine data be open to all developers?

Mar 10, 2015


I've been cogitating a lot about crowdsourced depth data lately, including the realization that "community sourced" is a better term. Whatever it's called, Navionics in particular has made it wonderfully easy to collect and share sonar files and especially wow with the Vexilar integration. But the business stakes are high and thus we have the frustration of Navionics and Garmin butting heads. Upon further contemplation, a wistful thought from that last entry -- "Wouldn't it be great if we could upload our data to some service that would make it available to any chart developer?" -- seems not only important to avoiding further messes and helping this technology proliferate, but also quite possible...

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MIBS 2015: Raymarine, Icom, Lowrance, B&G, FLIR, Blue Sea and drones

Feb 23, 2015


"Black is the new gray," say the folks at Raymarine, and so it is with the three new CPx70 sonar modules which were introduced in Miami. They'll replace the existing blackbox fishfinders but not the CP100 and 200 CHIRP Down-or-Side-Vision and sonar combos designed for shallower depths and structure imaging. So the 600-foot-max-depth CP100 also installed on the demo boat above highlights by contrast the beefiness of the CP370 model, which is actually the bottom of the new line with its traditional dual 50KHz and 200 KHz fixed frequencies, 1,000W of power and purported depth range of 5,000 feet. The performance enhancements seem subtle but multiple...

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Lessons of Vestas Volvo wreck, but what about the C-Map Grounding Alarm & similar?

Dec 10, 2014


The fixed camera on the stern of Vestas Wind captured the worst possible unintended jibe. That's when you're blasting along at 19 knots through a tropical offshore night, but then your Volvo Ocean 65 suddenly smashes its way up onto a reef shearing off the rudders and spinning 180┬░ as waves and wind take total control. That is a frightened and nearly naked man beyond the limp mainsheet and when watching the video you, too, may utter involuntary curses. No one was hurt, though, and the crew has been frank about the mistakes made. This has led to some useful conversations about the dangers of electronic charting, but it also reminded me of an uncommon electronic charting feature that might have prevented this shipwreck...

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Navionics SonarCharts, now via SonarPhone or GPX file, plus the Lowrance autopilot

Jul 17, 2014

Navionics_Vexilar_iPad_app_aPanbo.jpgWow. Combining the Navionics Boating apps and the Vexilar SonarPhone WiFi fishfinder seems like an obvious development now, but there are so many marine electronics integration possibilities these days that even the ripe low-hanging fruit can be surprising. Announced yesterday at ICAST (PDF here) and available for iPhone/iPad in August (and Android later), the combined Navionics SonarPhone app means that a small boater can have a fairly sophisticated plotter/fishfinder for about $200, phone or tablet not included (and note the issue of screen visibility in an open boat). I was impressed with the SonarPhone bobber-style T-Pod in April and suspect that SP200 T-Box small boat model works even better. And there's more: the users of this system can very easily contribute their sonar logs to Navionics' SonarChart collection, which they can access (along with chart updates) with an additional $25 Navionics+ annual subscription.

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Navionics Boating app, now with free U.S. charts!

May 29, 2014

Navionics_Boating_app_v7_w_US_Gov_chart_cPanbo.jpgThis is a significant surprise. Version 7.0 of the free Navionics Boating app released today for iPad and iPhone includes the ability to download and use NOAA vector charts, as seen above. Meanwhile, if you already own a Navionics Marine app for iOS, there's a 7.0 update available which adds "Gov Charts" and the same feature will soon come to Android versions of both the Boating and Marine apps. Navigators who already use Navionics charts on a tablet or phone may find it useful to have NOAA data for comparison, but the big news is that any U.S. boater can now enjoy a Navionics level charting app completely free...

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Raymarine LightHouse II, the chart goodness

Mar 11, 2014


A demo look at the new LightHouse Charts got me excited last fall, and I feel more so now that I've cruised around with them. U.S. boaters who own Raymarine a-, c-, e-, or gS-Series multifunction displays will find that both types of reprocessed free NOAA charts install fairly easily, look good and zoom/pan quickly. And though no LightHouse charts for waters beyond the U.S. have been announced, Raymarine clearly has the ability to produce them or permit third party cartographers like NV-Charts to do it themselves. Finally, Raymarine's U.S. plotter models should hopefully cost a little less with free charts, and Navionics has perhaps been motivated to up its game. (Whatever the motivation, significant new Navionics features are right around the corner.)

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Raymarine LightHouse II, the paper chart lives on

Nov 6, 2013

Raymarine_LightHouse_II_w_NOAA_raster_chart_cPanbo.jpgIsn't it interesting that just after we learned that NOAA will no longer print traditional paper charts, Raymarine announced that all its current plotters will soon be able to use the digitized "raster" equivalent of those same NOAA charts? The "completely redesigned LightHouse II" software that will make this entirely free new feature happen is due out in December, but I got on the water with a beta version last week. I was impressed with how well the raster charts looked and how well they panned and zoomed, even in beta, and there's much more to like about LightHouse II...

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