Navionics charts, really fresh data & lots of it
I’ve been using Navionics “Freshest Data” for almost a year now, and while it takes some getting used to and I have experienced a few glitches, my access to up-to-date charts has become nothing short of astounding. I can use the regular SD card reader on any of my computers to freshen a chart card right up to whatever changes Navionics cartographers have made to the master database that day. Plus each of the new generation Gold and Platinum+ cards comes with a voucher that you can use to download another set of charts — any set! — to your PCs, and they too are automatically updated every time you open the included Navionics PC chart viewer…
The key to Freshest Data is an app called Navionics World that you’ll be asked to download and install when you visit the Web Store on Navionics’ main web site. (Note that while there’s currently a warning up about slow downloads, I’ve haven’t experienced download problems myself, though the latest version of Navionics World itself took several attempts to install.) Once the app is running and you’ve registered or signed in, you just select “I have a plotter” on the main screen above, put your Navionics card in the slot, and you should get a screen like the one below. Once you start the download process updating the card is automatic…
If you then look on your chart card you’ll see that many files are new. The sub folders for 3D bathy info, topdown satellite photos and harbor images don’t change — understandable given that a Platinum+ card like this contains almost 8 gigs of data — but those various .nv2 files must be the core vector chart data. Note also the new folder of UGC files…
Yes indeed, Navionics is now loading user generated data onto chart cards and when I put a freshened one into the test Raymarine e7 with the “Community Layer” turned on, there’s all the Camden Harbor UGC that used to be only visible on a Navionics mobile or PC app. I think that Raymarine’s new e- and c-Series are the only MFDs that will show it right now, and the detailed interface to the data needs refining, but isn’t this the first time that crowd sourced data — CW article here — has gotten all the way to a dedicated navigation device?
Camden is a somewhat messy example of UGC these days because the town-maintained Outer Harbor channel buoys that got badly charted by NOAA in 2010 (still not fixed!) are now charted by Navionics and show above along with the UGC buoys that actually are more correct and got there first. It’s noteworthy that C-Map just went and fixed it, but then again Navionics has sure been busy with a total rebuild of their data collection and distribution system.
In fact, they announced an expansion of UGC into user-collected depth files in Miami which I intend to learn more about, but let’s look at the PC app I mentioned. You get to it via the same Navionics World program shown above, and the surprise it that the voucher you get with a new card can be used to download any Gold chart region. And since Gold regions are much larger than Platinum ones, you might end up with the massive chart portfolio I’ve accrued…
The PC app has evolved nicely since I first saw it, but it’s not meant for navigation, and the syncing of routes “across all my devices” still isn’t working for me. But I love having all these charts for armchair cruising or checking out a spot like North Coronado Island which came up sadly last week. The bit of UGC I created for the Aegean hasn’t yet showed up on my Navionics HD iPad app — though that’s also improved recently, adding geo-located Pilot info PFDs for instance — but maybe that’s the “degraded performance” Navionics is warning about?
But let’s be patient and, besides, all this goodness doesn’t really come at extra cost if you were the sort of navigator who updated their chart cards annually. When you buy a new Navionics Gold or Platinum+ card you just need to register it and start the Freshest Data program within two months, which lasts for a year. Resubscribing costs 50% of the original card cost, which is similar to what replacing a card used to cost, or you can buy a new one and get all new collateral data too. I’m not sure how the PC app works but I know that all the chart regions I downloaded last Spring are still updating whenever I open the app, and, by the way, you seem to get computer four licenses per region per voucher. Anyone else enjoying Navionics Anywhere Anytime, as they like to call it, or perhaps experiencing glitches?
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