Do you use a Chartplotter?


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Philip Heaton
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Hi all,

Dick you have masterfully and eloquently expressed by views.  The helm can see our chartplotter which also displays radar, if actually steering the boat.  This is vital in fog - when we crawled into Cape Town harbour in thick fog (the port was closed to commercial traffic but we were given permission to enter) we had waypoints all the way to the visitors' berth at Royal Cape YC and it was essential that we had put in a route so detailed.  The radar of course was an added feature for security.
I fully acknowledge that creating a route directly on to the chart plotter can be a pain but I try to minimise just how many devices are involved in doing a job, as I am not sure every techie advance necessarily makes things easier or simpler.  At the risk of thread drift, to illustrate this, back in the mid-noughties when Minnie B was being built the latest music technology was the iPod.  We bought one of those turntables for digitising the music on our LPs and CDs and loaded it all on the iPod.  This has been our source of music on the boat since then. Recently we bought a shore base as we are now cruising 7-8 months rather than the 10-11 months previously.  So we wanted music in the apartment.  Simple eh?  Buy one of those super Bose speakers with an iPod docking facility.  Pop along to the Bose shop.  Nope, they have stopped making them but they do have a super Bose speaker at £300 that operates with Bluetooth. Being a bit slow, we ask for an explanation of how this would work - the answer was to turn on the PC which also holds the music, connect it to the smartphone, and then connect the phone to the speaker  ... we went on ebay and bought a used speaker with iPod docking facility for £50.
Philip Heaton
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Philip Heaton - 2/27/2020
Hi all,

Dick you have masterfully and eloquently expressed by views.  The helm can see our chartplotter which also displays radar, if actually steering the boat.  This is vital in fog - when we crawled into Cape Town harbour in thick fog (the port was closed to commercial traffic but we were given permission to enter) we had waypoints all the way to the visitors' berth at Royal Cape YC and it was essential that we had put in a route so detailed.  The radar of course was an added feature for security.
I fully acknowledge that creating a route directly on to the chart plotter can be a pain but I try to minimise just how many devices are involved in doing a job, as I am not sure every techie advance necessarily makes things easier or simpler.  At the risk of thread drift, to illustrate this, back in the mid-noughties when Minnie B was being built the latest music technology was the iPod.  We bought one of those turntables for digitising the music on our LPs and CDs and loaded it all on the iPod.  This has been our source of music on the boat since then. Recently we bought a shore base as we are now cruising 7-8 months rather than the 10-11 months previously.  So we wanted music in the apartment.  Simple eh?  Buy one of those super Bose speakers with an iPod docking facility.  Pop along to the Bose shop.  Nope, they have stopped making them but they do have a super Bose speaker at £300 that operates with Bluetooth. Being a bit slow, we ask for an explanation of how this would work - the answer was to turn on the PC which also holds the music, connect it to the smartphone, and then connect the phone to the speaker  ... we went on ebay and bought a used speaker with iPod docking facility for £50.

Sorry I seem to have a written cold - 'by' should be 'my'
Dick
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Philip Heaton - 2/27/2020
Philip Heaton - 2/27/2020
Hi all,

Dick you have masterfully and eloquently expressed by views.  The helm can see our chartplotter which also displays radar, if actually steering the boat.  This is vital in fog - when we crawled into Cape Town harbour in thick fog (the port was closed to commercial traffic but we were given permission to enter) we had waypoints all the way to the visitors' berth at Royal Cape YC and it was essential that we had put in a route so detailed.  The radar of course was an added feature for security.
I fully acknowledge that creating a route directly on to the chart plotter can be a pain but I try to minimise just how many devices are involved in doing a job, as I am not sure every techie advance necessarily makes things easier or simpler.  At the risk of thread drift, to illustrate this, back in the mid-noughties when Minnie B was being built the latest music technology was the iPod.  We bought one of those turntables for digitising the music on our LPs and CDs and loaded it all on the iPod.  This has been our source of music on the boat since then. Recently we bought a shore base as we are now cruising 7-8 months rather than the 10-11 months previously.  So we wanted music in the apartment.  Simple eh?  Buy one of those super Bose speakers with an iPod docking facility.  Pop along to the Bose shop.  Nope, they have stopped making them but they do have a super Bose speaker at £300 that operates with Bluetooth. Being a bit slow, we ask for an explanation of how this would work - the answer was to turn on the PC which also holds the music, connect it to the smartphone, and then connect the phone to the speaker  ... we went on ebay and bought a used speaker with iPod docking facility for £50.

Sorry I seem to have a written cold - 'by' should be 'my'

Hi Phil,
I agree completely that every techie “advancement” should be met with skepticism. Many do not advance safety on a vessel and I find some of the hype more in service of lining the pockets of vendors than contributing to the operation of the boat. I remember a conversation with someone that started out saying that he decided against a few extra hundreds for the larger anchor and went on to wax eloquent about the integrated electronics just installed which had to set him back many thousands.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy


Gian Luca Fiori
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Hi John,
I have two chart plotters B&G Zeus 2. One on the navigation table and the other in the cockpit. The cockpit chart plotter is very useful when you are coastal navigating, entering/exiting inlets, etc. Offshore, you really can live with the inside one, the chart plotter is good to see AIS targets, or squalls by using the radar, or downloading grib files to play with the weather and your route.
Gian Luca
s/v Vivaldi
David Smith
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Dick - 2/27/2020
Philip Heaton - 2/27/2020
Philip Heaton - 2/27/2020
Hi all,

Dick you have masterfully and eloquently expressed by views.  The helm can see our chartplotter which also displays radar, if actually steering the boat.  This is vital in fog - when we crawled into Cape Town harbour in thick fog (the port was closed to commercial traffic but we were given permission to enter) we had waypoints all the way to the visitors' berth at Royal Cape YC and it was essential that we had put in a route so detailed.  The radar of course was an added feature for security.
I fully acknowledge that creating a route directly on to the chart plotter can be a pain but I try to minimise just how many devices are involved in doing a job, as I am not sure every techie advance necessarily makes things easier or simpler.  At the risk of thread drift, to illustrate this, back in the mid-noughties when Minnie B was being built the latest music technology was the iPod.  We bought one of those turntables for digitising the music on our LPs and CDs and loaded it all on the iPod.  This has been our source of music on the boat since then. Recently we bought a shore base as we are now cruising 7-8 months rather than the 10-11 months previously.  So we wanted music in the apartment.  Simple eh?  Buy one of those super Bose speakers with an iPod docking facility.  Pop along to the Bose shop.  Nope, they have stopped making them but they do have a super Bose speaker at £300 that operates with Bluetooth. Being a bit slow, we ask for an explanation of how this would work - the answer was to turn on the PC which also holds the music, connect it to the smartphone, and then connect the phone to the speaker  ... we went on ebay and bought a used speaker with iPod docking facility for £50.

Sorry I seem to have a written cold - 'by' should be 'my'

Hi Phil,
I agree completely that every techie “advancement” should be met with skepticism. Many do not advance safety on a vessel and I find some of the hype more in service of lining the pockets of vendors than contributing to the operation of the boat. I remember a conversation with someone that started out saying that he decided against a few extra hundreds for the larger anchor and went on to wax eloquent about the integrated electronics just installed which had to set him back many thousands.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy


As someone who uses a chart plotter/integrated ECDIS system, commercially (as a ships Master) on a daily basis, I have to disagree completely with what you are saying. 
Used correctly even the cheapest standalone chart plotter with a GPS input, will give you better, live, information than transfering Lat/LON to a paper chart.
In a planning mode, you can set safe and shallow depths, and many other vessel specific parameters, so when you set routes up, it will automatically show dangers. Add in AIS and/or a RADAR overlay and you have a fantastic tool giving you plenty of reliable information. 
Get some training, if you can afford it, get yourself on an STCW Generic ECDIS course, it's certainly money well spent and you won't regret it.
The thing to remember about about ANY electrictronic navigation aid is simply 'Garbage in; garbage out.'
The USCG & MCA, encourage the switch to integrated ECDIS systems, they are used safely, by 1,000s of commercial vessels from 500t to 250,000t daily and without incident. 
Rather than make a glib statement, saying they do not enhance safety, and only make a profit for the manufacturer; I suggest you learn how to use ENCs and plotters correctly.


Dick
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dsmith - 3/3/2020
Dick - 2/27/2020
Philip Heaton - 2/27/2020
Philip Heaton - 2/27/2020
Hi all,

Dick you have masterfully and eloquently expressed by views.  The helm can see our chartplotter which also displays radar, if actually steering the boat.  This is vital in fog - when we crawled into Cape Town harbour in thick fog (the port was closed to commercial traffic but we were given permission to enter) we had waypoints all the way to the visitors' berth at Royal Cape YC and it was essential that we had put in a route so detailed.  The radar of course was an added feature for security.
I fully acknowledge that creating a route directly on to the chart plotter can be a pain but I try to minimise just how many devices are involved in doing a job, as I am not sure every techie advance necessarily makes things easier or simpler.  At the risk of thread drift, to illustrate this, back in the mid-noughties when Minnie B was being built the latest music technology was the iPod.  We bought one of those turntables for digitising the music on our LPs and CDs and loaded it all on the iPod.  This has been our source of music on the boat since then. Recently we bought a shore base as we are now cruising 7-8 months rather than the 10-11 months previously.  So we wanted music in the apartment.  Simple eh?  Buy one of those super Bose speakers with an iPod docking facility.  Pop along to the Bose shop.  Nope, they have stopped making them but they do have a super Bose speaker at £300 that operates with Bluetooth. Being a bit slow, we ask for an explanation of how this would work - the answer was to turn on the PC which also holds the music, connect it to the smartphone, and then connect the phone to the speaker  ... we went on ebay and bought a used speaker with iPod docking facility for £50.

Sorry I seem to have a written cold - 'by' should be 'my'

Hi Phil,
I agree completely that every techie “advancement” should be met with skepticism. Many do not advance safety on a vessel and I find some of the hype more in service of lining the pockets of vendors than contributing to the operation of the boat. I remember a conversation with someone that started out saying that he decided against a few extra hundreds for the larger anchor and went on to wax eloquent about the integrated electronics just installed which had to set him back many thousands.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy


As someone who uses a chart plotter/integrated ECDIS system, commercially (as a ships Master) on a daily basis, I have to disagree completely with what you are saying. 
Used correctly even the cheapest standalone chart plotter with a GPS input, will give you better, live, information than transfering Lat/LON to a paper chart.
In a planning mode, you can set safe and shallow depths, and many other vessel specific parameters, so when you set routes up, it will automatically show dangers. Add in AIS and/or a RADAR overlay and you have a fantastic tool giving you plenty of reliable information. 
Get some training, if you can afford it, get yourself on an STCW Generic ECDIS course, it's certainly money well spent and you won't regret it.
The thing to remember about about ANY electrictronic navigation aid is simply 'Garbage in; garbage out.'
The USCG & MCA, encourage the switch to integrated ECDIS systems, they are used safely, by 1,000s of commercial vessels from 500t to 250,000t daily and without incident. 
Rather than make a glib statement, saying they do not enhance safety, and only make a profit for the manufacturer; I suggest you learn how to use ENCs and plotters correctly.


Hi DSmith,
There really has been crossed wires.
For me, I agree with everything you say about plotters and the other devices you mention.
And in reviewing previous posts, I do not read anyone espousing paper charts and the hand plotting of l/l or of doing plotting the traditional way, so I am unsure where that challenge comes from. I believe knowledge of traditional methods should be known and occasionally practiced, but in everyday cruising life, a computer plotting system with good software (or a chart plotter) connected to GPS is far quicker, more accurate and safer, and has amply established its value on a cruising boat, in my estimation
That said, I do look with some skepticism at some of the newer techie “advances” and suggest waiting till these devices have thoroughly proven themselves in the field. Many of these advances have improved safety markedly for cruising boats, but some of these “advances”, such as the kind of integration where chart plotter is connected with autopilot (so turns are made automatically as a waypoint is reached), I still have reservations about.
I try hard to be clear and measured in my writing, and, in review, I find I do not experience as “glib” (insincere and shallow) the writing referred to. Similarly, I am uncomfortable with the suggestion that I need to learn electronic navigation “correctly”. Please feel free to challenge my opinions, but, for me at least, glib comes closer to name calling than I wish to see in our club’s Forum.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy

David Smith
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Dick, I'm not intending to be name calling on the forum; but I felt I needed to react to "I agree completely that every techie “advancement” should be met with skepticism. Many do not advance safety on a vessel and I find some of the hype more in service of lining the pockets of vendors than contributing to the operation of the boat."

I was trying to say, that normally isn't the case, most software manufacturers know that if they make a mess of things, people could die; that's quite a responsibility.
I agree that traditional skills must be taught and used; as of course, you never know when it may be needed...

As I said I use ECDIS in various forms daily, and I have a variety of systems on the boat and back-up Android systems with me when at sea,  they are all very good, even if some are not exactly user friendly.

Lets just use the new technologies to our advantage, so we get the best out of cruising.

Have fun and keep on sailing


Janice FENNYMORE-WHITE
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We use a chart plotter on Destiny, or rather a PC based version running Time Zero Professional. It runs a screen at the helm and two at the chart table for planning and a radar watch. The helm can display radar, chart or either on overlay or a split screen. AIS targets are on both we can interrogate a target and track it at the touch of the screen. We run a full redundant system as well as isailor on a tablet that also shows all AIS targets.
Simply put we do not use paper charts and have not done so for 30,000 miles. Commercial ships and planes fly without paper charts, it is time the leisure market was trained to do likewise. We are not against the tradition of paper and dividers, as it teaches you the basic skills but the RYA are slow to train the correct way to use electronic charting. We have sailed 2 vessels that used integrated autopilot but neither made an automatic turn without human intervention which rightly you mentioned as unwise but routes made on paper or electronically are still only as good as the navigator that created them. 
David Smith
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Janice FENNYMORE-WHITE - 3/28/2020
We use a chart plotter on Destiny, or rather a PC based version running Time Zero Professional. It runs a screen at the helm and two at the chart table for planning and a radar watch. The helm can display radar, chart or either on overlay or a split screen. AIS targets are on both we can interrogate a target and track it at the touch of the screen. We run a full redundant system as well as isailor on a tablet that also shows all AIS targets.
Simply put we do not use paper charts and have not done so for 30,000 miles. Commercial ships and planes fly without paper charts, it is time the leisure market was trained to do likewise. We are not against the tradition of paper and dividers, as it teaches you the basic skills but the RYA are slow to train the correct way to use electronic charting. We have sailed 2 vessels that used integrated autopilot but neither made an automatic turn without human intervention which rightly you mentioned as unwise but routes made on paper or electronically are still only as good as the navigator that created them. 

Quite
As my old lecturer used to say about RADAR plots, and very, very applicable to chart plotters/EDIS;
Garbage in: garbage out...
Dick
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dsmith - 3/11/2020
Dick, I'm not intending to be name calling on the forum; but I felt I needed to react to "I agree completely that every techie “advancement” should be met with skepticism. Many do not advance safety on a vessel and I find some of the hype more in service of lining the pockets of vendors than contributing to the operation of the boat."

I was trying to say, that normally isn't the case, most software manufacturers know that if they make a mess of things, people could die; that's quite a responsibility.
I agree that traditional skills must be taught and used; as of course, you never know when it may be needed...

As I said I use ECDIS in various forms daily, and I have a variety of systems on the boat and back-up Android systems with me when at sea,  they are all very good, even if some are not exactly user friendly.

Lets just use the new technologies to our advantage, so we get the best out of cruising.

Have fun and keep on sailing


Hi dsmith and all,
This seems like a good time to comment, in general, on my thoughts on marine equipment for wide ranging cruising vessels. The marine market is small, very small when it compares to automotive, avionics etc. As such, there is little incentive for extensive research and development and, much of the time, early buyers are doing the R&D. Some of these products, if they go pear shaped, can cause real problems and put lives in danger: luckily most times they are only aggravating.
So, in the recreational vessel realm, we get our innovations often passed down to us from automotive (for, say, electronics/navigation), aviation, or from our brethren who race and push the limits. These products are often not a perfect fit, so manufacturers (and we cruisers) adopt and tweak what comes our way. And then there is the feedback loop. I do not trust the commercial magazines: they are too beholden to their advertisers (one exception I am aware of is Practical Sailor magazine in the US). So, we are left to have the R&D “testing” done by the early adapters and we are beholden to their, sometimes sporadic, ability to get the message out reporting their field experiences.
We may have to agree to disagree on the following. There have been advances, tech and otherwise, that have made our sport safer and easier: AIS coming foremost to mind in the tech realm while the new generation anchors are impressive improvements in safety in the “gear” realm: there are many others for sure. That said, I believe there are many “advances” that arise every year that do not find a home in our cruising community. And, in the earlier post, I did not say to reject the “advances” one comes across: I suggested skepticism and I stand by that. I especially suggest skepticism for those of us who wander widely and visit remote areas: their gear must have earned a spot on board.
Perhaps I should have been more generalized and said that all “advances” in our recreation should be met with some degree of skepticism and not just technological advances, but at the time, we were talking about techie advances. There are certainly many with anchors bought in the flush of early excited advertising (not a problem, that is the manufacturer’s job) that serve best now as lawn ornaments. And I can think of a number of techie advancement where there were great teething pains for the early adopters. And again, I said skepticism, not rejection.
My head-set in my writing is to speak to those who cruise on their boat where the equipment that the skipper has chosen must perform as expected. I think that many pieces of equipment, including, but not limited to, techie pieces, only show their glitches and bad habits after years of usage and the slow filtering around and accumulation of anecdotal field reports. Some equipment lends itself to testing, but most enters the market place with little or no independent testing. To assuage my skepticism, for equipment on cruising boats, I like to see years of usage being reported in a variety of conditions by significant numbers of users: in other words, lots of field reports (for what I think of as “Mission Critical” equipment, I would want 5-10 years).
That said, I applaud those initial purchasers the early adapters, as they are going to do the testing and providing the anecdotal field reports that are crucial in developing confidence in our gear.
For the rest of us, I believe it best to approach recent “advancements” with a degree of skepticism.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy

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