Do you use a Chartplotter?


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johnkirkus
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What plotting system do you use?
Can it easily upload/download tracks from/to an external computer?

I am conducting a survey in an attempt to discover which systems can, and which cannot. And even how they do it.

All/any information most welcome

John
Simon Currin
Simon Currin
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We use Raymarine e120. Exporting track is done via a compact flash card. Not sure about importing. I suspect it can be done using their bespoke of software but we don 't have this.
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We also use a Raymarine E120 (we have an E80 outside, under the dodger.) I use the Raymarine computer program (I think it 's RNS?) and you can uploand or download using a CF card.
johnkirkus
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Many thank Simon and Jim, that is good news. I am awaiting a reply to a request I sent to Raymarine, I hope to discover info on others in their range.
David Smith
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I have an old Raymarine C120 plotter on Cape, which we use for passage making. I also have Open CPN on a laptop and i Sailor (a scaled down version of TRANSAS a commercial system) on a tablet. I use Open CPN for planning then copy the waypoints to the C120, a bit of a pain but the C120 is old kit, and can't be integrated. I have used the Raymarine software, but to be honest I found it hard work and haven't used for years now.

All the systems are pretty good, you just have to spend the time getting to know them. Getting the charts updated is a real pain and in some cases costly, but if you use iSailor, you are on an annual subscription and the charts are updated every 90 days, if you use their PC based system or the commercial system they are updated weekly; you can buy annual licences for the area you will be in or a 90 day licence for areas you are transiting through.

As with all ECDIS systems, you get what you pay for, and I'd look at the local fishermen use if you accurate and robust kit.
Dick
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dsmith - 2/16/2020
I have an old Raymarine C120 plotter on Cape, which we use for passage making. I also have Open CPN on a laptop and i Sailor (a scaled down version of TRANSAS a commercial system) on a tablet. I use Open CPN for planning then copy the waypoints to the C120, a bit of a pain but the C120 is old kit, and can't be integrated. I have used the Raymarine software, but to be honest I found it hard work and haven't used for years now.

All the systems are pretty good, you just have to spend the time getting to know them. Getting the charts updated is a real pain and in some cases costly, but if you use iSailor, you are on an annual subscription and the charts are updated every 90 days, if you use their PC based system or the commercial system they are updated weekly; you can buy annual licences for the area you will be in or a 90 day licence for areas you are transiting through.

As with all ECDIS systems, you get what you pay for, and I'd look at the local fishermen use if you accurate and robust kit.

Hi John,
This is a loaded topic. Skippers have strong feelings.
I will tell you what has worked for us for 7+ years now: 5 of which were in Northern Europe and the last couple in the Canadian Maritimes.
We have a Furuno chart plotter under the dodger (circa 2012 the smaller one -8inch? vs 12 inch??). Connected with it is a laptop belowdecks connected by ethernet. Both run MaxSea Time Zero and they talk to each other. We do all, or almost all, plotting on the laptop which is far far more efficient and the courses, waypoints etc. are sent to the chart plotter. Minor changes can be made on the plotter, but anything major is more easily accomplished on the laptop and the changes appear on the plotter.
Let us know what you find out.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy


Philip Heaton
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We have a B&G Zeus2, well, two actually that are connected - one at the chart table and one under the sprayhood (best location for when the weather is inclement and can be seen easily by all the folks in the cockpit - don't understand why you need a chartplotter at the helm).  We do our plotting on the chartplotter - I thought the clue was in the name but then ....  We used to have C-Map charts on our Simrad but it died a couple of years ago and now use Navionics.
Dick
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Philip Heaton - 2/25/2020
We have a B&G Zeus2, well, two actually that are connected - one at the chart table and one under the sprayhood (best location for when the weather is inclement and can be seen easily by all the folks in the cockpit - don't understand why you need a chartplotter at the helm).  We do our plotting on the chartplotter - I thought the clue was in the name but then ....  We used to have C-Map charts on our Simrad but it died a couple of years ago and now use Navionics.

Hi Phillip,
Sounds like a very workable system. Agree completely about having a chartplotter under the dodger rather than at the helm. Some chartplotters make plotting easy, some are much more awkward, but none, I think, approach the speed, ease and accuracy of doing navigation with good software on a reasonably fast computer using a mouse.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy


David Smith
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Having a plotter, or a repeater at the helm or under a spray hood (I'd class both as being at the helm, if the Helmsman can see it.) , is a great benefit to the Helmsman.

Not only can they see the course to steer, they have a live picture of what is actually happening. If they are getting off course by wind, tide or both, they can see it and adjust accordingly; rather than doing 30 min or hourly adjustments if you need to plot it on a paper chart. 

If you're lucky enough to have an intergrated RADAR, even better for getting into those cosy little anchorages or harbours at night or bad vis'.

I guess it's a case of what you're used to, and how competent your are with using it. I'm lucky to have done an ECDIS course and  I use ECDIS in work every day.

If it's set up correctly and your electronics, batteries, genset, etc are up to it, you don't need to carry paper charts except for emergencies. 
Dick
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dsmith - 2/25/2020
Having a plotter, or a repeater at the helm or under a spray hood (I'd class both as being at the helm, if the Helmsman can see it.) , is a great benefit to the Helmsman.

Not only can they see the course to steer, they have a live picture of what is actually happening. If they are getting off course by wind, tide or both, they can see it and adjust accordingly; rather than doing 30 min or hourly adjustments if you need to plot it on a paper chart. 

If you're lucky enough to have an intergrated RADAR, even better for getting into those cosy little anchorages or harbours at night or bad vis'.

I guess it's a case of what you're used to, and how competent your are with using it. I'm lucky to have done an ECDIS course and  I use ECDIS in work every day.

If it's set up correctly and your electronics, batteries, genset, etc are up to it, you don't need to carry paper charts except for emergencies. 
Hi DSmith,
Thanks for weighing in with a differing take on this issue. I agree that being able to see a plotter from the helm is of great benefit: improves safety. I also agree completely about having access to being able to see a radar display from the helm: mine is visible from the helm and is under the dodger. I also suspect that luck played little role in your having an ECDIS course under your belt: rather good judgment on your part in choosing the course in preparation for your cruising.
I do disagree with seeing the plotter at the helm as the same as a plotter under the dodger. I will elaborate my reasons for thinking the chart plotter at the helm is not the wisest location on an offshore sailboat (and actually, to a lesser extent, on any sailboat).
Neither Phillip nor I are against being able to see the chart plotter from the helm: quite the opposite. I can see mine under the dodger quite easily accomplishing all the visual cues that you so correctly value in your post. Phillip also mentions his being visible by those in the cockpit. So, if one can see the chart plotter under the dodger from the helm, the only reason to have it at the helm is to do navigation and plotting: to work its controls. Possibly there are really big boats where helm position is too far a distance to see a plotter under the dodger, but I have seen this accomplished on boats in the mid 50s in length.
For most far-ranging boats, the helm is rarely manned. The vast majority of our mileage is accomplished with no one at the helm. I believe this to be the case for most passage makers and even, most coastal cruisers. An under dodger chart plotter is much easier to monitor and manipulate from one’s usually watch position sitting in the protection of the dodger.
Anyone at the helm actively driving the boat should never have interference with his/her situational awareness, most of which should be directed outside the boat with occasional glances at the chart plotter. Doing any navigation plotting interferes dramatically with situational awareness. This is fine in open water with no obstacles about, but active adjustments and navigation decisions are often made when entering a harbor, transiting a passage or in the vicinity of obstacles. Think, perhaps, of the danger inherent in handheld cell phone manipulation while driving.
Lastly, instrument manufacturers have come a good way towards making equipment truly waterproof, but having such an important piece of kit and its many electrical and data exchange connections exposed to rain/sun etc. and to the assaults of salt water and seas when offshore seems to be asking for trouble somewhere down the line. Then there is the ease with which it might be stolen, something I think about even in the more hidden area under the dodger where my plotter lives.
So, in the end, I see no advantage to a helm position plotter and lots of potential disadvantages.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy



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