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AIS and Chart APPS for Great Lakes

Discussion in 'Ask All Sailors' started by Apex, May 16, 2018. Add this thread to a FAQ

  1. Apex

    Apex

    Joined Jun 19, 2013
    752 posts, 87 likes
    Oday 28
    US Traverse City
    I am about to embark on a 200mile journey, transferring No Worries from Muskegon to Elk Rapids.

    I have downloaded a couple of FREE apps, but initial use looks like the Great Lakes are not part of that app. (perhaps I am missing a setting?)

    Great Lakes Sailors: What do you use? This is backup to my chartplotter and paper charts. And AIS will be only receiver on board.
     


  2. Jackdaw

    Jackdaw

    Joined Nov 8, 2010
    8,974 posts, 2,263 likes
    Beneteau First 36.7 & 260
    US Minneapolis MN & Bayfield WI
    First, the Great lakes ARE part of the freely distributed NOAA charts set, so free or low cost apps that rely on that should have them available.

    Second, the NOAA charts generally do not proved detailed coverage of Canadian waters, where charting is available from Canadian authorities at cost.

    Third, I use iSailor (US or full Great Lakes available), with downloadable weather and AIS subscriptions.
     


    Last edited: May 16, 2018
    Parsons likes this.
  3. Sumner

    Sumner

    Joined Jan 31, 2009
    5,138 posts, 194 likes
    Macgregor 26S/Endeavour 37 .
    US Utah's Canyon Country
    I've been a big fan of OpenCPN ...........

    https://opencpn.org/

    It runs the free NOAA charts (plus some others in different parts of the world). It is free and it you connect it via a serial cable to your AIS you will also see the AIS targets on the screen.

    I believe there is also an Android tablet version one can run now. I find it is easier and faster to use plotting a course than doing the same on our high dollar chartplotter. Also you are viewing a much larger screen than your chartplotter,

    Sumner
    ===============================================================================
    1300 miles to The Bahamas and Back in the Mac...
    Endeavour 37 Mods...

    MacGregor 26-S Mods...
    Mac Trips to Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Canada, Florida, Bahamas
     


  4. Apex

    Apex

    Joined Jun 19, 2013
    752 posts, 87 likes
    Oday 28
    US Traverse City
    Jackdaw: Yes, downloaded electronic .pdf of all the charts relevant to the trip. I will look at iSailor. I have a friend who is using ?ShipFinder?
     


  5. Joe

    Joe

    Joined Jun 1, 2004
    6,467 posts, 325 likes
    Catalina 27
    US Mission Bay, San Diego
    As long as you have cell service the ais apps are cool. Other wise, invest in a vhf radio with ais receive feature. You can purchase an xlnt quality fixed mount receiver with ais, such as those made by simrad/bg/lowrance, for $300-350.
     


  6. Jackdaw

    Jackdaw

    Joined Nov 8, 2010
    8,974 posts, 2,263 likes
    Beneteau First 36.7 & 260
    US Minneapolis MN & Bayfield WI
    To be clear, iSailor will use an internet AIS service, or NMEA data broadcast over WiFi.
     


  7. Capt jgw

    Capt jgw

    Joined Feb 8, 2014
    992 posts, 55 likes
    Columbia 36
    US Muskegon
    I use OpenCpn on my laptop and Android tablet. Both work great and use the free NOAA charts. Note that there are two OpenCpn apps in the play store. The free one is a knock off. It works but does not have any tech support or the plug ins like radar or AIS. The paid one (12.99 as I remember) is the real deal with all the bells and whistles.

    I'm also in Muskegon and have done that trip a few times. It's a nice run with some great harbors and nice scenery.
     


  8. David in Sandusky

    David in Sandusky

    Joined Nov 8, 2007
    1,064 posts, 141 likes
    Hunter 27_75-84
    US Sandusky Harbor Marina, Lake Erie
    I use Navionics on my iPad and iPhone. No errors so far in Lakes Erie, Huron, Superior, St. Clair, and the Thousand Islands.

    These back up paper charts, and a hand held color charting gps.
     


  9. quadrille38

    quadrille38

    Joined Apr 11, 2010
    621 posts, 56 likes
    Hunter 38
    US Whitehall MI
    I use inavx software running the navionics charts on my iPad.
    I also have a digital yachts AIS system that created an onboard wifi network that communicates with my iPad.
     


  10. Joe

    Joe

    Joined Jun 1, 2004
    6,467 posts, 325 likes
    Catalina 27
    US Mission Bay, San Diego
    Unfortunately, I have neither internet nor wifi when beyond 3 or 4 miles or so from shore... I understand it's better between Catalina and the mainland....
     


  11. Jackdaw

    Jackdaw

    Joined Nov 8, 2010
    8,974 posts, 2,263 likes
    Beneteau First 36.7 & 260
    US Minneapolis MN & Bayfield WI
    Oh, as Quad mentions in the post above, lots of boat now create their own local WiFi network with a small router sending NMEA data to any app on that boat that is attached to the network and listening. These devices are now very small (they look like a NMEA2000 terminator) and cost less than $200.
     


  12. Joe

    Joe

    Joined Jun 1, 2004
    6,467 posts, 325 likes
    Catalina 27
    US Mission Bay, San Diego
    I see what you're talking about... My comment to Apex was simply to remind him that "ship finder" "boat beacon" and such apps, need a data source... either internet (through cell service) or from onboard vhf based data. His easiest and quickest fix is to connect an AIS vhf receiver to his chart plotter with a basic nmea network.... Then he can see all targets on the plotter screen and off he goes. He can use the phone app where there is service... but he can always use the vhf radio's ais feature's full time.
     


    Jackdaw likes this.
  13. Sumner

    Sumner

    Joined Jan 31, 2009
    5,138 posts, 194 likes
    Macgregor 26S/Endeavour 37 .
    US Utah's Canyon Country
    Yep and there might be boats out there that you aren't seeing that have AIS since they don't have data on all of them, just what others are sharing with them. Considering that, I am surprised the data they do have in remote places, such as places that I'm familiar with in the Bahamas.

    I agree with you Joe that the best thing to do is get a VHF radio with AIS or a stand alone AIS receiver and connect it to your chartplotter,

    Sumner
    =========================================================================
    1300 miles to The Bahamas and Back in the Mac...
    Endeavour 37 Mods...

    MacGregor 26-S Mods...
    Mac Trips to Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Canada, Florida, Bahamas
     


  14. Captmayhem

    Captmayhem

    Joined Mar 31, 2013
    190 posts, 42 likes
    O'day 23
    US Pa
    I have opencpn running on a raspberry Pi, feeding a screen, very low power use.
    For just gps it's very easy to setup
    I also have heel angle, live AIS and weather, which does require a learning curve.
    Can't say enough for the opencpn project though, very cool software
     


  15. Apex

    Apex

    Joined Jun 19, 2013
    752 posts, 87 likes
    Oday 28
    US Traverse City
    thanks all, a new VHF install isn't in the cards for this trip. I suspect I will upgrade very soon, which will help in connectivity and added options.
    I have also had a friend recommend pocketgrib. Should be a busy weekend finishing prep for nextweek!
     


  16. Sumner

    Sumner

    Joined Jan 31, 2009
    5,138 posts, 194 likes
    Macgregor 26S/Endeavour 37 .
    US Utah's Canyon Country
    [​IMG]
    Same here. I also added the AIS board to it and have it running off a second antenna mounted behind the solar panels and still have great range with it even though it isn't top of the mast. The Standard Horizon radio also has AIS and uses the mast antenna. I don't see any real difference in targets shown between them though.
    [​IMG]
    Computer takes up virtually no space and ...
    [​IMG]
    ... I currently have a 10 inch monitor running off of it. Above OpenCPN is running on the laptop to the left and the 10 inch monitor connected to the Pi on the right. As mentioned, way lower power requirements than even an efficient laptop. I use a full size keyboard and a mouse with it, but other options are available,

    Sumner
    ===================================================================================
    1300 miles to The Bahamas and Back in the Mac...
    Endeavour 37 Mods...
    MacGregor 26-S Mods...
    Mac Trips to Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Canada, Florida, Bahamas
     


    Last edited: May 18, 2018

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