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Chart System Preference

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Oct 25, 2005
Catalina 30 Banderas Bay, Mexico
I spent an hour or so in the archives and didn't find what I was looking for. Between Navtronics and C-Map which do you prefer? Should the compatible software be a factor in choosing a chartplotter? From what I can find on the net, both Navtronics Platinum and C-Max+ have about the same features. Is there anything that makes one company stand apart from the other? The only feature that C-Max has that is not listed for the Navtronics is animated light signals. In other words, do I pick a charting system, then find the chartplotter I like that uses that system? Or, do I choose the chartplotter I like and not worry about what system it uses? Garmin is not an option, my PC based software cannot use their format.
Sep 4, 2005
Beneteau 343 Seattle
practical sailor review

Practical sailor had a review in February this year. I think they liked the Navionics best. http://www.practical-sailor.com/issues/32_2/features/5232-1.html
Jun 7, 2004
Schock 35 Seattle

It is true that PS liked Navionics the best, but they rated the Furuno the best hardware, that--you guessed it--does not run Navionics. I think the best thing to do is to check with friends and neighbors in your area and see what they have experienced. I am running C-map on a Furuno 1834C and find the combination to to be exceptional. Check with a chandlery that has both systems running and go see which one you like. Also check cost of updates. Do you like to plan the trip at home on your PC and upload the route to the plotter? Easier on some than on others. If you want radar check which system has the type of display and performance you want. I visited all the vendors at the Seattle boat show a year ago and after the show my choice was easy.
Oct 25, 2005
Catalina 30 Banderas Bay, Mexico
I confess

I'm leaning toward Raymarine for the plotter. I have a mixed system on the boat now, but it includes a Raymarine GPS, Autopilot, and RayNav is one of the PC programs. Adding a Raymarine plotter would be dead easy, but that limits me to Navionics. If there is a compelling reason to go C-Map/C-Max and non-Raymarine rather than Navionics, I'm faced with round 14 of the "can I get this to talk to that?" battle. I almost always win those fights, but I'd rather not have to. :)

Rick I

Check the charts first

I am disappointed with Navionics. Their Bahamas chip is very poor with geo referencing errors that would take you over the center of islands if you were dumb enough to follow it. Very poor. So ask others about the accuracy of the chips who have plotters in the area most important to you. Unfortunately you can't see the errors unless you're right there so viewing the chips at a boat show won't help. For Bahamas cruisers C-Map has Explorer charts, which are the best for this area, on their chips. Navionics tells me they are updating theirs but won't tell me whether the errors I pointed out to them have been fixed. I am not going to buy a new chip to find out the errors are still there! Navionics might be good for some parts of the world but their Bahamas chip sucks!!


Blue Chart !!!

This coming form a guy using a Raymarine C-80! I sometimes run my Garmin 176 next to my C-80 and the Blue Charts, for my area, are far more precise at putting you in the correct lat long compared to objects on the chart. Both machines read the same location numerically but the Garmin Blue Charts do a better job of actually putting the rock on the map where it us supposed to be...
May 21, 2004
Sabre Sabre 32 Salem
C_map & Blue Chart

I use Cmap on my raymarine plotter. However I use Bluecharts on my Garmin. Pound for pound I find I like the garmin units better than Raymarine, and the Bluechart cartography is far superior.
Jun 7, 2004
Schock 35 Seattle

Navionics and C-Map are like Mercedes and Lexus. You might have a preference for one over the other but they will both get your down the road in style. Although I prefer c-map, I would be proud to pilot my boat with Navionics which is preferred by many of my friends. If you go Raymarine you should decide now if you will be adding radar either now or in the future to be sure you select a unit that supports radar. If you go with anything else you should be able to connect up using NMEA 0183. Well, maybe not on the first try, but as you point out eventually it will work. BTW this months issue of Cruising World concluded that all modern chartplotting software is amazingly good, but they had a slight preference for Navionics.


Aug 17, 2005
- - Halifax, Nova Scotia
Think twice about Raymarine

I bought a Raymarine RC-400 chartplotter. When it works, the charts are great, however I grow very tired of "NO FIX" and rebooting the stupid machine. Mounted in my cockpit the internal antenna should work fine - I think they have serious flaws with these units. In all fairness, my other Raymarine instruments work flawlessly, I'm not ever going to buy one of their chartplotters again (this is unit #2 - first replaced under warranty).

Jack Tyler

Software, not hardware...

We get so wrapped up in 'boxes' that we sometimes forget what we are buying. An autopilot may have lots of features, so we miss the fact we are hoping to buy self-steering that is reliable in all conditions. Similarly, shopping for a chartplotter is foremost about buying charts. Rick has it right: look at the charts for the area(s) you plan to sail and evaluate chart products on that basis. You don't care if someone has done a great job with the Caribbean or the Baltic. You want what you best like for the area(s) you plan to sail. Then pick a box you like that will display the charts you know satisfy you the most. FWIW I've seen a lot of chart software choices being used by a lot of different boats in different waters. CMap gets poor reviews for sections of the South Pacific but very positive reviews elsewhere. That doesn't mean they suit you best for your area(s) and I find them quite expensive...but they earn generally very positive reviews, IME. Jack WHOOSH, wintering in Malta
Feb 18, 2004
Catalina 36mkII Kincardine - Lake Huron

I have C-MAP on my Standard Horizon 170C GPS. I agree with Jack Tyler - check out the software for the plotter and the electronic chart for your area. I decided on the combination I have by going to the Toronto International boat show and going to each of the manufacturers booths and trying out the software/charts looking at difficult areas as well as ports which I was familiar with. There were big differences - Garmin's charts for the areas with which I was familiar including my home port was poor. I figured out how to use the Standard Horizon Chart Plotter in detail just by using it for 10 minutes at the boat show. Other chart plotters of that vintage were not so simple. You boat in Canada and there is one reservation I have about C-MAP - they were (are) embroiled in a battle with Digital Ocean (who look after distribution of Canadian Hydrographic Services electronic charts). This affects Navionics as well I believe. Digital Ocean is ripping them off for rights to create their own charts in comparison to other countries in the world. However, I had my chart chip updated this year and changes that I am aware of were included in the update. I have not used C-MAX as my plotter is not capable of using it (although C-MAP apparently have low cost or free firmware to update the plotter). I can't be bothered as the advantages of C-MAX over NT+ don't really thrill me. I get more info out of Cruising Guides for areas in which I sail and I don't need to have the chart flash at me to read buoy characteristics. I suggest you check out the areas you know using various instruments and software systems when the Boat Show is on in Vancouver.
Dec 25, 2000
Hunter Passage 42 Shelter Bay, WA
Perhaps you could explain the issues with...

your PC and Garmin's format. Their chart software works great on our PC. We cruise for two months each year in PNW Waters using a Garmin 178C. Its data card holds over 250 charts covering two regions from Puget Sound to the north side of Vancouver Island, both inside and outside coastlines. I leave the PC at home because the 178C has everything I need. I consider it one of the most important systems on the boat, plus it interfaces with our autopilot. Terry


Terry - a question

We have a Garmin 176c GPS that we love, but want to be able to plan routes on our PC then upload to our GPS or be able to download tracks from our GPS to our PC for revision into a route. What software do you use on your PC & can you upload/download to/from your GPS?
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