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Chartplotter Opinions / Advice

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PKFK

.
Jul 12, 2004
206
Hunter 36 Ottawa
Hi Folks -

I am in the market for a new chartplotter.

Currently I have a Magellan Meridian Color unit with a SD card for my local charts - however the unit has very poor sunlight viewabilty, and a small display, and Magellan orphaned the line's support, killing the WAAS (I found an unsupported firmware hack - no thanks to Magellan) - so I am looking for a better unit.

I have been looking at Raymarine and Standard Horizon, and am open to others as well. Lots of folks seem to use Raymarine, but I can't seem to get a handle on why they command a price premium. For Example:

http://radioworld.ca/product_info.php?manufacturers_id=154&products_id=5387

or...

http://www.thechandleryonline.com//product.asp?dept_id=1205&pf_id=065_EE33020

What am I getting for 800 bucks more ??

My requirements are:
- sunlight viewable display
- weather-resistant (wont get dunked, but might seem some rainfall in cockpit)
- WAAS corrections - we have some really tight areas here......
- 5 to 7 inch display
- internal antenna preferred, but not a deal breaker.
- dont give too hoots about radar or fish finder interface - not useful to me
- charts that I can get upgrades for - the Magellan has been a horror show - never again from that company.
- any brand except Magellan / Thales.

What do you folks think / recommend ?

Note that I am in Canada - so the freebie US Coastal charts offered by most vendors are about as useful as one dollar rebate to me......ie: unless it comes with an option for a detailed Canadian chart area (NOT the Navionics silver stuff - too coarse for my use), the "included" charts are not really a decision factor.

Paul
 
G

Guest

Chart plotters

Hi Paul, five years ago the family got me a Garmin 178C sounder chart plotter with external antenna and through hull transponder. I installed it myself and connected it to the boat's autopilot. On a scale of one to ten I would rate it a 9.8. I currently use two data cards with over 500 navigation charts covering all of PNW waters.

The unit always works, easy to use, very functional, excellent contrast and brightness. The unit is manufacturer discontinued, but Garmin has always been very good at supporting their products. There are later models to choose from and e-bay would be a good place to shop for either this or later models.

Terry Cox
 
Jul 31, 2009
34
2 Contest 36s Sag Harbor
I have a ray c80 below decks; the c70 is similar. Plenty bright, but the user interface requires drilling down through lots of menus. It's and MFD so you can expand its function. I would not give it a strong recommendation.

I don't spend time behind the helm, and use an auto pilot, so don't know about pedestal mounted approach. In the cockpit I used a hand held Garmin iQue which is a bright basic plotter, no bells and whistles.

The iPhone is turning out to be quite the little hand held nav device.
 

Shell

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Sep 26, 2007
138
Catalina 30 standard JC/NYC
I have 2 Garmins that I rarely use now that I loaded a Navionics app on my Iphone.

Soon the days of single purpose devices will end.
 
Jul 25, 2009
270
Catalina 1989 C30 Mk II Herrington Harbour South, MD
Depending on how willing you are to sacrifice time (setting up takes a little effort) for money (free charts and software and a small investment of a $35 mouse type GPS for a laptop) you can use OpenCPN. Not a lot of documentation, but a decent support forum.
 
Jan 20, 2009
15
Endeavour 32 Fredericton, NB
We bought CP 180i last spring and have liked it so far. After a cruise down to Maine and over to Nova Scotia over the next few weeks I'll have an opinion based on more experience. We bought it because it is very inexpensive, 5 inch screen instead of the Garmin 4 inch entry level unit. Garmin's free US charts were not a big factor for us since our primary cruising ground is Canada and we would have needed two Garmin Chart areas. For the price of two Garmin Chart areas we got one C-Map Mega-wide Max card that covers the entire east coast of Canada and the US plus Bahamas, Caribbean.
 

Tim R.

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May 27, 2004
3,626
Caliber 40 Long Range Cruiser Portland, Maine
I have 2 Garmins that I rarely use now that I loaded a Navionics app on my Iphone.

Soon the days of single purpose devices will end.
Let me know when an Iphone can handle radar, sonar and is weatherproof, floats, supports WAAS, DSC and interfaces with my AP and instruments.
 
Sep 25, 2008
615
Morgan 415 Out Island Rogersville, AL
Paul,
If you have a Raymarine Smart Pilot, you might want to consider paying the premium cost for the Raymarine plotter; it would be easier to interface to the pilot. However, I have successfuly interfaced my laptop running MapTech's software to my Raymarine autopilot via NMEA protocol--thanks to the help of Raymarine's tech support and posts on this forum. I keep my laptop at the nav station and run a battery operated cheap-a** magellan GPS at the helm. This works out pretty well since I've started using my iPhone. The navionics iPhone app is the only package that gives me depth contours for the TN river. All the other electronic charts just give elevation contours and then you have to call the army corp of engineers or go to the internet to find the pool height for the day and then do the math. The iPhone, I suspect, talks to a server and then computes the depth directly. The screen on the iPhone isn't bright and you can't leave it on because of the screen saver; however, you really don't need to be looking at it all that often if you got a cheap-a** gps at the help.

Ralph
 
Jul 31, 2009
34
2 Contest 36s Sag Harbor
I am a strong proponent for NOT interfacing an auto pilot with a GPS. GPS and plotters are super and can provide steering info. I think that the CAPTAIN needs to take the steering data and HE puts it into whatever steering system is in use, be it autopilot or manual helm.

Of course the logical extension is to have trim controlled by weather data directly.

Using waypoints at common points on well travelled routes on coastal waters can be a hazard as many vessels are traveling on very precise paths - no xtrack error - rhumb line point to point. This is a begging for a collision and I am certain it has already happened many times.

There is no substitute for keeping watch and having a skilled operator integrate data and making the decisions.
 

Shell

.
Sep 26, 2007
138
Catalina 30 standard JC/NYC
Let me know when an Iphone can handle radar, sonar and is weatherproof, floats, supports WAAS, DSC and interfaces with my AP and instruments.
I would guess in about 3 years. Plug ins for blood pressure, glucode levels, infrared temp readers and cc readers are released this year.

I never understood why plotcharters are so overpriced. A very fast laptop is cheaper even if yo bought a weatherproof one.
 
May 11, 2005
3,431
Seidelman S37 Slidell, La.
I do not like the interface either

I'm with Sandler on this. I do not interface instruments. Am a little amazed at those who do. Is it about setting a course on the chartplotter, clicking on the auto pilot, and letting the boat take care of itself, or about actually sailing the boat. I have a chartplotter, and an auto pilot, but do not depend on them exclusively. Also, those who use a laptop at the nav station, that is OK I guess, but what happens if you get caught in a dense fog or some other limited visibility situation. You gonna spend your time at the helm, or inside looking at the laptop. When visibility gets bad, I am not going to be below. So, you need to think about your sailing habits, where you sail, and how much. I don't want to offend anyone, but the laptop at the nav station seems to me like someone more interested in the latest toys than things that are used. I have a chartplotter at the helm. I have a hand held GPS as a back up, and all the world charts in my laptop, for route planning etc. But each one is stand alone, and I do not have a GPS hookup for the laptop. And yes, I probably spend more time on the boat and gone than most on this board. With all that said here are some recommendations on the chartplotter. Between the Raymarine, and the Garmin, the Garmin is much more user friendly. Have no experience with others. Get a color unit, much easier to see in broad daylight. Also, get a unit that has the detailed charts built into it. In some cases, the purchase of a single chart area willl put you at or above the cost of a unit with built in charts. Start the flames.
 
Sep 25, 2008
615
Morgan 415 Out Island Rogersville, AL
For the kind of sailing I do I feel comfortable to leave the laptop below and to use my iPhone when I want a quick detailed look at a nav chart without leaving the helm. Even my cheap-as* gps will tell me when I am straying out of the channel. That gps is always on when I am under way.

My Raymarine Smart pilot requires me to hit a button everytime I arrive at a waypoint. I haven't seen a system yet that will steer your boat through waypoints without an operator having to confirm the acceptance of a new course. They may be out there but you can be sure that the lawyers will prevent them from being manufactured in the future. Hell, my dang autopilot requires me to hit a button every time the wind shifts significantly when the autopilot is steering to wind. I suspect that the lawyers are behind that feature too.

I love taking an occasional trip on the TN river with the laptop sending waypoints to my autopilot. Other than taking an occasional leak now and then, I am not going to be leaving the helm. It does, however, allow me to enjoy my stogies more ;-).
 

PKFK

.
Jul 12, 2004
206
Hunter 36 Ottawa
Great comments - any more info ?

Thanks everyone for the comments and opinions.

I am surprised that there are not a bunch of ringing endorsements for the Raymarine plotters, given their price premium.

I am leaning towards a plotter that will work with Navionics charts, since their grouping of charts (SD-14XG) seems to be optimal for my purposes. (that means Raymarine, Eagle, Lowrance, Furuno). The Standard Horizon unit seems to need C-Map charts, which I am not so sure about - they don't seem to have a comparable grouping to the 14XG.

One other thought / question - most plotters seem to have NMEA inputs - if I was to upgrade my other instruments (in future) to a ST60, for example, is there any advantage to having the Raymarine plotter for displaying data from the ST60, or will any plotter that speaks NMEA be able to overlay the instrument info on the chartplotter ?

Paul
 
Jan 20, 2009
15
Endeavour 32 Fredericton, NB
Re: Great comments - any more info ?

What about the C-Map M-NA-M026.07 at $199 list for Standard Horizon etc
 
Sep 29, 2008
1,765
Catalina 310 #185 Quantico
NMEA and SeaTalk

Paul,
If you have a Raymarine Smart Pilot, you might want to consider paying the premium cost for the Raymarine plotter; it would be easier to interface to the pilot. Ralph
What advantage do you get with a Raymarine plotter. Don't most of them have only NMEA interfaces, which provides no more information than the next one. Additionally, having SeaTalk will not buy you all that much extra.
 
Sep 29, 2008
1,765
Catalina 310 #185 Quantico
Some more $0.02

I am surprised that there are not a bunch of ringing endorsements for the Raymarine plotters, given their price premium.

I am leaning towards a plotter that will work with Navionics charts, since their grouping of charts (SD-14XG) seems to be optimal for my purposes.

One other thought / question - most plotters seem to have NMEA inputs - if I was to upgrade my other instruments (in future) to a ST60, for example, is there any advantage to having the Raymarine plotter for displaying data from the ST60, or will any plotter that speaks NMEA be able to overlay the instrument info on the chartplotter ? Paul
Raymarine is OK, but so are the others and they are a bit pricier. Note that mostl of the plotters except Garmin use the Navionics software and charts so there is not a lot of difference there except for a few features.

Humminbird also has good units - again with Navionics.

ST60 instruments use SeaTalk which is similar to NMEA, but different. There are NMEA converters, but then your plotter would also need to recognize the NMEA sentences which is probably not going to happen. You would need to check out the plotter documentation.
 
Jul 31, 2009
34
2 Contest 36s Sag Harbor
NMEA 0183 is a standard and meant to facilitate equipment from different manufactures to share data - listen and talk. However, not all instruments have all the "sentences" programed so they either don't hear it or can't send it.

You need to verify which sentences the gear you want to connect work with.
 
Jan 3, 2009
821
Marine Trader 34 Where Ever I am
As a certified Raymarine tech I would not recommend Raymarine plotters. They are not user friendly and the failure rate IMO is too high, not to mention their outrageous prices. I do recommend the Standard Horizon and we have used one on board for extensive cruising for years. I too do not recommend interface with an autopilot, for a number of reasons. The Standard Horizon is quite a bit less money, has most of the bells and whistles you will actually use and is much more user friendly than most other units. Chuck
 

PKFK

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Jul 12, 2004
206
Hunter 36 Ottawa
Thanks Chuckbear - it is always insightful to get opinons from service techs for sure.

For price to performance I am leaning towards the Standard Horizon CP300i unit.

I am just trying to find a compatable RAM-mount for it - RAM lists quite a few plotters, but so far I haven't found S-H in their listing. (I plan to mount it at the helm, and remove it to prevent theft when I am not on the boat).

Paul
 
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