Electronics is continued from previous page.
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Garmin Cartography Compatibility and Capability Chart
Selecting Electronic Cartography
Types of Electronic Charts
Electronic charts are digital versions of the traditional government-issued paper
charts, and all the data used to make them comes from the original NOAA, Cana-
dian Hydrographics or other government sources. They can be displayed three
ways-on a chartplotter, smartphone or computer. Waterproof chartplotters are
the favored technology for boats smaller than 40-50'. A laptop or desktop PC is a
common choice on larger craft, where a pilothouse provides a drier and shaded
environment for a delicate, non-waterproof computer. A PC is frequently used for
other non-navigation purposes as well, has a larger (but not daylight-viewable)
display and can run the most powerful navigation software. Prudent mariners also
carry paper charts, since electronic charts are not a substitute and all electronic
systems are subject to failure. Electronic charts simplify navigation tremendously,
showing your location right on a moving map, and make planning a route effortless.
They are formatted two ways:
Raster scanned charts
, like those from Maptech,
are direct video images of paper charts. They are faithful copies of the paper
versions, with all the detail of a paper chart.
, like the products from
Garmin, Navionics and C-Map have the information transformed into coordinates
in a data file, placed at different levels in the memory of the machine. You can
choose to view some levels but not others and see only what is needed, and the
data is compressed to take up less space. Icons, numerals and words appear in
a "heads up" orientation. Vector charts are "object oriented", so when a cursor is
positioned over a navigational aid or other feature, additional data windows pop up.
Selecting the Right Coverage Area
Electronic charts for chartplotters come on small memory cards (typically of
microSD format) that are inserted into the GPS unit. Because memory is limited,
you will have to choose the correct geographical coverage for your boating area.
All electronic chart manufacturers have mapped outlines of their coverage areas
to help you choose the proper cartridge for where you use your boat.
You have to select the brand of chart and generation of product that fits the
chartplotter you own or are considering. For example, Garmin units operate
Garmin's BlueChart g2 products. Most Raymarine, Navico and Humminbird
plotters run Navionics.
Using a Personal Computer for Navigation
It is not surprising that a PC has become the ultimate navigational tool, especially
for big boat and offshore navigation. Navigating with a laptop computer allows
you to apply its formidable processor, extensive RAM and hard drive capacity to
run the software with the greatest range of capabilities.
Electronic Navigational Chart Downloads
Recent changes in the costs of domestic charts have made it much more
cost-effective to have the US coverage that you need, assuming you're
navigating with a PC and with software from Rose Point, Raymarine, or No-
beltec. Now anyone can download current vector or raster charts from NOAA
and cruise American waters. The same is not true with International destina-
tions, since the concept of Public Domain is not a worldwide concept. See:
Update Your Electronic Charts!
Most boaters carry official NOAA paper charts and also use electronic naviga-
tion, but only a small percentage of recreational boaters keep their e-charts
current by updating them regularly with the accumulated weekly
(LNMs), published by nine US Coast Guard districts. These LNMs
provide critical safety info about sunken vessels, shifting shoals, buoy changes,
missing navigational aids and other safety hazards. While your paper charts
may become dog-eared and smudged, alerting you that it's time to purchase
a replacement, your out-of-date electronic chart will look brand new, and you
might just end up on a sandbank (or worse!).
Recently the NOAA organized a group of boating safety leaders called the
ance For Safe Navigation
to address this problem. They surveyed over 7,500
recreational boaters, and found that an alarming 64% of boaters are navigating
with out-of-date charts. "Recreational boaters, unlike commercial mariners, are
not required to carry nautical charts," explains Captain John Lowell, director
of NOAA's Office of Coast Survey. "We are sponsoring this new nationwide
educational effort because we want people to understand that NOAA's nautical
charts are easy to find and easy to use. By using 'Print on Demand' paper charts
or multi-functional electronic charts that are updated by NOAA cartographers,
people have a better chance of avoiding potential groundings and other ac-
cidents." For more on this, check out www.allianceforsafenavigation.org. Keep
those Navionics, Garmin and C-Map charts up to date. To help with this, Navion-
ics offers a new program called
, which allows you to receive one
year of free weekly updates to your Platinum+ charts. You can simply receive
weekly Notices To Mariners and other changes using your home computer.
Vision U.S. TOPO
eTrex Legend C/Vista C
eTrex Legend HCx/Vista HCx
GPSMAP 76C/76S/WM76CS Plus
Montana - all versions**
GPSMAP 520/525/530/535/540/545/4x1/5x1/5x6**/5x7**/7x1** and
** These units have extensive built-in cartography
When you purchase a new
preloaded fixed-mount chart-
plotter or preprogrammed
BlueChart g2 or g2 Vision
microSD card, you're entitled to
one free update of the newest
version of charts. You can get
the update on Garmin's website.
Updated charts will be for the
same (or equivalent) region as
the original purchase.
Limit one free update per device or card.
New Chart Guarantee valid within six
months of purchase.
Limit one discounted update, per card,
per map version
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