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Boat Chart Plotter alternatives


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One can download the complete set of NOAA marine charts for FREE and run them on a PC. The problem on the sailboat is water and most laptops are not water proof.


Unlike pc printers where the printers are crazy cheap and they make money on ink, dedicated color marine chart plotters are not cheap and the charts are out of this world expensive.


Being a sailor and a rider, I'm looking for a low cost solution and am wondering if the iPad, with built in GPS and a water proof bag is the ultimate solution?

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I just like looking at and studying marine charts for their immensely detailed and informative nature, provided you know how to interpret the wide varity of notations. I also like looking at yacht designs for similar reasons, but I digress.


I am not sure if a 'ruggetized' Laptop such as for military objectives, would be waterproof. Maybe, just as for MS Streets and Trips, you can attach a GPS to find your loacation on such charts. Sure would cut back on space requiremnets for both storing and viewing charts on a relatively confined yacht.


So how's about a website URL, please?

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As a long time sailor, depending exclusively on electronic devices on the water is not the way to go. Print your charts and laminate them beforehand. Carry the laptop as a backup. Keep the GPS separate on the "all your eggs in one backet" premise. Tie down and waterproof everything, all the time. 10 minutes from balmy to Force seven winds once is once too many. Knockdown after knockdown ruins even well protected electronics. Once on a mountain lake we went from 5 mph winds to 60 mph winds in less than 10 seconds. I just barely had time to turn into the wind. It almost lifted the bow out of the water. Luckily the Main came down easy but I had to lay on it to keep it from going overboard. Everything electronic got wet with spray. It actually lifted sheets of water off the suface of the lake.

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Having sailed for over 40 years myself, I'm not relying exclusively on any one navigation method, paper or electronic. Paper charts can blow overboard, fog can come in making it difficult or impossible to see (I know about dead reckoning) and having a chart plotter can be a great asset.

But I am cheap and am looking for the least costly solution to my desire which is to have, in addition to paper charts, electronic charting.

BTW I just spent $90 on Canadian charts for the Desolation Sound area, our planned destination for 2012.

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