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Does anyone still sail without a chart plotter?

Athomson

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20 Sep 2020
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727
I had in mind the distinction between those who have to turn their atlas around when driving to route-up orientation before they can tell whether to turn left or right. Clockwise vs ACW doesn't cut it for them. Similar problems with charts and plotters...
Its just practice probably. I make sure my sat nav, which is 90% of the time just in overview mode looking for red bits of motorway, is always set to display north up. I started doing that worried I'd dumb myself down but I doubt thats possible to unlearn.
 

jimi

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19 Dec 2001
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28,466
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St Neots
Must admit that I like using paper charts for passage planning. First time I did a cross channel from the Solent to Cherbourg I worked out the net offset and used a single CTS which almost took us straight through the North Entrance then we used the sector and leading lights, We didn't have a gps on board, however later on I realised that with our passage speed the offsets cancelled out so we just ignored them and headed straight for Cherbourg. Likewise crossing from Ijmuiden to Orwell it virtually cancels out apart from the bit from Orford to Orwell where the tide rather than being cross tide is either with you or against you! So basically I paper charts to passage plan and pilotage plan load a route onto the plotter to monitor position whist still visually monitoring key pilotage points
 

James_Calvert

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6 Oct 2001
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2,004
No fixed plotter as yet but do find Navionics on a phone a boon.

"Proper" navigation for me these days is a paper chart marked up regularly with the GPS position. So a plotter wouldn't be that different.

For pilotage, a prepared GPS way point route keeps me out of trouble. I have a plugged in handheld at the chart table, and another to hand in the cockpit for this.

I just can't decide what I need for a chart plotter, I guess one below and a handheld on deck would match how I currently use this technology, but the handhelds seem stupid expensive, a phone with Navionics is cheaper, and I have one already.
 

Laser_310

Active member
Joined
6 Oct 2019
Messages
407
Its just practice probably. I make sure my sat nav, which is 90% of the time just in overview mode looking for red bits of motorway, is always set to display north up. I started doing that worried I'd dumb myself down but I doubt thats possible to unlearn.
i really don't like the heading-up setting.., you can't glance at it and see which way you are headed - it always looks like you are headed in the right direction - no matter where you are headed.
 

Graham376

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15 Apr 2018
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Boat on Mooring off Faro, Home near Abergele
that should be the easiest part of navigation in theory, with all the buoys and lights to guide us in. But so often I've had a hell of a time spotting the buoy lights from all the background lights and then losing them and its when we're most likely tired. It would make things a lot easier having a plotter at that point, if its detailed enough anyway
I prefer paper navigation. Our plotter comes out sometimes, good in bad visibility or at night entering ports as a moving map/chart but no longer surprised when the channel buoys aren't where C Map says they should be, even on an updated cartridge. Too many people rely on them too much.
 

Athomson

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20 Sep 2020
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727
i really don't like the heading-up setting.., you can't glance at it and see which way you are headed - it always looks like you are headed in the right direction - no matter where you are headed.
You mean the 3D driving down the road setting? The times I've had it on that I get sucked into (too much) watching it instead of the road
 
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Laser_310

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6 Oct 2019
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407
no longer surprised when the channel buoys aren't where C Map says they should be, even on an updated cartridge. Too many people rely on them too much.
vector charts are made directly from raster (scanned) versions of the paper charts, and are not, on the whole, less accurate than the paper/raster charts

and, they have the advantage that mistakes can be corrected, and new versions distributed for download, very quickly. many electronic charts are updated weekly. How often do most people buy new paper charts.., or read the notices to mariners and correct their charts?

maybe once every few years in my experience...

if you are using only paper charts, it can be pretty difficult to know whether a buoy is off charted position by much, because you don't know your own position relative to the buoy as well as when using a chart plotter.

in any case they are usually in exactly the same position on C-map as on the paper charts.

i know this because in my nav program, and most other PC nav programs, i can easily switch back and forth between the scanned paper charts and the c-map charts - takes one second...
 

Laser_310

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6 Oct 2019
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407
You mean the 3D driving down the road setting? The times I've had on that I get sucked into watching it instead of the road
3D view is yet another thing I dislike...

i was talking just about the chart (or map) rotating -in 2D- as you turn you boat (or car)
 

NorthRising

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30 Mar 2009
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337
Location
North - Sonata
Yes. I do have GPS but no plotter, and I do have an app on the phone (which I don't tend to use because it is battery hungry) but I can turn it on for a quick sense check if needed. I plot GPS onto paper charts, and I use more traditional position finding techniques less frequently, but sometimes. I like it this way.
 

Athomson

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20 Sep 2020
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727
many people say they do this, but how do you do it when you are helming the boat, trimming the sails, and keeping an eye on traffic?
Thats why the folios are so good for single handing, keep it in the cockpit, you can slip it out and mark it. Fortunately we're not going very fast usually so there's plenty of time. But for local or close to the coast sailing I tend to just keep a mental note of where I am on the chart unless there's some reason to mark it.
 

James_Calvert

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6 Oct 2001
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For me:

As I used to do when it was a Decca lat long position or an EP from course and distance.

Ideally put someone else on the helm, then you have the look out covered. If they are competent to do trimming, so much the better. It's good to share the boaty jobs around, it's rare people are content as just passengers.

And going below to "do the navigation" preserves some personal mystique and can usefully and legitimately keep you out of the rain.

Or pop the Autohelm on the tiller or if conditions are stable enough just lash it.
 

westhinder

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15 Feb 2003
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2,039
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Belgium
Having started sailing in a 188? Gaff cutter with a lead line and compass when I was aged 3?
Being able to have a chart with your position marked accurately is miraculous especially when is is integral to a phone
However I do believe that some people have a built in sense of direction whilst others could get lost in a telephone box
My sense of direction has deserted me, could you point me to the nearest telephone box? 😎
 

LadyInBed

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2 Sep 2001
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13,456
Location
Me - Zumerzet Boat - Wareham
i really don't like the heading-up setting.., you can't glance at it and see which way you are headed - it always looks like you are headed in the right direction - no matter where you are headed.
I've always used it, at the start of a passage I set a GOTO to the destination, that puts a line on the plotter so I always have a reference to the direction of the destination.
vector charts are made directly from raster (scanned) versions of the paper charts, and are not, on the whole, less accurate than the paper/raster charts
I think you have that A about T.
It's been a long time now since I used to visit the Hydrographic offices in Taunton as part of my work but even in those days the raw data supplied by the survey ships was digitised and input in Vector format into their computers, filters were then applied to limit what data was printed according to the scale of the chart being published.
 
Joined
31 Oct 2020
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430
many people say they do this, but how do you do it when you are helming the boat, trimming the sails, and keeping an eye on traffic?
You do your work in advance.
Give yourself time. Sit down with the chart on a table, almanac and TSA, and draw and write on the chart everything you might need to consult. You mark your chart in a way which will be visible when you and it are damp. Heavy lines and block capitals in soft pencil.
By the time you have worked it out, , most of it should be in your memory anyway.
If you are too prissy to fold your precious chart suitably and take it into the cockpit, then sketches are essential.
Vasco de Gama did it on deck, so can you.
Proper prior planning and perfect previous preparation prevent pathetic p... poor performance.
I am biased because I love old-school passage planning in pencil, but I genuinely feel sorry for those who think it's about fiddling with buttons on gadgets.
 

Laminar Flow

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14 Jan 2020
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Location
West Coast
I never had, or used a plotter for that matter, until we bought our current boat in 2009. She came with a set of CDs with raster charts you could pop into your laptop and hook a cheap GPS up to it. It was, to me, an eyeopener.

By then I had cruised some more than 40,000 miles across oceans and along coasts - always with paper charts, pilot books and a sextant & tables in the locker.

Then, when the prices became affordable, I bought a GPS. It provided me with a position , speed and , good for astro navigation, time. I still used paper charts, in fact, often traded them with other boats going the opposite way.

The chart plotter is a revolutionary step forward, I must say, though I resent having to renew the annual subscriptions to the charts. Just as I felt robbed when Imray refused to issue me with a clearing code to transfer the CD data to a new laptop. I preferred the raster charts to the Navionics we use now as, it looked more to what I was used to - Navionics has all the nautical appeal of watching a bad comic strip animation on your tablet.

There is no doubt that plotters have been a boon to safety and have eliminated much of the need for the skills of old.
A while back I was talking to one of our local salvage companies, modern day pirates basically, they complained bitterly to me that plotters had ruined the business.

They do, I suspect, create a sense of over-confidence and, most certainly, dependency. Woe he who has no skills o fall back on when they fail.

2018 we sailed to the Baltic. Being the cheap skate I am, I refused to pay Navionics the offensive fee for the Danish section which is not included in the European coverage. I bought a set of paper charts instead.
Wow, at first I felt strangely vulnerable, not having that little icon to follow around, but I quickly came to grips with it and found it rather satisfying to, once again, be laying and calling out new courses, checking the buoys for their markings or taking bearings off prominent points.

Electronics may have made navigation safer (when they work), easier and more convenient, for certain, but at the same time we have lost some of that very magic that made the art of navigation so satisfying.
 

Laser_310

Active member
Joined
6 Oct 2019
Messages
407
I think you have that A about T.
It's been a long time now since I used to visit the Hydrographic offices in Taunton as part of my work but even in those days the raw data supplied by the survey ships was digitised and input in Vector format into their computers, filters were then applied to limit what data was printed according to the scale of the chart being published.
the post i was referring to was criticizing C-map

C-map starts with the raster charts - not with the survey data.
 

Laser_310

Active member
Joined
6 Oct 2019
Messages
407
You do your work in advance.
Give yourself time. Sit down with the chart on a table, almanac and TSA, and draw and write on the chart everything you might need to consult. You mark your chart in a way which will be visible when you and it are damp. Heavy lines and block capitals in soft pencil.
By the time you have worked it out, , most of it should be in your memory anyway.
If you are too prissy to fold your precious chart suitably and take it into the cockpit, then sketches are essential.
Vasco de Gama did it on deck, so can you.
Proper prior planning and perfect previous preparation prevent pathetic p... poor performance.
I am biased because I love old-school passage planning in pencil, but I genuinely feel sorry for those who think it's about fiddling with buttons on gadgets.
passage planning is one thing - and i agree paper charts are great for it.

the post i was responding to was talking about plotting GPS-derived lat/lon in real time on a chart _while sailing_.

each position might take a couple of minutes to plot.., and you are not going to do it with one hand on the tiller, and the other on the jib sheet.

so, that's fine at sea, but it's not an ideal way to enter a new harbour, with confusing channels, single handed.

i'll take a chartplotter for that - is it 100% necessary? no, but it definitely makes it easier and less stressful.
 

lustyd

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27 Jul 2010
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5,265
Location
Me, Reading. Boat, Portsmouth
That's OK if you can rely on the accuracy of the charted depths displayed on the chartplotter.

Like Bartleby the Scrivener, "I would prefer not to" :)
Charted depths in front of your boat are considerably more useful for collision avoidance than depth under your boat while underway. A sounder is more useful for anchoring, but even then most of us anchor in known anchorages the majority of the time.
 
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