Can anyone help with info on websites that offer free downloads of charts or very cheap ones. Similarly are there any free downloads of (or cheap) software to enable weather data to appear on my laptop from navtex or SSB receievers.
I have just bought MAPTECH Cruising Navigator from MES Ltd. www.mesltd.co.uk I think. It uses proper Hydrographic office charts. You can buy a chart pack consisting of between twenty and thirty charts depending on area for around £90. The chart pack comes with a free version of MAPTECH navigator though I don't think that it is as good as the cruising version. You can set your course on the PC at home and then upload the route to your navigation GPS on board. I don't imagine you will get a better deal than that. I printed out a full size chart on my large format inkjet today at A0 size and was well impressed with the quality. You can just print out the bits you want as well on a smaller printer.
OziExplorer is a good package that allows self scanned maps (or others such as Maptech) to be used. Ozi offers realtime tracking, upload to GPS, waypoint entry/management, route planning etc etc and is very gfood value at $75 US.