Why paper charts?

Molteni

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A newish crew member recently asked me what we'd do if the cockpit chartplotter suddenly failed. I replied that there's another at the chart table, a charged tablet with all UK charts and Navionics installed on my smartphone. The chances of them all failing was very low, but we have paper charts as well.

"So why bother with paper charts at all?" he said, and I was rather stumped for an answer!

So, do we really need paper charts in this technological age?
 
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Boathook

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For when the battery's go flat or GPS throws a funny. Paper charts are also good for discussing where we are, going and other options. And I forgot to mention plotting where you are after everything else has packed up.
 

vyv_cox

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My batteries have never gone flat, even in the far off days when there was only one of them for everything and only a voltmeter to monitor it. I have paper charts that very rarely come out of the locker but they are handy for seeing the overall picture when zooming out the plotter makes the area too small to see.
 

GHA

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My batteries have never gone flat, even in the far off days when there was only one of them for everything and only a voltmeter to monitor it. I have paper charts that very rarely come out of the locker but they are handy for seeing the overall picture when zooming out the plotter makes the area too small to see.
:encouragement:
Planning on opencpn allowing access to satilitte images in addition to charts, with a few small scale charts & cruising guides stashed to provide paper backup should the extremely unlikely happen.
 

Elemental

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So, do we really need paper charts in this technological age?
  1. For the big picture. A big paper chart allows me to visualise tidal flows, traffic patterns, alternative harbours, passage progress and yet still offer a level of detail without having to zoom in and lose that big picture. I've yet to find an admiralty sized plotter display...
  2. For domain skills. Staying current with the 'primitives' such as tidal and stream flows and 'traditional' old school passage planning and execution helps make better plans and best use of the facilities offered by the chart plotter. And allows better mental appreciation of what's around
  3. For interest.
 

Sandy

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So, do we really need paper charts in this technological age?
I find that the information they present is far more understandable. I prefer using the old ways of doing things, with pencils, rubbers, a breton plotter and pointy things.

WE have a chartplotter onboard and about six devices that will give us a GPS fix. All the chartplotter is really used for is collecting data for later analysis and computing VMG.

May I suggest you run a training exercise onboard one day and switch everything off, ideally well offshore, late in the afternoon and ask your crew member to get you back to the mooring as the light fades.
 

oldharry

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I was on the bridge of N Sea Ferry a few years back, and noticed they were keeping the plot on paper charts. Its the guys downstairs, was the explanation. They dont think it matters leaving us without power.

I very rarely use charts nowadays, but always carry them and on a longer passage will keep a running plot, just in case.
 

Lucky Duck

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Two years back we had a Navionics SD card become 'corrupt' during an update carried out just before setting off the the Scuttlebutt Cherbourg get together. This only became evident when the card was inserted into the plotter and it didn't show and detail and caused the plotter to freeze.

Fortunately we found a spare one, although it was a couple of years out of date it was much better than nothing.
 

tidclacy

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Important to keep your paper charts up to date.

A few years back crossing the sands in the Thames in my friends boat he was relying on a chart plotter. His card had been updated a few months earlier. We were crossing at the S W sunk and I knew the channel had changed dramatically as I had checked before we had set off.

He trusted me and used my GPS co-ordinates. As we were crossing, another boat was trying to cross at the old channel and ran aground.

We stood by him and he got off safely. Chart plotter cards are not updated weekly paper charts are.
 

Robin

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Important to keep your paper charts up to date.

A few years back crossing the sands in the Thames in my friends boat he was relying on a chart plotter. His card had been updated a few months earlier. We were crossing at the S W sunk and I knew the channel had changed dramatically as I had checked before we had set off.

He trusted me and used my GPS co-ordinates. As we were crossing, another boat was trying to cross at the old channel and ran aground.

We stood by him and he got off safely. Chart plotter cards are not updated weekly paper charts are.

So you are the one who updates his charts every week! Even so, I believe changes take weeks or months to even appear in NTMs
 

johnalison

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I keep paper charts because there is a notice on my plotter telling me that it not to be used as a sole source for navigation, and because, good though they are, electronic charts don't carry the authority of the UKHO.
 

JumbleDuck

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I find that the information they present is far more understandable. I prefer using the old ways of doing things, with pencils, rubbers, a breton plotter and pointy things.

I agree. Why use a chart 5" or even 8" across when you can have one three feet across? If I wanted to play videogames I would have worked less hard at school.
 

Elessar

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  1. For the big picture. A big paper chart allows me to visualise tidal flows, traffic patterns, alternative harbours, passage progress and yet still offer a level of detail without having to zoom in and lose that big picture. I've yet to find an admiralty sized plotter display...
  2. For domain skills. Staying current with the 'primitives' such as tidal and stream flows and 'traditional' old school passage planning and execution helps make better plans and best use of the facilities offered by the chart plotter. And allows better mental appreciation of what's around
  3. For interest.

perfect answer.
 

GHA

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perfect answer.

Which could equally apply to a laptop :)

Mouse zoom in and out to see the fine detail without having to dig out harbour charts, passage plan flipping between tidal stream charts & actual charts with marinetraffic density charts as well to see where's busiest. Works better than paper for trying different options & flicking through the tidal ccharts hour by hour makes more sense then flipping through the tidal atlas book. Far more interesting as you can flick between chart data & google satellite data. And overly synoptic weather charts/grib files for the coming days. A bit of paper is handy to have as a backup just in case but just isn't as versatile or contain anywhere near the info you have available on a laptop.
 

RupertW

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We do approximate passage plans on the iPad which has become our main way of navigating and although we have many devices capable of showing our position we only have 2 sources of information about the actual chart - the iPad and a paper back up.

So we still have paper charts but don’t buy nearly as many when going to a new cruising ground which we do every couple of years. We will have detailed ones of a couple of bits and a very wide area passage chart and that’s about it.
 
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