What do I need for PC based marine GPS / chartplotter system?
Hi, I am new to this and need some help to identify what is required and where to get a somewhat simple and inexpensive system for a PC based GPS/chartplotter for my sailboat.

I would like to us the free downloadable NOAA charts and I have used a Garmin Map chartplotter in the past and like the way it functions, but I am open. I was also thinking of using a cheap 7in or 9in TV flatscreen with A/V input as a monitor in the cockpit and have the laptop down below, maybe with a mouse topside.

Any directions would be of great help
Check out "SeaClear II" and "OkMaps" in the search function of this forum for information. SeaClear II works directly with the free NOAA charts. It is a free program... Google to download... I have it and have played with it. Works fine... It is a little less intuitive, but you can figure it out... The price is right. OkMaps is free, too... But, I know very little about it...
Thanks, that helped me a lot
tidunn, it's me again. I would like to know what you are using for antenna? Also, does Sea-Clear II have a good chartplotter capability?

Anything would help,

What you refer to as an "antenna" is actually a Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) receiver. What most people recommend on this forum is either the GlobalSat BU-353 or the QStarz Blue Tooth receiver. Both enjoy very good reputations.

The GlobalSat BU-353 can be purchased (on-line) routinely for less than $40. I do not know what the QStar might cost, but surely a bit more.

I, personally, would be more comfortable with the BU-353, because it utilizes a "hard-wire" connection, the unit is rugged, having a weatherproof case and magnet base for external mounting, and it costs less.

Chartplotting Capability
Yes, SeaClear II does offer full features, including plotting or "routing." It uses the free NOAA charts. It looks like your boat is sailing on the traditional paper charts.

Have you searched for "SeaClear II" on this forum or the internet?

If you have not taking a boating course, I highly recommend it for your safety and enjoyment. I was a member of the US Power Squadron. Though the name would make you think that the group was only about power boats, they are really more about general boating. They offer all sorts of EXCELLENT training and courses. I am/was a sailor and I learned so much about navigation and piloting. It greatly improved my skills and confidence... that made for safer and more enjoyable sailing.

After you get things set up, you may be able to have your laptop provide a feed to an auto-pilot.

What type of sail boat do you have and what waters do you routinely sail? Are you getting ready to do a big cruise?
Another thing or two:

As you search for SeaClear II and the NOAA charts, you will find all sorts of people packaging this free information and trying to sell it to you. Don't fall for that. Just keep searching until you find the original source sites and download the information for free.

I did a quick search on this site for "SeaClear II" and I found lots of other good threads on the subject. They also list other free programs.

Here is the SeaClear II Site:

The NOAA charts can be found at www.NOAA.gov
Digital Charts

I found this site for the entire collection of 2272 NOAA charts, SeaClear software and more all packaged on one disk for 20 dollars. My time is worth more than the 20 and this makes it totally portable. It can be installed or operate off the disk. This site is also a source for raster charts from all over the world.
Marvin Hlavac
Hi Nicholson58, and welcome to the forum,

My time is worth more than the 20
That may be, but I'd be careful about the prices of other items on that site. The USB GPS receiver that is being sold there for $79.95 is clearly a BU-353 by GlobalSat, even though the above mentioned website doesn't even disclose the name of the product so one cannot comparison shop elsewhere. BU-353 sells for less than half of the price (about $35) by most other retailers.
Very true on the other toys. Those prices got my attention. I bought the BU-353 on E-Bay for about 35. If you follow the CHARTS link at the top of the page and look at the coverage outside of the US it is pretty economical unless there is a totally free site like NOAA for these.
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