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Is there laptop PC GPS navigation software for nautical use?
decoy424
HI. I'M FROM ARGENTINA AND I USE NAUTICAL SOFT ON A COMMERCIAL FISHING SHIP. FORGET ABOUT MAC & GARMIN (SORRY GUYS) TRY NOBELTEC OR MAX SEA. THEY HAVE EVERITHYNG YOU MIGHT NEED AND MORE. BOTH MULTILANGUAGE AND WITH CHARTERING COVERING HOLE WORLD
carp46120
Great forum!! I am planning to do the Great Circle around the eastern US in a 22' powered cruiser. I plan to equip it with a computer and 22" lcd monitor with touchscreen overlay. With G3 internet, I believe I can integrate real time weather info as well as gps navigaion. I really won't need anything elaborate, just want to know where I am and what I should be aware of around me. Will Google Earth take care of that or should I invest in something full blown with charts, etc? I appreciate any input.
Ken in Regina
Your timing is good. Google Earth just announced the release of Google Earth version 5, which has most of the capabilities that Google Earth Plus had, except it's free (Google Earth Plus had a subscription fee).

That means you can download it, connect a GPS receiver and give it a spin for free to see if it's useful.

The drawback to Google Earth is that, at least pre-v5, it's realtime nav wasn't so hot. Perhaps that has been addressed in v5. And if you don't have a realtime connection to the internet, you can only use the maps that are in the cache. For Google Earth Plus, that was 2GB. That's not very much if you are using the satellite view (the only one that's likely going to be useful to you on water). And you have to find a program that will load the map cache for you because doing by just browsing the maps is tedious and you can't easily tell when you've filled the cache and are now flushing necessary stuff out of it.

But it's free, so track down version 5 and take it for a spin. Only you can really tell if it will do what you need. It's possible that you'll like it enough that if the cache size is an impediment for offline use you'll feel comfortable subscribing to Google Earth Pro for it's larger cache and maybe some of its other features.

...ken...
decoy424
Hi. I do not completelly agree with the previous answer because the followin reasons (I must state that this is just an exchange of points of views / opinions, not the absolute trouth): It´s true that Google provides us with very nice sat pictures and some other (a lot in fact) features, but it's is not a software specifically designed for sailing. As a matter of fact you will depend on a Internet connection for getting those pictures. If you plan to use 3G have in mind that you will have areas with no coverage. Far from the coast... forget it! The other option, for global coverage, is a sat phone, but the costs make it prohibitive as for 24 hs a day connection.
Meanwhile MaxSea, Nobeltec and others are 100% marine software. No fancy pictures but all a seaman needs. As for me, I use Nobeltec, wich I find extremly "user friendly" in my ship, usually fishing (commercial) in the South Atlatic.
Since version 6.0 Nobeltec has a "weather" feature, that allows you to download the forecast for a region covering winds and pressure, for free. For a fee they will provide you sea water temperature, current, etc. Only thing you need is an Internet connection 3 to 5 minutes a day, therefore making this a good option for a sat phone.
Regardind charts the're plenty of sellers of Electronic Charts, covering the world, you have free dowloads of U.S Coast Guard, and last, but not least ther's a bunch in the web that you can download with any P2P (remember copyrights).
One more point for nautical software is that you will be able to work tracks, waipoints, marks, events more easely and Nautical Charts will show you whats important to you: channels, bouys, rocks, etc.
Sorry for the length pal, but if you are goin to sail... USE NAUTICAL SOFTWARE. Leave Google for the family or for planning your trip at home!
Good luck & good winds!

Cheers. Alan.-
Ken in Regina
Hi Alan,

No need to apologize for presenting a different point of view, especially when it is one that comes from experience. Those were all good points and a very useful suggestion. I only suggested that carp46120 try the Google Earth v5 because he was already thinking about it and because it's free.

And because I am completely ignorant of marine navigation so I didn't have anything more useful to suggest.

Thank you for the excellent contribution.

...ken...
Ken in Cape Breton
Quote:
Originally Posted by decoy424

As for me, I use Nobeltec, which I find extremly "user friendly" in my ship, usually fishing (commercial) in the South Atlantic.
Since version 6.0 Nobeltec ...
Cheers. Alan.-
Hi Alan,

Aproximately how much does a Nobeltec setup cost these days? Just for the software, not the charts.

I'm curious as I'm still running Nobletec Visual Navigation Suite 4.1.400 on the laptop for sailboat navigation, coastal cruising and near offshore in Atlantic Canada.
decoy424
Uuhhh.... Tough one. You see, I'm from Argentine, and due to distance, change exrates, financial crisis and so many other factors is kind of hard to have a precise quote. As for the lat time I inquired in the local representative an upgrade to Nobeltec Visual Navigation Suite was somewhere in between $400 & 450. The funny thing is that the same product (NVNS) was about the same price ($500)
For the Admiral version the price was of about $900. Now... thas a serious price for a serious software. I would recomend the buying of this last one only for serious commercial operations, mainly trawling, since one of the bewtys of this program is the ability to connect the sounder to the PC and "record" the bottom, creating a 3D picture of the same. This isn't new. It appeared on version 7.
As for Nobeltec 4, let me tell you I have beeing using V. 6 till not long ago. No major differences, just the addition of the "weather" on the last one. These versions are extreml stable, need very little hardware cappacity and are easy to run. V 7 is like going from Win 3.1 to Win Vista. Very beatifull interface. Improved handling of waipoints, tracks and other info, but all this has it's price. "Heavier" program that might "freeze" your PC if you dont have proper hardware and far more optios to work (and screw) with.
Up North you can find very nice deals with discontinued products. For me, I would go for a V7, V8 the most.
Well... sorry! I must be boring with so mutch writing.... Give some rest to my fingers & let some one else participate. OAny question, comment, critics, more than wellcome. Bye everybody. Alan.-
efris
Interesting discussion. I've been using SeaClear with a simple USB GPS device for navigating on Lake Michigan for the last two years and have been very impressed. The software has some quirks but basic navigation is simple and the free NOAA raster charts are the best available. You can connect the instruments from your boat to include wind and other information if you like, although I've never gone down that road.

Some nice features:
  • You can load any images you want into the tool. When we're visiting a harbor we're not familiar with we pre-load sat images from Google Maps, then toggle between the charts and the photos if we're having a hard time understanding what we're seeing in the unfamiliar waters.
  • The accuracy is fantastic. We have on several occassions pulled into unfamiliar harbors at night. I just watch the boat on the screen and tell the skipper where to go to find buoys, walls, entrances, whatever.
  • Setting a race course with waypoints and reference marks is easy. All the basic stuff is there.
  • Nice "look ahead" feature. If you have the software automatically tracking you on the charts it recogizes where you're going and places the boat toward the edge of the screen. That way most of the chart you're seeing on the screen is where you're going, not where you've been. You can toggle this feature on and off. I sure wish Garmin would build this feature into their handhelds!
  • We load road maps from Google into SeaClear and use it on road trips. Unlike the dashboard Garmin GPS, it doesn't give directions or locate ATMs, but you can get a broader view of where you are. Works great.
There are quite a few little missings that a commercial software package would likely include. For example:
  • You cannot change units of measure. It's nautical units only.
  • The interface isn't always intuitive so it takes some time and fiddling around to learn.
  • Documentation is marginal. Doesn't explain things in enough detail and assumes the user is experienced with navigational and charting terminology.
  • Abbreviations are not flexible and in many cases don't match US conventions, e.g. "WCV" for "Waypoint Closure Velocity" rather than "VMG" for "Velocity Made Good".
  • The charts are non-interactive images so you can't click on a buoy to find text information about it. For that we end up using our handheld Garmin devices.
Cool package. Give it a try and plan to commit to it if you want to learn all the features. There are some nice utilities for managing data (tracks, waypoints, routes) available on the SeaClear website ... you'll want those!
Ken in Cape Breton
Quote:
Originally Posted by efris
Interesting discussion. I've been using SeaClear with a simple USB GPS device for navigating on Lake Michigan for the last two years and have been very impressed. The software has some quirks but basic navigation is simple and the free NOAA raster charts are the best available. You can connect the instruments from your boat to include wind and other information if you like, although I've never gone down that road.
Some nice features:
  • You can load any images you want into the tool. When we're visiting a harbor we're not familiar with we pre-load sat images from Google Maps, then toggle between the charts and the photos if we're having a hard time understanding what we're seeing in the unfamiliar waters.
That would be a great feature. I don't think you can do that easily (if at all) with the version of Nobeltec I have (it is 10 years old).



Quote:
Originally Posted by efris
  • The accuracy is fantastic. We have on several occassions pulled into unfamiliar harbors at night. I just watch the boat on the screen and tell the skipper where to go to find buoys, walls, entrances, whatever.
  • Setting a race course with waypoints and reference marks is easy. All the basic stuff is there.
Nice "look ahead" feature. If you have the software automatically tracking you on the charts it recogizes where you're going and places the boat toward the edge of the screen. That way most of the chart you're seeing on the screen is where you're going, not where you've been. You can toggle this feature on and off. I sure wish Garmin would build this feature into their handhelds!
The version of Nobeltec I use does all this easily



Quote:
Originally Posted by efris
  • We load road maps from Google into SeaClear and use it on road trips. Unlike the dashboard Garmin GPS, it doesn't give directions or locate ATMs, but you can get a broader view of where you are. Works great.
I don't think my 10 year old Nobeltec will do this either.

Quote:
Originally Posted by efris
There are quite a few little missings that a commercial software package would likely include. For example:

  • You cannot change units of measure. It's nautical units only.
  • The interface isn't always intuitive so it takes some time and fiddling around to learn.
  • Documentation is marginal. Doesn't explain things in enough detail and assumes the user is experienced with navigational and charting terminology.
  • Abbreviations are not flexible and in many cases don't match US conventions, e.g. "WCV" for "Waypoint Closure Velocity" rather than "VMG" for "Velocity Made Good".
  • The charts are non-interactive images so you can't click on a buoy to find text information about it. For that we end up using our handheld Garmin devices.
Cool package. Give it a try and plan to commit to it if you want to learn all the features. There are some nice utilities for managing data (tracks, waypoints, routes) available on the SeaClear website ... you'll want those!
Changing units of measure is simple in my old Nobeltec. Metric, nautical or imperial, Us gallons , litres, etc. are all available.

The interface is fairly intuitive. I have been using it for a number of years so I may be biased.

I believe any software package that uses raster charts is going to have non-interactive images. Vector charts like Garmin's are the way everything will go eventually. New versions of topographical maps in Canada, while printed on paper, are constructed by the computer from vector data. I imagine new charts are made the same way.
t1d
XM Radio offers a satellite realtime weather feed that you can run on your laptop without the need for cell coverage or internet connectivity. It is available for a recurring fee, however, I do not know the cost. I know that some hardware is also needed. I know that it can be interfaced with AnywhereMap and I expect that it can be interfaced with lots of other nav programs.
CptnRMChair
Another option to consider is PolarView - I am using it for a while and it's been a great help. Chart viewer is free, quite easy to use and works on Windows and Mac. The navigation application costs $30. Works pretty well with my USB GPS puck connected to an older Acer laptop.

They supports both NOAA vector and BSB charts, and have a useful GRIB weather viewer that downloads GRIB data from their servers.

The site is Polar Navy
Peterk123
Depends on how much you can afford to spend. There are some proposals already on the site are at the lower end of the market and from there you can go up to some really serious stuff from U$2,000 plus.

One of the most popular with UK fishermen is the Olex software from Norway: Olex: Main Page and if you have a sonar/sounder on your mega-yacht, you could use a docking station for your laptop so that you do not have to mess with hooking up sounder data cables everytime.

If budgets are no problem, then add the WASSP system Multibeam Sonar - WASSP - Innovative Marine Technology and get both bathymetric AND fish data in 3D You might blow your nautical socks off with the information provided AND the combination of the two softwares will provide updated chart depths on your laptop as you cruise.
rodolfo
I use opencpn , a fully functional navigation software!

Works with bsb, Cmap (V2) and S57 maps!
Supports AIS and GRIB files!
Waypoints, Autopilot routing output and more...
for Windows, Mac and LINUX!!!

And the best: It's opensource

Official site: OpenCPN | Official OpenCPN Homepage
Sourforge: OpenCPN | Get OpenCPN at SourceForge.net
German site: OpenCPN.de | damit Sie überall sicher ankommen!

Happy sailing!
igotafrigginjeep
Not sure if this would be the right thread for this question, or if I should start a new thread...but have a friend looking for free nautical maps for Canada.


He would be looking mainly for the Great Lakes and more specifically Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. I originally directed him to NOAA and he downloaded the Great Lakes section, but has since informed me that it only had the US side of both lakes.


Anybody know if there is anything like this for Canada that is available for free?
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