electronic charts

Navionics Boating App Updated With U.S. Govt. Charts, New Features

Navionics Boating App Updated With U.S. Govt. Charts, New Features

The "About" screen of Navionics newly released Navionics Boating app, showing version 7.0.

The “About” screen of Navionics newly released Navionics Boating app, showing version 7.0.

Do you have an iPad (with GPS) or iPhone on the boat with you?  Okay, then, no excuses:  Download the latest Navionics Boating app update from the App Store, now standard with access to the free U.S. electronic navigation charts (ENC) from NOAA.  There.  You’re not lost anymore.  You’re welcome (from Navionics, anyway).

Now, a little more objectively. . .Navionics today released the latest version (7.0) of its free app, Navionics Boating, which now includes integration with free U.S. government-produced charts for U.S. coastal and navigable waterways, plus additional shorelines of major lakes and rivers from other public sources.

NOAA ENC Charts Included

This means that the Navionics Boating app is immediately suitable for direct navigation in these waters.  NOAA ENCs are vector charts, which means they scale up and down in a completely readable way, and they conform to the International Hydrographic Office (IHO) S-57 standard for electronic charts.

Navionics Boating app showing a NOAA ENC chart for Long Island Sound.

Navionics Boating app showing a NOAA ENC chart for Long Island Sound.

They include all the primary navigation data you need — depths, buoys, beacons, harzards, channel markers and more.  Of course, you can also purchase full-featured Navionics charts with enhanced detail and features such as newly improved dynamic tide and current information and displays.  The chart on the right here of the north shore of Long Island is a NOAA ENC.

You can see the little blue circle at the lower left labeled “GOVT” which means I’m using a NOAA chart.  If you click on that you can opt for a Navionics chart instead, or load one of the cool, crowd-sourced SonarCharts.  Also visible in that screen capture is the classic “navigate” button at lowest left, camera and search buttons to upper left, zoom buttons at upper right and a distance measuring tool at bottom right.

Enhanced Features

The updated app includes several enhanced features:

  • Tracking — The Navionics Boating app uses GPS to measure and record performance data.  Speed, Trip Time, Course Over Ground, Distance and more are all displayed in a new Tracking Console.  Boaters can pause, playback and review a track, and share details with others.
  • Expanded Routing — Planning and route creation are also free with the Navionics Boating app.  Boaters can measure distances, mark waypoints, create simple routes and save data across mobile devices.  The company says wind forecasts include 3-day projections, as well.  The app includes a free trial version of a Nav Module ($4.99) that includes Estimated Time of Arrival, Distance to Arrival and more.
  • Sharing — App users can share memories of their trips with family and friends via Facebook, Twitter and email.  Using a camera function within the app, photos and videos are automatically geo-tagged while recording a trip.  Other images, such as tracking screens and stats can be shared, too.
The Navionics Boating app showing one of the menu options with the various in-app purchases available.

The Navionics Boating app showing one of the menu options with the various in-app purchases available.

Integration with On-board Electronics

As of the most previous update, v6.0, early this year, Navionics Boating includes Plotter Sync, a new feature that allows on-board electronics to connect to Navionics servers on the Internet for uploading data and downloading new charts or updates.

The company says owners of Raymarine Wi-Fi-enabled plotters — just the first of Navionics’ manufacturer partners compatible with this technology — can now use Navionics Boating as a bridge for this connection, eliminating the need to remove a memory card from the plotter to update it.  The App will sync with the chartplotter and provide the update directly.

This is especially cool when users upload and share with Navionics their fishfinder’s recorded sonar tracks, allowing the company to verify and integrate the information in to SonarCharts™ — a new high-definition bathymetry maps that reflects the ever-changing conditions boaters experience in the real world.

Updating Advice

I checked out the new version on my iPad and it’s a big change.  The inclusion of NOAA ENCs makes a HUGE difference in out-of-the-box usability.  If you’re in need of the more detailed and feature-laden Navionics charts, by all means buy them.  They’re not that expensive for most areas (at least compared to what we used to spend for charts and updates) and you won’t regret the purchase.  But for starters, the NOAA ENCs will get you going and keep you safe.  When I fired up my iPad, it didn’t offer me the app update when I went to the App Store, so I deleted the version I had (6.0.3 – the April update) and then downloaded the app again and it was the 7.0 version.  I imagine the updating will be automatic and more smooth over the next couple of days (it could also conceivably have been my own iPad’s sometimes flaky relationship with my router).  If your older version doesn’t seem to be updating, just delete it and download it anew from the App Store (assuming you don’t have any data saved that you need).

Then, when you start it up, after you acknowledge the EULA and settle on a chart area, you can download the NOAA ENC for that area for free.  I downloaded the chart for New England and it was about 68 MB, which downloaded over my Wi-Fi in about 1 minute.  Beautiful and ready to navigate.  You can see “me” in the screen capture up above, standing on the edge of a cliff overlooking Long Island Sound.  I will actually need to board the boat to navigate from here, but the readers come first!

Android Version Coming Soon

Navionics says an Android version of the updated app will be out soon, with features similar to those in the iOS version rolling out throughout the year.  You will find that version in the Google Play store; we’ll advise when it’s released.

Copyright © 2014 by OceanLines LLC.  All rights reserved.

 

Posted by Tom in Electronics, GPS, Marine Electronics, Navigation, seamanship, Sonar, Technology
Navionics at Center of ICW Magenta Line Renovation

Navionics at Center of ICW Magenta Line Renovation

Last year, NOAA’s Coastal Survey Office announced that it planned to discontinue the so-called “magenta line” on charts of the IntraCoastal Waterway (ICW) because the line placement was based on data that, in some cases, hadn’t been updated since the original charts were produced in the early 20th century.  Well, that generated quite a storm of response from the user community but that response turned into something much more substantial and positive — a commitment by some companies and from boaters themselves to help get the data updated themselves.  Navionics, known for its comprehensive charts of nearly all the navigable waterways, lakes and coastal areas visited by recreational boats, decided to employ some of its latest crowdsource-supported technology to assist in the effort.

An example of the "magenta line" on a chart of the ICW.  Image courtesy of Navionics.

An example of the “magenta line” on a chart of the ICW. Image courtesy of Navionics.

Navionics is at now at the center of the NOAA Office of Coastal Survey’s efforts to reestablish an accurate magenta line on IntraCoastal Waterway (ICW) charts.  The Navionics effort involves updating the charting data on its “Freshest Data” servers with information generated by boaters who upload sonar logs and who submit edits to charts using the Edit Map function on their Navionics mobile application.  Given that there are more than 1.5 million users of the mobile apps, Don Black, global vice president of sales and marketing for Navionics, says, “We are able to deliver invaluable enhancements to charting data at an unmatched pace.”

Crowdsourcing (have you noticed how German the American English is becoming, just combining words into compound words?) is one of the hottest developments in the online world today.  The technology of “connectedness” makes it possible for users to now share local data and build profoundly more accurate databases of information.  In the marine charting world, that translates to the possibility of much safer local navigation, offsetting many years of neglect from government hydrographers who had higher priorities and insufficient budgets.

If you’re a user of the ICW and you would like to participate, get onboard with the Navionics Boating APP and get your local sonar logs and information uploaded to Navionics.  You may also contact NOAA’s Coastal Survey Office directly with input and comments. Use the link above to see how.

Copyright © 2014 by Oceanlines LLC. All rights reserved.

Posted by Tom in Cruising Under Power, Cruising Under Sail, Depthfinders, Electronics, Marine Electronics, Navigation, seamanship, Sonar, Technology
Navionics Plotter Sync Wirelessly Updates Charts on Raymarine plotters

Navionics Plotter Sync Wirelessly Updates Charts on Raymarine plotters

If you own a wirelessly enabled chartplotter from Raymarine  and you use charts from Navionics, your life is about to get MUCH simpler. An updated Navionics app on your iPhone or iPad will download daily chart updates, and then when you are within range of your wireless-enabled chartplotter from Raymarine (with the latest firmware update, likely by late April), the app will communicate with the chartplotter using an embedded technology called Plotter Sync, and update your Navionics chart cards. You really just won’t have to think about it or worry about it anymore:  you will always have the latest updates for your charts.

The Navionics Boating App is available for iOS and Android platforms.  Image courtesy of Navionics

The Navionics Boating App is available for iOS and Android platforms. Image courtesy of Navionics

Navionics Plotter Sync on Raymarine chartplotter

Navionics Plotter Sync wirelessly updates the Navionics charts on Raymarine chartplotters. Image courtesy of Navionics

According to Navionics, the Navionics Boating app gets the latest chart data from Navionics Freshest Data servers and, using Plotter Sync, automatically syncs to the chart card.  You never have to remove the card or take it back to a computer.  A bonus comes if the Raymarine user is sharing her sonar logs with Navionics.  Then, the logs will also wirelessly sync to the mobile device and then up to the cloud where they become part of Navionics crowd-sourced SonarCharts.  In the right-hand image here you can see the Navionics chart display on a Raymarine e97 chartplotter, which the image on the left shows the same chart info on an iPad, which is using the Plotter Sync technology to sync with and update the e97.

Navionics PlotterSync on an iPad synchronizing chart updates to a Raymarine e9 plotter.  Image courtesy of Navionics

Navionics PlotterSync on an iPad synchronizing chart updates to a Raymarine e9 plotter. Image courtesy of Navionics

This technology represents a significant safety enhancement.  A boater using Plotter Sync not only will have the latest charts on the Raymarine chartplotter, but also on an independent mobile device.  If you were smart enough to buy your iPad with a cellular modem, and thus with an actual gps receiver in it, then your iPad becomes a fully functional offshore navigation device.  Our resident expert on iPad navigation for boats, Christine Kling, has written extensively about iPads on boats.

Print out a up-to-date free PDF chart from the NOAA website before you leave for the dock and you’ve set yourself up for success with a triple layer of navigation redundancy.  Get the updated Navionics Boating app from the iTunes store if you want to sync your Raymarine unit via your IPad.

Plotter Sync will also soon be working with chartplotters from Navico.  The Simrad, Lowrance and B&G units equipped with GoFree wireless will be able to sync routes, tracks and logs according to current plans.  The Navionics Boating app is available also for Android devices, for use as a planning tool or for navigation.  Current Android capabilities do not include the wireless chart sync with devices on your helm. Without trying to put words in Navionics’ mouth, I can imagine that at some point in the future, we will be able to use any and all of our mobile devices to sync with our fixed-mount plotters. The technology is evolving almost on a daily basis, it seems. It’s already pretty cool and useful.  If you are using this or testing it, let us know in the comments how it’s going.

Copyright © 2014 by Oceanlines LLC. All rights reserved.

Posted by Tom in Electronics, GPS, Marine Electronics, seamanship, Technology
Simrad Yachting Launches New Touch-Screen MF Displays

Simrad Yachting Launches New Touch-Screen MF Displays

Simrad NSS Sport Family Displays

Simrad NSS Sport Family Displays

Simrad Yachting last week announced a new series of touch-screen multifunction displays — the NSS Sport Series.  Available in 7-inch, 8-inch, and 12-inch models, the NSS Sport units feature LED backlighting and allow the user to control the display with the touchscreen, keypad and/or the “Simrad Yachting-signature” rotary control knob.

My friend Ben Ellison at Panbo was one of a special group of marine journalists invited to the product unveiling in Palma, Spain, last week and he’s got lots of details and thoughts on the overall Navico product strategy.  I haven’t had a chance yet to test the new MFDs but when I do I’ll report here on them.  In the meantime, here are some of the details from the Simrad Yachting press release:

The Simrad NSS Sport range features high-brightness (1200 NIT) bonded LED displays in 6.4-inch (VGA), 8-inch (SVGA) and 12-inch (XGA) diagonal screen sizes. All support NMEA 2000®, SimNet and composite video input. The NSS series uses little power and is designed for use in 12 and 24V DC power systems. The system has an operating temperature range of 5 degrees to 131 degrees Fahrenheit (-15 degrees to 55 degrees Celsius); like the NSE and NSO multifunction displays, the NSS Sport is waterproof to the IPx7 standard, and protected by a two-year limited parts and labor warranty. The new Simrad NSS Sport is also covered by Simrad Yachting’s 24-hour exchange program. In the unlikely event that the device is identified as defective within the first year of warranty, Simrad Yachting will ensure shipment of a replacement device within 24 hours.

The Simrad NSS7, NSS8 and NSS12 have suggested retail prices of $1,895, $2,845 and $3,995 US, respectively, and can be purchased from authorized Simrad Yachting dealers and distributors throughout the United States and Canada. For more information on the Simrad NSS Sport touch-screen navigation system, or the entire line of Simrad Yachting professional-grade marine electronics, contact 800-628-4487 (toll-free) in the USA or visit www.simrad-yachting.com.

Copyright © 2011 by OceanLines LLC. All rights reserved.

Posted by Tom in Electronics, Technology

New Website for C-Map by Jeppesen

New Jeppesen Light Marine Website

New Jeppesen Light Marine Website

Jeppesen, a Boeing company, said today it has launched a revamped website for its light marine business.  The new look is clean and uncluttered and looks like it will be much easier to navigate.  I’m a big fan of “white space” on websites.  It allows your eye to quickly capture the most important information, and in this case it’s the navigation links, which are all now front and center.  Kudos to Jeppesen for an improved web experience.

Copyright © 2011 by OceanLines LLC.  All rights reserved.

Posted by Tom in Electronics, seamanship, Technology
Navimatics Charts & Tides App Now Lets iPad, iPhone Update ActiveCaptain Data

Navimatics Charts & Tides App Now Lets iPad, iPhone Update ActiveCaptain Data

Image of the Navimatics Charts & Tides App Via Navimatics Website

Image of the Navimatics Charts & Tides App Via Navimatics Website

Apple has just approved the latest update of the Navimatics Charts & Tides app so that iPhone and iPad users can update ActiveCaptain data from their devices.  The update allows markets to be edited and reviews and comments to be added.  The single license works on both an iPHone and IPad at the same time, so there’s no need to buy it twice.  ActiveCaptain said this week that if you currently own Charts & Tides, it’s a free update with all new and current charts.  The big plus here is that you can update that relocated market you just discovered immediately, as long as you’re within 3G range.  Could even be a safety enhancement if you get that marker updated quickly enough that nobody else misses it.

ActiveCaptain said that Navimatics is the first developer to release an updated product with support for ActiveCaptain’s update APIs, but that other companies will be doing so with their software as well.

Our recent guest author, Christine Kling, wrote about using Navimatics Charts & Tides on her iPad in this piece.

Copyright © 2011 by OceanLines LLC.  All rights reserved.

Posted by Tom in Cruising Under Power, Cruising Under Sail, Electronics, Technology
Review: Fugawi Marine ENC Navigation Software

Review: Fugawi Marine ENC Navigation Software

Krogen 58' Delivery Route from Florida to North Carolina -- Screenshot from Fugawi Marine ENC 4.5

Krogen 58' Delivery Route from Florida to North Carolina -- Screenshot from Fugawi Marine ENC 4.5

During a recent offshore delivery of a new Krogen 58′, I had the opportunity to check out Northport System Inc.’s Fugawi Marine ENC charting and navigation software. It loaded painlessly on a new Windows 7 laptop, ran flawlessly for 3 days nonstop, and had an easy learning curve. If you’re looking for something to run on a laptop to backup your dedicated chartplotter, or for the main navigation software to run on a dedicated PC, you should consider Marine ENC for the price, competent features and ease-of-use, especially for chart management using the company’s (subscription-based) X-Traverse system.

Overview of the Software

Northport Systems’ president, Robin Martel, loaned me a copy of the latest version of Marine ENC, Version 4.5.50.* The company has a transparent and easy-to-understand process for updates and upgrades.  Whole numbers of versions are considered the “basic” product and updates all the way to the next whole number are free. Fugawi constantly releases minor updates, typically taking care of bug fixes and compatibility issues, but sometimes including feature enhancements. So, if I owned this copy of version 4.5, I would be entitled to free updates until version 5.0 came out. 

The program has a price of $279.95 directly from the company’s website, which is fairly inexpensive for this type of program. That price seems to be the norm for the other sales outlets I checked. And while you can buy Navionics charts for the program, typically for $189 per Platinum+ area, you can also use free RNC and ENC charts from NOAA. You can pick either raster or vector format for the NOAA charts and you’ll get them with all the latest information, which is a big advantage.  I downloaded a full set of East Coast (U.S.) NOAA ENCs for my test. They were easy to find and quick to download. 

Using the Program

For my evaluation, I brought Fugawi Marine ENC with me on an offshore delivery, which might not be the most difficult task for navigation software (think about running in and out of all the passes, island channels and obstructions of the San Juan Islands in the Pacific NorthWest). Nonetheless, we had some Intracoastal Waterway to navigate leaving Florida and a couple of waypoints along the offshore route to try to keep us in the core of the Gulf Stream while headed north. As we approached our destination in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, there was quite a bit of navigating to do getting in at Cape Fear and then moving over to the ICW to get to the marina.

Screen Shot of Fugawi Marine ENC Track of Fort Pierce, Florida Departure

Screen Shot of Fugawi Marine ENC Track of Fort Pierce, Florida Departure

When you first start the program, you tell it what folder your charts are stored in and the program will go and import them. In my case, it was quick and trouble-free.  I downloaded several collections of ENC charts from NOAA.  Electronic charts for U.S. waters are available from NOAA in both raster and vector format and have the advantage of always being up-to-date when you download them.  Marine ENC also supports Navionics charts, at several levels and if you use Fugawi’s X-Traverse chart subscription service you can be sure you will always have the latest available. We’ll take a more detailed look at X-Traverse in another article here on OceanLines.

Fugawi Marine ENC Supports Many GRIB (weather) File Formats

Fugawi Marine ENC Supports Many GRIB (weather) File Formats

Marine ENC is mostly intuitive to learn and use. There are the familiar text-based pulldown menus at the top of the screen, as well as a customizable series of task-based icons running along the left edge of the screen. Most common tasks can be quickly initiated by clicking on the appropriate icon. You can easily start a route track, set some new waypoints and navigate around the charts. Since I wasn’t using the software to actually navigate our Krogen 58′, I set up the program to track our route. I used a new USB-connected GPS to feed position data to the program, which recognized the device instantly. No messing with ports or USB-to-serial port translations. Had I wanted to, I could have easily fed the autopilot with steering inputs. In fact, the Marine ENC software/GPS combination I was using was more accurate than the other laptop-based system we were using for actual navigation. Nice to know.

Screen Capture of Fugawi Marine ENC Track of Arrival at Cape Fear, North Carolina

Screen Capture of Fugawi Marine ENC Track of Arrival at Cape Fear, North Carolina

Tracks, waypoints and other data are easily imported and exported and an experimental feature on my version was able to use a Google Maps overlay for yet another view of things. In fact, you could use this software for planning even if you use a dedicated chartplotter for navigation. Marine ENC will move waypoints via card or cable (as required) between Raymarine, Furuno, Simrad, Garmin and Magellan units. The first image in this story, above, is a screenshot taken of the wide-view track record of the delivery trip. It shows the dogleg we took to stay in the middle of the Gulf Stream. The program seamlessly switches charts when you cross a coverage border.

Recommendation

If you’re just getting into PC-based chartplotting, Fugawi’s Marine ENC would be a good bet, especially with a number of enhancements coming in the near future. Northport Systems’ Martel says the company is working on some major capabilities for the program, including more support for multiple manufacturers’ products aboard the boat — other radars, AIS, etc.  And although I had no trouble with the software running on a recent load of Windows 7, Martel says the next major upgrade will take better advantage of Win 7 capabilities. You are likely to see more complementary mobile apps, for systems like Symbian and Windows Mobile, in addition to the iNavX app already available for the iPhone and iPad. I think you’ll also find some interesting integration ahead with destination and local knowledge services like ActiveCaptain, although the company isn’t discussing that yet. At this price point, about half what you would have to pay for Nobeltec software, you’re not going to be disappointed with Fugawi Marine ENC. Take the free 10-day preview for a test-ride.

* (full disclosure – Fugawi is an advertiser here on OceanLines. We have an editorial policy that prohibits the practice of “trading” editorial coverage for advertising support and we are in no way obligated to positively review any Northport Systems product)

Copyright © 2010 by OceanLines LLC.  All rights reserved.

Posted by Tom in Electronics, Technology
Comark Offers New All In One Pilothouse Computer

Comark Offers New All In One Pilothouse Computer

The Comark 19" Pilothouse Display Used in the New Pilothouse Computer

The Comark 19" Pilothouse Display Used in the New Pilothouse Computer

 Comark Corporation announced that it has developed a new pilothouse computer with integrated 19″ display. The Comark Pilothouse Computer features Intel Core Two Duo processor options, conformal coatings for corrosion resistance and a host of other pilothouse-friendly features.  Best of all perhaps, the price. Comark says the CPC is being offered at a starting price of $2,995, which is less than the cost of many marine monitors alone.

Given the integrated form factor, you probably won’t flush-mount this unit, but it comes with a sturdy base that can be secured to the helm dash or bolted to the overhead. Simply add power and GPS connections and you’re ready to go.  I’ll have the complete specs shortly, but in the meantime, here’s some more information from the Comark press release:

“Enclosed in an aluminum chassis, the system includes a heavy-duty base that can be hard mounted to the wheelhouse console or hung from the ceiling, if required. With the all in one design, installation can be as easy as securing the unit to the console, connecting power and GPS. The Pilothouse Computer utilizes a 19” LCD, with a 0 to 100% brightness control feature, allowing the operator to dim the brightness for very low-level light conditions, greatly improving night vision operations. The computer features Core 2 Duo Processing options, PCI expansion, and optional touchscreen. All electronics are conformal-coated to protect against corrosion. “The Pilothouse Computer is the perfect choice for many boat owners who see the value of a computer in their wheelhouse but have been frustrated trying to use a laptop or home PCs and monitors due to reliability and human factors. Our new Pilothouse Computer starts at $2995 and is a rugged, reliable and simple marine solution for them,” said Steve Schott, President of Comark.”

I’m going to nominate this unit for the 2010 innovation award — not just for the technology; all-in-one PCs are becoming more and more common — but for the whole package, including the reasonable price point. We’ve all been paying way too much for “marine” monitors and PCs and this is a huge step in the right direction.

Copyright © 2010 by OceanLines LLC. All rights reserved.

Posted by Tom in Electronics, Technology
Jeppesen Announces C-MAP Charts for Furuno NavNet 3D

Jeppesen Announces C-MAP Charts for Furuno NavNet 3D

Furuno NavNet 3D Displaying New C-MAP Charts

Furuno NavNet 3D Displaying New C-MAP Charts

Jeppesen said today that selected C-MAP by Jeppesen MapMedia charts are available for the Furuno NavNet 3D chartplotters. The charts come pre-installed on U.S.-based, newly purchased NavNet 3D units and the company said older NavNet 3D plotters can be updated with a free software update to be compatible with the new charts.

Jeppesen said boaters “can select from eight Wide chart regions for $300 each, including the pre-loaded WM73 (USA East Coast & Bahamas), WM74 (Gulf of Mexico, Great Lakes & Rivers) and WM47 (USA West Coast & Hawaii).  Additional available Wide coverage regions include WM 72 (Canada North & East), WM48 (Canada West Coast), WM75 (Great Lakes & Maritimes), WM76 (Central America & Caribbean) and WM49 (Alaska).  Boaters can also choose from two expansive Mega Wide regions for $600:  MWM17 (Atlantic Coast, Gulf of Mexico & Caribbean) and MWM18 (Pacific Coast, Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean).”

More from the Jeppesen release:

“C-MAP by Jeppesen MapMedia charts can easily be viewed in traditional 2D or life-like 3D presentation using Furuno’s patented TimeZero technology for a realistic and seamless navigation experience. “Boaters have long recognized Furuno’s NavNet 3D system as a revolutionary navigation tool — but one that has been unavailable until now to legions of loyal C-MAP users,” said Jeppesen Light Marine Division Director James Detar. “We’re proud of the work we’ve done with Furuno to once again bring this powerful combination of technologies to boaters and look forward to getting it into their hands,” he added.
Boaters have a couple of options to purchase new C-MAP by Jeppesen MapMedia charts for Furuno NavNet 3D. They can work through their local Authorized Furuno or Jeppesen dealer. Consumers can also purchase charts and unlock codes directly from Jeppesen by calling (508) 477-8010, faxing to (508) 539-4381 or emailing [email protected]

Copyright © 2010 by OceanLines LLC. All rights reserved.

Posted by Tom in Electronics, Technology