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Tom’s Tips About Using Chart Plotters

By Tom Neale, 2/21/2008

1. There are several elements to chart plotters. One is the hardware and the other is the cartography. A third element is the software that allows you to do things with the cartography. This may be included on the cartography chip or included in whole or in part in the hardware. Ask when you shop. If the retailer doesn’t know, ask elsewhere. This is important.

2. Some hardware units include the software and cartography all in one package.

3. Others hardware units do not come with this package included and you can choose your own cartography and use it in the hardware you like best. This allows you to shop around for features you want and there are some very interesting and helpful variations of products available.

4. Modern cartography packages such as C-Map Max often contain far more than just charts. They contain multiple layers of other valuable information such as tides, marina information, bottom contours and views from various perspectives.

5. If you go this route, be sure that the hardware that you buy will be compatible with the chart package that you buy. If your retailer doesn’t know, ask elsewhere.

6. Some chart packages cover rather limited areas. You must insert a new chip into the hardware when you get to the edge of the coverage of the chip you’re using. If you have such a system, familiarize yourself with the borders so that you don’t find yourself stuck in a bad spot while you must find another chip, depower, insert and reboot.

7. If you’re heading into waters with which you’re not really familiar, before you start out, study the charts to see what the run will bring ahead. Slow down or stop and sort things out if you’re not sure about what to do ahead.

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Copyright 2004-2010 Tom Neale