I like paper charts. Back in Swedish waters (and Finnish) with it’s 40000 odd islands, islets, rocks, and shoals, navigation demands that you keep your plastic covered large scale charts in your lap (my first laptop ;-D) index finger on your current position and the tiller in the other hand, while your crew does the sailtrim in the ever shifting winds. At least this is how I learnt it some 35 y ago. Today, most people rely on a GPS connected to a chart plotter at the helm. I bought my first GPS around 2002. 2005 I got my first electronic charts on an old IBM ThinkPad pc with Windows 95 and the russian ‘Transas Tsunami’ software. My friend the retired pilot, who spent his entire life at sea, guiding the commercial traffic into Stockholm at work and then sailing the same waters, and as far as the Shetland Islands, on vacations and later, after retirement, told me at this time that ‘like it or not, you won’t be able to by papercharts in a few years!’ Though, those few years are not yet
fully passed, the charts are getting harder to find and the price is skyrocketing.
I never liked, and will never like Windows. In fact I find it awkward, barely working and prone to all kinds of crashes,failures and then the constant threat of virus and trojans. It should be mentioned that I’ve been on Macintosh computers since -91 in my business, and would never even consider getting a Win PC except for one thing. At the time, a few years before Mac OS X and the possibility to run Win applications on a Mac the only alternative was a Win PC for charts and Airmail (a software that works with HF radio)Since then I’ve gone thru 3 used IBM ThinkPads (quite sturdily built pcs) and an Acer (that I gave my Dad before leaving Sweden 2008)Since a year back, I use an HP Pavilion dm1 as a navigatiion computer (for other purposes still using a 7 y o MAcBookPro 17” with MacOS Tiger- vintage stuff!)
About a week ago, thanks to Adrian on ‘Attila’ I came across a software package called Naviatrix (check it out at naviatrix.net) that is a Linux distro (OS in non-Linux environments)set up by a sailor for sailors. After a few days of using it I deleted Windows from the Pavilion and am convinced that I will never again run a Windows computer! A relief beyond belief. After tweaking the settings and preferences a bit it’s by far the fastest, most simple, and most comprehensive package I’ve seen. Add to this that it boots from a USB stick (perfect back-up too) with about 4GB (!) content. Once installed and set up for use, it’s still less than 20 GB on my hard drive, leaving LOTS of space for music, photos or whatever… Linux is free, open source and virus are virtually unheard of. Simply great! New to LInux? No worries, there are ‘LInux for dummies’ type literature -also for free- on internet (unless one of the neighbouring boats have a Linux aficionado onboard who can get you started.
Add to that internet forums where you can ask questions and get answers and it should work for anyone.
The chartware itself is ‘OpenCPN’ an open source software available also for Win and MacOSX.5 and later. It works with lots of different charts, including CMap ver2, raster charts, Kap-file charts etcetera.
An added bonus is that it’s fully legal, which the pirated commercial software packs abundant on cruising boats are not.
Check it out! It’s a mindblowing experience, and good luck with it.
Why not a chart plotter on Nanna? I find them expensive, the charts are all proprietary and also expensive and I dislike cluttering the cockpit with instruments. (Also those instruments are quite inviting to people with too long fingers)
We navigate close quarters with one person at the chart table and one at the helm so no need for a screen in the cockpit. When I’ve been singlehanding lately, with ‘bommies’ abundant, I’ve simply made a route in a handheld GPS that I keep at the helm. Works just fine for me.
Edit: Another nice feature, and an extremely useful navigation tool in some places(notably FrPol and any coastal, ppoorely charted area) is Google Earth sat. images, as .kap files runs seemless in Open CPN. Gotta love it!