Electronic Charts for Boating:
Electronic charts are digital versions of paper charts and all of the data used comes from NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association). Electronic charts can be viewed on smartphones, tablets, computers or on a chartplotter. Chartplotters are the most used display method because they are waterproof and don't require internet. On larger boats, a laptop is often the preferred charting method.
Chart Selection: "What chart is right for my MFD?" -Tony A.
Selecting the right chart for your MFD can be significantly overwhelming. We get that there are so many options out there that it can be confusing on which chart to choose, utilize this article to help you pick which chart card is right for you. You have to select the brand of chart that fits the chartplotter you are buying charts for. Garmin units use their proprietary Blue Chart g3 products. Most Raymarine, Simrad and Lowrance units run Navionics. Furuno runs their own proprietary Time Zero charts along with C-MAP.
Selecting Your Coverage Area:
Charts for MFD's come on microSD cards that are inserted into the GPS unit through the memory card slot. There is limited memory on these cards so it's important for you to select the right geographical coverage for your area. Most manufacturers have outlines of coverage areas to help you choose the right area, some manufacturers even go as far as "demo-ing" the charts so you can see the level of detail included.
Garmin g3 Cartography:
Most Garmin chartplotters come preloaded with offshore or lake data. For more in depth detail, Garmin offers BlueChart g3 Vision and LakeVu g3 Ultra cards for Europe, the U.S and Canada. Did you know that Garmin recently bought Navionics so the BlueChart and LakeVu edition charts offer the best of Garmin and Navionics data.
What is the difference between BlueChart g3 and lakevu g3?
LakeVu charts feature the U.S freshwater inland lakes and the BlueChart contains Coastal data. For higher detailed charts (aerial photography, high-resolution relief shading, etc) checkout Garmins g3 Vision and g3 Ultra charts.
Navionics Cartography: Most Raymarine, Humminbird, and Navico products are equipped with pre-loaded base maps according to their brand. For more in depth detail, Navionics offers a wide variety of chart cards for the entire U.S. There are 3 different Navionics charts to consider, 1. Navionics+, 2. Navionics Platinum+, and 3. HotMaps Platinum. Review the features of each below.