Is all Planner Software Rubbish? No.
I do sympathise though. Having been used to Garmin kit and the Mapsource and Homeport apps with the Hardy, I'm shocked at how poor the C-Map PC-Planner software is; it's like going back 10 years Really very infuriating to use. I also can't work out how to save tracks from the RL80 onto the user card.... arrghh.
Well after a frustrating time trying to get the Raymarine Voyage Planner software I bought to work, I have shelled out for the Navionics NavPlanner after all.
After a few emails back and forth with Fugawi, who write the Voyage Planner software, they have agreed to refund my purchase price as I deem the software unfit for purpose. You can see in the image below (sorry about the width of it!) the Voyage planner (on the left) next to the Navionics NavPlanner showing the same chart at the same scale from the same card. The Voyage Planner is unusable IMHO!
Sorry to hear your use of the Voyage Planner was not what you expected.
That spot in the Strait of Dover is zoomed out quite far so that, from top to bottom of the screen, about 20 kilometers is showing... and that area is famously packed with navigational details.
When you zoom in to a more practical level of about 3 or 4 kilometers from top to bottom of the screen, then you see nice crisp clear depth soundings, the buoys, lighthouses, submarine cables, etc. are easily viewed and understood, the graphics are sharp and the chart is helpful. See the screen shot I've made of the very same geographic area, just at a more useful level for detailed planning... I've attached it and also tried to link to it via DropBox.
If a Voyage Planner user wishes, he can zoom out to a vast overview level and quickly lay down a rough very generalized route... but no one does serious planning at a high level of zoom. So then he would examine route point number 1, zoom in appropriately down to make a kilometer or two and then adjust that rough first approximation route point. And in Voyage Planner a simple right-click on the route legs lets you insert new route points that get you around some more subtle chart navigation features that would not be discernable while highly zoomed out. Move on along the route to point 2, 3, etc. and keep doing fine scale adjustments on a nice clear chart. Planning in this manner makes sense, it's accurate, and fast.
Note: Voyage Planner has special settings that let you decide whether to add in or leave out details like aerial photography from Navionics Platinum+ cards, let's you adjust whether to fill in edges of a chart area with preview chart imagery from a higher scale, set safety depth coloration, etc. Playing with the settings sometimes helps get a bit more chart visualization clarity, depending on the context and type of Navonics card.
Anyway, playing just a little with the chart properties and zoom level makes a dramatic difference. I wish this would have been good enough for your own style of chart planning. From the feedback we've been getting so far from scores of customers, they are getting excellent use out of all kinds of vector and raster charts through Voyage Planner, they have told us they prefer what they are seeing over comparable software. I guess this is an "eye of the beholder" opinion / preference thing. Perhaps in the future the software's displaying properties will be expanded to allow layers of data to be peeled away or added on and to let the user fine tune elements of the chart rendering; hopefully that will accomodate a wide variety of preferences.
-- Andre at the Voyage XChange / Voyage Planner team
Resurrecting a slightly old thread but having just bought a Raymarine C95 I was looking around for a PC Chart application.
What a nightmare. Firstly the C95 comes with Silver charts so Navionics won't let you download the PC application to view them.
(I've actually got Gold charts but they're installed in the new plotter and I brought the silver charts home.)
Then I have Raynav Software license but can no longer download Raynav from the web site to install (changed laptop) even though I have my licence key.
Next, I'm not going to shell out more money on the Raymarine Voyage Planner when I can't try it first. It may be very good but the Raynav software itself is not at all to my liking so once bitten I'm not going to buy the Voyage planner in good faith.
Fugawi need to have a trial version. If they don't then it suggests the product doesn't sell itself. The product itself being tainted by experiences of Raynav.
So has anyone a software recommendation for viewing Navionics charts?
+1 for the Navplanner. Use it all the time at home, store it onto the card then slot into the chart plotter. I'm sure there's all sorts of other things it can do but it's perfect for us.
Why do you want Navionics charts on the PC?
Just because your Raymarine kit uses them doesn't mean you have to use Navionics with the PC.
In fact IMO it's better to use a different chart set anyway.
I use raster charts on my PC
I then create routes and waypoints on the PC which are uploaded to the Raymarine kit using a good old NMEA / serial (USB) interface.
As for software, Memory Map does it all for just a few quid.
It's been working like this for years - a good robust solution.
One of the reasons we replaced our 'Ray' gear with Garmin kit was the appauling PC planning suites available for same. IMHO, utter clunky rubbish. Even the older Garmin MapSource software was orders of magnitude better, and HomePort in another league altogether. HP works with charts via simple SD card reader, and even works with preloaded plotter charts. IMHO and experience Garmin plotters are simply better on all scores, simplicity, function, ergonomics, features, de da, de da, de da, etc.
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