What to look out for in a chartplotter, what they do and how to make sure you get the most out of yours
What do they do?
Chartplotters give a visual chart display, and when linked to a GPS
will show your position. They can also be used to create waypoints (lat
and long positions), and can be part of an integrated system that will
show other data such as radar, fishfinders, instruments, AIS (Automatic Identification System) and Navtex (weather warnings).
What to look out for
Various screen sizes are available nowadays so choose the right size to fit your vessel. Raymarine’s range starts with a 5.7” standalone chartplotter perfect for RIBS, three different sizes available in both multifunction displays and then right up the scale to a premier multifunction network system with 19”monitors, a separate hard drive with embedded cartography, wireless keyboard and a whole array of system options.
In past times mono screens used to be easier to read in direct
sunlight, but more recently the technology behind colour screens has improved
in leaps and bounds and they now provide incredible clarity and
accuracy with direct sunlight visibility, night modes, backlighting and
Look for a display that can be
customised to your own style of boating. Can you set waypoints and
store your favourite routes, is it easy to use, can you rotate the
chart for head/north up/course up views, can you overlay your radar if
Take a quick look at this demo of the E Series multifunction display.
It will give you an idea of what a chartplotter can provide plus the
extra functions you can gain from buying a multifunction display.
come in two formats, raster and vector. Raster charts are electronic
copies of a paper chart but vector charts are made up of layers which
can be turned on and off to make things clearer. If you are not sailing
at night, for example, you can switch off all the light symbols for
clarity. Plus, if you are using the chart plotter combined with a radar
overlay, it is often clearer if the main chart is under the radar image
and then there is another layer on top of that, showing just a black
coast outline with the navigation marks.
Integration and Multifunction:
will have heard these words a lot recently with reference to marine
electronics. This is the way forward for navigation – being able to
integrate all your onboard electronics whilst also being able to view
all the information you need, including your chartplotter, on a single
display. For larger boats you can choose a networkable display and
position one at the helm plus one at your chart table.
the ability to individualise your display is crucial to get the most
from your equipment. All of Raymarine’s screens can be split to show
your chartplotter and radar side by side with many extra customisations
available to view; engine data, fishfinder, video and instrument data.
There are easy one button options to change instantly should you want
to quickly enlarge your screen to show just one function.
If you want the inside scoop on hints and quick fixes for Raymarine’s C & E Series displays then download the Podcasts.
More information is being added to electronic charts all the time –
many now have satellite images that can be overlaid on the chart,
aerial photographs, 3D displays of land contours that can be viewed
from different angles and also 3D views of the sea bed. This
information can be crucial when navigating into ports. Raymarine use
Navionics Gold and Platinum charts in its displays. Platinum not only
supplies all the features mentioned above but you can also pinpoint
local facilities; restaurants, taxi’s or other local amenities.
the basic charts don’t have all these bells and whistle’ but extra
features are being added all the time. Do remember to check the areas
covered by each chart cartridge – some may cover your cruising area
more economically than others.
Finally, when you come to make
your purchasing decision look out for ‘bundle’ offers’ where you can
buy your chartplotter in a package to include a GPS and radar as these
are often better value for money.
SAVE TIME ON THE WATER – DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE COPY OF THE RAYMARINE RAYTECH PLANNER
AND PLOT YOUR CHARTPLOTTER’S WAYPOINTS FROM THE COMFORT OF YOUR HOME
THEN SIMPLY TRANSFER TO YOUR ONBOARD ELECTRONICS USING A COMPACT FLASH