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  • #4561

    I’ve used Tough Charts in the past which were excellent but they’re not available for every region and I think maybe discontinued anyway (?) so now looking into what alternatives are available. I’m thinking here more about something to actually take out on the water as either an alternative or addition to paper charts (rather than something PC based), so just wondering if anyone can offer any advice on digital charts? Is something that you can view on a mobile phone / gps screen any good for navigation? Is a tablet with a bigger screen of any use? How do you keep a phone or a tablet dry? (A friend of mine bought an expensive case for his iPad but had the slight problem that he could hardly get the touch screen to work). Then I suppose there is the issue of battery life if you are away from mains power for a few days.

    Any thoughts / experience / recommendations would be appreciated.


    Dave Bevan

    I installed the Imray app onto our IPad, but we don’t have the 3G version, so no GPS.

    We used it on a flotilla holiday with the Ionian charts installed where it was easy to keep dry and could be charged daily; and we were able to use it alongside a chart plotter anyway. Found it OK as a visual reference, but don’t see how it could replace paper charts for passage planning.

    I also have a few Tough Chart folios. I found them ideal for use on the Wayfarer and was disappointed to see they have been discontinued.

    Dave Bevan

    Just to add,

      I couldn’t find a way to print from the Imray app. šŸ™

      Tough charts discontinued in 2010, so if you buy a “new” one, they’re already 3yrs out of date.


    Hi Jonathan,

    Cheapest way is a set of digital charts on a small tablet. ipad Mini is big enough, you do not need a screen as big as a standard ipad. However, as you say, all the waterproofing cases render the tablet touch screen essentially useless! I have a small dedicated Garmin chartplotter (the GPSMap 620) which is for my yacht but I also take it on the Wayfarer. It is small and 100% waterproof (with no case) so still works when wet despite being a touch screen. Gives your exact position over a Garmin Bluechart and has all the detail of an admiratly chart and more (even aerial photos of harbours, estuaries etc). The small screen matters not as the detail changes as you zoom in or out. You simply zoom out to see your position relative to the coast etc then zoom back in to see the detail of pilotage info, depths and all the other stuff. The battery is waterproof and lasts many many hours but I would turn it off whenever I was not looking at it to conserve power on the dinghy. You can buy extra battery packs but they are very expensive. On the yacht it sits in a mount when using it in the cockpit and this mount charges it from the yacht battery. You could do the same on a Wayfarer. I would take a small fully charged 12v gel battery (or sealed lead acid) and connect it to the mount. Yuasa make many such batteries and they are inexpensive and would run the plotter for days and days. I once bought one for something else that was about 6 x 4 x 2 inches and it cost about Ā£25. One word of warning, it may be waterproof but I do not think it floats! It cost over Ā£700 with all the charts for UK and Ireland but they are often sold off as new models come out every couple of years. You can still find mine new for half the original cost and second hand units are even cheaper.

    Hope this helps.



    what about navionics?
    very inexpensive software: can be used on an iPhone, smart phone, or tablet. iPhone is admittedly a fiddle on a boat and also screen brightness is going to be an issue with any of these devices. However if you own one of these already its very cheap to add the app, even if you include the price of an aquapack of similar. Also an aquapack with sufficient air in it will float! (not that that it will be easy to recover out at sea …)
    I spoke to a yachting friend recently who said she had been impressed by detail available on Navionics that was not on the chart which enabled them to get out of a very tight spot where they were apparently trapped in behind some costal fish-farms.


    Many thanks for the replies. This is another option I found recently –

    A full set of UK charts for Ā£30 – this enables you to use on a PC plus, in addition, one Android device. The print function has been disabled but I gather you can still do a screen print.

    Off topic (and I should hasten to add I have no interest in fishing), but I came across which is one of the better sources of future tide information I’ve found.



    Additional option is new Sony Experia Z – which is about x2 the screen area of an iPhone but is advertised as waterproof – I have used Navionics on iPhone but battery issues and phone getting wet have made me uncertain. The Experia can be bought with a new contract wtih 02 which you can then cancel – works out at Ā£360. The advantage of a phone-sized device is that you can hang in round your neck. I think iPad too big but iPad mini sounds good but would need a case. I have noted that when the wind is up you need everything you need to access RIGHT THERE not possibility of dipping into a bag – especially if S/Hd. One tip i have foudn helpful is to have the chart laminated and stuck on the floor – this works well in combination with Navonics.


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