Free Charting Software
OK so you've probably figured out by now the preceding two charts are pretty neat and useful except there is not to much you can do with them like print. Wouldn't it be great if you could customize your favorite charts at home, mark them up with your preferred routes and maybe some of your private way points and hot spots.
Well believe it or not Uncle Sam, in
conjunction with MapTech, is providing free online and map files for the
entire US. These maps can be zoomed, printed annotated and have
interactive tide tables and NOTMs (only when you're online of course).
Is there a catch, well only two that we've found so far. First, you
can't interface the free version to your GPS for real time vessel
positioning. Second, there are NO INSTRUCTIONS as to how to get the
charts you need. The default is for Salem, MA. which really doesn't do
us South Jersey Boaters a lot of good what follows are detailed
instructions how to download and install the software and then how to
select, package, download and install (the last is the part they forgot
to explain) charts for this area. The instructions work for any area so
if your next trip is to the Outer Banks or Islamaroda you're good to go.
BTW I'm putting these instructions in PDF format at the end so you can
just print them out and follow along. Also please be advised all the
links I'm providing are referenced from the official NOAA website.
Gifford Marine assumes no liability for the use of these charts and has
not validated their accuracy.
Step 1. Get the software.
You can actually find the program by digging your way though the NOAA web site, which is worthwhile in itself, but to save time you simply want navigate to:
This is an extremely useful Portal Page but for now we will concentrate on just getting our free software package, currently MAPTECH Chart Navigator Viewer 5.08. On this page you want to select the following link:
This part is really straight forward. Just go to “My Computer” navigate to the location you where you saved the file (you do remember where you saved it don't you) and click on “CHTNAV_ENGLISH.exe”.
Assuming that all went well Chart Navigator is now installed on your PC and you may now delete the download file if you need to conserve space. You may run the program by Start>Programs>Chart navigator or just look for the Chart Navigator Icon that should have been installed on your desktop.
The program should start and you will be presented with Chart 13725_1 which is Salem and Lynn Harbor, which would have been really useful if this was 1620 and you were a Pilgrim preparing to set sail to Jamestown...... :)
Step 3. Get the charts that you really need.
Now we navigate back to:
and select “Download NOAA RNCsTM”
At this point you will need to read and scroll through all of the legal warnings and disclaimers until you get to a button that says:
Step 4. Expand the Zip File you just downloaded
If you selected the above choices you will have created directories, 12316, 12317, 12318, 12323 and 12324. You need to remember the entire path to these directories.
STEP 5. Import your downloaded files into Chart Navigator
Start Chart Navigator (in case you closed it).
Select “File”>”Open Chart”
A list of Charts appears but the ones you just down loaded are nowhere to be found.
Select the “Advanced Chart Management Tab”
Use the “Browse” Button to Navigate to one of the directories named above.
Double click the directory and click the “Add” button. Repeat for each Directory mentioned above.
At this point you should be able to select from your downloaded charts. If you are connected to the INTERNET try clicking on some of the Tide Station Icons or the Obstruction Rings for more information.
For comments or suggestions contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Gifford Marine, Inc.