Navionics debuts Platinum charts - Soundings Online

Navionics debuts Platinum charts

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Navionics Platinum multidimensional charts, which won the 2005 National Marine Manufacturers Association Innovation Award for electronics, are now available.

Navionics Platinum multidimensional charts, which won the 2005 National Marine Manufacturers Association Innovation Award for electronics, are now available.

Navionics held sea trials to demonstrate the new charts Sept. 14 in Boston, laying out its strategy to offer electronic charting at different price levels based on features rather than the size of the charts. The company is using “camera media” technology such as CompactFlash memory cartridges to achieve this, says Bill Eastwood, U.S. sales manager for Navionics.

“We don’t want to be in the hardware business; we want to be in the charting business,” says Eastwood.

Based on the company’s Gold chart platform, Platinum ($499.99) represents the high end of the lineup. Platinum charts incorporate such advanced features as 3-D views, satellite photo overlays, panoramic photos of harbors and marinas, dynamic tide and current information, and the entire U.S. Coast Pilot book. Platinum currently only works with Raymarine’s

E-Series multifunction chart plotters, though Eastwood says Furuno, Lowrance, Humminbird and Northstar — which all support Navionics Gold charts — should come on board in the near future.

The test vessel, a 33-foot Rampage express style sportfishing boat, was equipped with a pair of Raymarine E120 chart plotters on the bridge deck, networked to E-Series plotters on the tower’s helm station. The plotters, each with a variety of split-screen views, provided a number of display options aboard the Rampage.

In Platinum cartography’s 3-D imagery, the perspective can be changed to provide a variety of viewing angles, from top-down to aft-forward. The image also can be rotated. With a few button-taps and a turn of the multifunction plotter’s rotary knob, Navionics account manager Jeff Brodeur was able to exaggerate the 3-D view to magnify depth and elevation characteristics.

“This is nothing new to the PC guys,” says Brodeur. “We just put it in a nice little package.”

The 3-D bathymetric data contained on the 2-gb flash card’s XL3 chart extends well out into offshore Atlantic fishing grounds. Available Platinum charts for North America include the U.S. Northeast & Canyons, U.S. Mid-Atlantic & Canyons, U.S. Southeast/Bahamas, and the Gulf of Mexico, as well as a series of charts covering the Great Lakes, Nova Scotia and the West Coast.

Navionics includes satellite photography on Platinum to improve situational awareness. It can be laid over land and water or just over land, and the opacity of the overlay can be adjusted with the Raymarine unit’s rotary knob.

Brodeur found some shoals in the satellite images that had changed since the NOAA charts were drawn; however, caution should be exercised as satellite photos are not uniformly up-to-date.

The aerial photos can be oriented North-up or heads-up, and high-resolution color images are available for some areas. These photos serve to acquaint boaters with such harbor features as the layout of marina slips and mooring fields. “[The panoramic photos] are more helpful to people who haven’t spent a lot of time in a location,” says Brodeur.

Platinum’s port services and points of interest guide, with an enhanced database, offers additional cruising information. For example, while transiting Boston Inner Harbor, we found laundry facilities, looked up the telephone numbers of nearby doctor offices, and checked out local restaurants.

“It varies on the amount of data we have for each marina,” Brodeur says of the marina services guide. “Some of the marinas were very forthcoming with us.”

Navionics has an exchange program so customers only pay full price once, whether they are after the latest update, a new coverage area or new features.

“We’re not capped out as far as what we can put on these cards,” says Brodeur, who added that memory capacity continually increases. “We can continue developing this product.”

Navionics USA, Wareham, Mass. Phone: (508) 291-6000. www.navionics.com