Chart plotting software..

While researching my 7 part article on Routing Software I came across a number of packages that just amazed me in their sophistication or some aspect of their functionality that I thought was particularly good. Some of these packages are very low cost or even free. Many will run on handhelds or netbooks. Some will import and export waypoints, routes and tracks to the big name chart plotters.

The thrust of my previous article was of course Weather Routing NOT chart plotting. In other words taking into account all the data inputs such as GPS, Wind, Weather, Obstacles, Dangers, and boat characteristics in order to calculate an optimal ROUTE.

For the sake of my sanity I had to omit the packages listed below in that review – but they really do deserve a mention as they would all be great aides to navigation and are all extraordinary value for money – and some also do Weather Routing as well as Chart Plotting!

I have created a small table of these software packages that you may consider looking into.

Icon Name Cost Description
image WinGPS
€ 379.00 WinGPS4 was released in 2004, and probably the most popular navigation program in the Dutch market. It now incorporates weather routing and is available in all the main European languages. It uses DKW charts and can also use BSB charts from Maptech and BSB4 NV. Digital charts from NV-Verlag.
image PolarView NS $39.99

Slick modern interface.

PolarView NS is available for Apple Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows and Linux operating systems. It combines marine chart planning, tides and weather with live GPS navigation and AIS capabilities.

It supports the following charts:

  • NOAA S57 ENC charts
  • US Army Corps of Engineers S57 inland charts
  • NOAA BSB raster charts
  • Worldwide S63 ENC coverage by ChartWorld
  • S63 charts are available from many hydrographic agencies worldwide, including United Kingdom and Canada
image PolarCOM FREE ! From the same authors as PolarView NS above comes this free software to display all your NMEA0183 data on your laptop including AIS !.

NMEA sentences supported include:

What about that for value for money!

image PCPlotter £250 PC Plotter 5000 will run on Apple Mac as well as Microsoft Vista,and XP It can read Navionics Gold and Platinum charts from SD, MMC and CF cards and can also read/write route/ waypoint files from Raymarine, Lowrance, Furuno Navnet, Eagle, Geonav, Hummingbird and Northstar plotters.

It is unusual in that in can support all Navionics chart media so is particularly useful for those who already have Raymarine plotters and need a laptop based system for planning or as a backup or ancillary system.

image TidePlan2 £26

Excellent value…

Tidal routing calculation

TidePlan2 can calculate a route using tidal flow information, and give you the correct Course to Steer. It is aimed at English Channel and Bristol Channel sailing in particular. Multi leg passages can be calculated and the arrival time, rather than the departure time, can be specified. Once a route has been calculated there is a facility for optimisation of the start time. This will find the start time, within 6 hours of the initial start time, that produces the fastest passage. The recalculated route is then displayed.

The list of trackpoints produced by the program can be viewed, printed, saved and exported to the OziExplorer program, the Chart Navigator Pro program, the SeaClear II program or to your GPS receiver. They can also be exported in formats suitable for  the G7ToWin and Waypoint+ GPS management programs.

image OziExplorer € 75.00 OziExplorer can be used on land or sea with  the appropriate GPS and scanned maps e.g. BSB, USGS DRG, ECW, SID, TIF, PNG, etc. 

It has direct support for most Garmin, Magellan, Lowrance/Eagle, Brunton/Silva and MLR GPS receivers for Uploading and Downloading Waypoints, Routes and Tracks.

It also has a 3d version and a half price CE version for handhelds.

image Tiki Navigator PRO and GOLD $179.00 TikiNavigator comes in two version – one for Navionics charts and one for NOAA/BSB charts.

Again – like PCplotter above the Gold version could be invaluable for those who already have Raymarine equipment.



€ 400.00

or Charter versions for 8 or 15 days.


SailRouter™ is software that calculates the quickest sailing route relative to the weather forecast and sailing boat polar diagram data, i.e. it calculates the quickest sailing route in terms of user-defined departure and arrival points, boat type and departure time according to the weather forecast for the specified sailing area.

Moreover, if the customer wants to avoid a strong wind, the SailRouter can calculate the optimum sailing route, i.e. the quickest sailing route with weaker wind strength than the user-defined maximum wind. It can also calculate the waiting time, if necessary to avoid a too strong wind.

image SailPlanner $89.00


SailPlanner incorporates its own sophisticated route optimization tool to find the best route for your boat in the taking into account the current weather data.
image SailFast $269


SailFast™ is a PC-based navigation program used to predict optimum routes for offshore racing and cruising. Weather information is imported directly from Grib forecasts of wind, current and sea level pressure. Built-in Gulf of Maine tidal currents are already included.

Taking into account vessel speed characteristics and predicted wind and current, SailFast™ determines the fastest course from start to finish, or between any 2 waypoints. “Isochron” methods are used to find a globally optimized route. A typical isochron solution from start to finish takes about 3-5 minutes to compute.

image OpenCPN FREE ! OpenCPN is a free software project to create a concise chart plotter and navigation software for use as an underway or planning tool.  OpenCPN is developed by a team of active sailors using real world conditions for program testing and refinement.

1 thought on “Chart plotting software..

  1. I think I’m out of my depth here, but here goes !
    I’m looking for software to plot station circle obs for me to analyse myself.

    Any thoughts or I really really in the wrong place ?

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