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C-Map 4D - are they joking?!

Jeppesen Marine has launched their new C-MAP 4D product in Asia, and it is pre-loaded into the Raymarine E Wide Hybridtouch series! This is really interesting in itself since you have had to use Navionics charts if your want Raymarine electronics up to now. By the way the E Wide series is touchscreen but retains the buttons – which I think are easier to use when underway – unlike the Garmin GPSMap 5012 which has touchscreen only.

What Jeppesen say is that “time” is the 4th dimension, but what they mean is that they will update the chart data “continuously”, ahem , actually content is updated “at least” twice per year, and in some regions three times per year. This is not exactly continuously but to be fair it is more often than any one would actually update their charts normally. So 4D…well its sounds at least one better than 3D doesn’t it? – I just hope it isn’t the same as the fee paying annual service they launched called Quick Sync

So what can you expect of C-Map 4D. Well its the pretty much the same as the Navionics Platinum+, and the BlueChartg2 Vision. All offer full 3D charts, satellite image overlay, port and harbour aerial photography and detailed port information.


C-Map 4D


Navionic Platinum Plus

Bluechart g2

BlueChart g2 Vision

But C-Map make the following additional claims for their 4D software:

C-Map 4D – are they joking?! → Click here to continue reading →


Buy Raymarine AIS500 or buy £800 of Raymarine shares?

AIS500 I applaud Raymarine for having brought this unit out earlier this year, it is good product marketing and market positioning (pun intended:-)

But if you already have a reasonably sophisticated set up, and already have AIS, is it worth spending £800+ to upgrade to this unit?

Here is my take on the list of features for the AIS500:

Feature Comment
* Class B AIS Receive & Transmit Good – and so do all the competition at this level
* Dual Channel AIS Monitoring Ability Good – and so do all the competition at this level
* Targets displayed on chart and radar screens Clever – but I normally overlay radar on the chart plotter or display AIS targets on the chart rather than the radar which could be very confusing if not misleading due to the different methods of target acquisition
* LED Status Indicator Good – Surprising omission on so many marine electronics and very annoying when there is no status light and you are troubleshooting.
See my posting here on the RaymarineAIS250
* NMEA 0183 – Compatibility with Raymarine A, C, E and G Series Good – the great majority of Raymarine users must be on C series (or lower) still.
* Buddy Tracking via Raymarine MFD – Distinguish favourite targets (MMSIs) from others by adding to favourite list Clever – but is this really needed – oh ok could stave off boredom in some situations to switch between “favourites” and “all” targets. In between calling your buddy on the radio…
* Silent Mode – Turn off transmit function during tournaments or races if you do not wish to be seen. Good – But only if you expect to be sailing in regions where piracy is possible – not really a problem in the Solent – yet!
I did refer to this as a good thing in my posting here:-)
* Built-in NMEA multiplexor Not Good – I have a principle of using separate dedicated pieces of electronics instead of multifunction devices ion this situation. A faulty multiplexor can take down the whole backbone and all links between devices I would not want to troubleshoot that with a device that was doing so much else as well.
See my posting here on multiplexors.
* VHF Splitter – No need to buy a separate antenna. Utilize your existing VHF antenna and cable. Not good – don’t use splitters on your VHF cable!. keep the radio and its aerial as separate as possible. Yes I know that DSC has meant connecting the VHF to the NMEA circuit – but just don’t mess with the VHF aerial. This is a critical lifeline. Install a separate VHF aerial for AIS on the pushpit IMHO.
* Includes dedicated external GPS antenna (16 channels) Not good – as per comment above. Keep the GPS separate, you probably already have one, get another one for backup don’t get one built in to another multifunction device.
* Configure via PC Software
* Software upgradeable through PC and RS232
Ok – but why use serial connections and then very probably a serial to USB convertor when you can use high speed USB. Most modern laptops don’t even have serial ports
See my posting here on serial / USB convertors

I last did a quick survey of transponders (or are they transceivers) in June 2008, but I have held off updating this since I believe that we can expect another revolution in AIS for small boats in the next 6 months.

On that basis I would not buy the AIS500 now, if you already have AIS – if you don?t – then it is a very capable unit with the benefit of a back up GPS.

If you already have AIS and you want to spend £800 buy Raymarine shares, if you made 30% profit when Garmin buy them, that would be an extra £240 to spend on the next generation AIS – then again shares can go down as well as up:-)


Garmin in talks to buy Britain’s Raymarine

I know these rumours have been going on for some time – see my post last year – when Raymarines share price started moving…well checkout this Reuters article by by Purwa Naveen Raman and Savio D’Souza

…”Raymarine, which makes fishfinders, autopilots, marine radar and GPS systems for leisure boats, and rivals like Garmin and Norway’s privately held Navico are struggling to chart a course in a weak economy that has crimped demand for discretionary consumer goods they offer. “Raymarine gives Garmin the all-important original equipment manufacturer (OEM) footprint,” Panmure Gordon analyst Oliver Wynne-James said upgrading Raymarine’s stock to “buy” from “hold.”….

There is also a good article by Edmond Jackson at Interactive Investor here …

…”Relative to a share price of about 17p, which capitalises Raymarine equity near £14 million relative to £96 million net debt, the challenge is guessing what Garmin could pay. It is in a comfortable position with $959 million cash at end-June although it will be hard for Garmin executives to determine a worthwhile price to pay since a significant restructuring would likely be needed to integrate Raymarine.

Raymarine became over-stretched at the top of the economic cycle, assuming too much debt to acquire overseas distributors as a means to sustain earnings growth. After 500p in 2007, the shares collapsed from about 350p last year to just below 10p, with management recently admitting it is close to breaching bank covenants.

Ironically, the board has continued to assert that buying distributorships has been the correct strategy – despite the fact that the debit involved has destroyed shareholder value. Although other acquirers could become interested should Raymarine’s bankers appoint administrators, it looks as if Garmin is the only one currently capable of taking on the entire group.”…

You should have bought Raymarine shares last year instead of buying that new AIS 🙂


RC400 – listen up all you “diehards”

RC400 on helmFollowing correspondence with one of the readers here I thought I would highlight this item in case you are one of the diehards who keep on using the ill fated RC400 handheld GPS/ Chartplotter abandoned by Raymarine….

The reader was having trouble getting his RC400 to boot past the usual globe picture and the warning message.

So I advised :
1. The usual reset procedure
2. Using the uprated NiMH batteries … Click here for the full description…

But what the reader found was that the Raychart 400 Software UpgrRC400ade v01.03.00 was what he was missing…once downloaded and installed the unit jumped into life.

So above are the 3 definitive thing to do if your unit is playing up…or are they?!…:-)


Your chartplotter doesn’t know Course to Steer

I use a Raymarine C120, it can display tidal flow and even “animate” the flow over time, it is fully interfaced to my instruments for wind, and speed – but alas what it doesn’t do is:

a. Tell me precisely what time it is using – yes I know I should know – but why can’t it tell me it is set to UTC or GMT or BST or whatever at the point when I need it i.e. when I am calculating a route! This is critical to working out the time of HW at your reference port of departure, and then the tidal flow for each hour of the passage.

b. The tidal flow is not connected to any sort of calculation of course to steer – so you have to leave your 3,000 dollar technology and get your pencil and notepad out to calculate CTS.

Track CTS3On a recent trip from Dieppe to Brighton, this is a representation of the scribble I had to do to calculate CTS. This is after adding all the tides West and then East along the English Channel for the exact time of day and the duration in hours of the planned passage. Since the passage is at least 12 hours for a normal yacht averaging 5/6kts there will be two tides almost cancelling each other out at this part of the Channel. According to my calculations the net effect was in fact an easterly tide of about 1.5Kts.

There was – luckily – a steady W wind leaving me to hold a close reach all the way (except when avoiding cargo vessel in the Traffic Separation Zone!). But this increased leeway on my rather heavily built 32ft sloop so I used 7 degrees leeway in my calculations.

Giving a final Course to Steer of 310 degrees M.




The other issues is that since the predicted track is not displayed on the C120 screen, you don’t get an easy time estimating whether there are any Track CTSdangers to avoid if you stick with your course to steer. Crossing the English Channel that is not normally such a problem – but there could easily be an island, a rock, an oil rig or even a wind farm in the way…

Naturally the CTS of 310 degrees M that I steered gave me the banana shape course over the ground rather than the red line that the C120 shows as the course between the beginning and end of this journey. (Click on the adjoining screen shot for a larger image.)

So, a plea to Raymarine – please update the C and E series software to do what programs such as Neptune and SeaPro can do !

That would be far more useful than an aerial photo of Dieppe!