NoaaCharts References OnlineStore HelpInfo
Navigation Software - What You Need To Know

NOTE: The following information regarding navigational software - and the subsequent product listing - is provided as a convenience for those customers who have requested some basic information regarding the various charting applications available today.

Charting Software - Computer charting and navigation programs are exciting innovations for boaters. With detailed color charts and capable software to display and manage them, boaters now can bring the highest quality navigation information on board.

And, with more powerful, less expensive computers, boaters now can own a navigation system that costs less than a single-function chart plotter and handles an array of functions from weather forecasting to communications.

All computer charting and navigation programs work similarly. First, the software is transferred onto the hard disk of a desktop or notebook computer. The computer's serial port then is connected to a GPS receiver that provides position information. Electronic charts that are available on floppy disks or CD-ROM's also can be loaded on the computer's hard disk or accessed directly.

When the navigation program starts, it receives the current position from the GPS, displays the appropriate chart for that position, and marks position on the chart.

As the vessel moves, position changes are updated. Typically, information such as the vessel's heading and speed also are displayed. Courses and routes can be entered by pointing and clicking on the chart, rather than by typing in numbers, and stored for future use.

Charting software is a wonderful navigation aid. However, it is designed to supplement navigation information from other sources and should not be used as a sole source of information. As errors and malfunctions are possible with any system, please carry alternate navigation aids, continue utilizing traditional navigation methods, and maintain a proper watch.

Choosing Software - What's the best charting software for you? That depends - there is no single application that is right for everyone. Experience suggests that your choice of a package will be based on your answers to the following four questions:

  1. What computer will you use? Charting software has minimum requirements for the type of computer, processor speed, RAM, and operating system. Unless your plans include replacing or upgrading your computer if it does not meet the minimum, your choice of software will be limited.
  2. Where are you going? Is computer charting a pleasant aid for you to navigate local waters? What about a circumnavigation, or at least an offshore cruise to a number of different ports or countries? Where you plan to use the software will affect the kinds of charts you'll use as well. Different software packages will use different charts. So, consider the software package that uses the appropriate charts for the waters you will navigate.
  3. What do you want to do? What would you like charting and navigation software to do for you? Do you just want to monitor your progress in a direct and visual way, or would you like to integrate all navigation functions together in a single, automated process? How do you like to interact with a computer; what user interfaces suit you best? Your expectations will directly affect your choice of software to best meet your goals.
  4. What's your budget? Price always plays a role in any decision. We suggest that you also consider chart pricing when developing your chart plotting budget, as few packages include detailed harbor charts.

We do not sell any of these products, nor do we guarantee the quoted pricing. All pricing was accurate when the table was created. Pricing some of these items could not be located. If you come across any of the missing prices, please let us know and we'll update the list.

PC/Windows Compatibile Navigation Programs
Company & Website Software Programs and Comments OS List Pricing
Global Navigation
NavPak & Map Setup - I've never personally tried these apps. But if the application quality is anything like their website... well, you decide. PC NavPak Pro Edition $248.00
Lite Edition $135.00
Pocket Edition $149.00
Pilot Pocket Edition $295.00
NavPak CE Edition $180.00
(Updated 2016-02-22)
Jeppesen Marine
Nobeltec Visual Navigation Suite PC Suite: $489.00
Memory-Map, Inc.
Memory-Map Navigator
Memory-Map Pocket Navigator
PC Free
Nautical Technologies Products
Cap'n Voyager, First Mate, Euro Fish, Trawl Master, Cap'n 4.5, Nav Master III Plus, Easy Nav (Sold Through Boat US) PC Capn 8.0: $429.00
Mariner Professional
Mariner I
PC Mariner I: $129.00
PC BoatCruiser: $399.00
MapCruiser: $125.99
MaxSea Navigator 7.4 PC Recreational: $395.00
Yacht Version: $595.00
Pro Racing: $4,500.00
Nobeltec / Nautical Software Products
Visual GPS Planner, Visual Mariner, Visual Navigation Suite, Chartview Planner, Chartview Tracker, Chartview Professional PC Suite: $489.00
Northport Systems
Fugawi Global Navigator PC Global Navigator: $99.95
OziExplorer3D: +$30.00
OziExplorer, GPS Mapping Software
OziExplorer PC OziExplorer: $85.00
PinPoint Software Products
River Pro, Sea Master Professional, PinPoint Nautical Navigation, Mariner, Infonav, Fleet View
Map Info Gis (Using Plugins (Info Chart) By PinPoint Systems Or Worldreg 3 Plus By Data Directions)
PC Can't Determine
P-Sea Software
GPS Chart Plotter With Moving Maps For Marine Navigation PC Can't Determine
Raytech Navigator 3.0 PC Navigator: $699.00
Rose Point Navigation Systems
Coastal Explorer PC Coastal Expl: $399.00
PC Chart plotter and GPS Navigation software PC Free
Weems & Plath
Chartview Odyssey
Chartview 3.0
PC Odyssey: $99.95
Macintosh Compatibile Navigation Programs
Company & Website Software Programs OS List Pricing
GPSNavX Marine Navigation & Charting Application For The Mac Mac GPSNavX: $59.95
James Associates
"MacGPS Pro" For Macintosh
Mac OS9: $39.99
OSX: $49.99
OS9/OSX: $59.99
Quintessence Designs
NavimaQ (for Macintosh) Mac Can't Determine

I've personally used GPSNavX for over two years. GPSNavX was written for OS-X from the beginning. It is extremely intuitive and feature-rich... you can't ask for more than that! The developer is very open to suggestions for enhancement and the few suggestions I've had offer have been quickly implemented in the next release. I've evaluated other Mactintosh products and none approach with this application in even the most fundamental comparisons. (Quite frankly, I wouldn't pay the postage to have them delivered.) I also occasionally use various PC-based applications and none are as intuitive or render grahphics as beautifully as GPSNavX does on a PowerBook. If you're a Windows user... sorry, folks... it's only available on OS-X.

Navigation Applications Comparison

Feature Fugawi 3,
Fugawi Marine ENC
NavMaster III Plus from The Cap'n Nobeltec Visual Navigation Suite v4.1 The Cap'n Voyager v5.2 Jeppesen MarineMap ChartView Pro
Displays todays date and time Time Only No No No No Yes
Displays present cursor coordinates Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Displays Resolution of Zoom Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Shows Chart Name Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Shows Chart Number Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Shows native scale on display screen? Yes Yes No (Note 4) Yes No Yes
Overzoom available? Yes No Yes Yes Yes No
Thumbnail (quickview) of chart available? Yes (called "Overview") Yes Yes (Note 3) Yes Yes (but vector view only) Yes
Scroll bars for chart? Yes (fast) Yes No Yes No No (scroll with pointer)
Scroll chart from keyboard? Yes (arrow keys - fast) Yes (arrow keys) Yes (arrow keys) Yes (arrow keys) Yes - but slow Yes (arrow keys)
Scroll (or pan) chart with pointer? Yes (grab and slide - fast) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes (dynamic scrolling)
Scroll chart from thumbnail? Yes (Click and drag) Yes (Click and drag) Yes (Click and drag) Yes (Click and drag) Yes - faster way (Click and drag an edge) Yes
Key strokes to zoom in or out + or - keys F2/F3 F2/F3 or + or - keys
Mouse clicks to zoom Single click on zoom button Single click on zoom button Single click on zoom button Single click on zoom button Single click on zoom button Select zoom mode then left/right button
Drag zoom available? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Clarity of chart display at base resolution Excellent Excellent Adequate Excellent Excellent Best (note 5)
Print quality Excellent. Best of any at zoom-out. Excellent N/A in demo See Note 6 Excellent Excellent
Seemless integration of raster charts N/A N/A Excellent N/A in Demo Excellent N/A in Demo
Chart outlines available? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Chart centering with mouse? Use click and drag Single click Double click Single click Double click Double click
Displays Name of course point on Chart? Number only Yes Yes No Yes Yes
Inserting new waypoint to existing route Yes, but not from map interface. Easiest (Click on route then drag) Right click and select from menu Right click to select mode - then left click Easy (Click on route then drag) Right click for menu then click and drag (3 clicks total)
Shows new route leg while adding waypoints No Yes Yes Yes No ; on create route - but yes on modify route. Yes
Switch side panel to full screen Always full screen. Uses overlay windows. N/A (Note 1) Yes (from menu) Yes Yes Always full
Maintains center position on zooming Yes Yes Yes Yes (Note 2) Yes Yes
Constructing route on chart Move and click plus freehand drag (see Note 7) Drag and click Drag and click Drag and click Right click to set cursor - then click and drag. Drag and click
Chart scrolls to next waypoint when creating route? No - must scroll manually. Automatic Automatic Automatic No (must scroll chart first) Automatic
Type of electronic charts used BSB/NDI; Maptech; SoftChart; TIFF; user scans; ENC Vector with Fugawi Marine ENC BSB/NDI ; Maptech BSB/NDI BSB/NDI ; Maptech ; Softchart BSB/NDI ; NOS/GEO ; Maptech PCX ; Maptech RML ; and RasterPlus (Jeppesen) BSB/NDI ; Maptech TruChart ; Maptech RML (Super CD) and Softchart
Course Up Display Available Yes (after Jan 2003) No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Center on Vessel? Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Draw a bearing and range line? Momentary only Yes (single) Yes Yes Yes Yes
Compass Rose Overlay? Yes Yes No Yes No No
Night Vision Two (dim and dark) Red Dim ; in color Red Dim ; in color Red (adjustable)
Decimal minutes on coordinates Four places Up to 3 places Three places Three places Up to 5 places Three places
Decimal places on range Three places Two places Three places Three places One place Two places
Accurate enough for predicted log racing? Yes No Yes Yes No No
Full Price $95 Fugawi3, $198 Fugawi Marine ENC $199 $429 $495 $379 $449
Special price Includes NOAA Region 1 CD Includes one RasterPlus CD
Significant advantages: 1. Accurate enough for predicted log racing.
2. Ease of scrolling.
3. Lowest price that incorporates autopilot tracking.
4. Includes software for both Pocket PC and Palm at no additional charge.
1. Overall ease of route planning.
2. Ease of chart selection.
1. Accurate enough for predicted log racing.
2. Clarity of display on zoomed out views.
1. Accurate enough for predicted log racing. 1. Special price includes one chart CD. 1. Clarity of display on zoomed out views.
2. Fast scrolling.
Significant disadvantages: 1. Does not show track while adding or moving route legs.
2. Does not automatically move to next chart when plotting route.
3. Cannot enter new points to an existing route from the map interface.
1. Does not incorporate autopilot tracking.
2. Zoomed-out charts loose clarity.
1. Difficulty of scrolling.
2. Thumbnail may not correspond to displayed chart.
None 1. No automatic scrolling on route planning.
2. Sometimes looses raster display ; leaving blank or partially blank chart.
3. Slow scrolling.
1. Difficulty of inserting waypoints in an existing route.
URL http://www.
1. Uses only narrow sidebar.
2. Also centers on zoom click.
3. Does not necessarily correspond to current chart.
4. Does not necessarily display chart's native scale. Shows displayed scale.
5. Remains excellent at 4:1 zoom-out
6. Demo version prints extremely slow and prints in wrong color.
7. Does not display track on next leg when constructing a route.

NOAA ENC® Compatible Applications and Viewers

The following corporations/organizations offer a number of charting related products that may provide useful important information. This listing is provided as a public service for information only and neither the Office of Coast Survey nor the Government endorse any of the products or services provided by these corporations/organizations. Please note the links connect to Web pages outside of the Office of Coast Survey Web site.

Free ENC Viewers

Systems that use ENCs

ENC Information

ENC Production Software and Tools

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