How chartplotters work

A chartplotter is simply an electronic device that integrates the marine chart, calculating your course and then plotting it, and monitoring the course into one device. Using it is easier than learning all the different skills separately, however, in order to fully understand the chartplotter, the only way is to understand these basic navigation skills.

Besides mastering the chartplotter, it is recommended to learn basic navigation anyways, and to have backup means of navigation onboard at all times.

Use tablet or smartphone

You can use your smart device as a chartplotter using one of the many quality apps available, like Navionics, iNavX, or iSailor. This is just as safe as using a dedicated chartplotter. However, you do need to make sure to set up your device in a suitable way for extended use on the water to guarantee reliability.

GPS vs. chartplotters

Nothing beats the ease of chartplotters when navigating. They do have one important downside, though: they won't provide you with a bearing when not moving. In other words, a chartplotter can't tell you which direction your pointing when stationary, like a compass would be able to. Chartplotters also differ in other ways to for example GPS. You can read everything about them in this article.