Aug 1, 2010

How to turn your laptop into a Chartplotter

Chartplotters are so COOL!!

Especially the satellite radio enabled units that have weather and radar!

One of these babies will quickly make you one of the coolest people on the VHF. Call out the weather every evening, and you will be loved.

Why didn't I buy one of these?!?!

Oh yeah! because they are ... a little pricy ...

What would a HoboSailor do?

Well there is always the old standby: a paper chart. The major benefits are that they don't require batteries, and they are very cheap compared to a chart plotter. But there is another option...

If you have a laptop, then you are in luck. For about $40 you can turn your computer into a fully functional chart-plotter. Here's how:

Step One: Download this FREE program called SeaClear

Step Two: Buy one of these awesome GPS antennas that plug into your computers USB port.

Step Three: Download all of the US charts from NOAA for FREE. Your Tax dollars paid for them! How awesome of NOAA to allow us to download charts!!

The USB antenna will be plug and play. SeaClear provides instructions for how to install the charts. It's pretty easy. Look through the SeaClear user manual for the keyboard shortcuts. Those will be a big help for using the program.

That's it! A chartplotter for $40. HoboSailor style!