ANTARES CHARTS OF WEST COAST ANCHORAGES
The following article was sent in by John Clarke.
Antares Charts are very large scale electronic charts of anchorages on the West Coast of Scotland created by enthusiastic amateurs. For the 2013 season there is a CD with 134 charts from Gigha to the Outer Hebrides.
Here is an image of an Antares Chart:
We tried these charts last season on a laptop at the chart table. On entering anchorages, we have a Bluetooth GPS unit (protected in a small Lock & Lock food storage box) secured to the pulpit so that we can see on the laptop exactly where we drop the anchor. Using Memory Map charting software you can show a circle of any radius around a waypoint which can be used to show you’re swinging circle. In confined anchorages it was reassuring to know if we could swing 360° without hitting any rocks.
We also found the charts to be a useful supplement to visual pilotage entering tricky anchorages – we would not have attempted Loch Don without this aid.
The Antares CD also provides useful pilotage information which supplements the Clyde Cruising Club publications. I understand that the CCC plan to use the charts and other information to update their publications but this looks like being a mammoth task which could take some time!
Antares Charts can run seamlessly with UKHO charts on PCs, iPads, iPhones and Android tablets and phones. They can also be used on Macs and certain Garmin handheld devices. There is a wide range of free software available while the best setup using Memory Map costs about £50 (Memory Map charts of GB and Ireland, the Antares Charts plus a Memory Map licence to use the third party charts). The GPS units in tablet PCs do not appear to be WASS-enabled so their accuracy is no better than 10 m. Bluetooth GPS units costing about £25 are accurate to about 3 m. Alternatively, the Garmin GLO which costs £77 seems to be accurate to about 1.5 m; it achieves this by using both GPS and Russian GLONASS satellites.
Tablets are proving to be the most popular hardware for viewing Antares Charts. In a protective bag they can be used in the cockpit but would benefit from some kind of shading device as their screens are difficult to read in bright conditions.
When navigating tricky entrances where there are no leading marks or inadequate visual references it is advisable to have Antares Charts running on a second independent device as a backup in case of system failure.
More information is available at http://www.antarescharts.co.uk/ where there is a map showing all the chart locations (see Chart list) and interesting sections on how they made the charts and how to use them.