Canadian nautical charts now available online via GeoGarage [Nautical Navigation]

Thursday, 20 May 2010
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GeoGarage capture of the Great Lakes coverage.
GeoGarage is an awesome online nautical chart/Google Maps mash-up that I wrote about a couple of months ago. They offer free nautical charts layered on top of the Google Maps interface.

I’m happy to announce that GeoGarage has been upgraded and made available Canadian Nautical charts for the first time. With a paid subscription of 9.95 EUR (around $12CAD) you can access both the complete collection of Canadian nautical charts provided by the Canadian Hydrographic Service as well as a full set of charts from the United Kingdom Hydrographic Office.

GeoGarage capture of the Victoria area.
 - Paddling in and around Victoria, BC - Click to enlarge.

As I mentioned the last time I looked at it, GeoGarage does more then just display online charts. They have a really easy interface which allows you to drop in waypoints and quickly set-up routes for planned trips. When you are done, you can export out the GPX data and transfer it directly to your handheld or onboard GPS system. Garmin owners will be pleased to know that GeoGarage is compatible with Garmin’s Communicator Plugin. When installed, the plugin quickly transfers the data to your handhold with just a couple mouse clicks.

GeoGarage was able to set me up with a demo account to give the Canadian charts a try. Since it runs overtop of Google Maps, its super easy to use. You can pan and zoom with ease and more detailed charts automatically load each time you zoom in.

GeoGarage capture of the Kingston area highlighting routes and waypoints.
- Paddling in and around Kingston, ON - Click to enlarge.

Creating routes a very simple process and editing them is easy. Just click on the markers and drag them to where you need them. You do get some rudimentary information like route length but the point really is to make route and waypoint creation as simple as possible and let the handheld GPS provide the more detailed route information later when you need it. Just be careful that you don’t accidentally click the route delete button as I did. With no delete confirmation, it’s easy to mess up your hard work.

Some might wonder why US charts are free while UK and Canadian charts are part of their paid service. The reason is because electronic US charts are made publicly available by the government while UK and Canadian charts are copyrighted material and thus GeoGarage is required to pay a royalty fee. On the good side, payments are collected via paypal subscription so you can always stop or start your access when you need it.

More info: geogarage.com

David Johnston

David Johnston

David Johnston has been introducing people to the sport of sea kayaking for the past 15 years. He is a senior instructor trainer with Paddle Canada and teaches for several paddling schools in Ontario, Canada. Full Bio.

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