Monday, November 11, 2013

NV Charts

Application: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch iOS 6.1 or later, Android and PC
Function: Marine GPS charting and navigation
Cost: Free app, charts regions $10 to $179

NVCharts has been around for about 25 years providing paper chart kits for several areas in Europe and most recently the US and Caribbean waters.  They are known for their waterproof chart sets but also provide electronic charts for you chart plotter, PC and mobile devices. With one purchase you get charts for all your devices plus a backup set of paper charts.

The NVCharts blog will help keep you up to date on the changes and additions to the app. The app is available for iOS, Android and Windows 8 users. If you buy a chart set the license allows you to use it across all platforms at no additional charge.

  • Offline navigation
  • Accesses all NV charts
  • Simple purchase and download of charts 
  • Data is always up-to-date
  • Synchronized navigation with all mobile devices
  • Seamless Charts
  • Zoom and panning functions
  • Waypoint Markers and notes
  • Range and Bearing Measuring Tool
  • Routes
  • Intuitive route planning
  • Tracking
  • Logbook
  • Positioning with both GPS and cellular signals
  • Lighthouse sketches
  • GPS and navigation instruments

The NVChart's main screen shows your position along with latitude, longitude and time on a base map overlay.  The menu is displayed across the bottom right of the screen. The menu includes Settings, Charts, Log, Ruler, Marker and Route. The menu can be turned on or off by toggling the wrench icon in the lower right.

Just above the menu is a blue ship icon. Select this to start navigation and the display of the instruments at the top of the screen. The instruments include GPS accuracy, latitude, longitude, course over ground, speed over ground, bearing, range, distance, ETE, ETA


Select the Charts icon at the bottom of the screen to buy and load charts. Selecting the Buy Charts icon will take you to the NVCharts website where you can shop for and purchase charts. You will have to create an account and login. Charts can be purchased with several options. You can just purchase the electronic charts for the NVCharts app. This is the cheapest option with many of the US charts regions listed at $10 per region and Bahamas regions at $49. You can also purchase charts for your mobile device and along with a hard copy set.  This option is more expensive with chart regions costing about $69.80 plus shipping.

Once you have made your purchase the charts will need to be downloaded to your mobile device. Select the Load Charts icon where you will be prompted for your16 digit product code. Select your chart kit and download the charts. The download process will be faster if you are connected to WiFi for the download process.


The app has a very functional way to create waypoints and routes. To create a route select the Route icon from the menu. Select the New icon and note the new route line on the chart.  Place your finger on one end of the route line to move it to your starting point and then move the other end to your destination.

Intermediate waypoints can be added by tapping the route line between waypoints. Tap any waypoint to move it or delete it with the menu selections. Other route options include Reverse, Activate and Add notes where the route details can be added and the route name can be modified.  Additional routes can be created and displayed at the same time on the charts.  The chart may get a little busy if you have a lot of routes in one area.  It would be nice to have the option to display just the active route.


Select the Ruler icon to measure distance between two points on the chart. Once selected note the information display on the top of the screen. Distance, bearing, duration, latitude and longitude are dynamically displayed.  Place your finger on either point to move the starting or ending points of the bearing tool.

More than one measurement can be used and displayed on the chart. Select the new option to add another distance and bearing measurement.  Each measurement can be saved with a unique name under the Notes selection.  The Lock feature prevents the measurements from being moved or deleted.


The Marker tool works very similar and has many of the same features as the Route tool. Select add to create a new Marker. Other options include Activate, Delete, Notes and Lock.  Markers are saved separate from the route waypoints.  I am not sure why the author chose to call these points Markers.  These markers should be called waypoints and all waypoints should be able to be included in creating a route. 

I appears that all the markers that are created are displayed on the screen. If you create many markers in one area it may become congested and hinder proper navigation. I would prefer an option to display or not to display individual waypoints.


The settings are very basic with options for language, speed, distance depth, coordinates and compass orientation.

There are some additional settings options in the cruise mode. Select the red and white buoy in the upper right corner of the display to enter cruise mode. You will notice that the instrument display shows up in the top of the display. Select the setting option from the menu to change the boats name, cruising speed, draft, compass orientation, tracking and track lengths.  Tracking is started and stopped with the follow menu selection at the bottom of the screen. 

Another nice feature that has been incorporated is a logging function.  It is very basic and allows you to enter the name of the log enter and some notes.

NV Charts has done a good job with their introductory iOS app. As an added bonus the app is available for your Android mobile device and your PC too. It provides some of the basic features that a charting app needs but falls short of being a real contender for i-Marine Apps Top 10 Charting apps.  The app is new so I expect to see some additional updates and features added in the months to come.

~~~ Sail On ~~~ /)


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