Navionics Charts are now on GLCC Home Page

Joann Mead - October 8, 2015

Have you noticed something new on the home page?  We have replaced the rotating pictures with a new capability to view charts of the Great Lakes (or any place else in the world).  Navionics, known for their extensive set of charts for many brands of chart plotters, has provided the ability for users to look at charts in depth.  We are pleased to give our members and others this opportunity to explore the waters of the Great Lakes and further with this new tool.  Please note that one cannot create routes with this tool. Click on the Acknowledgements for further information.  Although this tool is rather intuitive to use, instructions follow.

We have positioned the chart over the Great Lakes, but one may move the center of the chart by clicking on a location and using the mouse to move the chart.   To bring the chart in or take it out further, click on the plus or minus symbols (in blue circles on the upper right) or mouse over the chart and use your mouse scroll wheel. 

The distances default to Nautical Miles and depths in Meters (highlighted in blue).  To change the distance measure, click on km or mi. To change the depth, click on ft. These options have a white background.

By using the dropdown box that contains “no overlay” the terrain or satellite view of the land mass can be seen. The water area will continue to be in chart format.

To measure straight line distances, click on the blue dividers circle (lower right corner). A distance tool will pop up. Move the red ball to the desired right-hand location. It will turn purple and the other ball will turn red. Now move the new red ball to the desired left-hand location and read the distance and heading in the box above the purple ball. The ball that is red will be the starting location, the purple ball is the end and has the distance and heading.  Click on the red ball to reverse direction.  Only the red ball can be moved, so if the purple ball is not correct, one must click on the red ball to change colors. Click and drag the red ball. It will change to purple, so do not let go of the mouse until it is positioned correctly.

To get sonar readings of sea bottom contours, one must scroll in at the desired location until the symbol in the lower left corner with the three curved lines turns a darker blue.  At that time, the symbol can be clicked, and the contours will be shown at 1 foot or the equivalent in meters depending upon the depth measurement chosen.  It may be necessary to bring the chart in even further to get the actual readings.

Bill Rohde's picture

Jennifer - the good news is you don't have to buy a new chip to get the latest cartography. Navionics now has a mechanism for purchasing a single update chip which can be used to download updated cartography from Navionics datavases for any area they cover, and download updated cartography as often as you want over the course of a year (e.g. - perhaps to do another download just as your year comes to an end to obtain the VERY latest charts almost a year after your first update). I updated some of my charts that way last spring.

The advertised price is just under $100, but I've seen the update chip available discounted to as low as ~$85 from some outlets. That one update chip can be used to update any Navionics chip based on data from Navionics' "cloud". They verify that you in fact own the initial chip by asking you to plug that chip in so it can be verified before they let you download updates.

Here's what Navionics says about this capability:

"If you already own a Navionics Gold or HotMaps Premium card that is outdated, you can upgrade it with Navionics Updates and get Navionics+, new SonarCharts and 12 months of unlimited Freshest Data updates. Plug your Navionics Updates card into your PC or Mac and download the expanded content from Based on what you need, follow the prompts to get your needed updates. Customize all the charts you want with maps of Canada and U.S., including both lakes and coastal data onto the same card. If you have an older CF and need a MSD, use Navionics Updates to convert your old CF data to an MSD card. 2GB of data."

Obviously you do the updating on your computer, so you'll need a CF card slot or a multi-card reader to do the update. Also, if you have a really old chartplotter the resulting updated chip may end up with more data than the chartplotter can deal with, as is the case with one very old chartplotter I have.

Hope this may save you some money! Happy updating.

jennifer bagley's picture

We have Navionics on our Raymarine plotter, the embedded chip being about 5 years old. The information in the charts on the web site is a significant improvement from our current chip. For several Lake Superior anchorages, for example, currently there are islets on our plotter where there are none in reality (eg there are no islets in Pilot Harbour but our chip shows three blocking the entrance); the three islets are not on the current Navionics site. Obviously they have cleaned up their data a lot. Have not looked at every anchorage obviously for comparison but it may be time to buy ourselves a new chip. Thanks!!

dcbarnum's picture

Thanks for continuing to improve this website, which is already quite robust. This is an additional helpful planning tool.


Joann Mead's picture

Please read the acknowledgements for the Navionics Charts. You will see that the source for their data comes from many different sources but the main source is official government charts. They are the leader in chart data and are used by many chart plotter manufactures. If you do not believe that the data is accurate, I suggest you contact the government organization that supplies the data. Navionics is constantly updating chart data but does rely heavily on Notices to Mariners. The sonar data comes from actual sonar data collected from individual users sending their actual logs to Navionics. It is constantly being updated with the latest data.
I hope you will find this addition to the GLCC website useful.

tomwolf's picture

I agree with the comment that the depths are sometimes off on these charts. One that I have repeatedly pointed out to Navionics, the area just east of the channel going into the Detroit River, has, as of my last update, not been corrected. I would like to think that they would be more responsive.

Adena-Marilyn's picture

Thanks Joann for making these worldwide charts so readily accessible to the members for planning purposes.

I did a quick zoom on some of the areas where I have sounded and know the depths and contours, with significant differences between the actual and the Navionics charts. So, a brief caution to check your official government chart updates, and the GLCC Logbook before entering tighter or possibly shallower draft areas than appear on electronic displays. I often use Google Earth satellite views to take a bird's eye look at places I am considering going. The satellite photographs often show conditions which do not appear on the charts.