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Navigating and living on the waterways of Continental Europe and news of canal developments.
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TOPIC: PC Navigo

PC Navigo 29 Mar 2020 10:17 #114994

I can add very little to what has already been written. PC-N works very well with your AIS and GPS if you connect it to your PC-N computer.
Thus this is particularly useful in The Netherlands and Belgium on the bigger, busier waterways (with lots of commercials) when you’ve connected an AIS and GPS system. Like the Hollands Diep, Port of Antwerp, Volkerak, etc... You can see the big boys on the map, how fast they’re going, their name in case you need to call them on the VHF. This doesn’t really apply on the smaller waterways where there’s little commercial traffic, of course.

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PC Navigo 11 Mar 2020 11:23 #114343

Hi Andy,
You could be right time will tell. However I have Win GPS 5, Open CPN and I can use the free waterkaart to plan so I.m not to worried as we'll be in the Netherlands this year and possibly next. We do already have an AIS receiver and intend to fit a new B+ AIS transponder when the boat is de-winterised.

Ken

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PC Navigo 10 Mar 2020 22:02 #114339

Hello Ken,

Yes - you are perhaps being a cheapskate! We first used PCN 15 years ago - it has improved over the years and incorporated AIS displays and feeds as the years have gone by. One of its great strengths is that it is one platform that covers the whole of Europe (including even UK!) without having to search for local charts or change provider. We used it for cruising in Europe for five years both for planning and daily voyaging and it never let us down as the principal navigation tool with a plethora of local detail on stoppages, bridge and lock manning times and signage. Sometimes 'free' is not the best! The cheapest commercial equivalent used by the big boys is at least 5 times more expensive!

However - crossing the channel is not its forte and here we use Open CPN and charts from Visit my Harbour linked again to AIS and its GPS.
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Andy Soper
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mv Neeltje
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PC Navigo 10 Mar 2020 21:50 #114337

Thank you to everyone for the information. As far as I can see the free or at least inexpensive apps work in the Netherlands and Belgium As this year we'll be cruising in the Netherlands I will be a cheapskate and see how the free apps pan out.
If we end up heading to France at some point in the future it might be worth thinking again.

Thanks again

Ken

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PC Navigo 10 Mar 2020 16:04 #114333

Ken,
>I'm attempting to decide whether it is worth the money.

I've managed 15 years without PC Navigo. On a couple of occasions a PC Navigo user has helped me with a straight forward planning question in winter - how long to get somewhere??

I use the paper chart books, mostly Fluviacarte, and quite happy which ever way "N" is on the page. The only compass bearing I want to know is approx 152 degrees when mooring - the direction of the Astra 2 satellite dish at 28.2E.

Otherwise I use an AIS radar type display on a laptop - the free PC NavMon. PC NavMon is a clear simple display of AIS contacts with useful items such as velocity leaders and trail markers.
And Microsoft Autoroute 2013 for land details, which amazingly has all the waterways even if only a thin blue line. Often use Google maps for a close look for a possible mooring.

If I am on a ENC mandatory motorway, I use Open CPN and whatever free ENC the nation has decided to let me have. The FR ones are particularly bad and produce a completely untidy clutter.

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Colin Stone
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DBA - The Barge Association
DBA - De Binnenvaartvereniging
DBA - L’Association des Péniches de Plaisance

PC Navigo 10 Mar 2020 15:43 #114330

>>>>Ken Keegan wrote: .. I'm attempting to decide whether it is worth the money. <<<<

Ken ask the sales staff at PCN, it wil all depend on your $/E and what you feel comfortable with

I use the ANWB app, before that I used Navionics
Both sufficed, yes I forked out the money for PCN and it gives some additional functions
And yes I still also use the ANWB app.
Just gives me a relaxed way of cruising
Just as I also bought an AIS, which is not needed, but it relaxes me more...

My opinion..if you have to justify the cost..don't buy it

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PC Navigo 10 Mar 2020 14:00 #114327

Ken Keegan wrote: .. I'm attempting to decide whether it is worth the money.

You'll really only find out by buying and using it!

Open CPN is totally free and you can run both ENC and Raster charts in tandem, the ENC charts are the official ones and as you say only cover the major waterways.

It looks attractive but It doesn't compare at all.

Better yet for the Netherlands and some of Belgium is www.waterkaart.net

It's good! But not the same.

Pete

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Pete Milne, Quo Vadis , Gent.

PC Navigo 10 Mar 2020 13:51 #114326

Ken Keegan wrote: Pete thanks for the information.
One more question why do I keep seeing the comment "its good for planning but I use another app for navigating"?

For me, because the ENC charts are diagrammatic rather than pictorial, which most other systems are. I like some more information about what I'm passing.
For example, here are screenshots from PCN and winGPS Lite (which I happen to have installed as it's free!) Both PC only. Both at about 100,000:1:



Here's Dordrecht at about 25,000:1:



and at 5000:1, showing how PCN gives info about a bridge. Other apps, like Waterkaart (PC) or Nautical Map (Android) can do this, too.



It is a very personal choice between apps and everyone has their own preference! You really need to try them all to choose. Luckily most, but not PCN I think, offer a fre trial of some sort.
PCN certainly has the edge for route planning, with up-to-date stoppage info, but it does need a powerful PC to work properly, like letting you zoom in and out, whatever anyone may tell you!
Also PCN covers all Europe consistently. Other apps, like WinGPS and Waterkaart only coverparticular countries.

Pete.

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Pete Milne, Quo Vadis , Gent.

PC Navigo 10 Mar 2020 13:47 #114325

> I can assure you I know of many people who use PC Navigo for navigating. Amongst them, we always have - across the Netherlands, Belgium and now France.

> For Steve as a newbie, my most important (navigation) tip would be to make sure that the route display is set to orient itself in the direction of travel

I would agree that Navigo is very useful for navigation in NL where there are frequent choices for leaving your waterway and a glance at the red line on Navigo will tell you which turn to take, but I find it far less useful in other countries when there are no left or right turns for the next several days! We used Navigo last year on the Rhine only for planning purposes and to identify our next stopping place as the chart plotter is far better at showing obstructions such as navigation buoys.

I personally would differ on the choice of "Heading Up" for Navigo. I want Navigo to reflect what paper charts show - always North Up, although some French charts are annoyingly "whatever is convenient for the printed page up"! Having said that, I have my close-at-hand chart plotter set to Heading Up. Maybe a contradiction, but I want the plotter to show what's ahead of me, and to left and right and use Navigo for routing detail only (turnings off the waterway, lunch stop place, distance to overnight stop, etc) when underway. Just what we're used to I suppose!

Peter

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PC Navigo 10 Mar 2020 13:27 #114324

Ian thanks for the information, there are various views re PC Navigo and I'm attempting to decide whether it is worth the money. So I'm looking for all and any reviews I can find.
Open CPN is totally free and you can run both ENC and Raster charts in tandem, the ENC charts are the official ones and as you say only cover the major waterways.
Better yet for the Netherlands and some of Belgium is www.waterkaart.net also totally free but only online on a PC, although it can be printed. I asked the developer if there was a chance that it could be developed for offline use and he said it could happen.

Ken

Ken

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PC Navigo 10 Mar 2020 13:00 #114323

Hi Ken,
Pete may have a different answer, but I'd say you haven't seen a representative set of posts. I can assure you I know of many people who use PC Navigo for navigating. Amongst them, we always have - across the Netherlands, Belgium and now France.

It's the only app that allows planning and navigation (and a lot more) across all those (and other nearby) countries, out of the box.

I meant to address some of the earlier points in detail, but briefly:

* PCNavigo is not the most user-friendly program but, to a significant extent, it is because its capabilities are so broad that a simple interface that can cover all the aspects (planning, navigating, recording, reporting, categorising, etc) is not easy to design. So, unfortunately, there is a fair bit of rote learning from the manual and getting tips from others needed to utilise it fully.

* For Steve as a newbie, my most important (navigation) tip would be to make sure that the route display is set to orient itself in the direction of travel. There is an icon in the middle of the row 'Course-up/North-up switch' and make sure it is not set to North-up, it makes navigation really hard.

*I'd challenge your statement that there are excellent free charts for the Netherlands and Belgium if by that you are referring to the Open CPN charts you have described elsewhere. Even in the Netherlands, it seems these only cover the most major waterways with little or nothing on smaller waterways. Using them for navigation or planning would be like a terrestrial traveller trying to tour in unfamiliar territory with a map that only showed freeways.

* And a word about costs. PCN is expensive upfront and there is a moderate yearly charge (I prefer to see a service I value having a sustainable business model). It's my understanding that the licence is transferrable, so when you have finished cruising, you can pass - or more relevantly - sell that licence to someone else. Provided you've maintained the software with yearly upgrades, its value is essentially the same as a newly purchased version and should attract just about the same 'second-hand as new' sale price. Thus the upfront cost might be largely recouped.

While we always have supplemented PCN with paper charts, it has been, by far, our most important and used navigation and planning tool. I'd also say that other than Catharina herself, PCN has been the most valuable/euro cost purchase we have made since we started cruising.

Ian

(Lisette & Ian)
Catharina Elisabeth

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Ian & Lisette McCauley
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Blog: Eurmacs
Website: WaterwaysTourist
"There are only 10 types of people in the world: those who understand binary, and those who don't."

PC Navigo 10 Mar 2020 11:28 #114322

Pete thanks for the information.
One more question why do I keep seeing the comment "its good for planning but I use another app for navigating"?

Ken

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PC Navigo 09 Mar 2020 15:10 #114295

> Notably, lock names are missing in the backwaters, which is annoying.

Although I rarely use the facility and I normally have paper charts to hand, I think you can identify all locks by clicking the << just to the left of your boat's name under Fleet. Without exhaustively checking, I see from my routes from last year, all the lock names and numbers are shown here, plus bridge names, marinas and other points of interest. I'm sure you can find lock and bridge keepers phone numbers in Navigo.

Oh yes, try engaging Navigation Mode (main icon bar just right of centre) and the << button. Click on a bridge or lock and the Navigation column shows VHF channel and phone number, plus dimensions, opening hours, etc. [Just learnt that myself after using Navigo for over 10 years!]

Peter

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PC Navigo 09 Mar 2020 14:26 #114293

PC-Navigo uses ENC-type charts, which reveal more detail as you zoom, down to individual posts, signs and buoys.
The planning facilities will calculate likely journey times allowing for bridge/lock operating hours and using the latest available stoppage information. Other chart systemss are fine for planning routes but not for timing and stoppages.
The official ENC charts are supplemented (somehow) to give good coverage, though less detail on small waterways (where there isn't so much detail anyway!). Notably, lock names are missing in the backwaters, which is annoying. If you mainly travel on these, PC-N is of much less value and simpler systems or Fluviacartes would be more useful. I wouldn't travel without a Fluviacarte (or whichever brand you prefer!) anyway, just for their interesting detail
As to 'worth the money', only you can say. It's certainly better justified for more extensive travel, or where timing is more important

Steve, PeterC - please keep the Q&A session here, not by PM! Others will be interested and the answers might find themselves in the Knowledgebase one day!

Pete
The following user(s) said Thank You: John Nelson

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Pete Milne, Quo Vadis , Gent.

PC Navigo 09 Mar 2020 14:05 #114292

> how good are the PC Navigo charts for France?
> PC Navigo is expensive so is it worth the money?

Very good and well worth the money. Let's not make Steve think he hasn't invested well.

Steve - Navigo isn't the most intuitive, but well worth persevering with it. We're not sure how much playing around you've done, but let's start with Lesson 1 - Enter your "Fleet" details - top right of screen - "To the fleet list".

Hopefully you can easily enter your vessel stats. Dimensions are the most important, but include Speed - the speed you can comfortably cruise at - Navigo will adjust the travelling time if your route includes lower speed limits. Under Scheduling, enter your likely cruising times (eg 10.00 to 17.00 and tick Pleasure boating and Sundays and No under Include Maritime Waterways as otherwise it'll offer faster routes via coastal sections.

With this information, Navigo knows where you can and cannot go and can estimate the number of days your trip is likely to take, though I find engine hours a more reliable indicator. Enter as many ships as appropriate - eg one with your wheelhouse / mast / canopy up and another (or more) at various stages of reducing air draft. The other headings (Fuel, Boat shape, etc) can be ignored for now.

Lesson 1 over - you've probably done that already. You're now ready to create a route. Happy to help further by PM.

Peter

PS - Do you have a GPS mouse or other device so your actual position is shown on the screen? You'll need this as soon as you embark on your route.

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PC Navigo 09 Mar 2020 13:26 #114290

Which type of charts does PC Navigo use and why is it good for planning?
The Netherlands and to a lesser degree Belgium has excellent free charts which can be used for planning,
France officially does not really seem to support electronic charts although the paper based ones I have used are very good, how good are the PC Navigo charts for France?
PC Navigo is expensive so is it worth the money?

Ken

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PC Navigo 09 Mar 2020 12:21 #114286

I'm sure Steve is not alone! PCN is not intuitive to use and I still discover new features, years after buying and using it. I've never learned to love it! However, as a planning tool it is almost unique. For daily navigation in the Netherlands, I prefer WinGPS or the 'Nautical map' app (ex-ANWB) but I use PCN for serious planning.

Tech support is never a good place to get training (says an ex- tech support guru!). This thread might be a good place for a Q&A self-help group.

Pete

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Pete Milne, Quo Vadis , Gent.

PC Navigo 09 Mar 2020 11:36 #114285

  • Steve Van Zoeren
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I recently purchased PC Navigo to help with planning a trip to the Low Countries. I want to love the program, but currently I am stymied with learning how to use it. The Help system seems to consist of a list of disconnected topics only. The YouTube videos recommended by my PC-N sales person are primitive and useless. Is there any place to go learn how to use this program to plan and modify a route, etc? Will contacting tech support be a useful avenue of approach?

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