Do you really need to update your electronic charts, and the chartography in your chartplotter’s brain? A three year old unit, for example, may seem plenty “new.” Unfortunately, the Coast Guard has this pesky habit of moving nav aids. Worse yet, Mother Nature has this pesky habit of moving sand bars, shoals, and inlet channels. Here’s a statistic you’ll wnat to know: in the past five years, 3,900 boating accidents resulted from striking a fixed object or grounding the boat. Would up to date charts have prevented all of these incidents? Heck no – but they surely could lower the number.
So, how are you supposed to update? After all, you probably spent hundreds on that chartography chip… or even more, to have the data built into your machine. In some cases your dealer will accept a chip-swap, charging you a small fee instead of the full price. In others you may be able to download updates directly to your chartplotter, or onto a SD card that can then be inserted into it. That’s essentially how the newest form of updates, Jeppesen’s “Quick Sync,” works. With Quick Sync you either download a weekly update from the web, or you can have the updates for your specific region(s) e-mailed to you. For some other systems, like Garmin’s g2, you might have to download a software update for your plotter before it can understand the newest data. Either way, the info on your screen stays fresh.