Electronic charting has changed since it was first created, and with integration with GPS (Global Positioning System) navigation systems, you can now stay on course easily.
Digital charts are displayed on a screen by an on-board computer running special charting software using chart data on a CD-ROM. Different companies sell charting software, which must be compatible with the digital charts you plan to use. Most pleasure boaters will be interested in the raster version of the charts.
Geo-referencing enables a navigation system that is connected to a GPS to locate and display in the chart image on screen the vessel's exact position. You will be able to see your boat in the centre of the chart, and the software will automatically scroll the chart under your boat as you cruise. If you set off-course alarms, or hazard alarms, the screen will also display information to help you bet back on track.
ENC charts offer powerful onscreen navigation via an Electronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS) and meet the official S-57 international standard.
Raster Navigational Charts (RNC) are simple electronic versions of paper charts, popular on pleasure craft. The Canada Shipping Act requires you to also carry paper charts as a backup. Raster Chart Display Systems (RCDS) are computer-based navigation systems which use raster nautical charts and electronic positioning to provide an integrated navigational tool.
Canadian Hydrographic Services (CHS) is responsible for production, marketing, sales and distribution of its digital chart data and digital tide data, as well as licensing dealers. CHS offers Raster Navigational Charts in the BSB v4 format on CD. Canadian Government Index
In the USA, Raster Navigational Charts (RNCs™) are official nautical paper charts in raster format that are free to download from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Weekly updates in BSB format. These can be used in many chart systems including Raster Chart Display Systems (RCDS) and Electronic Chart Display and Information Systems (ECDIS).