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Vancouver - Using OPEN CPN Charting for Offshore Cruisers
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Vancouver - Using OPEN CPN Charting for Offshore Cruisers

As we sail further and further from civilization, the nautical charts we have might be less and less accurate or out of date. Luckily, there are satellites constantly taking images of the earth's surface and we have access to some of them. Using OpenCPN (free "chart plotter" software for Mac or PC), we can view these satellite images as though they are charts. One of our members, Malcolm MacPhail (s/v Good as Gold), will show you how!!

When: Wednesday, April 18, 2018
Where: Vancouver Maritime Museum, TK Gallery
1905 Ogden Avenue
Vancouver, British Columbia  V6J 1A3
Contact: Shannon Rae

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Using OpenCPN Charting

with Malcolm MacPhail

A Members-Only Event

Wednesday, April 18, 2018 

6:00 pm to 8:00 pm.

Vancouver Maritime Museum, TK Gallery room

During this event, you will learn how to:

- Install and use OpenCPN
- Install and use ChartAid (not GE2KAP)

-Google Earth - and how it can help you.
- Organize all your electronic charts and satellite images.

You will see how to set up your laptop to do all of this.  If you bring your laptop, please ensure it is charged, as there is limited space for electrical cordage to plug in.

One of our members, Malcolm MacPhail (s/v Good as Gold), has used these tools a number of times while crossing the Pacific to Australia. He is in town for a while and has offered to help people get more familiar with how OpenCPN works and how to download satellite images into charts we can use. 


Part of the process is to get the satellite images onto our computers while we still have high-speed internet access. Once the “satellite” charts are created, they can be shared with your friends and other cruisers.  Sharing these files is pretty common once you “get out there”.


Malcolm uses a program called ChartAid to download the satellite images. It seems a lot less finicky than GE2KAP which many people have tried to use. GE2KAP uses a scripting language to “tell” the Google Earth program what to do. This can break with updates to Google Earth or Windows/Mac. Unfortunately for some, ChartAid costs $99 and there is no Mac version.  You can download it for free and try it out a bit before paying for the software.


Due to the variety of backgrounds we're all coming from, it's not always clear how much can be covered in these sort of workshops. Malcolm hopes we can go through:


·         OpenCPN - Basics

·         OpenCPN - Managing charts

·         ChartAid - Basics

·         ChartAid - Downloading a satellite image as a chart

·         OpenCPN - Viewing the "satellite" chart

Attendees are welcome to bring their laptops and follow along, or just take notes. Hopefully there will be enough time to troubleshoot any issues that people are having.  If you plan to bring your laptop, please download and install both OpenCPN ( and ChartAid (

Finally, Malcolm will be bringing a memory stick (USB) with some “satellite” charts. Anyone wanting a copy of these files should bring their own memory stick with at least 8GB of free space. Of course, you can also just follow up with someone who does this and goes to Fleet.

Please be sure you are proficient at your computer's use, as this course will not teach the basics of internet or computer usage.

Wireless internet will be available.

This presentation is FREE, and is for members only. No non-members or crew and we ask that only the paid member of a couple attend, due to limited space: thank you for your understanding, this allows more members to attend.

Fleet Members or Members going offshore soon should plan to sign up right away, as there is limited space for this event.

- No food or drink in the room, please.

-There is free parking for members/attendees, a pass is required and may be obtained at the front desk of the museum.


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