Meridian Chartware

I don’t understand why more people aren’t using their laptops to run real-time raster charts. I have been using Meridian Chartware‘s software for years now and I can’t really fault it. After-sales backup is great too.
A raster chart conforms to IHO (International Hydrographic Organisation) specifications and is produced by converting paper charts to a digital image by what is effectively a clever scanning system. To all intents and purposes an ARCS (Admiralty Raster Chart Service) chart is exactly the same as the paper chart of which it is an electronic facsimile. It looks the same, has the same boundaries, is drawn to the same projection and uses the same survey data and corrections, all of which can be readily inspected. Even the notes that come with the paper chart are there so you have instant access to checking up on the quality of survey data – very important now we work with super-accurate GPS. Buoys look like buoys. No interrogation needed. A beacon is a beacon. You can see at a glance what’s what. And the chart is drawn by the same wonderful cartographers who deal with the paper charts that have served us all so well. This is more than you can say for a lot of vector offerings out there. In fact, what you see is, literally, what you get.
While a raster chart can be magnified until its pixels break down, it cannot be zoomed to reveal more detail. If this is required, then either the user or the software must bring up the next scale of chart. On the Meridian program, I right-click on the area I need and am asked either to go ‘chart scale in’ which brings up the next chart, or ‘charts available’, which offers me the full selection. By this means I effectively reach into my electronic chart table and leaf out the most suitable chart from my folio. When it opens up, which it does in split seconds, I can see immediately if it has what I need. If not, I scale in again, and so on. When no further detail is available, that means the UKHO does not have it, and it tells me so. It’s as simple as that.
Meridian is cost-effective and I have found the software to be rock-solid once it is installed. They offer it in tablet form (compete with tablet if you want one), or PC-ready. They’ll even supply a GPS dongle. Mine works below decks, so with the PC I have a totally independent nav system. If I suffer electrical melt-down, it will work so long as the PC batteries hold out, which should see me home safe and sound.