The negative response to the UKHO’s decision to discontinue paper charts – and hence their important raster derivatives – in 2026 was so overwhelming that the date was stretched to 2030, and maybe beyond.
My feelings were so strong that, with my colleague Bill Aylward, I’ve produced AngelNav, an iPad-based chart plotter using UKHO data for raster charts. It’s unique in that users can physically plot position lines and courses on the screen.
AngelNav’s raster charts look exactly like paper charts, complete with the important notes and warnings that have disappeared from their vector equivalents. The well-known issues with vector charts on standard plotters layering out dangers at lower zoom levels largely disappear with raster charts. Navigating with AngelNav is like having a plotter that uses the charts in your drawer, with two big differences: you’ve got them all – and they’re always up to date.
At the moment the app offers home waters and Ireland. More areas are coming online, but AngelNav can use raster charts from many other sources including the US. It can also create accurate, georeferenced satellite charts for anywhere in the world within the app – extremely useful in remote areas where conventional charting is patchy.
The in-app manual and help files are written by myself and Bill, both highly experienced navigators who speak English, so they work.
This is all desirable stuff, but the real USP of AngelNav is that, in addition to the usual waypoints and routes you’d expect from a plotter, AngelNav alone gives the user the power to plot traditional chartwork easily on the screen. Three-point fixes from compass bearings can be plotted like a pencil on a paper chart. Vector diagrams for course to steer or estimated position are a breeze.
Not only does this enable sailors to keep in touch with traditional methods of navigation, it also means that if GPS takes a break and paper backup falls short, AngelNav’s charts still work for electronic navigation based on reliable analogue inputs. With AngelNav, the skipper is genuinely in charge of his own destiny.
AngelNav is a free app from the Apple App store for iPhones and iPads running iOS 15.0 and above. UK and Ireland chart folios are divided into affordable sections. Every chart for the English side of the Channel, including all the harbour charts from the Isles of Scilly to Dover, can be bought in-app at £24.99.
You can find out more about the new app on its dedicated website, and if you’ve got any questions, you can drop us a line. There’s also a Youtube video demonstrating much, but not all of what it’s about. Go to https://youtu.be/WbkK-NLJ-_s