Confidence and clarity: navigation with Garmin Navionics+™ cartography

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Garmin have updated their chart-plotting and cartography suite with Garmin Navionics+™ and premium Garmin Navionics Vision+™ . What does the new kit offer for the sailor on the water?

Firstly, let’s clear up one thing – the name. Navionics cartography is owned by Garmin, so users of Garmin hardware get all the benefits of Navionics software. It’s been a neat fit for some time and now things have got better still – with the latest developments, sailors really can rely on pinpoint accuracy when navigating.

Garmin now provides up to 5,000 updates to chart content every day, an impressive stat on its own, but what it means on the water is that as you enter an anchorage, as you sail your boat up a narrow channel, or any other situation where you are relying on the chart to be accurate and up to date*, Garmin’s new cartography products will give you peace of mind.

When you compare that situation to the traditional navigation-by-chart situation, where the chart might be years out of date, it’s a reminder of how far this extraordinary sector of the industry has come in a few years and how much we’ve come to rely on chartplotting software as sailors.

Of course, we’re not suggesting any sailor should go to sea without a traditional chart on board and the skillset to read one. What we are saying is simple fact: those who invest in the latest Garmin kit will be operating in a different universe to sailors of old.

What makes these updates more useful still is that they include millions of contributions from other sailors. So while this is Garmin kit, the data you’re using is in part crowd-sourced, with all the reliability that a large volume of users brings.

Garmin Navionics+ and Garmin Navionics Vision+ offer the most feature-rich cartography that we’ve seen as sailors to date. We all know pilotage is reliant on detail – being able to see shoreside features as well as the sea bed. In terms of the confidence a skipper will feel as he or she enters a new port, this is a game-changer.

There are new coverage regions, so that little creek you fancied exploring a few months ago, but couldn’t find a chart that had it mapped? The chances are the latest kit from Garmin will have it. Go exploring! And all these new areas come with all the mapping content and advanced features that you’ll find available for more populated waters. 


As a user, the look and feel is quite different on the Garmin Navionics+ and Garmin Navionics Vision+. Garmin say themselves there are “vivid colour palettes” and they’re not wrong. They’ve keep the ‘yellow for land, blue for sea’ thing, so no confusion there! What they’re done is just make it more clear, readable and a genuine pleasure to use.

The clarity extends to underwater, so we get a fantastic fish eye’s view of what’s what below the surface. It changes the way you think about sailing. As we mentioned, shoreside structures and navigational aids have also been given the same clarity.

These updates come as a one-year subscription, included with the purchase of Garmin Navionics+ or Garmin Navionics Vision+ and you can sync your phone to your Garmin chartplotters using Garmin’s ActiveCaptain® app.


You may have also read about the new products using Garmin’s Auto Guidance+ technology. This is a dream for all skippers, who value a second opinion so highly. When you’re debating the best route to take across a piece of water, what you want is someone to discuss it with. Your crew mates may not have the right experience. And the berthing master may not be interested! What Auto Guidance+ does is, once you’ve selected your departure and arrival points, it considers a variety of factors – overhead clearance, chart data, popular routes and desired depth – and then creates a suggested route for you.

It may be the route you had in mind anyway, but having that second opinion is a great tool. Of course, 99% of skippers will come to rely on the route suggested without thought of their own. There’s nothing Garmin can do about that! We’d always encourage making your own plan too – if it tallies with Garmin’s, great!

Naturally, there are ‘more advanced features’ with an upgrade to the premium service, which is called Garmin Navionics Vision+. This has all the standard features found in Garmin Navionics+, with the addition of relief shading, unique 3D views, high-resolution satellite imagery, aerial photography and more.

What does it all cost? Garmin Navionics+ and premium Garmin Navionics Vision+ can be purchased via download or microSD card for compatible Garmin chartplotters with suggested retail prices ranging from £114.99 to £369.99, based on varying coverage. Compatible chartplotters with built in BlueChart g3 cartography can convert to Garmin Navionics+ content with the purchase of an update microSD card, available at recommended price of £124.99. Simply install the updateD card to receive the enhanced content and register your system to gain access to daily updates. For the full compatibility list see https://www.garmin.com/en-GB/marine/chartplotter-compatibility/.

Garmin Navionics+ and Garmin Navionics Vision+ are compatible with current Garmin chartplotters, including the GPSMAP® 8400/8600, GPSMAP 7×3/9×3/12×3, ECHOMAP™ Ultra, ECHOMAP UHD 7 and 9 inch series and more.

* The charts are as accurate as they can possibly be based on notices to mariners, hydrographic and other data sources.

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