Price and Updating
Depending on how much area you want your electronic chart cartridge to cover determines how much you'll pay for charts from either company. Both C-Map and Navionics offer three levels of coverage. Each level nearly doubles the amount of coverage as the previous level. C-Map's prices run $99, $199, and $349. Navionics is priced at $99, $199, and $299. To update a Navionics chart, you'll get 75 percent off the sticker price if the chart coverage doesn't change. Otherwise it's a 50 percent discount. C-Map NT charts can be updated and the older CF85 can be updated to C-Map NT. C-Map says that the pricing varies but it's less than the original purchase price. You'll be notified of C-Map updates if you register when you buy a cartridge.
So, which is the better electronic chart? After a poll taken among our group, C-Map gets the thumbs up - and this from Penobscot Bay's professional seamen who are used to dealing with electronic equipment and navigation problems. C-Map charts provide more information and the color contrasts make it easier to tell what you are looking at, despite its slow redraw time.
At the same time, Navionics might be just the thing for the boater who doesn't feel comfortable fiddling around with electronic equipment. For that buyer, the fewer adjustments required the better. And if he cruises one area often, he'll quickly get used to the Navionics cartography and how it corresponds to his area.