As I cruised into Vineyard Haven aboard Boating Magazine's Scout 242 Abaco project boat, I tried hailing the harbormaster on the VHF radio. I needed to find an emergency room because it was possible my mate had a broken ankle. But I got stepped on repeatedly by a jerk who thought Channel 9 was his personal phone.
Fortunately, my chartplotter was loaded with a Navionics Gold series digital chart. I simply zoomed down to less than a mile and clicked on the Port Service Guide icon. A list of services appeared, including a walk-in clinic just a block from a public wharf-instant local knowledge.
The Navionics Gold is a raster chart, so it has the familiar look of a paper chart: Depths are shaded, navaids are the right shapes and colors, and the notes are legible. Yet the information can be layered like a vector chart, which allows for clutter-free viewing. There were no gaps in the coverage, and regardless of zoom level, details such as names and numbers remained readable.
Available in extra-large (XL) and small (S) coverage areas, Gold charts are available for most chartplotters, including ones from Lowrance and Raymarine. Price: XL, $249; S, $149.
Contact Navionics at 508/291-6000, www.navionics.com.