Garmin Blue Chart Software

Anyone use the Garmine Blue Chart Software and how do you like it? Also, has anyone used Topo USA by Garmin? FishHawk

I have the Topo
Like it. Can’t get into a lot of details about it though as I barely scratch the surface of what it and the GPS can do. I mostly use it to look at areas ahead of time, get accurate measures of mileages before paddling somewhere, download my paddles to look at on screen, etc. I don’t “navigate” with GPS really - don’t even upload tracks/routes. Use it mostly as a speedometer/odometer. Even so, mapping is nice to pick lines from feature to feature, and really helpful exploring.

If you’re the open water type, do long crossings, and use nautical charts a lot - get the Blue Water CDs. I think they may be overkill for the majority of paddlers who rarely leave sight of land. If paddling mostly nearer to shore, and interested in areas inland with lakes and rivers too, get the Topos (which have Buoys and markers and some depth contours, etc. anyway).

Blue Chart
Thanks GreyYak you answered my question. I’m not an open water yakker. Mostly use my yak near shore so the Topo should work out fine.


Can’t comment on Blue Chart software…
but I can tell you that I use and love Garmin’s Mapsource “Roads and Recreation” and “Waterways and Lights.” They are not the most detailed programs in the world but they work great for inland and coastal paddling.

I also use Maptech’s Terrain Navigator to plot track logs, routes, and waypoints. I really love being able to print detailed topo maps with all the GPS info. on the map. As much as I like my GPS, I still have to have a printed map to go by.

In case it matters, I have a Garmin GPS III Plus.


I Like It
Great detail. It got me through some salt marshes that were like a maze!

Cape Romain paddle
we used the GPS to great success in paddling out to the Cape Romain Lighthouse…the path there is a circuitous mangle with the Lighthouse often visible but never a direct paddle there…the real benefit came in the return trip…a 16 mile day with high wind and nasty chop…Garmin rules and I’m currently salivating over their 276C-not for the 'yak, the cheapest e-trex is good for that.

Garmin Topo

– Last Updated: Nov-24-04 9:12 AM EST –


I too am curious about the Garmin Topo, as an alternative to the much more costly Blue Chart for use in coastal paddling. I have a set of National Geographic CDs for the northeast, but I'd like to be able to download maps into a Garmin map GPS.

Have you found the coastal maps in the Topo set fair, good or excellent for coastal paddling? Do they reproduce actual USGS maps (what scale?) or some original Garmin maps?

If I should ever find myself paddling out of sight of land, it will be coastal waypoints that I will be looking for on my GPS, and paddling towards!

Garmin Topo and the Allagash
Last fall I used my Garmin GPSmap 76S with downloads of Garmin Topo USA on the Allagash Wildnerness Waterway in the regions south of Churchill Dam. All the campsites were clearly available on the GPS and I had no difficulty finding them. The GPS once showed me covering dry land rather than skirting the shore, so you need to know that the maps are not 100 percent accurate for all water levels. The mapping for Maine’s Cobscook Bay State Park are inaccurate. Nevertheless, I recommend both this model of GPS and the software, but never leave shore without paper maps and compass. Ironically the GPS helped me most getting out of the Maine woods. I was able to find the return roads by retracing the way I came in.

I’m a full time forester and use GPS both in water and out. For my money the Delorme XMap 4.5 is great, with the map sets you intend to cover. You can download very detailed maps to a pda also. Garmins water datasets are nice if you’re using them on long paddles. They get very nice in a real persistent fogbank, although a compass works good too. :wink: