Norway’s Båt Magasinet published an article in its August issue, written by Atle Knutsen, in which auto routing features of the three top providers of electronic charts for recreational boaters, Navionics, C-Map and Garmin, were tested and reviewed.
The tests were done at sea in Nordic waters using Raymarine and Simrad products for Navionics’ Dock-to-dock Autorouting and C-Map’s Easy Routing, and using Garmin plotters for their BlueChart Auto Guidance feature.
Of the three products tested, Navionics comes out as being absolutely the most reliable and functional. Garmin is at the other end of the scale for reliability. Whilst C-Map falls in the middle, it presents routes that do not follow any logic.
Test: Fairway directions and navaids
Results from this test showed that Navionics was the only company that takes into consideration fairway direction and navaids, keeping a safe distance from land and shallow waters, and therefore could actually be used for route planning. In fact, neither C-Map or Garmin took into account navaids and fairway direction.
Test: Route quality/safety
In this test, the routes generated by Dock-to-dock Autorouting were free of any dangerous points. Conversely, both other autorouting methods proposed routes which were potentially dangerous, close to shallows, and on the wrong side of navaids.
Test: Inshore routing
Navionics Dock-to-dock Autorouting greatly surpassed the other methods, and was the only one which created an inshore route through narrow waters along the many islands in the archepelago. Both Garmin and C-Map routes went offshore.
However, always keep in mind that automatically calculated routes do not replace safe navigation practices and should never be your only reference.