Tag Archives: Navionics


The north entrance has a bad reputation as many boats are running aground every year, even though there are warnings in most cruising guides.  It is not difficult to navigate safe thru the entrance if you know what to expect.  If you have not read the cruising guides it is easy to make a mistake.

Navionics Lefkas Canal entrance

Lefkas Canal entrance (Navionics)

When we were anchored in Corfu we heard a Pan-Pan relayed by an English boat.  He was relaying a Pan-Pan from a German boat, that was taking in water and sinking in Lefkas canal.  It was a painfully slow reaction from the Greek radio operator.  He kept asking over and over again for the call sign of the English boat.   I´m not sure why they did not understand, the relayed Pan-Pan was correct and  very clear.

After  10 minutes I guess the English boat got fed up as it was silence on the channel.  Later  a Italian boat broke in, and loudly explained the situation, perhaps not accordingly to the book, but very efficient.

If the boat in distress eventually got help I do not know.  His grounding  gave me  a reason to read up on how to enter the canal safely.  I did find this Blog that describes the situation quite well.

Coming from sea:

You will see red marker on your port side.  Stay away from that side, as there are rocks and remains from and old wall from the fortress.  The red markers are marking the rocks and the wall from the fortress.

Groundings have been reported even when you are on the correct side of the red markers.  Stay away from this side of the channel.  

Stay as close as you dare to the sand-spit.  (On your SB when coming from sea)  There are no markers on this side (even if indicated on some charts) which means you have to eye ball the depth which is not easy as the water is not clear.  It might feel strange to stay close to the obvious shallow part,  but at least it is reported to be just sand in case you go to close.  With an eye on the echo sounder it should not be a problem to stay at a safe distance from the sand-spit. 

It is situations like this, I find the forward looking echo sounder useful.

When we got in to the canal there was a barge digging in the area of the underwater wall from the old fort.  Some rocks came up when he was digging.  I´m not sure if the operation is standard dredging or that they are actually trying to remove the rocks and underwater wall?  We could see large stones  coming up!

Dredging in Lefkas Canal

Dredging in Lefkas Canal

After the canal there is a low bridge that opens at the top of every hour during the day until 21:00.  We decided for the marina even if there were empty spaces along the community dock.  The people at Lefkas Marina are very friendly and helpful.





In my earlier post I mentioned how important it is to have updated charts onboard.

On Bella Luna we use Navionics, C-Map and Mapmedia charts. Same database can be used in the Furuno Navnet plotter and on two PCs with Maxsea Time Zero Explorer Software. Updates can only be made from the Maxsea web page.

We also use our IPAD with the Navionics APP as backup.

The update policy for Maxsea charts has never been easy to understand. Fortunately Maxsea have improved the system and made it easier to find your updates. Log in to your account at MyMaxsea.

Then click Store/Charts updates and you will find if there is an update available.

Price for a major update is 50% of the price you would pay for a new chart. Minor updates, between major updates are free.


Minor update is when the decimal changes, 3.1 to 3.2.

A major update is when it goes from 3.xx to 4.0. Same logic is used for updates of Maxsea software. Current version number for Maxsea Time Zero Explorer software is 2.04.

Major updates for charts are estimated to be released every 12 month.

In worse case scenario you buy updated charts that was released 11 month ago and have to pay another 50% one month later. It might be wise to check release date before clicking on the update button.

With a predicted update cycle of 12 month you will buy the chart new every 24 month.

With this pricing structure there is little incentive for updating all your charts. The advice must be to only update the charts you need in the near future.

In order to get updated charts on the IPAD you need to upgrade your APP to Navionics+. This is an In-APP purchase. Go to “Upgrades & Apps” The Navionics+ upgrade gives you the opportunity to update your charts to the latest version. This option is quite inexpensive compared to Maxsea pricing structure. For 40 Euro get updates for one year.



On Bella Luna we only use electronic charts for navigation.  I often hear people saying that is not safe just relaying on electronic navigation.

I think it is fair to say; you should always have a backup plan, independent if you are using electronic navigation or paper charts.

On Bella we carry a number of standalone electronic backup alternatives.

The aviation industry is changing to electronic navigation.   One advantage being in a boat instead of being in an aeroplane is that we can actually stop the boat if we are not certain of the position.   That luxury you do not have in the air!  I have surprised myself forgetting this obvious option when being disoriented in the Swedish archipelago.  Continuing in full or reduced speed in the archipelago is not a good option if you are not sure what is in front of you!  After stopping the boat, it is much easier to get your bearings right as you are not working under stress any longer.

If worse came to worse I´m sure most of us would find our way in to a safe harbor without charts, even if it would be exiting.

Here are some examples of arguments I have heard over the years, why it is irresponsible to sail only with electronic charts.

“What do you do if power is lost and you have a blackout?”

“What do you do if lightning strike destroy all the electronics?”

“What if the GPS system is turned off?”

All of above are valid concerns. Lets look at them one by one.

Black Outs:

In my 40 years of sailing a blackout has never happened.  This is off course not to say it could not happen.  This is why we have a  backups that work on their own battery.

A number of computers are on-board. They all have internal batteries that last 5-6 hours. With a GPS puck they work great as a stand-alone backup.

In addition to that we have one IPAD and one IPHONE with the Navionics APP.  As both have built-in GPS, they can serve as a stand-alone backup.   With a fully charge IPAD we could probably sail around for a week without having to recharge, as I do not need to have the device on all the time.

But perhaps more important, I´m sure I could restore emergency power in any event, within 30-60 minutes.  I recommend you to familiar yourself how your boat is wired ahead of time and carry basic material for a “MacGyvor” solution.


This is probably the most likely event for causing a problem.  Even if the risk for a lightning strike is much higher in a sailboat on open water, it is not that common as you might think.  Nevertheless it is a good idea to keep some of your backups in a safe place as sensitive electronics can be damaged by the static air around a thunder storm.

If hit by lightning, it will be lots of damage to electronics.   I´m sure you heard about Faraday’s cage, the idea is that everything is safe inside the metal-cage for when lightning hits.  How safe it is in reality, I´m not person to answer.   But yes, putting your backups in a metal box, is probably the best alternative to protect your electronic backup solution. Your oven is one alternative.  Do not forget to take the IPAD out before cooking!

GPS System turned off:

First, it makes no difference if you are navigating with electronic or paper charts, as the GPS just gives you long/lat.  You need position independent if you are using electronic or paper charts.

If position is lost when you are sailing in coastal areas your radar, echo sounder and compass will be very useful.  On open sea, the old fashion sextant could be invaluable.

It is not very likely that the GPS system would shut down, as most logistic services would stop worldwide, with enormous economic consequences.   In an event of a major military conflict it might be possible, but then I´m sure we have other problems to deal with!

It is more likely that you lose GPS position due to a problem onboard your boat.  Get familiar with how your system is installed.  There are most probably several connectors between the GPS antenna and the Plotter.  Every connector is a risk factor.  Troubleshooting normally starts with checking the connectors.  A backup could be a spare GPS that plugs in directly on the backside of the Plotter.

The advantages of electronic charting are many and obvious.

One important feature apart from the obvious is that is easy to update the charts.  I was not very good at manually adding updates in my paper charts.  Most of the charts I had on-board were well out of date.  This has changed with electronic charts.  Updating electronics charts is normally only a mouse click away.

Updated Chart to the left

Updated Chart to the left with Tuna nets outside the inlet to Faro Portugal.


“Rocks does not move” and therefore updated charts are not that important you hear sometimes.  Rocks do not move, but new are found!   More important is that there are new man-made obstacles like buoys, fish farms etc. showing up every year.  When you do coastal night-sails you are constantly close to fish farms and buoys.  Hitting a buoy in 7-8 knots will make a lot of damage to your boat.

In most countries updated charts, are mandatory .  In some countries Paper Charts are still mandatory.  You might want to check what the rules are in your sailing area.