Navigation Software Test: Raymarine RayTech RNS Version 6.0
Last year, Practical Sailor looked at new versions of several popular navigation software programs (Nav Software Wars, September 2006). In that comparison, Maptech Chart Navigator Pro and Coastal Explorer from Rose Point Navigation Inc., came out as our top picks for Windows users. MacENC was our favorite marine navigation software for fans of Apple computers. Since then, we had the opportunity to sea-trial Raymarines Raytech RNS Version 6.0, which offers a wide range of sophisticated features that will appeal to technophiles, but that an average boater, armed only with a GPS navigation system, might not ever need.
Practical Sailor likes the ability to use Navionics electronic charts, but its disappointing that Raytech does not support GPX data (a popular method of exchanging routes and waypoints without confusing chart datum), nor does it support freely available S-57 vector charts, the standard for government vector charts. These are both features that Practical Sailor values highly. No doubt, Raymarines Raytech RNS Version 6.0 has some dazzling features. But, like a lot of marine navigation programs, it is confusing to use, leading to underutilization of a great navigators tool.