FAQ

Comprehensive Inshore Navigation Insight for Florida Boaters 

FMT provides:
* The clearest and highest resolution imagery
* Thousands of miles of precisely drawn easy to see tracks
* The most accurate marker locations
* Ease of Use

Designed primarily for flats and shallow running bay boats…

Frequently Asked Questions

What GPS manufactures support FMT?

Navico including Lowrance, Simrad and B&G

Is FMT going to run on my Garmin, Raymarine, Humminbird or Furuno unit?

Not currently but we hope to run on those platforms in the future.

I like my current GPS and don’t want to go to the trouble to switch. Why can’t FMT run on the unit I have which is not a Navico unit?

Because, each GPS manufacturer has proprietary software that runs their units and the maps that run in them have to be formatted with proprietary code to be able to run on their units. Garmin precludes any other maps from running on their platform so if you run a Garmin the only mapping option you get is Garmin. Other manufacturers provide some choices but they are still relatively limited. Navico, provides the greatest number of mapping options.

Why are there so few mapping options for me that will run in my GPS?

We think because years ago when chart plotters became popular it did not occur to most of the manufacturers that for many of their customers the map running in the unit may actually be more important to the customer than the unit itself. Thus the maps were never a primary consideration. They likely just thought to provide a couple of mapping options and that they believed would be sufficient. Navico understood the value in more mapping options early but it appears for the others it clearly was shortsighted strategy because there are many highly focused and specialized maps available all over the world created by very experienced local experts and the detail and information they provide is far superior to the one or few options they elected to support on their units. You can get maps of everything from just the back bays in Alaska to snowmobile trails in the mountains. Ultimately, we think maps for GPS chart plotters will eventually become like map apps for mobile devices with a plethora of choices. But it is not close to that yet for chart plotters. More recently, the GPS companies appear to be starting to realize that neglecting the maps and mapping options for their customers and instead focusing on the next GPS feature/improvement is shortsighted. But in order to address it so additional mapping options may be made available by more mapping companies, software and tools need to be developed and made available by the manufactures to cartographers so more maps can be properly encoded to run on their platform. Navico has already done it, another seems to focused in that direction now, one wants no part of the idea at all and the others are open to the idea but beyond that don’s seem to have given it much thought or think it is not important.

How do you load the FMT chip to show the map and photos?

Turn on the chart plotter and boot it up. The machine will load the base maps that come as part of the unit. Then push the FMT chip into a slot until it clicks in. The machine will then begin to load the FMT charts and ask you to confirm you wish to load the FMT charts. There is a lot of data to load and the unit could take 30 or 40 seconds to load all of it. Depending on your model unit, some will boot the data faster than others. The unit will ask if you to confirm that you want to load the map data.

I loaded the FMT and chip and I do not see any photos. Why?

The first thing to do is to check the software your unit is running and make sure the latest version is loaded as noted further . The software controls the interface and menu options. Once you have software version 3.5 or later loaded, follow the rest of the process. Depending on your unit, make sure “Shaded Relief” is On or check to ensure “Photo Overlay” is On. Many units default upon booting to the photos being set to OFF.

From the Menu options choose Presentation and ensure Shaded Relief is checked ON. Or in some units from Menu you choose View and then Chart Options. Then choose View and select Photo Overlay FULL.

From the Menu, Chart Detail should also be set to FULL. From the Menu, Chart Source should be set to FMT SFL or FMT NFL. You can quickly switch back and forth between different chips that are loaded into the unit using Chart Source.

If you still see no photos, make sure you are zoomed in (about “1 mile”) based on the screen indicator which will show you a wide area on the map but the photos do not appear if you are too zoomed out. If you are zoomed out too far the photos will not appear. If you are zoomed in correctly and still do not see photos, make sure you are zooming in on an area where there is supposed to be Imagery. For instance, If you have the S. FL chip, there will only be photos south of approximately Sarasota and Merritt Island and so zooming in or trying to view photos north of the S. FL data set will show no imagery. Conversely, if you are running a N. FL chip imagery south of the approximately Sarasota and Merritt Island will not be visible.

If the menu options above don’t line up with the menu options you see on your unit, check to see what version of the Lowrance or Simrad Software your Unit is running. Simrad and Lowrance run different types of software and they are not interchangeable. If you need to update your software to the latest version, you will need to go to the Simrad or the Lowrance websites respectively to get the appropriate software.

Click the Pages button on the top of the unit and go To Settings. Click “About” to see what software version you are running. It should be the latest version of 3.5 or later. You can go to the Lowrance Website to download the latest software. Lowrance.com then go to United States and click Support. On that page you can check the latest software release for your specific Lowrance Unit. Download the latest version to update your machine with this software or you can use the Wifi option (if you unit is equipped) to update the software. Once it is loaded on the GPS, retry the above steps.
For Simrad units, go to the Simrad-Yachting.com website to download the software and update your GPS.

Does the FMT product come on a MicroSD chip and standard SD chip?

FMT will offer high quality 32 GB waterproof Class 10 microchips in a SDHC adapter. Standard SDHC chips may be provided for those that run units that accept standard size SDHC. By way of comparison, in our tests, a Class 4 chip (used by some alternative products) will boot twice as slow as a Class 6.
If you require a micro SD chip, the micro ship is not always shipped outside of the adapter. If you do not see it, pull it out of the adapter to use it.

What data is on the FMT Chip and how current is it?

The chip is comprised of 1) photographs and 2) a detailed Nautical Map with NOAA depth indications and depth contours and navigational features typical of most marine maps found in chart plotters. This is the most recent NOAA map data available. However FMT has corrected most of the NOAA inshore navigational markers for accuracy. The map area runs the entire Gulf of Mexico to Cuba and into the Atlantic Ocean to the Bahamas and up the east coast of Florida and is visible on top of the photography. The imagery for the south Florida release covers Florida south of approximately Sarasota at the northern portion of Sarasota Bay and south of the Merritt Island area slightly north of Sebastian Inlet. It includes all of Florida’s inland areas, 10,000 islands, Biscayne Bay, Everglades National Park and all of the Florida Keys to Key West, Marquesas Keys and Dry Tortugas and beyond. The imagery comprises virtually all of the keys out to the reef lines. The imagery for north Florida release covers all of the remaining areas of Florida including inland areas. Inland areas where there are no substantive areas of water are included at lower resolution. Some inland areas where there is no substantive water features may be excluded. Inland areas that include larger lakes and rivers are provided in high resolution.
South Florida data and North Florida Data are each provided on a separate Chip because the data will not fit on a single chip that the current chart plotters will accept.
The images are comprised of a high percentage of very high resolution ortho-rectified aerial photos and some lower quality satellite imagery mostly located along the reef lines and inland areas. Resolution of the aerial imagery is as high as 6 inches for all of Everglades National Park and 1’ for most other areas but some areas are provided at an incredible 3 inches. The resolution on most of the images is actually higher than the best current chart plotters including Simrad and Gen 2 units can currently read and is the highest quality and most current imagery available on any product in the market. With a few exceptions, the images are current to no earlier than 2012. Each image FMT has used on the S. FL release was individually adjusted for brightness, contrast, clarity and color. With respect to the dates of the images selected, sometimes the most recent photograph is not the best photograph for viewing details in the water and in those cases an earlier image for that area is used. As new photos are acquired each year, they will be reviewed vs. the historical imagery to see which would provide the best and most accurate result for navigating and seeing what is really there in the water. FMT anticipates full updates to the imagery for the entire State every 3 years approximately as about 1/3rd of the State may be available annually and FMT will attempt to update that on the chips if the photos are clear and superior to the latest provided on the chip.

I need a Chip to help me navigate. How does the FMT Imagery and Tracks compare to Navionics Platinum + for Florida?

By way of comparison to FMT, Navionics provides images (as of Jan 2016) that are dated, poor quality, some black and white, and/or severely lacking in resolution for many large areas. The most recent imagery updated in early 2016 appears to be mostly the same old imagery Navionics provided but it was brightened some. The latent data set used for the 906p+ imagery has remained identical for many years and in many areas are only black and white and in many areas of interest are missing. Most of the photos on the 906p+ provide very little in the way of meaningful navigation assistance or insight and compared to FMT are relatively useless for such purposes. This is particularly the case for Everglades National Park where most of the Park images are severely lacking in resolution, clarity, color and fine detail. As late as Jan 2016, Navionics’ imagery in the Park also has glaring holes where there is actually no imagery at all provided in very key areas leaving boaters totally in the dark; much of Nine Mile Bank and some of the surrounding areas to the north and west such as Schooner Bank, Oxfoot Bank, Blue Bank, and around Sandy Key are missing.

With respect to Tracks, FMT has many thousands of miles of detailed easy to see red tracks covering the entire coastline and intra coastal areas of Florida. There are thousands of miles of tracks in S. Florida alone showing inshore boaters what is available to them at a glance no matter where they are or where they want to go. Navionics provides virtually no Track data except for the largest channels and Intracoastal Waterway leaving boaters unfamiliar or new to the area uninformed on how to best get from point A to point B in the safest and most efficient manner. FMT provides what has never been previously offered by any other mapping company — the highly detailed navigational insight that many shallow water fisherman and recreational boaters in the Keys have been hoping to find for years but could never find in a single comprehensive navigational tool all on very high resolution imagery that provides the greatest clarity and situational awareness in the market.

What about Sonar depth and Contour details on the FMT map? How does that compare to Navionics Platinum + and what is really the bottom line (no pun intended)?

FMT provides all of the Point depth indications and all of the depth Contours that are provided by NOAA. The point indications are provided in feet to the tenth of a foot at mean low tide. They are the same data you may find on virtually all marine maps although other maps may have acquired their data on different historical dates and if that is the case, they may be slightly different. Navionics appears to have used NOAA data from an earlier release based on our side by side comparisons but we could not verify for sure the dates of their vector data. The NOAA depth data on the FMT chip are reasonably current. Navionics in recent years appears to have elected to update it’s most detailed map sonar data primarily based on user data uploads as opposed to NOAA or their own vetted research. These data are available on the Navionics Platinum + when the FishnChip option is selected in the chart plotter. But when it is selected, the navigational markers are not displayed on the unit. Thus, if you want to see the navigational markers displayed while running the Navionics chip on your chart plotter, viewing the detailed sonar contours they advertise is not currently possible and they say it only is possible using their App on a mobile device as opposed to a GPS chart plotter. Navionics also appears to use the user uploads as their primary way to update other map vector information such as navigational aids and provide that information as “community edits” that a user may elect to show or not show on the map. Because the sonar data are provided by the public, it is only available in areas where the data may have been provided. Some areas are still missing. The detailed sonar data that Navionics is advertising (more detailed than NOAA for many areas) looks impressive and the technology they have employed to collect it is impressive. However, the way the data are collected and vetted should be noted as it may affect accuracy which would be particularly important for inshore boaters concerned about running the best tracks in shallow water. The Navionics sonar data collection method sounds good in theory but the inherent problem with that method is there is no way for Navionics to know how accurate this data really may be for any area they have not vetted themselves using clear measuring procedures. They cannot verify with certainty if inaccurate data may be being uploaded on purpose, what time of the tide the data was collected or exactly how the sonar equipment used to collect the data was set before it was uploaded. Keel offset settings and even if the boat is on plane or idling when the data was logged could affect the depth indications of the data uploaded. Just the tide fluctuations alone (let alone variances in boat sonar setups) could result in different readings of up to 3’ or perhaps more depending on the area. Thus, the detailed 1’ data, although impressive in appearance, is suspect just as the community edits they provide for other map information are suspect. Navionics does not provide insight into how this sonar data has been vetted by them to ensure accuracy. Some people believe it is the reason why they choose to keep this data set separate from the NOAA data so it may not be viewed with the navigational markers showing. Thus, the FishnChip option which displays the detailed sonar data they collected via the user’s uploads acts the same as the “community edits” data. You can choose to see it or not see it. And when it is selected, it would appear they intend for this data to be used for fishing (as the option indicates) rather than for navigating.
One Navionics rep has advised their detailed sonar data is better than high quality imagery for determining where to run your boat and it appears the company concurs. Navionics has elected to focus more on sonar information than imagery and one rep stated he thinks the imagery is not as important to users. That does appear to be the Navionics philosophy ia is clearly evident by the dated imagery they use.

FMT took the exact opposite approach to mapping when it comes to helping boaters navigate. We find that good imagery is highly accurate and provides the best situational awareness in practical application. The clear and easy to read hi resolution photos show boaters what is actually there. This presentation format is the easiest information to quickly interpret the actual differences in water depths needed to discern where to best run your boat for safety.

Some Navionics customers question if the sonar data is so reliable and accurate why can’t they view it simultaneously with the navigational markers? Do they keep it separate just like the community edits because it is suspect? At FMT, we don’t know. The bottom line is the Navionics data are useful in some cases as they do show 1’ variances in depths helpful in fishing applications, particularly offshore. But with respect to inshore navigation applications, it probably should not be considered fully vetted data confirmed to be collected consistently with the optimal sonar settings, running speeds and most importantly collected at low tides. Thus, we do not advise trying to run in shallow water areas based only on contour indications on any map because when running in shore just a foot can mean the difference between a good day and a bad day and the NOAA data is not 100% reliable either.

What is the difference between the Yellow Caution Icon and the round Red/White Caution icon shown on the Track Lines? What is the White Flag Icon?

Both types of Caution Icons indicate 1) the entrances to narrow channels, 2) entrances to narrow cuts through banks or flats and/or 3) shallower areas where extra caution should be exercised at lower tides. The white flag icon denotes a PVC stake. Caution Icons indicate areas that often, depending on the tide and conditions, require the operator to be on the track and often require the operator to trim up their engine at low tide. The Yellow Icon is placed in areas where heightened operator attention should be exercised to ensure the track is followed closely and the engine is properly trimmed for water conditions. The Red and White Caution Icon indicates the most challenging areas to properly navigate at lower tides and when approaching these Icons boat operators should exercise extreme caution to ensure safe passage. Red Caution Icons are not recommended to be run unless there is very good visibility into the water or where the boater knows the water is obviously high enough based on personal experience on that track. If that track has not been run previously with good visibility providing actual user experience on the track, they should not be attempted, particularly by less experienced boaters or those inexperienced in the area.

Are all of the tracks safe to run by all types of watercraft?

No. Only boats that draft 13.5 inches and can run in a foot or less can run all of them.

Can I use the SDHC chip to save tracks, routes, sonar and waypoint data I generate on my chart plotter or is it a read only chip?

If the chip switch is set to “Locked” (full sdhc or adapters) it will not allow any other data to be saved to the chip. Micro chips are unlocked if used without an adapter thus for units that take only a micro chip, the chip is unlocked. For adapters and full size sdhc, if the chip switch is set to “UnLocked”, any data the user generates on the chart plotter may be saved to the chip and subsequently transferred to a computer or other chart plotter. However, this is not recommended as there is a risk that the user may inadvertently erase one or more of the original source files for the maps and photos on the chip which would render it useless and it would need to be replaced unless the user had previously backed the source files up to a PC.

The track lines go under many bridges. Does that mean it is safe for any size skiff or shallow running boat?

No. Some bridges are lower than others and some boats that have towers, platforms, raised biminis, and/or T-tops may not fit under a bridge depending on the specific bridge clearance and tide. Although most boats capable of running the Tracks will fit under all of the bridges, some may not depending on the boat configuration. It is up to the boat operator to determine if it is safe to navigate under all of the bridges before proceeding.

How can I view the FMT chip on my PC and can I use it to plot my own tracks, routes, and waypoints?

Navico provides a planning tool that may be used to do this called Insight Planner. The Insight Planner will allow you to import maps from a chip into the planner (which stores the chip data in my documents in windows). This software is specific to route planning and viewing chips. The cost is $30.00 and is available as a direct download. There has been a problem with second release of this software and the program was crashing with the FMT chip. Navico advised, it was a software issue and they were working to correct it. However, the initial release version 1 does not have that problem. If the release you may acquire crashes, contact Navico or FMT to get the initial release. We are not impressed with this software and do not recommend it as we find there are far better options for planning. However, it is the only current tool available to see the FMT chip’s imagery on a PC.
If you do try this software, the imagery appears at a lower quality resolution when compared to what you will see on your HDS or Simrad chart plotter.
https://insightstore.navico.com/site/insight_charts/7?type=NL-IP-DL&subcategory_id=27&prod_id=298

Can the maps and/or photos on the chip be copied to another chip for a second chart plotter I own?

No. The chips are encrypted so the data on the chip purchased can only be read on that unique chip. The chip must be inserted in the chart plotter for the data to be displayed. However, the source data files can be viewed on any PC with an SD card reader and copied as backup for future transfer back to that original chip in the event the data on the chip is inadvertently erased by the user. Creating a back up copy is recommended prior to initial use. For users who also use the FMT chip as a storage media to save other data, there is a risk that one or more of the original source files for the maps may be inadvertently erased during the transfer process. In such an instance, the back-up files may be copied back to the originally purchased chip to restore total functionality.

I unprotected my chip and erased a source file by accident and I did not back up the original files to my PC. What do I do?

Send the original chip back to FMT and we will repair or replace it with a new one for a $25 service fee.

 

My chip stopped working for an unknown reason. Is there a warranty?

Yes. If you are sure it is the chip and not the chart plotter, return the chip to FMT and we will replace it at no cost. However, if FMT determines the chip is working properly, FMT will notify the customer and return it for a $25 service fee.

Is your map protected by US Copyright Law?

Yes, the map data was awarded a Certificate of Registration and is a part of the Copyright Office Records. originally effective in November 2010 and subsequently updated.

What kind of utility may the chip provide to users with a larger boat that would be too large to safely run all of the tracks?

It may still be highly useful to other recreational boaters that typically run in deeper water of 3’ and greater and have their own previously tested tracks and want to overlay them on those photos. The photos are high quality and show more detail than any other competing product. FMT will release a version of the map at a later date with a map layer of tracks specifically designed for larger bay boats with deeper drafts than flats boats.

Can I turn off the Tracks and or other map layers and features from showing on the Map to show only the Photos and/or Map so I only see my own tracks/trails that I created in my GPS?

Can I add my own tracks/trails/waypoints to the map on top of those provided on the chip?

Yes, this is part of the functionality of your Navico HDS or Simrad Unit. Elite units currently do not have this capability. See instructions for data display to turn on and off map features located in the “Categories” directory under “Chart Options” on the main screen. (Note: this “Categories” is not an option in Elite units). If you have an Elite unit, you will not be able to turn the map layers on and off. The Elite units run on a different software package which is the reason for this. If you run and record your own tracks/waypoints or have some already saved in your GPS, they will appear on top of the map provided by FMT and are controlled just as they are with Navico base map or any other alternative map.

Can I turn off other map features from appearing such as Caution Icons or Channel Markers, labels, depth indications, and depth contours independently from the Tracks? Can I turn off all of the photos too showing just the map?

Yes, this is part of the conceived design of the map and functionality of your Navico unit (except for Elite units). See instructions for data display to turn on and off map features located in the “Categories” directory. Menu / Chart Options / View / Categories. FMT’s base map Icons and map features may be found and turned on/off individually in the following listed directories:

(POINT) FMT Icons include: Buoys/Beacons, Caution Icons, Danger/Obstruction Icons, Daymarkers, Depth Soundings, Fuel, Marinas, Labels/Names, Ramp Icons, Sign Icons, Tower Icons, Dive spots, Artificial Reefs, Wrecks, Infrastructure and Posts.. Most users prefer to keep all of these set to ON.

Some point features such as Artificial Reefs, Marinas and some buoys/markers have associated Labels that can be shown by touching the symbol on the screen. If you touch an Artificial Reef Icon, it will tell you exactly what is down there. If you touch a Marina Icon, it will provide the name and telephone number. Many markers will show what the number or marker name. Some markers will not show this data.

(LINE) FMT Turns on and off map features that are Lines. These include: Tracks, Depth Contours,, Country Economic Zones, State and County Boundaries, Danger/Obstruction Areas, Govt. Restricted Areas, Rivers/Streams (recommended to be off), Roads, Jettys/Rocks/Structure, Sand Bars and Flats, post lines, and the Intracoastal Waterways which are Thick Black Lines on both Coasts. Most users prefer to turn most of these layers off most of the time except for Tracks, Jettys and Sand Bars and depending on your preference, Depth Contours (NOAA).

(AREA) FMT – These features are shaded polygons and include Beaches, Military Bases, Manatee Zones, Oyster/Clam areas,, the IntraCoastal Waterway on the East Coasts, and State and National Parks/Managed areas and “Water”. These areas lay on top of the imagery and if they are set to ON will overlay the images with hash marks and various symbols. For instance, Manatee Zones are indicated Yellow diagonal hash marks and Managed Areas and National Parks such as The Everglades are indicated by small green swamp symbols with an Orange Boundary Line. The intracoastal shape is a solid Light Blue Shaded area and does not allow the imagery to show through. If you wish to turn on/off any of these they can be selected and turned off individually. Most users prefer to run with all of them set to Off. If you have the IntraCoastal Waterway Area set to ON, this shaded area will overlay on the Photos for the entire East Coast.

Can you change the imagery to become more or less Transparent at different Levels?

Current Unit Software will not allow this for mapping partners. Further software updates for the various units are likely to provide changes to this capability. However, the product is designed to be used around the imagery as the images themselves provide the best base map for land and water features.

Can I pull up tide info from the Chip?

Yes. NOAA Tide data is built into the chip. It is the same tide data you may access from your unit’s hard drive. If your unit is not able to access this data, tide information may be obtained directly from your GPS unit rather than the chip itself. To load Tide data from the hard drive rather than the chip, the chip must be deactivated by temporarily disengaging/removing the chip so the chart plotter will begin to read the internal data on the hard drive rather than the chip. Subsequently, the chip can be pushed back into the slot to reactivate at the current location. If you run a Simrad or B&G Unit and you find Tides as an option that you may select directly from the units main menu you can do that or pull tides directly from of the chip.

How were the tracks determined for use on the map?

FMT’s founder and president, Glenn Housman, personally created the tracks over many years of detailed proprietary record keeping on navigating all of the waters of the Florida Keys and other coastal waters as well as detailed study of multiple years of hi res aerial images. All of the tracks have been run successfully at low water conditions. None of the Keys Tracks were provided by 3rd Parties. In some areas north of the Keys such as 10,000 islands, some reliable 3rd party assistance was provided in track development.

Can you run this chip in 3D viewing mode? Yes. It works great.

How accurate are the track lines?

They are precise and drawn to the foot where they need to be at narrow cuts and channels (particularly in S. Florida).Users should ensure their unit’s WAAS is enabled and be properly zoomed in on their GPS to ensure they are actually on the track when approaching caution symbols and navigating in tight areas.When zoomed out too far it can appear as though you are on the track but in reality you may be off it by a dangerous margin for the area being run. Until you are familiar with the area you are navigating and the operation of the chip with respect to the details you can see on your unit at different zoom levels, when approaching shallow areas or caution symbols you should remain cautious and zoom in to an appropriate level to ensure you are on the track.

In Everglades National Park are the 4×4 navigational directional markers installed by the Park Service noted on the map denoting the entrances to channels and cuts?

Yes, most if not all of the markers to the entrances of the channels and cuts are denoted on the map and they are drawn with great precision and the track lines will run directly between them. This feature is currently unique to FMT. There are hundreds of these markers and a few buoys in the Park. Where there are directional markers installed by the Park they are denoted with black post icons or orange square icons (depending on your chip version) and no Caution or other Icon is used denoting entrances to cuts and channels in those locations. For other smaller cuts and channels that were not marked by the Park Service different caution Icons or PVC stake icons (if one or more were found there) are used denoting the entrances. The Park Service and other Governmental Agencies are removing and or not replacing some markers. FMT has decided for navigational purposes to show where they used to be (if they were totally removed).

On other chips I have used I found the location of the navigational markers was in many cases substantively off from the actual location and, in some cases, it was not even remotely close. Is the FMT chip any better on marker accuracy?

Yes, FMT has endeavored to correct all of the inshore markers and buoys to their exact locations. This was done for thousands of markers and by actually running the boat to them and taking coordinates and noting that on the map. Also, we overlaid the most recent NOAA marker locations on top of our most recent 2014/2015 imagery. We could then check the location of the markers according to NOAA vs the actual locations as shown on the imagery and move them to their exact locations. For the many thousands of markers and buoys in Florida, we moved virtually every one of them by some margin from their indicated NOAA locations. Some moved just a few feet and some by more than 300’. New markers that were not reflected in the latest NOAA data were added where we found them and those that were removed or missing were deleted from the map. FMT also included signs where we found them that are not part of the NOAA information and we also added additional navigational hazards, power line poles, concrete abutments, platforms, infrastructure and other features that may be navigational hazards and not reflected on some maps. Some stop signs were even included where boaters often make a wrong turn and risk running aground. The result is, using FMT, if you see a marker on the map, you can have confidence it is exactly where it shows (or at least it was there recently). Navigational markers are continually changing so keeping them all up date is a big job. We prefer to keep this up to date with recent imagery and on the water surveys as this method is accurate. You won’t find “community updates” on FMT. We vet the data before it is added to the map so you run with confidence.

There are many PVC stakes and Signs located that are used by locals to help in navigating and marking shallow areas. Are any of these noted on the map?

Yes, many of the PVC stakes that have been there for a long time are noted with a specific icon but not all of them and it is noted PVC stakes, park service markers and other markers are subject to change due to storms or damage. Signs are noted with round blue icons.

Do I need to have WAAS activated on my chart plotter to run the tracks and is an external antennae required for the chip to run well?

WAAS should be active to most accurately show your location and navigate in tight areas. We have found that the internal antenna on the Navico HDS units is sufficiently fast to be able to run the tracks with accuracy at typical planning speed. An external antenna is not required.

Do I always need to stay exactly on the Track line to be safe?

No, many tracks cover large basins and bays with consistent safe depths and deeper wider channels. However, if you are 1) a novice navigating the area and/or are unfamiliar reading water depths and color or 2) you cannot see into the water well due to poor lighting conditions or dirty water, or 3) you see the track runs proximate to a Flat or Bank and you have not run it previously or 4) you have not run the track before in good light to get a feel for it, it is recommended to stay on the track lines and to choose tracks that have no Caution Icons. At and between yellow Caution Icons you do need to stay very close to the track and at or between Red Cautions you need to be even closer and even directly on the track. It takes practice to stay on the track lines when driving primarily via the GPS as the zoom levels and speed of the boat need to be factored in.

I have run tracks that that I have saved in my GPS with no issues and I don’t see them on the map. Why are they missing from the tracks?

The tracks on the chip are navigable at low tides. At higher tides, there are many more navigation options and with experience you can begin to recognize when other tracks may be available that are not indicated on the map. Also, although the Tracks provide at a glance a great variety of options to run in different directions and indicate a plethora of shortcuts and cuts through flats and banks, there are some not indicated or are so close to another option they were not drawn. That being stated, clearly every possible track that could be shown and may be negotiated at low tides has not been charted and if any substantive tracks have been overlooked that a user thinks should be included, FMT is happy to entertain any user suggestions for future releases. Users may email their suggestions to Info@FloridaMarineTracks.com in .kml, .kmz, .usr or any other format for consideration. Feedback with respect to marker or hazard coordinates/corrections should be provided to six decimal accuracy and taken precisely at the location to be noted. FMT will update the Chip for free to any user that that provides suggested tracks or substantive track modifications or marker changes that are implemented on future releases.

When do I know I really need to zoom in very close on the map to ensure my boat track is actually right on the Track Line?

The photos are detailed so areas of shallower water nearby your track should be obvious and in those areas, particularly near the edge of the basins and protruding flats and banks, you need to pay close attention and zoom in closer. Red and Yellow Caution Icons are also located on the map at locations where precision navigating is required to avoid running aground at the entrances to cuts and channels through flats and where shallower depths are indicated. Caution icons may also appear on a track where it may be extra shallow and additional trimming up may be required at low tide. When you see a Caution Icon coming up on your track and you have limited or poor visibility to due to glare, poor lighting or are running at night, you should trim up and stay exactly on the Track to be safe. If you have good visibility and are familiar with the track already you often have more room to navigate on either side of the track near caution symbols but it is recommended to stay on the Track. It will take some practice to learn how to drive the track at different speeds and zoom levels accurately on your chart plotter but once you have a feel for it, the procedure is relatively easy. However, it does require a greater than typical focus and concentration.

What kind of boat(s) were used to create and test the tracks on the chip?

All of the S. Florida tracks and some of the N. FL tracks were created running an all fiberglass Egret 18.9’ flats boat with a 175HP Engine Merc ProXS without a jack plate and standard trim tabs. The boat drafts about 13.5” at rest with a typical load and runs on a plane in less than a foot of water with the engine properly trimmed up. Some tracks in N. FL were also created using hi res imagery and recent depth indications.

I notice the photos on my HDS gen 1 unit,Elite unit, or Simrad Go7 unit don’t appear as vibrant and clear as on an HDS gen 2/3 unit.Why is that?

The Gen 1 Screens are not as capable as the Gen 2 screens at generating the same resolution/clarity/color and the resolution of the Go7 screen is also inferior to the more capable screens. It is within the chart plotter’s screen design and not the Chip. The Gen 1 units store the color the same as gen 2 in the data and system (same RGB support), but the color would not appear as vibrant on the screen surface because of the differences in screens. The gen 2 and gen 2 touch units, Simrad NSS and B&G units have a higher quality screen. There is no data fix for this, this is a hardware limitation about gen 1 screens which is why they appear slightly more washed out in comparison. The HDS Gen 2 and Gen 2 touch look pretty close, but many say the touch looks brighter. The HDS Gen 1 is known for being dull in appearance compared to the Gen 2 and Gen 2T and Gen 3 units.

There are different screen options for Simrad NSO evo2. A sales partner can make recommendations with respect to the differences. Otherwise Simrad nss evo2, Simrad nss, Simrad nse, B&G Zeus touch, B&G Zeus, Lowrance HDS Gen 2T and HDS Gen2 are all pretty close. The distinction is the screen size and touch verses non-touch. The multi-touch is too new to make the comparison.

In the 10,000 Islands area, the Lower Keys and a few other areas there are a few Tracks that are Black instead of Red. What do Black tracks mean?

10,000 islands and a few other selected areas present unique navigating challenges . The water may be generally dirty with poor visibility or there could be “tricky” entrances to channels at low tide. Additionally, the tide fluctuations are often as much as 4’+, and a strong northeast wind can push even more water out of the shallows creating very dramatic changes in the coastal landscape exposing and covering a variety of dangerous obstructions and shallow mud and oyster bars. But at higher water levels there are useful timing saving tracks that can be safely navigated. Some of these are shown in Black and most are noted on the map with Caution Notes to Run only on higher water level conditions. Thus, before running any of these Black tracks users should check the tide and ensure that there is sufficient water depth for their boat at that location before proceeding to avoid running aground. Because these Black tracks are commonly used by knowledgeable locals and they are very useful, they were included. If you are not 100% sure, do not know the tide level or do not have high water conditions, do not run the black tracks, particularly with poor light.

In the 10,000 Islands and areas near Florida’s Big Bend some of the tracks look like they run way offshore from the coastline, especially near some river mouths but when I was there, I found I could run way inside those tracks with no problems at all.Why are they drawn so far out?

Because on low water conditions, most if not all of the those runs you made safely inside of the tracks shown on the map would not be possible as there would be no water there at all or virtually no water.

I want save my own settings for “Categories” so only the layers I typically want to see are the only ones that boot up.I keep having to set them from scratch every time I turn my GPS on or reboot.How do I do this?

We have the tools available now to program the map codes to allow for this ability and have done what we can to provide this functionality. We don’t like having to reset the defaults from scratch either. If you are finding your unit does not save your map settings, update your software. The unit’s software controls this. Most of the units now have software that will save your preferred map settings. Depending on the software version and your unit, one or more of your settings may be saved or none may be saved.

I found when running my FMT chip in my HDS Unit that my unit locked up, freezes, or it would not turn off a map layer even though I set it to turn off. What is going on?

There is probably a minor bug in the version of the software your unit is running and that is causing a “memory leak”.For many of the HDS Gen 2 and Gen 3 units, it was a noted issue during 2015.In December 2015 updated software was released which correct this.It was not a problem with the Chip.The Simrad and B&G units were not affected as they run on a different operating system when compared to Lowrance.

If you have an HDS Gen 2 or Gen 3 make sure your software is up to date with the latest release. Gen 1 units did not apparently get the update as it was not needed. If you have the updated software and still experience a performance issue and turning the unit off and on does not fix it, do a soft reset on your unit. To soft reset, turn off the unit, hold down the Pages button and keep holding it down and turn the unit back on. Do not release the Pages button until you see the map appear or other message appear. Set the unit up again with your preferred feature settings and do not forget to turn on WAAS.

My unit locked up when I ran the N. Florida Chip at the same time as the S. FL Chip. What is the problem?

FMT’s product is of the most ambitious 3rd party mapping projects of any of Navico’s mapping partners and it has pushed the limits of the Navico HDS hardware and the software in the HDS units. The FMT chips falls well within the allotted constraints of the unit and is designed to function without issues but does push the boundaries of the capacity of the HDS units. The Simrad and B&G units have a bit more processing power and rarely if ever encounter performance issues when compared to HDS units but have the same chip size constraints. The units are currently designed to run a chip of up to a maximum of 32 gb and each of FMT’s chips have approximately 24 gb of data. Therefore, if you run both at the same time (even if you elect one to not load when pushed in), the unit may encounter a memory overload issue, particularly if you run an outdated version of the software for your unit. If you encounter this issue, ensure you are running the latest software and try running one FMT chip at a time and keep the second slot empty to maximize memory capacity. The units will run two FMT chips or FMT with a Navionics chip or other chips but are more susceptible to a memory issue running two chips at the same time when compared to running only a single chip.

I see yellow hash marks and/or swamp type symbols all over the photos. There is also a long solid blue area running down the intracoastal waterway on the East Coast of Florida. How do I turn them off so I only see the photos?

The green swamp symbols represent Managed Areas/National Parks and Yellow Hash Marks represent Manatee Zones. There are Green Hash Symbols in Louisiana denoting the Area of State Owned Water Bottom (according to the State). These symbols cover all of these areas. To turn them off go into “Categories” and select FMT “Areas” and uncheck the areas you do not want represented and those symbols will disappear. Similar hash mark areas are at military bases and secure areas and named beaches.

I updated my chip and but some of the “Categories” that I know are supposed to be on the Chip are not showing up in the list. I see the map feature on the map (such as “Flats and Sandbars” but there is no choice to turn it on or off in Categories. What is going on with this and how do I fix it?

The latest software update as of (April 2016) has a Bug that does not allow the unit to recognize the updated Categories if you had previously loaded FMT and now have an updated chip with more map layers. . The next release will likely fix it. Until then, the fix is to Reset the Local and Global settings in your unit which is easy and takes just a few minutes. From the Main Screen choose Settings and then under the System Choices select Restore Defaults. Local and Global Settings should be checked and then choose OK. You will then have to reset some of your preferred settings for your unit such as Alarms, key beeps, WAAS, cursor choice etc. The unit should recognize all of the updated categories properly after this reset.