FAQ

Comprehensive Inshore Navigation Insight for Florida Boaters

FMT offers:

  • The clearest and highest resolution imagery
  • Thousands of miles of precisely drawn, easy-to-see tracks
  • The most accurate marker locations
  • Easy-to-use software

Designed primarily for flats and shallow-running bay boats.

Need help setting up the maps or getting started? Getting Started | Setup FAQ

Product Features

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

FMT offers high-quality, 32GB, 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, our tests showed that 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 microchip is not always shipped outside of the adapter. If you do not see it, it may be located inside the adapter. 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) hi-res photographs and 2) a detailed nautical map with NOAA depth indications, 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 includes 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 covers the areas 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, Dry Tortugas, and beyond.

The imagery comprises virtually all of the keys out to the reef lines. The imagery for North Florida 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 provided on separate chips simply 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 foot 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 against the previous imagery and update the chip with the more accurate image. FMT anticipates full updates to the imagery for the entire state about every 3 years.

I need a chip to help me navigate. How does FMT's imagery and tracks compare to Navionics Platinum Plus for Florida?

Navionics provides images (as of Jan 2016) that are outdated, poor quality, often black and white, and/or severely lacking in resolution for many large areas. The most recent imagery (updated in early 2016) appears to be the same old imagery as before, but brightened. The latent data set used for the 906p+ imagery has remained identical for many years. Many areas are only available in black and white and many areas of interest have no images at all. 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 has glaring holes where there is actually no imagery at all in 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 thousands of miles of detailed, easy-to-see, red tracks covering the entire coastline and intracoastal 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 those boaters that are unfamiliar with 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: a comprehensive navigational tool on high-resolution imagery, providing the greatest clarity and situational awareness on the market.

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

FMT features all the point depth indicators and depth contours provided by NOAA. The point indicators 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 if other maps have acquired their data at different times, they may be slightly different.

Based on our side-by-side comparisons, Navionics appears to have used NOAA data from an earlier release.

The NOAA depth data on the FMT chip are reasonably current. In recent years, Navionics appears to have updated its most detailed map sonar data primarily based on user data uploads as opposed to NOAA or their own vetted research. This data is available on the Navionics Platinum Plus when the FishnChip option is selected in the chart plotter, but this setting does not show the navigational markers. If you want to see the navigational markers displayed while running the Navionics chip on your chart plotter, this is only possible using their app on a mobile device.

Navionics also appears to view user uploads as their primary method of updating other map vector information and provides 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 not available in all areas.

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 sacrifice accuracy (of particular concern for inshore boaters worried 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 is for any area they have not vetted themselves using clear measuring procedures. They cannot verify with certainty if inaccurate data may have been 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 whether 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 more. Thus, the detailed 1’ data, although impressive in appearance, is just as suspect as the community edits. 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. 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. When it is selected, this data appears to be intended for fishing rather than navigating.

One Navionics rep has claimed 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 as is clearly evident by the dated imagery they use.

FMT took the exact opposite approach. We find that good imagery is highly accurate and provides the best situational awareness in practical application. The clear, easy-to-read, hi-resolution photos show boaters what is actually in front of them. 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 have asked, “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 that the Navionics data is 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 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. When running inshore, just a foot can mean the difference between a good day and a bad day. (Not to mention that NOAA data is not 100% reliable either.)

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. Microchips are unlocked if used without an adapter, thus for units that take only a microchip, 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 rendering it useless. In this case, the chip would need to be replaced unless the user had previously backed up the source files to a PC.

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

Shallow-water boats have their own unique challenges, but there are many recreational boats that require a water depth of 3 feet or more. Boaters with these types of watercraft could overlay their own previously tested tracks on the FMT’s photos. Our photos are much higher quality than anything available on the market 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.

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 noting coordinates on the map. We also 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 were moved just a few feet and some by more than 300 feet. 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. 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 will be exactly where the map shows. Navigational markers are continually changing, so keeping them all updated is a big job. However, we prefer to maintain our accuracy with recent imagery and on-the-water surveys, as this is the most accurate method. You won’t find “community updates” on FMT. We vet the data before it is added to the map, so you run with confidence.

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

It depends on which unit you own. 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.

If you have an Elite unit, you will not be able to turn the map layers on and off, as it runs on a different software package. 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.

Map/Photos

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.

Next, push the FMT chip into the slot until it clicks in. The machine will 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 complete the process. Depending on your model unit, some will boot the data faster than others. The unit will ask you to confirm that you want to load the map data. Confirm, and you’re good to go.

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. 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, you may have to make sure “Shaded Relief” or “Photo Overlay” is on. Many units default upon booting up to the photos being set to OFF.

From the Menu, choose Presentation and ensure Shaded Relief is checked ON. In some units, you will choose Menu > View > 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). The photos do not appear if you are too zoomed out.

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. Therefore, 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. Download the latest version or you can use the WiFi option (if your 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.

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.

There are many PVC stakes and signs used by locals to help with 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. Signs are noted with round blue icons. Please note that PVC stakes, park service markers, and other markers are subject to change due to storms or damage.

How will I know I need to zoom in on the map to ensure my boat track is actually on the track line?

The photos are detailed, so areas of shallower water near your track should be obvious. In those areas, particularly near the edge of the basins and protruding flats and banks, you need to pay 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, 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. However, it is recommended that you 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.

Navigation Tracks

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. When approaching these icons, boat operators should exercise extreme caution to ensure safe passage. We recommend that you don’t run the red caution icons unless there is very good visibility into the water or where the boater knows the water is 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.

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 while navigating all of the waters of the Florida Keys and other coastal waters and performing hours of detailed study 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 third parties. In some areas north of the Keys, such as Ten Thousand Islands, some reliable third party assistance was provided in track development.

How accurate are the track lines?

The purpose of FMT was to provide the post precise tracks possible. Our tracks are drawn with a 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 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 navigating the area and operating the chip, exercise caution and zoom in on your map when approaching shallow areas or caution symbols.

In Everglades National Park, are the 4x4 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 so that the track lines will run directly between them. Currently, this feature is 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). No caution or other icon is used to denote 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).

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

No. In fact, many tracks cover large basins and bays with consistent safe depths and deeper wider channels. However, if you are:

  • a novice navigating the area and/or are unfamiliar reading water depths and color,
  • you have poor visibility into the water due to poor lighting conditions or dirty water,
  • you see the track runs proximate to a flat or bank and you have not run it previously, or
  • 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 or choose tracks that have no caution icons.

At and between yellow caution icons, you do need to stay very close to the track. At or between red caution icons you need to be even closer, preferably 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.

In the Ten Thousand 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?

The tracks on the map were run for low water conditions. If you ran inside those tracks safely before, it was likely because the water level was higher.

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.

Chartplotter/ GPS

What GPS manufacturers support FMT?

FMT is compatible with all Navico devices, including Lowrance, Simrad, and B&G.

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

It is probably because when chart plotters first became popular, it did not occur to most of the manufacturers that the map would be more important to their customers than the unit itself. Therefore, the maps were never a priority. They likely believed that just a couple mapping options would be sufficient.

Navico understood the value in more mapping options early-on, but the others went with a more shortsighted strategy. As a result, there are many highly focused and specialized maps created by local experts with far superior detail and information than the options available on more “professional” 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: a plethora of choices with a variety of features. But this is far from reality today.

More recently, the GPS companies are starting to realize that neglecting the maps and mapping options to focus on GPS feature improvement is shortsighted. But in order to address it, they must develop expensive software and tools so more maps can be properly encoded to run on their platform.

Navico has already done this, another company seems to focused in that direction now, one company wants no part of the idea at all, and the others are open to the idea but don’t appear to be making strides in that direction.

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 my non-Navico unit?

Each GPS manufacturer has proprietary software to run their units. Therefore, the maps that run on them have to be formatted with a proprietary code to be compatible with those 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.

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 backup 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 backup files may be copied back to the originally purchased chip to restore total functionality.

Can I turn off the tracks so I only see my own tracks/trails that I created in my GPS?

Yes the ISLA Tracks can be turned off.  All of ISLA’s map features are optional and can be turned on or off individually.

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 or 3 unit. Why is that?

The Gen 1 screen and the Go7 screen are not as capable of generating the same resolution/clarity/color as the Gen 2 screen. This isn’t an issue with the chip, but with the chart plotter’s screen design.

While the Gen 1 units store the color the same as the Gen 2 (same RGB support), the color does not appear as vibrant 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, as this is a hardware limitation of the Gen 1 screens. 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 Gen 2 are all pretty close. The main distinctions are screen size and touch vs. non-touch. The multi-touch is too new to make the comparison.

Software/Settings

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

Navico provides a planning tool for this purpose called Insight Planner. The Insight Planner will allow you to import maps from a chip into the planner (which stores the chip data in Windows under My Documents). This software is specific to route planning and viewing chips. The cost is $30.00 and is available as a direct download.

However, there has been a problem with second release of this software that was causing the program to crash with the FMT chip. Navico advised us that it was a software issue and they were working to correct it. However, the initial release version 1 does not have this problem. If the release you have 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, note that the imagery appears at a lower quality resolution 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

I unprotected my chip and accidentally erased a source file. 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.

Can I turn off map features (caution icons, or channel markers, labels, depth indications, and depth contours) independently from the tracks? Can I turn off all photos and just show 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 that will expand and appear on the screen when you touch the grey arrow next to Point, Area, and Line:

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 even display the number or marker name.

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 (we recommend that you turn off this setting),
  • Roads,
  • Jettys/rocks/structure,
  • Sand bars and flats,
  • post lines, and
  • the Intracoastal Waterways (show as thick black lines on both coasts).

Most users prefer to turn most of these layers off the majority of the time except for tracks, jettys and sand bars, and (depending on your preference) depth contours (NOAA).

Area

These features are shaded polygons and include:

  • Beaches,
  • Military bases,
  • Manatee zones,
  • Oyster/clam areas,
  • IntraCoastal Waterway on the East coast,
  • 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 by yellow diagonal hash marks and managed areas and National Parks 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 and 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 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 unit’s main menu, you can do that or pull tides directly from of the chip.

Can you run this chip in 3D viewing mode?

Yes. It works great.

I have run tracks 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 a great variety of options to run in different directions and indicate a plethora of shortcuts through flats and banks, there are some not indicated or are so close to another option they were not drawn.

That being stated, it is not possible for us to chart every possible track that may be negotiated at low tides. If any substantive tracks have been overlooked that you think should be included, FMT is happy to entertain any your  suggestions for future releases. Users may email their suggestions to Info@FloridaMarineTracks.com 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.

Do I need to have WAAS activated on my chart plotter to run the tracks? 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 sufficient enough to run the tracks with accuracy at typical planning speed. An external antenna is not required.

In the Ten Thousand 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?

Ten Thousand 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 4 feet or more, and a strong northeast wind can push even more water out of the shallows, creating very dramatic changes in the coastal landscape and exposing or covering a variety of dangerous obstructions, shallow mud, and oyster bars.

At higher water levels, there are useful time-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 in order to avoid running aground.

These black tracks were included because they are commonly used by knowledgeable locals and are very useful. 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.

I want save my own settings for “Categories” so only the layers I typically want to see are the 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 don’t like having to reset the defaults from scratch either!

Fortunately, we’ve been working on this problem and we now have a solution. If you find that 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 will not turn off a map layer even though I set it to turn off. What is going on?

This is not a problem with the chip, but your unit’s software. There is probably a minor bug in the version of the software your unit is running 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 to correct the issue. 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 need this update. 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 one of the most ambitious third 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 32GB and each of FMT’s chips have approximately 24GB 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. Keep the second slot empty to maximize memory capacity. The units will run two FMT chips, 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, secure areas, and named beaches.

I updated my chip 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 System Choices select Restore Defaults. Make sure Local and Global Settings are 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.