Garmin news: 8600 Series extends, BlueChart g3 includes Navionics, inReach integrates with MFDs & more

Ben Ellison

Ben Ellison

Panbo editor, publisher & chief bottlewasher from 4/2005 until 8/2018, and now pleased to have Ben Stein as a very able publisher, webmaster, and editing colleague. Please don't regard him as an "expert"; he's getting quite old and thinks that "fadiddling fumble-putz" is a more accurate description.

30 Responses

  1. John B. says:

    I was expecting a bit more from G3 charts than just merging some Navionics depth data into a G2 chart.

    Navionics is all about sharing your data. But being able to upload sonar tracks to the Navionics community via a Garmin MFD and getting back an updated chart within reasonable time still seems to be far out of reach.

    Anyway I heard rumors that Garmin is working on merging Active Captain database and Navionics community edits. This would be a big step forward as AC POIs can already be downloaded easily to newer Garmin MFDs . But they also should add functions to easily create, edit and share AC POIs using the MFD.

    • Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

      I agree, John, but I think that this is just the beginning of the integration. In my view, Navionics Dock-to-dock autorouting is far superior to what I’ve seen from Garmin (C-Map, too, though my experience is thinner), so it’s rather strange that you can currently use Dock-to-dock on Navico and Raymarine plotters, but not on Garmin’s. I suspect that will change 😉

      But I think that merging AC and Navionics Community Edits will be quite a challenge, as they are so different.

      • John B. says:

        Personally I do not consider autorouting usable until it follows “recommended route” lines and until it passes channel markers on the correct side.

        And yes, I also think that what we see now will be just the beginning of integrating everything Garmin bought recently. It took more than a year after they acquired ActiveCaptain to bring it to their MFDs. So they are relatively fast with Navionics now.

        But I hope they keep going and don´t get stuck as they obviously did with QuickDraw. I was pretty excited when QuickDraw was introduced in 2016. But there was not much progress since then. Still no tide correction. Still no good coexistence with G2 charts (just overwriting everything, even shorelines).

        • Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

          John, Navionics Dock-to-dock does honor nav aids, at least most of the time (and no auto route should be followed without checking it out first anyway). It also seems to know about commonly used routes, and that makes sense because many Navionics app users are sharing their tracks with the company (unless they turn the default setting off).

  2. Ben Stein Ben Stein says:

    Garmin says that all currently shipping MFDs will be able to read the g3 charts. I’m awaiting confirmation on the 8200 series but everything current is good to go in December when the new charts start shipping.

    • John B. says:

      It would be interesting if a firmware update is needed to run G3. Otherwise G3 would be technically G2 with some additional data.

  3. Art Watson says:

    Speaking of Active Captain, I was looking forward to accessing AC through AquaMap while cruising in Mexico this coming winter. But it turns out that AquaMap has no charting for Mexico. Does anyone know of an iPad navigation app that covers Mexico and supports AC?

    • Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

      Come to think of it, the Navionics Boating app was supposed to get ActiveCaptain support by the end of this year, and it can display charts of Mexico I’m pretty sure. Hopefully, Ben Stein can ask about this today in Lauderdale.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Yes, Ben, I remember your mentioning that some time back, and making a mental note about it. Yes, I do hope Ben S. Can get an update on that from Navionics as it would be the perfect solution for me (I still have an old copy of Garmin Bluechart Mobile on my iPad, and can use that in a pinch, I suppose).


  5. Ben Stein Ben Stein says:

    Garmin confirms that Navionics is on track for ActiveCaptain Community data by the end of 2018.

    Additionally, they said g3 charts should work on MFDs dating back to 2013. They further clarified to say that if the MFD can read g2 it should be able to read g3 and there’s not a firmware update required.

  6. Christopher says:

    “So what do you think, and what have I missed so far, pro or con? And what the heck could that new Audio port be about?”

    Ben, that’s probably the solution

  7. Michael says:

    Although I do not completely understand their intentions here…

  8. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Cool: Christopher and Michael both did great detective work regarding the new Audio port (though their comments got lost in our system for a bit). Sorry, gentlemen, and THANKS!

    So what their link leads to is a “NMEA 0183 with Audio Cable” that is only compatible with these new 86xx MFDs (plus equivalent size 84xx MFDs that seem very similar but maybe haven’t been announced, another mystery?)

    The new 86xx specs already list one each 0183 input and output ports but now we know the port used (maybe better called “Audio/0183”). And besides the bare 0183 wires at the cable’s other end are two RCA connectors “for audio connection to any stereo setup, including FUSION.”

    But what does that mean? An 86xx user will use an auxiliary input on their stereo to better hear the key beeps, alarms, etc generated by the MFD? Or maybe the 86xx eventually becomes the intermediary source of streaming audio using the cable and the MFD’s Bluetooth or WiFi connection to your phone?

    I really have no idea, but Fusion Apollo does support WiFi audio streaming and maybe there is a future scenario where you’d want your phone constantly connected over WiFi to the MFD but still able to stream audio??

  9. Brian Favre says:

    The audio port may be an output, for running a third party app like Raymarine. Such as Netflix or Pandora. That way you could run audio to your stereo.

  10. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Aha! It turns out that the new 8600 displays have an audio alert function that even the Garmin media department didn’t know about until now:

    You can use this new audio cable with the green connector on the back of the plotter to connect into a stereo (Fusion or other) so that instead of the plotter just beeping at the user and giving a visual prompt, it’ll say something like “engine alert” or “marpa target detected” etc. over the stereo instead. These audio alerts are also translated per the language set up on the plotter.

    Media streaming is also a possibility, and I’ve put all this in a new PS to the entry. Mystery solved and thanks to all!

  11. Christopher says:

    Installation instructions for 8640 and the NMEA183 cable description are already availablee.

  12. Christopher says:

    A small patch to the 8600 series
    Installation instructions for up to 8600 and the NMEA183 cable description are already available.

  13. Quitsa says:

    Is there any information about backwards compatibility for older InReach devices with the new MFD interface? I am wondering if I will be able to pair my older InReach SE with my Garmin 8617 MFDs. Can’t find any references except for the Mini.

    • Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

      I fear that’s not possible, Quitsa, as Garmin is using ANT+ wireless for the MFD integration, and only the inReach Mini has ANT+ (so far). On the other hand, the Mini will purportedly work with lots of Garmin MFDs — 8600/74/7600 series, 7X2, 9X2, 12X2, 10X2 and 12X2 Touch.

      • Quitsa says:

        Thanks Ben. At least Garmin is displaying some recognition that the inReach ranks high on the list of world’s worst data entry interfaces. I use the app on my iPhone to send messages. I wonder if I can take advantage of the notifications function on the 8617 by pairing with the phone and perhaps seeing message notifications from the inReach that way. With the two big Diesels and wind and water noise at 30kts and wearing earplugs, the little beeps from the inReach don’t penetrate my consciousness.

        I had turned off the notifications because the popups on the MFDs were annoying when my phone was in cell range and receiving emails and texts.

  14. Ray says:

    Where can I find a list of Garmin MFDs that are compatible with the inReach mini? I am specifically looking to see if the 8212 is compatible

    • Quitsa says:

      I think that you need to be able to run v.14.10 firmware or later, which means a 7600 04 8600 series MFD — but really you should call Garmin tech support. One thing to note is that the inReach mini interface on the MFD is rather limited. I checked it out at a boat show a couple of weeks ago. The MFD will pop up a notification for messages received and allow sending one of the preset messages in response. It does not allow you to compose a custom message. That has to be done on the inReach itself or via the iPhone app (which is how I have been using my inReach since it is so much easier to type a message that way). The Garmin rep at the show said that he expected that later releases of the MFD interface would eventually add the ability to type messages on screen but he did not know when that would become available.

  15. Christopher says:

    I’m sorry I did not notice you asking about 8212

  16. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Nothing to be sorry about, Christopher. Your link to Garmin inReach Mini/Compatible Devices is exactly what Ray is looking for, though unfortunately the 8212 is not on the list. Sorry, Ray, but Garmin did not start putting ANT+ wireless into MFDs until well after the 8212 was introduced. To be specific you’ll see that the compatible MFDs are the “8600/74/7600 series, 7X2, 9X2, 12X2, 10X2 and 12X2 Touch” cited in the entry.

    And, thanks for the report, Quitsa. I too am disappointed that they do not yet allow a compatible MFD owner to type in custom inReach messages on what is often a big, bright touchscreen keyboard. But it certainly seems possible, could be really useful in some situations, and here’s hoping it comes in an update.

  17. Quitsa says:

    Has anyone seen the new Garmin raster charts that are described in the g3 press release as “downloadable from Active Captain.” This is supposed to be a new feature of the g3 charts.

    • Ben Stein Ben Stein says:

      I saw them on an 8600 on the floor of MIBS. They looked great on the MFD. Garmin explained they’re a free download with the Active Captain app.

      • Quitsa says:

        Thanks for the quick reply. That’s good to hear because the only thing I dislike about my Garmin 8617s compared to the Furuno MFDs I had before is being trapped in the Garmin proprietary cartography. Showing my age, I am just happier looking at raster charts.

        I wonder if it requires g3 charts or will work with g2? Sounds similar to how the Quickdraw detailed contours are handled, in which case it should work with g2. Guess I’ll find out once they make it available. I will probably spring for g3 in any event to get the contours and other improvements.

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