Paper charts vs ECDIS, is there still an age divide?

The road to transition from paper charts to ECDIS has been long and at times painful for some. Even now seafarers are attending ECDIS training courses with the mindset that paper is still better than digital. Maybe there is some truth in that, there are certainly plenty of arguments for paper charts; paper will never crash! paper doesnt run on outdated operating systems, paper allows for quick annotation and obviously shows a much wider area without having to scroll or do anything other than move your eyes!

But the change has come, and is almost complete now, with only a few ship types left to transition. Is the younger generation ofay with this new technology? Generally yes, but this is primarily due to generation x (onwards) being surrounded by technology.. from mobile phones, tablets and smart technology, it has become second nature, and the mere thought of doing anything on paper is completely foreign to the majority.

However, not all those used to paper charts are so stubborn, as this (more mature!) ECDIS generic student from the UK highlights:

“I did find for first few days very much out of my comfort zone due to lack of familiarity with ECDIS and the equipment being used. It is a steep learning curve getting to grips with new technology and using a different medium. However being proactive and determined to enhance my skill set I believe I achieved my goal and can move forward and use the training to my advantage and improve” 

– Guy Hamilton, The China Navigation Co Pte Ltd

In answer to the original question “is there still an age divide” when it comes to paper vs ECDIS; yes, but the gap is rapidly shrinking.

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