Originally Posted by neilda
I've been taking a look at Google Earth and wondered if that would make a decent way point calculator?
Google Earth can be a useful extra in helping you plan trips and show you what places look like in a way that charts can't. I sometimes use it if I'm going to an area I don't know very well. However, it won't show you the underwater hazards that you can find by studying a chart so it could lead you into danger if you used it as your main planning tool. It also has practical difficulties in running on a small boat in the wet and with no internet connection.
Charts must be your starting point, but there are lots of ways of getting additional information to add to what the chart tells you, and the more information you have (within reason) the safer you'll be. Tide tables and pilot books are common sources of information, Google Earth less so - but no reason why you shouldn't use it to see if it can help add anything to your knowledge once you've done your basic planning.
Good luck. I'm sure you'll enjoy this "new maritime world" that's opening up for you, and your course with Doug will set you up well for that.