Routing 2b of 7 : Routing planning and optimisation an extra brain as well as a pair of hands…

In my previous posting I listed those systems which were clearly aimed at the racing sailor. This is not meant to be a drawback – it depends what your objectives are as a sailor as well as your capability and skill level. They very accomplished pieces of software and provide at the very least a source of information to the cruising sailor about the higher art of race tactics, tuning and performance.

The next group are NOT inferior to the the first (TableA) in any way –  but I feel that they are less likely to be underutilised by the normal cruising sailor than the ones in the racing stable above. I feel that they may be operated in more of an amateur manner with less fine tuning than the top racing packages. This is a backhanded complmemnt to SeaPro and MaxSea – systems which are very well accomplished on the racing circuit !

It may seem strange to put MaxSea in this table since there are dozens of race wins attributed to it… but it is included as testament to the ease of use of its interface that I believe makes it more intuitive than the race packages above. It is truly a race class piece of software but it can easily be used by a cruising sailor with its elegant “TimeZero” interface.

The TableB systems can still be fine tuned by a knowledgeable and careful sailor – and of course all these packages still beg the question of how good are your instrument; your sails; your boat and of course You!  – remember GIGO rules 🙂

There are other systems out there too like SailRouter (€400 “..calculates the quickest sailing route relative to the weather forecast and sailing boat polar diagram data..”) and  SailFast ($US 249) – that I have not included simply because of time and the lack of information about them other than what is on their web site – I dare say that these too are excellent packages – and may be worth investigating for a complete picture of what’s available. According to the SailFast web site “.. predict optimum routes for offshore racing and cruising. Weather information is imported directly from Grib forecasts of wind, current and sea level pressure. Built-in Gulf of Maine tidal currents are already included…”

ECS/ECDIS Software with optimal routing Publishers description, and feature lists… Provenance…
MaxSea Time Zero Navigator Pack with optional Routing Module£ 629

MaxSeaTZ-1 MaxSeaTZ-2 MaxSeaTZ-3 MaxSeaTZ-4

Comprehensive racing and cruising software with utilising the Isochron method of route calculation.

  • Route optimization
    • Tides, currents, wave height, frequency, direction
    • Accurate tidal currents
    • Weather
    • Polar functions to output, analyze and create or modify a yacht’s performance polars
    • Data Trend Center gives you an easy-to-use graphic history of wind and performance
    • Performance Data Display gives you constant updates on target wind angles and target boat speeds.
    • Continuously update 3D chart data utilizing Personal Bathymetric
      Generator (PBG) and echo sounder
  • TimeZero UI:
    • TZ look and feel (work spaces and ribbons)
      automatic full screen feature
    • Customizable Toolbar, Ribbons and NavData
      Undo / Redo function
    • charting engine (seamless, smooth…)
    • PhotoFusion (photos and charts)
    • 3D navigation (recording Marks, waypoints & routes, etc.)
  • Unlimited vessel track and track line coloring
  • Unlimited Marks, waypoints & routes, Marks, waypoints & routes lists
  • Marks and routes transfer to GPS
  • Worldwide tide database included, US tidal currents included
  • Worldwide planning charts included
    • C-Map / Navionics Platinum (special TZ versions)
    • One Mapmedia mm3d chart area included (charts, 3D and satellite photos)
    • Online search engine to localize on chart worldwide places.
  • POIs: Online Photos Google PANORAMIO compatibility – Adding to “My Photos”.
  • Alarms
  • Logbook
  • Networking support Furuno NavNet (Ethernet)
  • Free web service weather updates (cloud, wind, waves, currents, pressure), adding Air Temperature, Cloud and Rain-Snow.
  • Free web service ocean data (SST, sea height anomalies, plankton)

“…With more than 35,000 installations, MaxSea is sold in more than 20 countries on five continents. It is available in English, Spanish, Portugese, Danish, Italian, Norwegian, Swedish, Dutch, French, Icelandic, and German…”

“…Long time MaxSea partner, Michel Desjoyeaux shared his expertise to help us develop even more successful and innovative sailing solutions. A fierce competitor is always searching for the most innovative technologies. Michel chose MaxSea Time Zero as his navigation and routing program for The Vendée Globe 2008-2009 race.

Sailing victories :

  • The Vendée Globe 2008, 2009
  • The Route du Rhum in 2002
  • The Vendée Globe 2000, 2001
  • The Solitaire du Figaro in 1992, 1998 and 1997 ….”

..more victories here

Author : Brice Pryszo (& The Team At MaxSea/Furono!) – France

SeaPro 3000 Performance



SeaPro-polar SeaPro-routing1

Comprehensive racing and cruising software with utilising the Isochron method of route calculation.

  • Route optimization
    • Enhance weather routing – taking into account tidal conditions
    • Route will avoid user defined no-go areas
    • Show true geographic wind
    • Polar functions to output, analyze and create or modify a yacht’s performance polars
    • Weather display and analysis.
    • Start display and advanced racing functions
    • Race schedule functions to track and analyze competitors
    • Wind on next leg, laylines, tacking angles
    • Performance meter displays boat speed, target speed, performance %
  • Up to nineteen ‘virtual’ instrument (data repeaters) can be displayed on screen. Each instrument can be configured to give a voice output (English version only
  • Advanced logging features – High performance data logging of your instrument data, allowing monitoring and analysis of your sailing performance
  • Optional world wide database for most of the worlds primary and secondary ports
  • Optional Navionics Platinum and Gold chart reader
  • Supports LIvecharts; ARCS; S57/ENC data from either Primar (Norway) or from the UKHO’s service AVCS; Seafarer – Australian Hydrographic Office Charts; NZ Mariner – New Zealand Hydrographic Office Charts; BSB

For yachts without expensive racing instrumentation, seaPro can provide information such as target boat speed, time to layline etc. Output is provided to interface to dedicated mast displays such as B&G, Silva, NKE and the wireless Tacktick system

“…During the race, knowing exactly where you are and forecasting the weather is a big job. I will have a lot of tools to do this but it often takes 6hrs or more of analyzing each day in order to make the right decisions. For charting, I use all ‘digital’ charts, that is I feed GPS data to my laptop where I am running both Nobeltec navigation and seaPro racing software…”.  Bruce Schwab, who was the first American officially to complete the Vendée Globe in the 2004-2005 race.

Author : Euronav – UK

I wanted to focus on software that had an actual optimal routing calculation function not only “decision support” e.g Grib file overlay and so on… So I have not included the enormously popular and successful packages such as Coastal Explorer which has an excellent Web 2.0 aspect to it with Gazeteers, blogs, community sharing (see review here) and all the very latest ideas on UI design. The system was authored by Brad Christian an ex Microsoft alum. Brad also blogs personally about the use of the software and this is a very strong point for the users of his system.

There are so many very good ECS/ECDIS systems – Raymarine RNS (good Navionics support) ;  Fugawi (excellent chart and data import/export) ; Mapsource (excellent BluechartG2 / Garmin support); Tiki Navigator (now supports Navionics Gold) ; WinGPS4 (with DKW chart builder) ;  not to mention the stupendous value of PolarNavy for only $33 !…

There are also some utilities that are well worth having a look at for added value when calculating and planning a route such as NavTools RouteXP; and Sailplanner for weather routing – its FREE !


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