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Update your Wiley Almanac - great, but could it be better?


If you are an English Channel sailor and you haven’t already downloaded the Wiley Almanac application then I highly recommend you do so straight away! The application is based on the Adobe AIR technology so it will work on most laptops and PC’s with very little fuss. The Wiley Nautical Almanac is a free being supported by some reasonable and relevant advertising. It contains a comprehensive directory of harbour, tidal and weather data for cruising sailors. You can refer to the almanac while off line and it currently covers the South and East Coast of England from Lowestoft to Padstow and the continental coast from Vlissingen to L’Aber-Wrac’h.

Wiley1 The Editor of the almanac is Neville Featherstone, who is also the author of the West France, The Channel and North France and Belgium Wiley Nautical Cruising Companions, and the Reeds Almanac too! There is also a paid subscription to get the weather forecasts delivered to your phone – but I don’t really see the point if you can get on the web using your phone or laptop and get a forecast for free. Anyway my overall impression of the content as well as the execution of this service is excellent – well done to Wiley.
When you go online you can download information and update the almanac.
Wiley3 I think the resource could be made even better by the addition of two features – both to do with improving the currency of the pilotage and facilities information, the depth of knowledge, and the accessibility. I think Wiley should consider adding two options to the tab menu:

1. Skipper DB (a personal database of local knowledge, hints, tips, aide memoir stored on the users laptop/pc – indexed to the ports or to markers on the chart – private and not for publication)

2. Wiki (as above but posted on a central database held by Wiley and distributed by their current update system)

  • Weather display
  • Printable weather forecasts and tide tables

    FREE marine weather forecasts for the whole of UK – inshore, offshore and inland. Forecasts include wind speed, Beaufort scale, wind direction, gusts, rainfall, cloud cover, air pressure for every 3 hours Choose and set up your own default forecasts so that you get exactly what you want. You can print out your forecast to take on passage.

  • Of course its difficult for an established and respected publisher to stray too far from the accepted practice of checking provenance of content, peer reviews from professionals and experts and so on…BUT – have courage Wiley – have a look at the excellent Active Captain system.Active Captain is a system that I have written about before – has just been going from strength to strength. It is focused on navigation and pilotage using the iPhone (or at least a modern smartphone) but its reputation and its content is being built on the contribution of hundreds of “Captains” around the USA particularly, but also Captains from around the world…me for example!.

    Within Active Captain there is an “Interactive Cruising Guidebook” tab. This gives free access to over fifty thousand marinas, anchorages, local knowledge markers, hazards, and reviews. And the data continues to grow every day. They claim to be averaging over 1,000 updates each day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. The system contains the excellent free charts resource from the NOAA. It also uses Microsoft Virtual Earth for the map and satellite images (rather than Google). Recently they have teamed up with MaxSea and you can now use their data together with the MaxSea Time Zero charting software.

    Wiley2 Why is local knowledge useful?If you take a simple pilotage – entering Brighton Marina for example – couldn’t be simpler – but – using Active Captain I have been able to insert a marker showing that there is a tricky if not dangerous moving sand bar and also confusing seas in certain conditions that really could make an entrance dangerous. This information appears no where else, or is buried too deep within the content of the conventional almanacs such as Reeds, or Wiley, and it certainly does not appear on the Brighton Marina website… now, that information is available to anyone approaching Brighton who has looked at the ActiveCaptain web site.
  • Extended tidal stream coverage including the Channel Islands
  • Tides for 2010
  • Information on pilotage
  • Information about facilities at hundreds of ports
  • The advice and wisdom of local sailors is invaluable when entering uncharted waters, or unfamiliar ports and anchorages. I think all these almanac product must succumb to the type of Wiki style update facility that Active Captain and the World Cruising Wiki have has already embraced with such success.Motivation to share knowledge could be provided by a points scheme where accumulated points could be redeemed while purchasing products – Wiley publications for example!

    The style of online publication exemplified by ActiveCaptain will succeed in taking ActiveCaptain from zero to worldwide coverage in a couple of years – while conventional publication methods will struggle to maintain market share, currency, and coverage – perhaps unfairly.  It is great to have the authority of a professionally written, and properly edited almanac – nothing is more reassuring when passage planning in unfamiliar waters BUT why cant the two methods of publication co-exist?

    Now…. lets see if I can load the Wiley Almanac on to a Windows Mobile smartphone….:-)


    4 comments to Update your Wiley Almanac – great, but could it be better?

    • When are they going to extend the coverage so all us sailors in the west can benefit?


    • Mike, I’m not sure if you’re referring to Wiley or ActiveCaptain for western support (and I assume you mean western UK). ActiveCaptain is user-generated. We can handle data from any location on earth. We currently have a fair amount of data for the UK although it can always be better. Anchorages especially seem to be needed.

      We’ve concentrated on building the US data over the last couple of years. We had to start somewhere and because we’re based in the US, it made sense to start there. The model has worked spectacularly. Check out the US coastline, especially along the intracoastal waterway on the east coast – loads of anchorages, boat ramps, inlets, bridges/bridge openings, along with hazards (especially important as dredging has been delayed or non-existant), and every marina that exists. As each person has helped fill in their local area, the databases have filled up. We now have the largest databases of marinas, anchorages, boat ramps, bridges, etc including the largest database of marina and anchorage reviews. By largest, I mean by any metric – not some play on words.

      That exact thing can and should happen for the EU too. Our new relationship with MaxSea and Furuno are helping to make it happen quickly. There are some new features coming out for the Paris Boat Show that MaxSea asked us to commit to for international support – and we’re doing all of it.

      So check out what we have. And get others to help fill in the missing data. It’s a good model that works really well.



    • Lepenka

      Well I had some issues with Adobe Air, but now Almanac works like a charm )

    • Wileys Downloadable Almanac has SHUT DOWN. If you try and update it will wipe everything you already have off. Google the subject.

      Visit My Harbour has online pilotage for 140 Uk harbours with licenced UKHO charts for free. They also have ALL 400+ UKHO Home Waters Navigation Charts available at full size and resolution for paid up members.

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