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Seaiq Open–FREE iPad & iPhone charting app

 

IMG_0047The SEAiq apps are a collection of simple but powerful marine charting apps for iPads and iPhones. They provide common chart plotter features such as chart display, GPS, tracks, waypoints, and routes.

SEAiq Open is the only vector marine chartplotter app that allows you to use your own charts on your iPhone or iPad. It supports S-57, Inland ENC, and CM93 formats.  You can also purchase S-63/S-57 charts for anywhere in the world from the ChartWorld online store.

You install charts by downloading them directly to your iPad/iPhone or transferring them from other apps, such as email or DropBox.  For large numbers of charts, you can connect your iPad/iPhone to your laptop and transfer charts using iTunes following simple instructions we provide.

SEAiq Open is a free app.  Some features, such as display of charts with scale less than or equal to 1:50,000 scale (harbour), require an in-app purchase (a single purchase will upgrade all your iPads and iPhones).  You can load your charts into the app and confirm they work before making the purchase.

 

In addition Active Captain can be accessed in the upgraded version, SEAiq USA, and SEAiq Open.

If you have a WiFi enabled chartplotter then you will also be able to access your NMEA and AIS data in your iPad or iPhone at the same time.

Click here to see the full feature list.

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Sail Training and Tall Ships

If sail training and Tall Ships Races float your boat, the International Sail Training and Tall Ships Conference is a once in a year conference not to be missed.

Tall ShipsWhy Tall Ships?….Dramatic improvements in personal confidence and a sense of self-worth were key benefits for the young trainees participating in a sail training voyage during The Tall Ships Races 2012, this summer – according to pioneering, collaborative research by The University of Edinburgh and Sail Training International (STI).

The voyages also led to a significant improvement in participants’ understanding of differences between young people from other cultures and backgrounds. 

These were the main findings of the first phase of a study conducted by two post-graduate students of The University of Edinburgh, among a sample of 41 young trainees from seven countries, aged between 15 – 25 years.  A second phase of the study in six month’s time will test whether these changes in attitude, awareness and behaviour are sustained.

International Sail Training and Tall Ships Conference will host over fifteen seminars and workshops, over two days, will provide tailored programmes to meet the needs and interests of vessel operators, sail training programme providers, ports hosting sail training events and anyonewith an interest in sail training and Tall Ships races and regattas.

The conference is being held at the Radisson Blu Hotel Latvija, located in the heart of Riga, the historic capital of Latvia (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), Friday 16 – Saturday 17 November.

Peter Cardy, Chief Executive of Sail Training International, conference organiser, said, “This is the only global conference for sail training and the perfect opportunity for sail training fans from around the world to gather,network and share ideas. We’ve packed this year’s conference full of practical advice and support – from how to recruit and motivate trainees and volunteers; event planning and economic impact studies, to sponsorship ideas and a chance to talk to experts.

  • For vessel operators there are major sessions on exploring the dynamics of extreme weather, looking at Tall Ship stability and exploring approaches to vessel safety and incidents.
  • We’ll be offering help on brand and marketing; exploring the importance of partnership working for our media relations and looking at some cutting edge ideas for developing social marketing.
  • There will also be feedback from this year’s Tall Ships Races and events and lots of opportunities to share knowledge and ask questions.

An event highlight is the official launch of two exciting new races in the Tall Ship calendar:

  • The Mediterranean Tall Ships Regatta, 21 September – 7 October 2013 (Barcelona, Spain – Toulon, France – La Spezia, Italy)
  • The Black Sea Tall Ships Regatta, 30 April – 28 May 2014 (Varna, Bulgaria – Novorossiysk, Russia -Sochi, Russia – Constanta, Russia)

Check out the fantastic photos of these lovely vessels here…

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Watching UK TV abroad

Apart from sailing, we go to Turkey quite a lot and nothing is more frustrating than having to watch local TV. From past experience I think the same goes for France, Germany, Spain, Portugal in fact all of Europe!.

Most people would agree that UK TV is the best in the world. The only exception I would say is that the US has perfected the Crime Drama/Thriller genre – and these get imported to the UK anyway.

On my recent trip down to Portugal I collected a few tips from other sailors and live-aboards about what services they use to get UK TV and this is what they came up with:

 

FilmonTV

I like Filmon TV . It not only has the web streaming capability for UK TV it also has music channels, and a host of other categories ranging from “Local Channels” to “Mind Body & Spirit Channels”. They also sell a variety of software or hardware products. You can enable your iPad to become a TV device connected to your cable TV you can even record and pause live TV using these techniques and products…well worth investigation.

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MaxSea TZ Trials on Biscay 2012

TimeZero_Explorer_PDI thought I would just post a final word on my experiences using the MaxSea TZ software this year.

My wife and I sailed over 1300nm as a couple from the UK to Portugal and then on the return trip I was accompanied by 2 family members and one professional crew. All in all 2600nm and 13 ports of entry and departure to plan for during a summer that was at best “changeable”.

I used MaxSea TZ software in “Home Planning” mode rather than “Navigation” mode since I relied on my brand new Raymarine e125 hybrid touch for real time navigation. My experience with the Raymarine e125 hybrid touch will be subject of future posts. Just so readers get my comments in context, please note that my critique contained in the previous posts – is simply that – it is not a condemnation of MaxSea TZ – far from it. I first reviewed the weather routing module of MaxSea TZ over 2 years ago, and I was interested to see if they have come on in their design and functionality.

On board I had a number of chart plotting devices – probably far more than most cruising sailors.

Navigation/routing aids:

1 – Dedicated Plotter : A brand new Raymarine e125 Hybrid Touch plotter with Navionics Platinum charts

2 – Dedicated Plotter : The old Raymarine RL80C Plus with CMap NT charts

3 – Laptop (Windows7) software: MaxSea TZ v1.9.7 with MM3D charts

4 – Laptop (Windows7) software: Neptune v5.0.5 with CMap NT charts

So I have quite a number of opportunities to compare what these systems have to offer.

Weather services being used:

1 – MaxSea TZ – built in weather download (by internet download or by email)

2 – UGrib

3 – zyGrib

4 – Magic Seaweed (using WifI or 3G on my Apple iPhone)

It has been very interesting to see how software helps or frustrates the task of routing. But because the weather was so frustrating and caused us to really plan carefully for both Biscay crossings I had to re-route and re-plan over and over again.

I can honestly say that there is very little software I have used in the past few years – for any purpose – that is as slick and well designed as MaxSea TZ.

Now that I have a good laptop running this type of software is a breeze. But I would advise that lesser laptops may well struggle to keep up with what the software is trying to do.

  • Acer Aspire 5750
  • CPU Intel i5 3.1Ghz
  • RAM 4Gb
  • HDD 500Gb

 

Once you have a good laptop, and the MaxSea TZ software you enter a whole new world of navigation software that makes dedicated plotters like Raymarine or old PC software like Neptune look very sad indeed.

Being able to zoom in and out through the various vector layers of chart being able to turn windows of information on and off at will having the weather download and isochrone based routing module built in – not to mention satellite photography and Active Captain integration. This is still the best PC/laptop based chart plotting software on the market.

Having to enter and leave 13 ports in 8 weeks meant that many nights I was downloading Grib files and trying to plan routes and re-plan routes to see if I could avoid bad weather. We had two 4 plus days voyages and two 3 day voyages so weather routing was important. It is at these times when clumsy user interfaces and unreliable software would really kill the spirit as well as increase the danger to a cruising sailor. But if you don't feel the effort of re-planning a route is that great – then you tend to do it again , and again until you are happy and it feels right. This makes life easier and safer.

Getting the routes generated by MaxSea TZ into the Raymarine plotter is not one click, but is easily achieved. I don't know how many times I had to do this over the two months of sailing but I guarantee that it does work.

My advice is buy a good laptop and buy MaxSea TZ. I will continue to do all my planning using this software.

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MaxSea TZ – Route planning & re-planning….repeatedly….

This is the fifth post so far on the use of MaxSea TZ on passage.

Previous posts are:

Navigation Software Trials in Biscay 2012

MaxSea TZ – Downloading weather data on your sat phone 1 of 2

MaxSea TZ – Downloading weather data on your sat phone 2 of 2

MaxSea TZ – Displaying weather data by received by email

As I have said before, just so readers get my comments in context, please note that my critique is simply that – it is not a condemnation of MaxSea TZ – far from it, I hope to end this series by making sure I record what I think is so brilliant about MaxSea TZ and why I still rate it as the best planning tool on the market!. But like all products there is always room for improvement and I hope that my comments and observations will be received by the folk at MaxSea with interest.

I and 15 other boats on Rally Portugal are stuck in Falmouth – waiting for the elusive break in the weather that would allow  a trip to Baiona. As a result I have been updating the weather data using MaxSea TZ weather service on a daily basis, and then remodelling the planned route within the parameters that I have chosen.

So below is a glimpse of the two routes that I have planned – Inner and Outer – for crossing Biscay.

In this respect I must say MaxSea is the best software I have used to date. If you have not used it yet it is hard to describe what a pleasure it is to be able to zoom out and in repeatedly so smoothly and without losing your place on the chart. To be able to see obstructions; dangers; currents; winds; wave heights; bathymetric data and any permutation at will so that you can make the complex  decision of what route to take long before you use the “Launch Routing” function that computes the optimal route using the isochron model.

Remember I have access to Neptune Cmap Planner and the very latest Raymarine e125 Plotter. But neither of these options holds any temptation at all when I am trying to plan and figure optimal routes according to the latest weather updates.

The Neptune Cmap Planner comes close to being “very good” since it can calculate optimal departure times; routes; and take into account the latest Grib file data from one of the free services such as Ugrib or zyGrib. But the interface is so clumsy that it becomes exceedingly tedious to use it and just makes you want to shut the laptop and have a good strong drink.

As for the Raymarine e125 Hybrid Touch – well its next to useless for the task at hand. It does not interface to any useful weather service. Yes, yes, I know about the US based Sirius System – but what use is that to me? In any case that requires extra hardware from Raymarine and an expensive subscription based data service from Sirius – very old school thinking! Even if you were in the US and had all the hardware and data at your finger tips the Raymarine software does nothing to help you plan or optimise your plans using the weather data – its all up to you. What is the year?…is it 1912 ? !

So…. back in the real world where good programmers make software actually do useful things….

The following is a screen shot of the two routes that I want to consider in the light of weather data.

MaxSea Route Planning1 The screen shot shows the two routes I am considering across Biscay.

The task every day is to download weather data. This is very simple using the MaxSea free weather data service – so long as you have Wifi…

Then to calculate the impact of that data – wind speeds; wave heights; dangerous routes and so on – on my particular planned route…

 

So the result of running MaxSea TZ “Launch Routing” function is that you get a blow by blow, step by step assessment of the wind, waves etc. on the route….and a suggested better route…

MaxSea Route Planning2

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