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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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Navionics Chart Updates

I must be getting slow..those senior moments are becoming my normal state!

Navionics1I recently bought two Navionics charts for my brand new Raymarine hybrid touch e125 chart plotter (…more posts on that to come…Smile)

Somehow I didn’t realise that I am eligible for chart updates for 1 year. There is an app to install on your PC that gives you access to your charts on the PC as well as on the chart plotter – duh.

Navionics have cleverly wrapped this offer up within the requirement to open an “account” in their online store. Once you download the software, you can insert your chart card into your laptop and copy one of 5 licenced copies of your chart to your laptop for route and waypoint planning. You can then update your chart card with free chart updates for 1 year. After you register you will be sent a zero cost invoice – seems a bit unnecessary but I suppose it hammers home the idea that this is only free for year 1 of your ownership of the chart area.

Navionics2

As Navionics says on their web site..”Buoys change, sand bars shift, new rocks and bottom structures are found, and new detail is constantly being added to our charts by using the latest technology: satellite imagery, airborne laser, sonar, Notices to Mariners, plus hundreds of thousands of changes made by our community members through Community Layer. In fact, we make more updates in one week than the leading hydrographic offices do in an entire year. Freshest Data are delivered to you every day, to make sure you enjoy boating with peace of mind and the absolute best chart content. Freshest Data is free for one year* and must be started within 2 months of product purchase…”

 

 

 

 

 

The whole process is fast and clearly described…that’s an innovation in the marine industry in itself Smile

PCApp2 PCApp1
Register your chart Download updates

 

Navionics3

Use the PC based software to import/export routes & waypoints

Having updated your chart data, you can then use a basic route and waypoint editor to import/export data to a Micro SD card (not your chart card!) and update your new e series chart plotter.

This sort of obviates the need to buy Raymarine’s Voyage Planner for $70 – if you just want to import/export data by SD card.

Raymarine’s Voyage Planner does do a lot more in the sense that it uses the built in WiFi connection in the new e series to carry out the import/export rather than rely on the SD card. Raymarine also offer their new Voyage Xchange web site where you can swap and exchange data with other boaters…

Looks like everyone has discovered “crowd sourcing” years after Active Captain explained how it applied to the boating community, and made a success of it… Smile

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