Navigation Software Trials in Biscay 2012


I am starting a series of live trials of the latest MaxSea TZ software. I reviewed this software in 2010.This was a particular review to do only with the complex subject of routing. It was not intended as a general review of navigation software. In that review I came to the conclusion that the MaxSea TZ software was the overall “winner”. Now two years on I thought I would have another look at the MaxSea TZ software and see if they have come on in their design and functionality.

The context of this review is of interest. I am taking part in the Rally Portugal 2012. A rally organised each year by the World Cruising Club which is aimed at people like my wife and I who have never done any ocean sailing or any passages that really require a disciplined watch keeping rota i.e. over 100 mile non stop passages. The plan is to cross from Plymouth, UK to Baiona, Spain (550 nm) and then cruise down the coast of Spain and Portugal to Lagos. This I thought would be a great opportunity to compare and contrast software and navigation software.

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

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

The other interesting thing is that it is now June 6th. The Rally should have started on June 3rd. But rather extreme weather in Biscay had lead all the participants and the Rally organisers to delay the start. This is hugely disappointing but it did mean that every day and sometimes more than once I have had to use what facilities I have to re-route and download weather updates using a variety of services.

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 re-routing and re-planning over and over again – so I hope to have quite a bit to say about my experiences in the posts that follow.


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