First Wednesday talk: 10th Feb
Technology for sailors

***Updated*** – See the links to additional resources at the bottom of this post

Cruising by laptop, smartphone and tablet.

Laptop computers have been around for quite a few years now, but since the advent of tablet computers and smartphones, there has been a mini explosion of software and apps that claim to make life easier, safer or more convenient for leisure sailors.

This month Mike Bradley, and Ray McGinty will be talking us through a range of chartplotting, navigation and other software available for mobile devices and considering their usefulness alongside traditional navigation methods. John Williams will show a robust ‘navigation in a box’ system which he has developed to use during offshore racing in sometimes unfamiliar boats.


Mike Bradley will be showing:

• MacBook Air with Digital Yacht ‘USB100 AIS’ receiver and Digital Yacht charting and display application ‘Navlink’

• iPad with the following apps:

–  ‘iSailor’ chart plotter
–  ‘Tides Planner’
–  ‘Starpilot’ Celestial sight reduction App with built in Almanac
–  ‘Star Walk’ Star and planet ID and display
–  ‘Dropbox’ with downloaded boat documentation, manuals, deck log, US pilot charts, and celestial nav documentation

Ray McGinty will follow that with:

– ‘Boating’ – chart plotter application from Navionics
– ‘MemoryMap’ app displaying UKHO Admiralty charts
– ‘Antares Charts‘ – Very large scale WGS 84 electronic charts
–  ‘Boatie’ – a swiss army knife of an app which does a bit of everything

John Williams will be demoing a selection of the following kit:

– DELLR Rugged i7 Latitude Laptop, fully water and drop proof, SSD disc and 14” touch screen
– Digital Yacht uAIS receiver, two separate GPS units with bluetooth retransmit.
– MaxSea TimeZero 3-D charting software with vector charts NW European coasts
– Expedition navigation and racing software (most used by world’s offshore racers – Volvo etc.)
– Sony Experia Z3 PDA, IP67 water resistant smartphone

Open floor session

– John Taylor from RABC with ‘SmarterTrack’ on PC laptop

Questions and general discussion

– What’s your opinion of what you’ve seen?
– How much should we rely on technology as opposed to traditional navigation methods?

Additional resources

Download John Taylor’s slide presentation on the Rough and Ready Boys rowing challenge.

Download John Williams’ slide presentation on ‘navigation in a box’ (PDF format).

Download a copy of the fact sheet (PDF format).

Read the incident report of the Vestas grounding during the Volvo Ocean Race (see especially page 32).

Learn more about the Rough & Ready Boys’ Round Britain Rowing Challenge Guinness Book of Records attempt for charity in June 2016.

Further reading on the subject of chart plotter software:

(or google ‘chart plotter software compared’)