Saturday, March 24, 2012

Saild Online Logbook

Applicaton: iPhone, iPad
Function: GPS Trip and Tracks
Cost: Free

If you are a boater, you know you need a log book to keep track of your yachts travels.  The log becomes the historical record of the life of your yacht.  The method to record the log can be an actual book or be done on a computer or other electronic means.

Duncan Malcolm has created the Saild app and website as a way to record a log. Saild has improved on the old static paper logbook with an online interactive logbook. Saild has the ability to share your logged tracks, photos and comment of your trip. The Saild website and accompanying blog will help you get started. 

The Saild app, which is free, runs on your iOS device and records the tracks as you sail or motor along.

  • Logs the track of your trip while running in the background
  • Add photos 
  • Write a short description of your trip
  • Enter the max and min wind speed 
  • View GPS position, trip distance and speed over ground
  • Tracks and trip are uploaded to your the website account
  • View trip, tracks and photos on the Saild website
The app is easy to use, simply download the app and  create a user name and password. When you step on your boat activate the app by selecting the Start Trip button.  The app uses the internal GPS of your iPhone to record your GPS position and create the track of your trip. When your done sailing, select End Trip.  A short description of your trip can also be made at this time. The app will also allow you to take pictures and enter max and min wind speed.

You can use this app for recording all kinds of trips, not just your boating adventures.  It would be great for hiking, kayaking, skiing, or any activity where you want to record your adventures.

I have spent a little time with the app. It seems to record any trip you take and correctly creates the track as advertised. I took a picture and that uploaded to the website too. I am not sure how often the app saves data, on long trips you might want to save your log each day.

When your done with your trip, select the End Trip button to stop your track and upload it to the Internet. This is when you can edit the trip name and enter the max and min wind speed. The text box allows you to enter any other observations or comments about your trip. I am not sure how many characters you can enter in the text box. In a normal log most people enter log entries throughout the day.  One feature that might make the app more usable is to allow log entries while your recording the trip, not just at the end of the trip.  I am a little old school and still like the old paper logbook. I don't want to rely on any electronic device to record the log. I sometime doodle or draw pictures in my log to record what I see and observe along the way. That kind of functionality is hard to duplicate.
Once you have stopped recording your trip it will be uploaded to the Saild website. I am not sure what happens if your are out of cell phone range or not connected the Internet. I assume it will save the logs on your iPhone and upload the log to the website once you are back in cell range.
You will need to login to the website to view your trip log details. The website has a Dashboard which lists all of your logs.  The tracks are displayed on a Google map. Any photos that you took will also appear in your log on the website. You can add additional information or videos to the website too.

The site allows you to see other members from around the world and you can elect to follow your friends and view their logs also. The way it is set up now you don't need permission to follow anyone. It would be nice to be able to screen who is viewing your logs.

The Saild app would work great for daysailers who want to quickly share their adventures with their friends.  If this works for you, pick up the app and give it a try! I am not sure it will ever replace my old log book.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Volvo Ocean Race Leg 4 Update

All boats have safely arrived in Auckland, New Zealand after 20 days and 5220 miles of racing. The boats started leg four in Sanya, China and sailed through the south China sea, into the Pacific Ocean and through the Solomon Islands and onto Auckland.

Franck Cammas and his Groupama crew were the first to arrive Saturday night. It was their first leg win of the race.  The big news was that the boat's bow section was damaged and was taking on water during the last hours as they crossed the finish line. 

The remaining boats were all locked in a battle for the remaining spots on the podium.  Puma, Telefonica and Camper, Abu Dahbi and Sanya battled through the night. The race for second was won by Ken Read and the Puma crew who were also welcomed by the huge spectator fleet in Auckland.

A real dogfight came down to the race for third. A difference of only 2 minutes separated the next two boats, Telefonica and Camper. Telefonica once again edged out Chris Nicholson and Team Camper to take third.

Abu Dhabi and Sanya finished out the leg in fifth and sixth places respectively.

Leg 5 is scheduled to start in a little over 5 days. That does not give the teams much time to rest up and make repairs.

Overall standings still have Telefonica in first with 121 points, Groupama with 103 points, Camper with 98 points, Puma with 78 points, Abu Dhabi with 53 points and Sanya with 22.

Check out all the action, videos and standings at the Volvo Ocean Ocean Race website.

Friday, March 9, 2012

MaxSea TimeZero on iPad via Splashtop

Yo ho ho a bloggers life for me. A bloggers life can be pretty boring sometimes. You pour your heart and soul into your work hoping someone will notice or comment on your witty musings.  My goal with i-Marine Apps has always been to find the coolest, geekiest marine apps to help all of you boaters enjoy your iOS devices while sailing on your local pond or on the seven seas around the world. 

I was spending a lot of time looking at all these apps anyway(just ask my wife).  I thought, self, you should be sharing your infinite techie wisdom with your fellow boaters.  I was a little naive and thought everyone knew how all these apps worked.  My brother who is very technically challenged in the IT department always told me, Mark, not everyone gets this stuff like you do.  I was a revelation, the light bulb came on, one of the ah ha moments, I had not realized how confusing some people find this stuff.  I thought everyone was able to figure this stuff out on their own.  I took his comments to heart and have been writing ever since.

The thing I enjoy the most from blogging is receiving emails from people all over the world wanting to know what app is best to do this and what app is best to do that.  I try my best to help them out. That is the neighbourly thing to do, right!

I received an email from a Grandma who was preparing for the cruising lifestyle.  She thanked me for my tutorial on iNavX and said it was helping her to understand and use the app.  That email so warmed my heart and made writing this blog all worth it.

Sailors are a friendly bunch who are always willing to help each other out. It is a small community of people all sharing the same dream. If you don't think so just wander down any dock in any marina around the world and I bet you will make a friend in five minutes.  Boaters want to talk about boats and want to talk to other people who own boats.

Another common thread we all share is this insane desire to pour money into our boats.  I once heard that BOAT stands for "Break Out Another Thousand", I had to laugh, how true. We always find the money for the next new gadget or boat project.  My brother also made an astute observation about boaters. They all have the worst lawns on the block because on the weekends they go boating, the heck with the lawn.

I hope you find my articles interesting, if you do email or comment please. If you find them boring, please email or comment I will try to make them more interesting.  Either way I would love to hear from you all out there in "boating land" and know what you find interesting. You can support the site by clicking on a few adds if you find those interesting or donating through PayPal.

In the mean time I will keep researching and writing about these cool apps. I know this adventure is alot like sailing. It is all about the journey not the destination.

Speaking of emails, I just received one from a marketing manager at MaxSea.  They have some wonderful products and their MaxSea navigation software is widely used by cruisers and racers around the world.

Marcela wanted me to know that it is very easy to view their MaxSea software on the iPad using an app called Splashtop Desktop Remote.  You will also need to download the free Splashtop streamer program on your PC.  I briefly talked about the Splashtop Remote Desktop app and some other cloud applications a while ago in this blog.

She has put together a great little tutorial on their blog to show you how to view their MaxSea TimeZero software on the iPad. The great thing about Splashtop is that anything you can put on your desktop PC can be directly displayed and controlled from your iPad. There are a thousand uses for the app and for $4.99 it is well worth it.

Take a look at Marcela's blog and if you have MaxSea or any other kind of navigation software on your PC, follow her instructions to display it on your iPad.

Thanks for sharing Marcela, hope to hear from you again soon!

~~~ SailOn~~~

Monday, March 5, 2012

Navionics Community Layer on Your Plotter

One of may favorite writers that I follow month to month is Cruising World's Fatty Goodlander.  He inspires all of us to get out there and start cruising now, don't wait until everything is perfect.  I so enjoy his minimalist attitude towards cruising. Wow, he just bought an engine for his 38 foot boat Wildcard a few years ago.  I can pretty much bet that he does not have any fancy charts plotters or expensive navigation features on board.  Somehow he has managed to sail around the world a couple of times with his lovely wife Carolyn.

I am torn between the engineer in me who has to have the latest gadget and the sailor who just wants to sail by the stars. So do we really need all these fun electronics gadgets? No, not really, but man are they fun to tinker with.

Too many boats sit in the marina waiting until the radar, chart plotter, instruments, big screen TV, inverter, SSB, genset, radar, stereo, refrigeration, water maker and autopilot are all working perfectly.  If we wait until all that stuff is working we may never go. It is a boat, so something is always going to be broken.  Just don't let that stop you from getting out there and enjoying what the ocean has to offer.

Here is another update on the Geeky electronics we can't live without. Enjoy!

In February, the Navionics Web Store was updated which allows a greater use of their User Generated Content(UGC) and Fresh Map data.  Their is a new logo sporting the Freshest Data slogan on their website.  This will allow you to get all the updates plus the UGC data onto your chart plotter or app software. It appears that you will need to have purchased your charting software in 2011 or 2012.  If not, you are directed to purchase new charts.

This User Generated Content is provided by the users like you and me.  When you find a nice marina or seaside restaurant, add it to the chart so everyone can benefit from your local knowledge.

You can now add this UGC to your chart plotter or PC software charting app. The chart plotter models that it currently works with are the Raymarine e7, e7D, e9, e9D, e12, e12D, c9 and c12.  The Lowrance models include HDS Gen2 and Gen1.

To get it for your PC or compatible chart plotter, head over to the webstore.  You will first need to download the Navionics World Application to your PC.  Start the World Application program and it will ask you if you have the Chart plotter or PC charts. Follow the on screen prompts to update your chart plotter chip or your PC chart sets. Congratulations, the user generated content can now be accessed on your chart plotter or PC charts.

Navionics iOS App Updates

If you have one of the Navionics apps for the iPhone or iPad you simply select the settings gear icon in the lower right hand corner. In the settings page tap Download Map and move the four corner pins to select the area you wish to update. Then simply select Download.

The User Generated Content (UGC) Community Layer can also be turned on in the setting page. Now you are up to date and have access to the latest UGC and chart data.

Oh, how I love my electronics!

~~~Sail On~~~

Saturday, March 3, 2012


Application: iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch
Function: Marine points of interest, NOAA Charts
Cost: Free!

I was recently contacted by Pedro Valdeolmillos who found my blog and wanted me to take a look at a new app he is developing. The BlooSee app is intended to be an extension of his website.  The BlooSee website is a user driven community of water enthusiast who add Infopoints of interest and Routes to the website database.  The site goes beyond points of interest and has added features of social networking, groups of similar interests, wind data and a user created boat database.  The site allows users to invite others members to become friends or join groups. So it is kind of a Facebook for mariners with some added navigation features.

  • Infopoints include - Facilities, Dangers, Other, Travel & Hospitality, Diving & Snorkeling, Fishing, Aids to Navigation, Services, Ocean Conservation, Surf-Wind-Kayak, Commercial Services and Arts & History.
  • NOAA Charts for the USA, Brazil and New Zealand and Google Maps and Satellite views.
  • Social networking community of users
  • Develop Groups with similar interests
  • Boats database developed by users
  • Integrated wind forecasts
  • Sharing to email, Facebook and Twitter
  • Internet connection required
Pedro's plan for the app is to add much of the functionality that is found on the website to the app.  Lets take a look at the app and its' present functionality.

Opening the app you will notice a Google map display with points of interest for your current location. The map can be changed between satellite, maps or a hybrid combination. The Gear icon on the top left of the display allows you to select the type of map and filter what info points you want to display on the maps. 

Four soft keys on the bottom of the screen include Winds, Charts, Find Me and Nav.

Charts are only available for the USA, Brazil and New Zealand at this time. The slider bar on the bottom right side allows the user to change the opacity of the overlayed NOAA charts. I really liked the ability to adjust the overlays!

The Wind selection allows the display of wind data and the ability to page forward in time to see the forecast data.

Find me locates your position on the Google Map.
The Nav feature provides some basic GPS navigation features. The author has a disclaimer when you open the app that the maps, charts and points are for reference only.  It does provide your moving position along with speed and course information from the on board locational services of the iPad.

The power of the app is not the navigation feature, it is really in the marine information points of interest.

The  List icon on the top left of the opening screen will show the points of interest in your immediate area. 

As more users add data to the site, it will become an invaluable tool to locate all the marine services needed by the weekend boater or world cruiser.

This list is interactive and by tapping the point you can drill down for additional information. Location, latitude, longitude, website, address, phone number, map and a short description of the item.

The level of detail and the contact information make it a no-brainer to find the perfect marina, restaurant or marine store.

The app is well on it's way to becoming a must have for all marine enthusiast.  A few things that might make it better would be offline use of map, charts and the database.  It will only works now if you have an Internet connection.  The integral use of the Google maps might make that difficult.  The NOAA charts could easily be configured to be used offline.  Offline use would make it more versatile and usable offshore.  It would allow users the ability to plan and locate points of interest on their way to the next port.

I really like what I see in the BlooSee website and app.  The author and developers are attempting to create a virtual resource for all types of marine information. The social networking aspect is a key in making it interactive and allowing people to share their adventures on the water with family and friends.  I am amazed every day at the creative minds out there developing ideas like this. I look forward to the many additional features and updates planned for the BlooSee app.

What do you think of the app? Please comment or make recommendation so the developer can provide the must have features we all need.

~~~Sail On~~~