Sunday, July 27, 2014

JollyMon Takes First in the Kampeska Cup

I have been boating for most of my life. My Dad got us started back in the 1970s when he drug home an old wrecked 1952 Century speed boat.  We spent the next year restoring it and it provided endless hours of fun for our family.

My brother and I became proficient at tubing back when we used a real tractor tire inner tube.  We mastered slalom skiing and we even surfed behind our boat way before the rest of the world discovered it. It wasn't until I was about 14 that a family friend took us sailing on his Johnson C scow. That day sail lead to both my brother and I owning many sailboats over the years and chartering extensively throughout the Caribbean the last 25 years. Sailing has been a big part of our lives.
The great thing about boating is that it brings the family together.  This was evident last week when my two kids sailed with me in our local race.

Like my father I knew the best way to keep kids out of trouble was to occupy their time with good clean fun.  I also bought a sailboat and a speed boat and taught my kids all the different activities on the water.

Since we live on a lake our home is very popular with all my kid's friends.  We always had a boat full of kids and we taught them all to knee board, ski, wake surf, wake board and tube.

My kids only recently took to sailing and now seem to enjoy it as much as I do. It helps that we have a fast boat and have won the race the last three years.

The boat is an S2 6.9 and it is the perfect size for the small lake we live on. S2(Tiara Yachts) built sailboats back in the mid 1980s when sailing was very popular. My S2 is a 1985 which makes it a 30 years old classic.

Race time is a great opportunity to try out some of the many apps that I talk about in this blog.

As the race weekend approached I was constantly checking the weather daily on the Predict Wind app.  This app provides two models which very accurately provide wind forecasts. You can view the wind forecast in tabular or chart format.

The app was predicting light winds on race day and that is what we had.  There was not enough wind to race so we decided to move the race to Sunday as the forecast looked much improved. Predict wind also has a remarkable weather routing feature which looks at forecasts and provides the best route taking into account forecasts over the next few days.

iRegatta is probably one of the most useful for sailboat racing. The main display lets you set waypoints to mark the committee boat and the start line marks.  It then automatically calculates your time to the start line.

The lower section provides a 5 minute count down timer that is very handy for timing the start of the race.

Other displays provide speed SOG, course COG, velocity made good VMG and wind information if you have wind instruments.

Another app that I like to use anytime to display speed, course wind and instrument data is the Marine Information Display, MID WiFi. 

The app has multiple displays that allow you to choose the right text size and color for easily viewing all the navigation data at the helm.

The display can be toggled between the white, black or red backgrounds. The original MID app uses your devices GPS to provide the data.  The newer MID WiFi can optionally use the devices GPS or NMEA supplied GPS and instrument data over WiFi.

Predict Wind Tracker is another cool app that can allow your committee boat and other boaters to track and enjoy the race in real time.  This app was developed by the same folks that wrote the Predict Wind forecast app.

The race chairman sets up the races on the Tracker website.  Each boat must purchase the app and enter the specific race listed under Yacht Clubs.  Select Start Tracking within the app prior to the start of the race to record the track of your yacht. 

Spectators can login to the website and view all the boats being tracked in the race. This is great to get folks on shore involved and it easily allows them to follow the race.

I have personally used this during some races but have not got all the boats in our yacht club convinced to spend the $3 bucks to record their tracks.

This is great technology and it allows each boat the ability to record a track of the race.  It is also useful to later replay the race back and analyze the racers performance after the fact.

If you are racing offshore and are away from cell service you can still track your position and share it with friends. I recently purchased a Delorme InReach satellite communicator. The InReach unit communicates with the satellites and reports back your position at a user selectable interval.

The unit can be paired with your smartphone through Bluetooth. SMS text messages can then be sent through the satellite system to your friends and family. An SOS button can be selected if you have an emergency and need assistance.

You can set up a personal tracking website with Delorme to show your track and current position.  The website records and saves all your adventures for you. An annual registration fee and monthly charges apply for satellite service.

Well, it was a great race and JollyMon and her crew took home top honors in the monohull fleet and were overall winners in also.  By using some of these apps you too can improve your sailing performance and become a better sailor. "Bringing More Geek to Yachting" is or motto here at i-Marine Apps.

Good luck and I hope your have a great summer boating season. Drag the kids away from the TV and Facebook and make some memories out on the water.

~~~ Sail On ~~~ /)


Saturday, July 12, 2014

WaveTrax Marine Logging App

Application: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, iOS 6.0 or later
Function: Automated GPS based logging app
Rating: *****
Cost: $12.99

Wow, it has been almost a month since I have made a new blog post. Summer finally arrived here in the Midwest so I have been trying to take advantage of every nice day and get out on the water.  I am sure you all understand and hope you are enjoying the summer too.

WaveTrax is one of the latest logbook apps to hit the market.  I have reviewed a few over the years including Salid , Boating Suite and NavPlay.  The unique thing about this logbook app is that it synchronizes your travels with the WaveTrax online website where you can edit, save, print and share your adventures. 

  • Automated Logbook
  • Live GPS
  • Crew
  • Certificates
  • Multiple ship details
  • Nautical maps
  • Trip details
  • Record all your adventures
  • Print logs in pdf format and share them online
  • Facebook, Twitter and email options
  • Compatible with iPhone or iPad’s GPS models
  • Records track logs in the background
  • Enhance your logs with maps, photos, notes & annotations
  • Access and edit your journeys on the Web
  • WaveTrax logs can’t get lost, damaged or filled up like a paper logbook.
  • Lifetime use of the App
  • Upgrades and customer support plus 1 year’s access to
  • Web access is renewable with an optional in-app purchase

The iPad version of the app is navigated with the seven soft keys at the bottom of the app. They include Journey, History, Contacts, My Ship, Saved Maps, Certificates and Settings.

The first thing you will first want to do is create a login and password for the app and website.  Next you will want to change some settings to reflect the units you want your trip information to displayed in.

Settings include Distance, Length, displacement, latitude and longitude readings, and speed.  The Setting can be viewed in English or Metric units.

Others setting included map marker settings, contacts information, map marker intervals, warnings and web access.

Next you will want to fill out your Ships information under the My Ship icon. Multiple yachts can be added if you have more than one vessel or crew on another and want to keep a log.

Ships data includes name, sail number, type, manufacturer, designer, model, year and  dimensions.  The app allows you to attach an image of your yacht to the log also.

Next select the Contacts page. Here you can list your Skipper, Crew, Mates and others onboard your yacht.

This data is save and can then be accessed when you start a journey.  This way you don't have to type in the crew names each time you start a journey.  WaveTrax remembers them for your next trip.

Select the Journey icon to start a log for a new trip.  The New trip entry page will then come up prompting you for a few bits of information about your trip.

Trip data entry items includes log type, trip type, departure point, destination, ship name, crew and starting conditions.

This process is easy and takes just a few seconds to quickly check off items to include in your trip.

You can add as much or as little detail as you want because most of the fields are optional.

Scroll down and tap the Begin Voyage bar at the bottom and your logs automatically starts recording speed, course and GPS tracking data.

The History icon is where all the logs of your trips are stored. Each trip can be selected to show a map of your travels. Use the filter to quickly find logs for a specific year or trip type.

All the pertinent information about the trip is listed along with the trip type, start and stop time, start and stop locations, duration, distance, average speed and maximum speed.

Details for your ships sailing or motoring time can also be displayed including fuel consumption, course, crew and log entries.

WaveTrax has tried to make the logging process as automatic and easy as possible.  They want to take the work out of boating so you can just start the app, select "Start a Journey" and you done.  WaveTrax does the rest for you automatically behind the scenes.

It automatically records the GPS track, speed and course of your boat at user defined intervals.

Logs and trips can be easily shared on Facebook, Twitter and through email by selecting the icon at the top of the page.  You will have to provide your account setting in the setting page to allow access.

The map shows a view of a log entry from a quick day sail on a local lake. Note the green start position. I did not get the app started until I was underway. The red maker notes the end of the trip.

The WaveTrax system also includes a website that is synched with the app. The site stores all your logs in the cloud and allows further editing of your boat and trip log details.

It also provides the ability to print out you logs so you can save a hard copy for your records if needed.

WaveTrax makes logging easy and fun by providing an intuitive and interactive way to create and store all your logging information.

The ships log can be printed out in a pdf format as shown on the left. It includes all pertinent log info and it allows you to attached pictures and sign the log if needed.

Whether your on an ocean passage or just out for a day sail it has never been easier to capture logging data.

I only had to use the app a couple of times before I became familiar with all the features.  The website automatically synchs with all my logs so I will always have of record of my trips.  It will be fun to look back at my logs and have a permanent memory of all my adventures.

The price point of $13 seems a little high for just a logging app.  I am not sure boaters will want to pay that much for an app that just does logging.  One other requirement is that you will need to renew access to the website each year.  The app does not say what this will cost.

I think WaveTrax has done a great job in providing a quick and easy way to do automatic logging.  I found it easy to use and really like the web storage, backup and printing capabilities to record all of my adventures. If your looking for a logging app WaveTrax is a serious contender!

~~~ Sail On ~~~ /)