Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Electronic Navigation

One of the pleasures of Mediterranean coastal motor boating is the planning of a cruise knowing that you do not have to concern yourself too much with topics like tides or tidal streams, just simple passage making between two points and keeping a close eye on the weather which plays a fundemental role in the decision whether to go to sea. At a minimum you will find daily weather forecast data in all marinas and the internet which will help your decision making process. As far as navigation is concerned for coastal passage planning the minimum requirement is an upto date chart (the nautical equivelent of a road map), and a compass which allows you steer on a choosen heading. However, in addition to having a chart and compass most boats are now equipped with electronic navigation equipment which work on the GPS satellite system, all you have to do is set a waypoint and off you you jolly well go! of course there is a lot more on offer from the electronic systems such as depth contours, depth finders, fish finders, buoyage, markers and anchorage areas, you can of course make the journey more interesting by adding additional waypoints and linking them together to form a route. These days, as technology rapidly advances, the smart phone makers have jumped on the bandwagon, I now have on my iphone many app`s which aid the sailor and are useful and informative, app`s such as marine rules and signals, rope work, compass and ship finder are all there, but the best by far is the Navonics electronic charts, for a mere £15 you get the app for iphone and ipad which gives you the equivelent of your boats electronic navigation system, all you need is a 3G signal! this app comes with an additional feature where you get the ability to take photographs along the route, the app then stores them where you took them along with latitude and longtitude co-ordinates and gives you the choice to either e-mail or share the information on Facebook. I have even heard some sailors use this as their primary source of navigation! I used this app on a recent cruise to the Isle of Tarbarca, an absolute genius little app to count amongst your navigational equipment.

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