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Review of Aqualuma Gen 4 Series Thru-hull LEDs, Aquatic AV BlueCube & Mariner Amphibious DRONE. Yachting Times Magazine, Spring 2015, page 66.

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http://yachtingtimesmagazine.com/issue/18spring2015/pageflip.html

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Here’s my latest Tech/Safety Gear Review in Yachting Times Magazine – America’s Bilingual Boating Magazine – Always available online!

NancyBirnbaum-YTM-autumn-tech-safetyYTM-autumn-2015-tech_safety_gear-reviews

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Ginny Osterholt Filiatraut wasn’t just a friend, she was a pioneer and a mentor, who helped me steer a course through often times murky waters. Ginny lost her battle with aggressive ovarian cancer at the age of 78, after a courageous fight. Her husband Jacques was at her side always as was their dog Buddy at their home in Punta Gorda, Florida.

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Ginny in her home SSCA office back in 1977. Photo courtesy Ginny Filiatrault

I got to know Ginny when I was Editor of the Commodore’s Bulletin for the Seven Seas Cruising Association (SSCA). I had recently landed in Fort Lauderdale after my husband and I had cruised from California, taking four years to cruise. It was my first job as an editor and since Ginny had held the very same position (as well as Office Manager, Treasurer, Secretary and Director of the Board!), and she always had both words of encouragement as well as direction for me.

Moving on to cruising magazines after my three-year stint, I kept in touch with Ginny via email and  tried to offer her the same support she gave me when she would run up against push-back with a new Board of Directors or expressed her opinions about how the organization should be run.

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Ginny and Jacques aboard Jonathan, Jacques 42-foot custom ketch. Photo courtesy Ginny Filiatrault.

 

Ginny became Editor in 1975, helping to move the fledgeling organization from California to South Florida. SSCA went with her when ever she moved and her enthusiasm for the group never wavered. Born on October 3, 1936, she was an only child who started sailing early, at the age of 9. She helped her dad build a sailing dinghy to sail around in Santa Monica, California and later, at age 12 she lived aboard a 34′ Seagoer yawl with her dad. By the age of 15, she bought her own 12′ lap-strake sailing dinghy to rebuild. She met the founders of the SSCA who lived aboard in Coronado and joined in 1955 when she was living aboard her 37′ Hanna Carol, Bojac (a requirement back then!) and just 18 years old. Over the 55 years that she was involved with SSCA, she contributed immensely. In her own words, Ginny described her first experiences as a live aboard in San Diego…

We were a very close knit family and shared the dream of cruising and living aboard! Camaradarie was strong as we caringly helped each other in so many ways as were the SSCA traditions formed by our Founders in 1952!” (SSCA Commodore’s Bulletin, November 2007).

Ginny with SSCA Director Steve Leeds at the 2007 Gam in Melbourne, Florida.

Ginny with SSCA Director Steve Leeds at the 2007 Gam in Melbourne, Florida.

She spent the last six months of her life working tirelessly again for SSCA, gathering all of her photos of her time with the organization, some 90 albums, for scanning, and was finally honored recently with the title of SSCA Historian. She would have celebrated 60 years as an SSCA Commodore this June.

It was her tenacity, talent and trust that made her a lifetime sailor and often times a thorn in the side of SSCA’s directors and managers. She always had an opinion and wasn’t shy about sharing it, often in the form of long-winded emails to everyone on her list. Though there were times when she was “off-base” with regard to a given topic, Ginny usually had something to say that needed to be heard. She was truly the glue that kept this important organization together. Her truth will be missed.

88’s Dear One…

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Ginny holds a photo of herself with another Lifetime Commodore, Babe Baldwin.

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Ginny, Jacques and Buddy. Photo courtesy of Ginny Filiatrault.

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Photo courtesy Ginny Filiatrault.

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Image courtesy of worldcruising.com.

The news came today from the team at World Cruising Club of the death of Steve Black, founder of the Caribbean 1500 rally,  following a long personal battle against cancer. We are all saddened by his passing and our thoughts are with his family.

The WCC Blog wrote. “Steve was an inspiration to very many sailors through his long and varied career in sailing, including numerous offshore races, many of which were single-handed, and a three-year stint as executive director of the U.S. Sailing Association, based in Newport, Rhode Island. However, there is no doubt that his biggest legacy will be the Caribbean 1500 cruising rally, which first set sail in 1990, with a fleet of 50 cruising boats to make landfall in Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands.

The impetus for the rally started when Steve saw that cruising sailors outnumbered offshore racing sailors, but there were virtually no organized events for cruisers. The Caribbean 1500 rally offered the chance to sail in company, combined with preparatory seminars taught by sailing experts, an SSB radio safety net at sea, and of course a great deal of fun and socializing. Always leading from the front, Steve sailed with the rally, helping to inspire and trouble-shoot the fleet at sea.

He always found time to foster personal connections, spending hours matching crew to boats, allowing those new to sailing to take experienced crew along, or placing novices onto boats with veteran skippers for mile-building. His calm manner and easygoing personality led to many firm friendships being formed over the years.”

Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Black moved to Michigan where he ran an educational publishing company. He started sailing recreationally in his mid-30s in regattas hosted by the Grand Haven Sailing Club. Black learned the sport from single-handers and has always preferred this aspect of sailing.

Steve is the reason I’m doing what I’m doing today,” says Andy Schell, event manager for the ARC Caribbean 1500 and offshore delivery skipper. “He put me on a 1500 boat back in 2006, which was my first offshore passage, and helped me make connections in the ocean sailing world. Steve was a huge inspiration. It’s an honor to be managing the 25th Caribbean 1500 this year and carry his legacy into the future.”

After helping make offshore cruising more accessible to countless cruisers since the early 1990s, Steve Black, sold out to the World Cruising Club (organizers of the popular Atlantic Rally for Cruisers, among others) in 2011.

When Steve announced his decision to retire in 2010, he was determined that “the 1500” would continue and develop into the future. It was his firm belief that after 21 years of his leadership, combining the Caribbean 1500 with World Cruising Club’s world-wide portfolio of rallies would see it continue to inspire sailors for many years to come.

“The most satisfying aspects of starting the Caribbean 1500 Rally and other rallies such as the Atlantic Cup and now the Bahamas Cruising Rally, said Black in a 2010 interview with All at Sea, “are the friendships formed. “We had 235 past ralliers meet at a reunion at the Annapolis Boat Show this year.”

The 2014 Caribbean 1500 rally will be the 25th edition and a fitting memorial to a man who encouraged so many cruisers to discover the delights offshore sailing.

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Choosing the right navigation app is no easy feat. Some cost a few precious boat bucks just to download, and “free” doesn’t necessarily mean activecapt-screenshot“less” when it comes to features. With the recent news that NOAA will stop printing paper charts this April, iPads are fast replacing chart plotters on the bridge or in the cockpit.

As a former cruiser, I often relied on print cruising guides to learn about a new port or cruising area. As we all know, this kind of information is always in flux. And there’s the rub: How do we get the latest information, preferably from other cruisers? The answer: AC.

For the past few years ActiveCaptain (AC) has grown and expanded to include over 100,000 boaters who write reviews and updates on anchorages, ports, hazards, facilities and more, all around the world.

Sail with confidence with any of the five navigation apps below. They all include ActiveCaptain data as an overlay for members. (AC membership is free).

SKIPPER (Ver 1.2)
Trailerbehind, Inc. – Free

skipper-app-iconThe newest offering in the Apps Store is Skipper and the free version isn’t just a trial; it includes a handy NOAA online chart viewer for onshore planning and satellite imagery on shore. For the Pro version you pay an annual fee of $12/year and you don’t have to pay extra for the charts you’ve already paid the Government for in taxes. NOAA Charts are auto-updated (or choose Google Earth or Topo maps, including historic topos. What fun!). All is cached and displayed offline very seamlessly, except weather and Google Earth requires an online connection. It also does routes/waypoints and real-time navigation (which Garmin’s app doesn’t do). Your subscription syncs your personal data and routes, waypoints, tracks, etc. between your multiple devices. Raster charts (the best!) load fast and look great since they are mosaic-ed together and are only 1.8GB each for the smallest possible download size. Skipper’s creator, Andrew Johnson says that Inland Rivers Charts including all NOAA vector charts will be added soon and he is working on ways to integrate Open Street Map technology. Perhaps my dream of having one app that shows both Charts and Maps may soon become real!

garmin-iconGarmin BlueChart Mobile (Ver 1.4)
Garmin International – Free (Charts are available via in-app purchase and range from $30 -$70).

BlueChart uses vector charts with features such as search, routes, waypoints, weather stations (choose conditions overlay showing dew points, temperatures, wind direction and speed, water temp, visibility) GRIB weather with wave heights and period, celestial data, measuring feature, real-time tracking. Each icon gives great details when tapped. Lots of overlay features can clutter up the chart but choosing which ones to view is easy using the cool “radial chart object menu”.

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Charts & Tides (Ver 4.7)
Navimatics  – $19.99 *

The first full resolution, seamless charting iPad app. Charts&Tides uses NOAA and CHS vector cartography. Covers all of U.S. and Canada and cost $20-$40. New features include AIS support, Closest Point of Approach (CPA) computations and alerts, more connectivity options for GPS (WiFi, GPSD), new Dead Reckoning Mode and interface improvements.

*This just in… Now you don’t have to open a different app to chart a new area of the world. Navimatics has just added a newly developed chart engine to Charts & Tides for iOS and for Mac computers. Now the app is free and you can add  these two options:
– The entire US NOAA collection of charts: $19.99
– The entire US NOAA collection + CHS Canadian charts: $39.99

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PolarView MX (Ver 1.2.4)
PolarNavy – $3.99

From the folks who brought you affordable PC and MacOS charting. Their PolarView MX app for iPhone or iPad offers both vector and raster chart viewing combined with extensive instrument support that many mariners are seeking. Chart coverage includes U.S. and U.K. and world-wide charts are available.

SEAiq (Ver 3.4.0)
Sakhalin, LLC – $9.99

SEAiq-Open_iconDeveloped by software engineer/live aboard world cruiser, Mark Hayden. SEAiq uses free NOAA vector charts. Try SEAiq Free first, then upgrade to SEAiq USA or Open for $9.99 with in app purchase to enable all features. SEAiq Open allows you to use your own vector charts. (S-57, S-63, CM93, iENC, BSB, and KAP) or you can purchase charts for anywhere in the world from ChartWorld. Also, with Inland ENC support, you can download hundreds for free charts for many rivers in Europe. Other features: Import/export waypoints and routes. NMEA data, AIS, Track recording, GRIB weather downloads, anchor alarm, instrument data, TCP/IP WiFi NEMA data.

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12 Apps – On 12:12:12 – to Make Your Time on the Water Great! 

(Just updated!)

By Nancy Birnbaum

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It seems like there are five times as many apps for boating enthusiasts than there were when I wrote my first annual “Best Boating Apps” review, back in 2009.

Boaters are catching the wave and diving into the App Store for everything from navigation & charting to basic communications apps for their iPads, and Apple says that they’ve sold over 100 million of them since they first hit the market. With over 12,175,900 registered vessels in the U.S. alone, I wouldn’t be surprised to find that a few million boaters now use a mobile device of some kind. Fortunately for those who have climbed onboard the mobile tech boat, there are some terrific new apps ready to make boating even more fun and safe.

The biggest change over the past year for handheld devices is the number of apps now available that connect to NMEA data via WiFi and TCIP.  Which reminds me of the top question readers ask me, “How can I interface my boats’ systems to my iPad?” Some great news for the techie-types who want to virtually “run” their boat from the palm of their hand.

Many developers like Digital Yachts, Zapf, Ocean Equipment and ShipModul, have brought this capability to the world of iOS, thereby allowing data from instruments like wind and speed, as well as AIS and radar to be streamed to a laptop over WLAN or over WiFi to an iOS device. Note: You must have a device (such as Digital Yacht’s iAIS or SeaMate1A) that will get your NMEA data from your boat’s network to your various i-devices. But the good news is that it’s getting easier to integrate and the new apps are really well designed.

Here are a few for your consideration:

NAVIGATION

Garmin BlueChart Mobilegarmin-icon
Garmin International
Free (Charts are available via in-app purchase and range from $29.99 -$69.99)

Just released in November 2012, BlueChart Mobile is the next level of Charting for boaters with iPads. It does what most of the top Nav apps do, like use the same BlueChart data available for Garmin chartplotters right on your iPad, but that’s where the similarities end and the amazing design takes you on a whole new voyage to charting heaven. The first big new element is the download interface. With BlueChart Mobile, once you’ve got your chart (via the easy in-app purchase), you’re offered a large-scale view of the area (say North America), with a simple grid overlay. By clicking on a specific box you can choose which areas to download—a great space-saver for your device. Zoom into to see chart features and overlays for weather conditions, (temps, wind direction/speed) grib info and ActiveCaptain content overlaid on the chart data.

One drawback: The new Garmin app does not support NMEA or AIS or any of the WiFi units mentioned here. Plus, you’ll have to buy iPad charts even though you may already have charts for your Garmin chart plotter.

BlueChart Mobile has ActiveCaptain inside! For those of you not already using it, ActiveCaptain is a web community that provides real-time content generated by mariners, for mariners. It’s a virtual cruising guide that never goes out of date. Read and write reviews about marinas, local boating knowledge, anchorages and hazards. More than 100,000 boaters write reviews and update the information on ActiveCaptain—with more users joining all the time. Best Feature: It’s seriously difficult to pick just one favorite feature on this terrific app, but it may just be the cool info wheels that pop-up when you click on any icon from the ActiveCaptain overlay or hazard. It’s just a really fun interface!

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RayControlraycontrol-icon
Raymarine UK
Free

If you’re lucky enough to have Raymarine electronics onboard you’ll want to have this handy app on your iPad that lets you display everything from you e-Series or c-Series Multi-function Display (v 315 or later).

Even better than RayView, RayControl puts your iPad in the driver’s seat. Use it just as you would your Multi-function Display, with touch screen interaction and a virtual slide-out MFD keypad. Chart plotting, depth/Fishfinder, engine systems, radar, even view video from any installed cameras. Uses onboard WiFi network.

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SEAiq Open/ SEAiq USASeaiqUSA-icon
Sakhalin, LLC
Free (Charts are available via in-app purchase). The USA version is $9.99 with free charts from NOAA

What makes one Nav app stand apart from all the others? In the case of the new SEAiq, it’s the ability to view always up-to-date vector charts of the USA; however the free versions do limit you to only displaying charts of scales greater than 1:50,000 until you purchase the upgrade.  Vector charts offer more detail and faster scrolling than Raster.  SEAiq Open is unique for allowing users to install their own charts, including S-57, S-63, and CM93 charts, which means that you don’t have to purchase the same charts you’ve already bought a few times over. Though the interface is less than ideal (transfer chart files via iTunes), it is another great benefit not found in other nav apps.

You’ll need a fast connection to set it up the first time. SEAiq Free and SEAiq Open are among the few navigation apps with a useful free version. All the versions offer some good bells & whistles including ActiveCaptain, WiFi NMEA, AIS, and night color modes. You’ll need a fast connection for the set up. I found it took quite some time to download charts or transfer ActiveCaptain data and wished that it could have done it in the background while I went on with other things.  Best Feature: ActiveCaptain interface and support of external NMEA/AIS over WiFi. In fact, according to the creator of SEAiq Mark Hayden (a sailor and delivery captain), it is the ONLY charting app of those reviewed here that supports NMEA and AIS over WiFi and TCP. “The SEAiq AIS is good enough that professional pilots that board 1000ft freighters use it,” says Mark.

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SHIP’S SYSTEM INTEGRATION

On-BoardOnBoard Icon
ONboard Solutions
Free

It used to be that your ship’s library held all your various manuals, cruising guides and any “fun” reading took up whatever space remained. Thank goodness that ONboard came to the rescue with a great app that organizes all your boating-related reading into one really small digital space. On-Board gives you the ability to integrate and display your boat’s documents, photos, videos- both personal and from your yacht’s manufacturer, dealer or mechanic.

Get real time info from your boat’s manufacturer. Need to search for how to prime your fuel system? You can search your manuals and find it fast. Manage all your important records like maintenance, registration, insurance, financing, warranties and claims. Plus you can even manage your online subscriptions to your favorite boating pub right from the app. Best Feature: Getting your own unique email address at yourname@yacht.com!

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SAFETY

iAISiAIS-icon
Digital Yacht
Free

This is the newest AIS plotter in the App Store and it’s by a UK company that seems to be putting out some pretty good onboard interface apps. AIS is great for anyone boating in crowded areas or for those curious about who’s out there. Any vessel that has a registered AIS device will show up with their name, vessel details, course, speed and direction which can be helpful when you’re in high-traffic anchorages or bays. Best Feature: iAIS also can be used as an overlay with iNavX. Now that’s handy!

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Float Planfloatplan-icon
Big Tuna Apps
$0.99

Everyone responsible boater knows that it’s always prudent to file a Float Plan before you depart on your trip no matter how long you expect to be out. This new app, which runs on most Apple & Android devices, will save you time due to the easy interface and ability to email a pre-filled plan to anyone you choose. Though, I found it a little clumsy in my test of the app, specifically when trying to check off selections in lists like Safety gear. One improvement would be to have a default save New Trip, so you don’t have to check that (something I didn’t see until it was too late!).

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A sample floatplan that can be sent via email to your list.

 

WEATHER 

PocketGribPocketGribButtonIcon
Nicko Brennan
$5.99

It’s one thing to be able to get good weather info while you’re out there on your boat, but knowing how to interpret that info is an entirely different thing. With PocketGrib you can access, view and analyze global weather data (with a connection of course) and then display that info even when you’re offline.

See wind speed, direction, precip, air temp, waves, current, and forecasts. Grib data is supplied by NOAA’s GFS model and is updated 4 times per day or every 6 hours. Best feature: GRIB files can be downloaded to your PC via iTunes, which means that if you’re cruising with a personal forecaster service, you can view your Gribs using PocketGrib! Best Feature: This app is very well designed, easy to use and super fast.

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Intellicast Boating for iPadintellicast-icon
WSI Corporation
$4.99

It now easy to get the best weather info right on your chart with Intellicasts’ Boating for iPhone/iPad. Integrates NOAA nav charts with advanced meteorological data just like their website offers. Lots of overlay options from Radar to Satellite, Wind Speed to Temps, and NWS Marine Forecasts (Offshore) and Tides. Even track Hurricanes. Best Feature: Very handy and easy to see on the iPad’s retina display. Note: a cellular or WiFi connection is needed.

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COOL TOOLS & FUN, USEFUL APPS

Dropboxdropbox-icon
Dropbox, Inc.
Free

Not too many years ago, you either had to take your laptop with you ashore to send or receive email or better yet, take a tiny thumb drive, like we did in remote ports in Baja. Now there’s Dropbox. This handy app runs on any device and allows you to keep files of any kind in the “cloud.” That way you can access them from anywhere, either via the app or via your account on their website. The free account comes with 2GB of storage which you can add to by inviting others to join by sharing your files with them. The more you share, the more free space they give you. Or you can get a Pro plan starting at $9.99 for 100MB. Once you download those files, your space is freed up for more!

 

America’s Cup/America’s Cup HD (for iPad)AC-icon
America’s Cup Event Authority, LLC
Free

Just in time for the 2013 finals! The app gives you the latest news, event schedules and great videos. Enjoy the races anytime using the Virtual Eye 3D viewer including historical races. Listen to live commentary and onboard audio feeds streamed directly from the racing yachts when the finals start up in August/September. In the meantime, you can follow along as the teams wreck (er, I mean – race!) their yachts in practice events.

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EasyMeasureeasymeasure-icon
Caramba Apps
Free

Easily measure the distance from your stern to that yacht that anchored right on top of you! Uses your iPhone’s camera to measure with a great 3D grid overlay. Just set up once (an easy task) and measure away! (Also a great golf aid).

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Whale Alert – Ship Strike Reduction for Right Whaleswhalealert-icon
EarthNC
Free

You may have noticed more news about whales trying to jump on boats or boats running into whales. As more of us venture out into their world, chances of running into them increase. Now there’s even an app for avoiding whales by the good folks at EarthNC (makers of Marine Charts with ActiveCaptain!).

Whale Alert was designed to assist in the management of right whale conservation areas and to help reporting in shipping lanes in and around Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. Whale Alert can help reduce the likelihood of ships colliding with these endangered whales, which can injure or kill them. It is not meant to be used alone but to compliment existing protective measures. Whale Alert is the first mobile application to take advantage of the transmission of environmental data over the AIS protocol. The system takes DMA and real-time right whale observations and displays that data graphically, directly within the app.

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Happy Holidays!

Tell us your favorite Boating App! Like us on Twitter.

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baypop-holiday-shipchic-2012

The New Holiday issue of BayPop Magazine is available online now.

http://www.baypop.com/

Check out my column “Ship Chic” and discover the most luxurious yachts & yacht toys available for your wish list.

Enjoy!

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