are we sold short on chart plotter software

JONDAVIS

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Chart plotter software seems overall to be very poor compared to road navigation ,can you input your destination, departure from and date and time ,result should give optimum departure time course to steer given tidal set for tidal currents and wind direction on time of departure and wind direction that day .If any other forumites know of such software I would be grateful and would like to try it out .Should be easy I would have thought for computer programmers to produce but I can already here the traditionalist amongst us scorning my idea's and still advocating lead line and knots on string as electronics go phut!
 

Capt Cautious

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Too many variables I'm afraid. It only works on roads because you tend to stay on the black hard bit. You try and tell your car GPS that you want to go "as the crow flies, but optimally" and you'll find you may have just a few problems. The same goes for nautical optimization. For example some craft may behave particularly well in a big swell, others will lurch about or dig in. Currents are on average reasonably predictable, but in any instant they are remarkably unpredictable. Wind is the same. Then there's the human factor - how wet do you want to get ? etc...
The software is probably around - I have sailed with an ecdis add-on that does a lot of what you are asking - but very unreliably - and for a princely 50k.
CC
 
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snooks

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Chart plotter software seems overall to be very poor compared to road navigation ,can you input your destination, departure from and date and time ,result should give optimum departure time course to steer given tidal set for tidal currents and wind direction on time of departure and wind direction that day

My car is a tool to get somewhere

My boat is something I use in my spare time for pleasure

There is a world of difference between the two

Beside if I take a wrong turn in my car I go around in circles, if I take a wrong turn in my boat it could cost me my life.
 

elton

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Beside if I take a wrong turn in my car I go around in circles, if I take a wrong turn in my boat it could cost me my life.
I think that's the nub of it. If lives were lost because someone was stupid enough to rely entirely upon an electronic navigation system, heads would roll and the lawyers would make a fortune. Besides, there are many who really are that stupid. In fact I genuinely believe there are motorists driving right now looking at the satnav, and only giving the road ahead an occasional glance.
 

achwilan

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chart plotting

...Chart plotter software seems overall to be very poor compared to road navigation...
These are quite different problems; road planning is much more simple, as you work in kind of discrete space (minimal path in a graph, as charts define a set of roads), but for sea planning you have more - and continuous- variables (as charts describe a 2+ dimensional space); so problem solving complexity is significantly higher!
 

Ex-SolentBoy

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Sorry, but I have to disagree with the many who tell you it can't be done or shouldn't be done.

Sailing navigation is a very easy calculation for a computer.

If you take your car satnav capabilities as a start, and then add wind and tide inputs manually or direct feed that forms the base and could give you an estimated ETA. Some plotters already allow you to put in departure point and destination only. They then calculate a draft safe routing.

Once you are on your way, of course things will be different. Swell, wind, tide, avoidance of other boats and so on will cause you to deviate. For the plotter to recalculate routings and ETA based on forecast or actual conditions is just a mathematical problem, and not even a complex one.

Of course you should treat these things as guidance only.
Of course some muppet will follow it blindly and hit something.
That's just the way of the world.

Perhaps if the developers had a more "can do" attitude, as opposed to the "I might get sued so I won't" attitude we would have something really functional.
 

Sans Bateau

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My car is a tool to get somewhere

My boat is something I use in my spare time for pleasure

There is a world of difference between the two

Beside if I take a wrong turn in my car I go around in circles, if I take a wrong turn in my boat it could cost me my life.

This sums it up nicely, if you are going to start using your boat as you do your car, getting from A - B and letting a sat nav decide on the route etc, then its time to give up. Instead use the car to drive to the ferry terminal (guided by Sat Nav) and take a ferry.
 

colvic987

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My car is a tool to get somewhere

My boat is something I use in my spare time for pleasure

There is a world of difference between the two

Beside if I take a wrong turn in my car I go around in circles, if I take a wrong turn in my boat it could cost me my life.


And there are plenty of people out there doing just that, scary!!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qo1NjvZUIvo
 

john_morris_uk

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I have been trying to work out why I am uncomfortable about the sort of software that is being suggested. I thought at first it was because I can be as conservative as the next sailor about electronics and software on a boat. After all, we not only have a log and don't rely on the GPS for speed (which is very old fashioned according to some forumites) but we have a Walkers trailing type mechanical backup for the log and a ready made lead line as a back up for the echo sounder on the boat.

However, its not the electronics of it or the computer capability that makes me not want such a device. Its that fact that if I had one, I would always be questioning its suggestions. Not only is one of the pleasures of sailing juggling a long list of variable factors and coming up with a passage plan, but its a very subjective thing. There's almost always more than one 'right answer'. The decision is also determined by your mood and the strength of the crew. What would be prepared to do whilst racing with a strong crew might not be what I would do whilst singlehanded or what I would do with the family on board.

Furthermore each boat has different characteristics and sails better or worse on somepoints of sailing and in different conditions. Are you going to be able to factor in predicted boat speed in different conditions of wave and swell? It might just be possible - but who's going to bother?

I am all for having the data presented to you in as imaginative a way as possible. I am sure that tide and wind and weather could be presented in a more integrated way than is commonly available to help the skipper come to a decision about what to do, but I have decided that even if the software were to be developed that could comne up with some suggestions as to what to do, I would always question it and make my own mind up

Besides which, we often know better than either of our car nav systems. The one often tells me to take short cuts throught the middle of towns when its obvious that its much quicker to take the dual carriageway ring road. (Honiton in Devon is a favourite where the 70 mph dual carriage way is about 1/2 a mile further and MUCH MUCH quicker.)

I am not sure that in car GPS software is all that clever at all.
 

Guitarrich

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I know that some chart plotter manufacturers are looking at "smart routing"; automatically planning passages to take into account obstructions below the water as well as above. I haven't seen any that actually work yet.

I also think this is appalling. Already technology has allowed far too many "Duffers" (Ransome) to take to the water with unwarranted confidence. For example I've already made my feelings known elsewhere what I think about pilots which will automatically turn at waypoints (fly boys disagree, but again it's quite different in the sky).

Now we already have 3D bathymetric charts for the navigator who's bored with 2D. Next it'll be complicated overlays showing actual sea state maybe?

I have to ask myself am I just not accepting enough of the next generation, period? Do I still have a chap with a flag walking in front of my car? (No, actually).

My overwhelming concern is that the more the electronics do for us, the less capable we will inevitably become, and I think that that is unhealthy at best, and arguably dangerous to ourselves and those around us at worst.
 

ChrisE

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Chart plotter software seems overall to be very poor compared to road navigation ,can you input your destination, departure from and date and time ,result should give optimum departure time course to steer given tidal set for tidal currents and wind direction on time of departure and wind direction that day .If any other forumites know of such software I would be grateful and would like to try it out .Should be easy I would have thought for computer programmers to produce but I can already here the traditionalist amongst us scorning my idea's and still advocating lead line and knots on string as electronics go phut!

Navmaster software does all of what you ask, it is PC based rather than a chartplotter. It does stuff like work out the optimum time to leave given the tidal gates you will pass through.

As others have said tho', it all goes tits up if the wind doesn't blow or, as is usual, is blowing from the direction you want to go in.
 

AntarcticPilot

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A few points:

1) This is do-able; Geographic Information Systems software does it routinely using what is called "Least Cost Path" analysis. Basically, it takes into account many variables and spits out a path that minimized the "cost" of the path. It is used widely in road planning and so on. Of course, the weighting values given to different factors are matters of argument!

2) The solution would NOT be dynamic. In a sailing vessel, the least cost path an one instant may not be the same five minutes later, as the wind shifts. Tides are pretty predictable - but winds and wind-driven currents are much less predictable. So, your "Least Cost Path" is not necessarily optimal, and may have to be changed using local knowledge and so on.

3) I agree with those who say it would reduce safety in that people would "follow the chart plotter" rather than developing pilotage and navigational skills. My chart plotter is not visible from the helm; sometimes I wish it was, but on balance I'd rather be sailing the boat than doing what I do 5 days in a week! I can look at the chart plotter to check the safety of my course and plan my passage, and many other tasks - but I'm sailing, not playing a video game.
 

Marsupial

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Charts how accurate are they?

I do have some sympathy with solentboy, the technical solution seems to be achievable but lets not get to carried away. The UK waters are “charted to death” so maybe ,perhaps, possibly, a software engineer could cobble something together based on accurate charts and accurate local weather and tide conditions – but beware of using tidal predictions. BUT how would the system behave in the rest of the world? The charting where we are at the moment (Ionian) is barely adequate (Last surveyed in 1906) and not to be taken for granted – so our lead line gets a lot of use! So by all means try a technical solution but only after you have learned to navigate without it.
 

ditchcrawler

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You can do some of this with Neptune passage planning programme.It will work out the tides for the most favourable time to start and give you the times and courses to steer of legs from waypoint to waypoint.It will also allow for leeway and wind but you do have to tell it those details.
 

JONDAVIS

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sold short on chart plotter software

a good number of replies and yes I agree one would not make final route planning from a chart plotter alone .Solentboy seems to have read into my post in the most positive way in that given the cost of chart plotters plus the charts they are very poor value for pounds spent.Why do as some comments sugest the need to purchase passage planning software when it should be a built in option I fully realize all boats perform differently leeway ,pointing to windward.Have you tried in heavy seaway working out tidal heights to a port you may be seeking shelter in and working up your course given strong tidal streams a lot simpler under stress and in these conditions if the technology we all use everyday could be used and switly give you a number of options to consider and I do mean consider.What passage planning software is available please as I would like to try it.
 

Twister_Ken

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Have you tried in heavy seaway working out tidal heights to a port you may be seeking shelter in

My iPhone does it for me. Or is that cheating?

What passage planning software is available please as I would like to try it.

One of the yotmags reviewed passage planning programs three months or so back, and concluded that they all left much to be desired. Their best-buy recommendation, unusually, was "none".
 
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