Arwen's meanderings

Hi everyone and welcome to my new blog. My name is Steve and i am the lucky owner of a John Welsford designed 'navigator' named Arwen. I built her over three years with the help of my father, father-in-law and two children. She was launched in August 2007 at Queen Anne's battery marina in the barbican area of Plymouth. This blog is a record of our voyages together around SW England.
Arwen has a YouTube channel of her own. Search "plymouthwelshboy".

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

SeaNav UK app

Someone contacted me to ask about the SeaNav app I mentioned recently in a previous post. It is one of the apps I have been using recently to ‘plan out’ possible voyages. I have yet to fully master it or understand it; and have yet to test it in reality onboard Arwen but here is what I do know so far!
Basically on the app you get all the latest UKHO Admiralty Digital Vector Marine charts covering all of the UK. These can be overlain on top of high quality aerial photographs as ‘hybrids’. The charts show a wealth of data ranging from buoys to lights, depths, rocky areas, wrecks, anchorages and more! If you tap on a buoy or wreck – a pop up gives details about it. So far all the charts seem to load rapidly and it is easy to zoom in or out using normal Ipad swiping and pinching gestures. Colour and resolution is excellent. What’s more – everything loads up irrespective of whether you have mobile coverage or not.
The charts enable you to select what information you show and you can turn off layers to reduce clutter. Another app ‘Boat Beacon’ purchased and installed on your Ipad will enable you to view live AIS ship information on your charts although I have yet to try this.
There are a variety of useful tools on the app to measure distances, bearings and add in waypoints. Again, although I haven’t used it on Arwen yet, there are also boxes relating to course over ground, speed over ground, vector made good, ETA and distance/bearing to next waypoint and I suspect that these may well prove useful although I would want to ensure by cross checking my calculations, that the app is accurate!!
I wouldn’t like to say ‘use it for navigation instead of charts’. In fact SeaNav themselves advise against it. I have, however,  found it to be a very useful planning tool though – armchair sailing in my head so to speak!
I like the menu bar at the bottom of the charts. It is intuitive to use and that is a big bonus as far as I am concerned…….an ICT Luddite! A ship icon starts the GPS and heads up display with basic navigation data such as lat and long, distance, bearing etc. It also gives details of your waypoints entered etc. The next icon along , a sort of eye shape locates your current GPS position and immediately centres that point on to the chart – so you always know where you are on the chart, if not in reality! Compass icons brings up a circular compass which overlays the chart. Then there is a measuring tool in the form of dividers with a green pin (where you start from) and a red pin (where you wish to end up). These can be moved about to measure distances between the two pins; useful additional data such as lat and long of each pin, bearing and distance between pins is shown at the bottom of the screen.
The route icon allows you to add waypoints, add new routes etc. I haven’t played about sufficiently with this bit yet to form any opinion about it.
Suffice to say, it seems to be good value for money and is, to me anyway, a useful app. I can plan voyages; work out the pilotage in advance; make useful notes for the cockpit and then relate it all to my paper charts that I take with me. It enables me to ‘sail routes in my head’ so to speak so that when I am out there on the water. I have already gained some familiarity with what to expect in terms of landmarks and pilotage information.  The pop ups are really helpful and informative. You can add on road layers on the land masses etc. as well.
I have yet to take the Ipad out with me on the water – there is a need for a suitable waterproof case and I guess I will have to wait until Christmas for that and hope someone in the family has heard my poorly disguised hints!
in the meantime, I guess a web search will turn up better reviews and more useful hints and tips about using SeaNav. I am heading back to playing with the app and dreaming about voyages up the Lynher next week, if we manage to get a break in what has been a spell of rather stormy weather these last few days

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