Thursday, May 15, 2008

Navigation Software

Anyone doing research on Navigation Software, the place to start is Tim Flanagan's post the aptly named "The Best Navigation Software" on his excellent site NAVGEAR. His post summarizes and points the way to a extensive review over at MadMariner.

I've been researching navigation software myself. What I am looking for is a program running on a laptop which is plugged into a AIS pilot plug. At minimum I would like to be able to display the AIS data on the laptop's bigger screen. Beyond that, a display of the track-line and the cross track error would be helpful as would the ability to easily enter in data such as traffic separation limits and the like.

I have been using Waypoint for Windows for many years now, I consider it the American Express of software, I won't leave home without it. Aboard ship it is one of the main elements in the voyage plan. The principle advantages of Waypoint is, it passes the KISS test, it has a low learning curve and is designed for professional mariners.

One of the disadvantages of Waypoint for Windows is it is more or less a spreadsheet which calculates distances, bearing and ETAs but has no charting functions. We use paper charts so that by itself is not a big problem but I have found that it is easy make an error while keying in waypoints and it is somewhat difficult and time consuming to check for errors. If there is a clerical error in the waypoint file I often only discover it when I enter way points (again!) into to the proprietary weather routing program which has a simple, non-navigational type chart display.

Most of the software I've seen is directed at boaters or cruisers, anyone have any deep-sea, professional experience with navigation software?

No comments: