Now that we are in June, we will be ordering the electronic charts for our tour to Europe. We waited that long to download them as they get updated automatically for for the next year. They’ll be usable after that first year, but not updated for free anymore. We therefore waited until our departure month to activate this process.
How is this different from our past trips to Bermuda or the Caribbean (where we used the GPS systems installed in the boat and received weather forecast via Iridium SMS from friends)?
1. iPad apps are now mature enough to perform all required functions reliably
2. Navionics charts for iPads are significantly cheaper than for our Northstar GPS
3. The Apple ecosystem provides a network of apps that support each other, providing capabilities that our not brand new GPS could not perform.
The main difference: everything is combined in one mobile solution, an iPad, that we can carry around wherever we need it. It requires a good waterproof case, different power management and some sun protection as it is harder to read in the sun. And of course, it could go over board!
The main apps we use are:
iNavX will be our main navigation software. This is where all the charts are stored, waypoint & routes managed etc.
iPolar determines the boat speed for a certain angle to wind at a certain boatspeed. This is important input to out weather routing software, Weather 4D Pro.
Weather4D Pro will download weather forecasts via oru Iridium access, use the iPolar information and iNavX route to then determine that fasted way to our destination – which is not a straight line, but dependent on current and wind etc.
We also use the traditional Grib software, PocketGrib, to download more weather files (Grib files) to have a second opinion about the expected weather.
Tides Planner will become an important tool when we reach the channel, where tides and the resulting current are significant.
An example of how some of these apps integrate with each other:
1. Build polar diagram to determine boatspeed
2. Export Polars to Weather 4D PRo
3. Create route in iNavx
4. Export route to Weather4D Pro
5. Create Zone for Weather 4D PRo and download weather for that zone. To do that the apps predicts when Iridium satellite are in proximity of the user to ensure good data connection (which is still painfully slow with Iridium)
6. Download weather forecast for defined zone (the the route is in). This includes Gulf Stream data.
7. Perform weather routing
8. Export optimized route to iNavX
9. Activate route and enjoy the open ocean