Why use a marine navigation software to prepare a route, a journey, or a marine expedition?

Marine navigation software has become an indispensable tool in the world of offshore racing. It is critical for race directors to ensure the most accurate preparation and conduct of a competitive race.

Route in the Baltic Sea MOD70 European Tour 2012 by Gilles Chiorri
Above screen shot shows a route section of the Baltic Sea MOD70 Step # 1 MOD70 European Tour 2012.

The question of whether to install electronic chart software can arise for coastal navigation (cruises or racing) and for offshore trips, so it is very important to identify the merits of using this type of tool….

If a reminder was necessary, the sea is of course, a formidable environment. It requires accurate planning, both on land and at sea. This anticipation is needed in order to fully understand, prepare and carry out navigation with good seamanship.

The following factors affect each and every route navigated: the distance and time needed to cover it depending on the boat specs, the type of coastline and its dangers, weather and sea conditions, tidal currents, the ports or shelters along the route etc.

Nowadays, a navigation software installed on a laptop such as TimeZero developed by MaxSea, allows integration with, and quick and easy access to all of the above elements in just a few clicks of the mouse.

Whether you are at home in the preparation phase, or in live navigation mode, course preparation is made extremely comprehensive, and also allows a high level of interface customization.

The TimeZero software features a wide zoom level on charts, (which is identical to SHOM charts, and should therefore remain “familiar-looking”) which is the equivalent of having a wide portfolio of paper charts immediately accessible. Thus the tools zoom-in and zoom-out then allow you to have a good visual picture of the desired navigation area.

TimeZero allows you to overlay satellite photos on your chart, so that you can visualize specific places in advance, and plan a correct approach to the area!

Route in Denmark by Gilles ChiorriIn addition, the “divider” tool (bearing/distance) can be used to quickly segment the route, or measure distances and position themselves in relation to geographic points of interest. It is possible to simultaneously create a course outline using the “route” tool and to start live navigation. With just a few clicks along the way, you have your route, distance and direction (true or magnetic option) between each waypoint, as well as the cumulative distance. You can name each waypoint, and insert or move a waypoint at any time during navigation of the route.

Preparing a route becomes fun and you can always refer back to your navigation logbook. By making all the possible adjustments, a basic route gradually transforms into a detailed course, corresponding with your expectations such as your safety criteria in relation to distance from shore or a shoal, a place that you want to see up close etc.

All data created in the software can then be saved with the route name, and even assigned to a specific layer, which as its name suggests can be displayed or hidden according to your wishes. Once activated, this route can be exported to your GPS for rapid access to route information.

Once the software is integrated with onboard navigation hardware (GPS and other suitable instruments) TimeZero is transformed into an even more powerful navigation aid. Your boat is symbolized by an icon to scale that moves in real time on your screen, as simple as a video game.

Route in Marseille MOD70 European Tour 2012 by Gilles Chiorri
Above screen shot: Marseille and landing zone changes MOD70 in Marseille (source MOD70 European Tour 2012).

After importing the marine weather forecast file (commonly known as a “GRIB” file), you can launch the routing function to optimize your route by integrating the effects of weather conditions on your route. You can also calculate the ETA on the next waypoint or decide the fastest route to reach your end point. The routing function and comprehensive weather of TimeZero opens the door to anticipation, and accurate planning.

In conclusion, after many years at the chart table equipped with a Cras Ruler, a handheld compass and dividers, with an eye on the GPS, it now seems essential to have TimeZero onboard, whatever the intended sailing, inshore or offshore, whether racing or cruising!

Happy navigating to all of you this summer.

Gilles Chiorri

Race Director – Navigator

Gilles Chiorri - french sailorGilles Chiorri is a French sailor and Merchant Navy officer with an impressive background as a skipper.

He is the new race director and race manager of the MOD70 European Tour and other major ocean races.  He works also as OC Events Director and Yachts Consulting Executive Director.

Chiorri won the Mini Transat in 1987, the Jules Verne Trophy in 2002 (with Bruno Peyron) and finished second in La Solitaire du Figaro in 2002.

Gilles Chiorri is currently using MaxSea TimeZero marine software, nautical charts and modules as a sailor and race director.

yachtsconsulting@gmail.com

TIMEZERO Weather Routing explained by founder Brice Pryszo

Here’s an explanation on TIMEZERO Routing Module given by the Group’s CEO and founder, Brice Pryszo.

In 1984, when I designed the “isochrones” routing algorithm method, the only existing routing solutions required the use of powerful shore-based computers which basically tested millions of routes to choose the best one. This required power and time then not available on board sail boats. The MaxSea routing algorithm was designed to be executed on a personal computer.

The very first time that I tested the TIMEZERO routing algorithm was during the Trans-Atlantic race “La Route de la Decouverte” with Philippe Jeantot onboard Credit Agricole. Philippe was late arriving at the Canary Islands due to equipment failure. The fleet leaders, 24 hours ahead, were sailing WSW in nice 10-15 Kt trade winds, south of a low pressure system (as any smart sailor would do).

Meanwhile, the TIMEZERO routing algorithm sent Credit Agricole NW, straight into unsettled weather and unstable wind, up to the cold front of a deep low pressure system. The first hours were not welcoming but behind the cold front, a 20 Kt North wind pushed the large catamaran at twice the speed of the remaining fleet fleet. Two days later, Credit Agricole was leading the race by several hundred miles. At that time no experienced navigator would have chosen such a solution!

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Another astonishing example of the power of routing occurred when we tried to optimize an Atlantic passage West to East with regular high pressure mid Atlantic. As any good sailor knows, routing should begin by passing around the high pressure using a northerly course. Instead of following the quiet sailing to the east, the routing plunged the course to the south, straight into the low pressure center. Before reaching ineffective wind, the routing jibbed the boat port into an increasing breeze perfect for reaching, making her route much faster than if she had taken the northern route with a downwind slog.

These two incidents had a major effect on sail boat racing results. Today, using routing is absolutely necessary to be competitive in ocean and long distance races. Routing has also proven to be great tool for cruisers because it greatly enhances safety and comfort. Routing can exploit user-defined characteristics and create what we call “cruising” or “safety” polar curves. Utilizing such polar curves the routing will do all it can to find a path which avoids strong wind. This is beneficial because strong wind is generally surrounded by medium wind in which the boat is faster allowing her to “escape”.

Finally, I have to say that the weather prediction centers are becoming much more efficient, and increasingly accurate data is now available. Some data is very good for “Longer Offshore Races” such as the Fastnet race. The “Arpege-Aladin” model from the French Meteorological Office takes in account land influences, has a 8 km x 8 km resolution grid and is relatively accurate for 36 or 48 hours. This makes it especially useful for offshore races other than ocean passages. We can expect major improvements in the near future, while organizations such as NOAA continue to work with new technologies.

Brice Pryszo, Founder and CEO of TIMEZERO’s GROUP

From Brittany to the Antilles Islands: MaxSea user testimonial

Jean-Michel and Annette André, sailors and MaxSea TimeZero users, describe how they take advantage of their marine navigation software. The testimonial was kept in its original language (french).

Annette planning her trip with MaxSea TimeZero

Utilisateur de MaxSea depuis de nombreuses années, j’ai acquis en 2009 la version TimeZero qui m’a accompagné sans faiblesse tout au long d’un parcours Atlantique de Bretagne aux Antilles par le Sénégal et le Brésil. J’apprécie la fiabilité de la cartographie (celle des cartes papier que j’utilisais antérieurement) et la fluidité dans le changement d’échelle.

J’utilise bien sûr les diverses fonctions proposées pour la navigation (points, routes, routage) mais la possibilité de recevoir des fichiers météo (fichiers grib de Sea Chopper) à tout moment et en tout lieu avec l’iridium est pour ma part, déterminante. Ces fichiers sont de plus en plus précis et complets (vent, précipitations, vagues etc..)

Certaines fonctions m’apparaissaient secondaires. Les photos satellites appartenaient à cette catégorie jusqu’à ce que je découvre que celles-ci pouvaient être beaucoup plus précises que les cartographies officielles peu fiables en certains endroits peu fréquentés de notre parcours.

Je suis donc un utilisateur très satisfait de MaxSea et si je peux me permettre une réserve, celle-ci concerne la possibilité de mise à jour en ligne, des cartes.

Are a you a MaxSea user?  How about sharing your experience with fellow sailors? Send your testimonials to info@maxsea.fr or vist us at: http://www.facebook.com/maxseasoftware