Author: parrysoundboating

Charting Apps – An Informal Review (1)

As a small company (www.redrockeco.com) providing adventures in the Georgian Bay Biosphere we are regularly out on the water either with clients or working out new adventures. Operating with a 21′ foot Scout Dorado (the Beagle) equipped with a 150 hp Yamaha we have the ability to cover a lot of water quickly and still get onto the small islands that provide for unique perspectives of the area.

Our knowledge of the local area is good, and getting better, but we still rely on charts to keep off the rocks and help us find our way. If you have ever boated in the 30,000 Islands you will know how similar, yet unfamiliar, the many islands and inlets can seem. Having good charts is absolutely critical unless you have been on Georgian Bay for years or limit yourself to a few routes.

Until last summer we had been working with the approved commercially available Small-Craft Nautical Charts covering the area from south of the Massasauga Park to north of Pointe au Baril. They were effective but often proved difficult to use in practice. As an open cabin boat the charts would flutter when opened at cruising speed, they constantly needed to be ‘flipped’ over, and with time they were getting worn. But perhaps the biggest problem was that they did not tell you where you were. If you went exploring you needed to keep a sharp eye on where you had come from and where you thought you were. What seems easy in the introductory Power Squadron courses becomes a challenge at 40-50 kph, especially when the area is unmarked and there is the real prospect of hitting a rock.

So with that background you can understand why we started to investigate electronic charts. There are a few ways to go when it comes to electronics. One option is a dedicated GPS and plotter combination, much like the GPS units that come factory installed in cars and trucks. A second option is a handheld device like an iPhone, an Android phone, or a mobile GPS unit. These devices come with a GPS function built-in that can be used to plot your trip. When used in an automobile they connect with cellular towers to access maps that not only tell you where you are and display the roads, but also tell you how to get there. This is also an option when boating, but its really not practical, the screen is too small for boating at any type of speed, although it might be practical if canoeing, kayaking or sailing. And the ‘free’ mapping options don’t provide marine charts with water depths and navigation markers.

The third choice, and the one we will discuss in these articles, is using charting software on an Apple iPad. While the charting applications (Apps) we will review can be used on all iPads it’s only the GPS equipped iPads (not the less expensive WiFi-only models) that permit real-time location capabilities. These iPads typically cost about $100 more than the comparable WiFi-only models.

In our case we have a 3rd-Generation 32 GB iPad that is used for navigation, as well as credit card processing and the usual business email type activities, it also provides us with a real-time shore connection (texting and social media). It’s a very portable multifunction device that provides us with remarkable flexibility. The larger screen makes it much easier to see both details and the ‘big picture’.

But it would not be very useful on the Beagle without it’s GPS and charting capabilities. A fixed GPS and plotter would not only be considerably more expensive and require professional installation, it would take up precious space and not provide as much functionality.

In terms of charting Apps we used one package last summer with rather indifferent performance. It was, as a former colleague of mine would say, “better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick”. But it was far from optimal. Over the winter we looked into a couple of other options, one of which has become our go-to charting App. But your needs may be different. We’ll review our experience with the three Apps in the following series of post that I’ll try to get out on a weekly basis.

J. Bossart

Next Post (2) – Introducing the Three Apps

Disclaimer: all comments and opinions are the solely mine and not those of the Parry Sound Power and Sail Squadron. If you find an error or want to provide your perspective please post a comment. I’ll review them for appropriateness (there are too many spam bots out there) and make sure it gets posted up as soon as possible.

Flags Over Sail Parry Sound

Flags Over Sail Parry Sound

Can’t Find Your Boating License?

About this time of year boaters find they can’t locate their Pleasure Craft Operators Card (PCOC). We can’t help you but here are three suggestions to get you on the water legally.

1. If you earned the card from Canadian Power Squadron:
go online to: cps-ecp.ca, then choose: PCOC – LOST CARDS,
or call 1-888-CPS-BOAT

If you have problems solving it this way call John at 705-342-1315

2. If you earned the card from another group, call them. We’re sorry but we don’t have any numbers for you. A quick search online using the name of the organization should get you pointed in the right direction.

3. If the other group is not around any more, or you have forgotten who they are, call: Office of Boating Safety — 1-800-267-6681

We hope this helps; safe boating to all.

Marine VHF Course Update – Revised Dates

Please note the revised dates for the Parry Sound Power and Sail Squadron’s offering of the CPS Marine Radio Course. The course will be given the evenings of April 23rd and 30th. On successful completion of the course you will be licensed to operate a marine VHF radio.

The cost of the course is $75 for the public and $60 for Parry Sound Squadron members. Get your membership renewal in now to qualify for the member discount.

If you are planning on being on the big water anywhere in the Great Lakes it’s a good idea to have a VHF radio, and a license to use it. You need a Marine Radio License to use a VHF radio, even if you are using a hand held radio on a kayak.

Successful completion of the course will not only provide you with the information to effectively use your VHF radio, it will provide you with the license to use it.

For boaters in an emergency, a VHF radio can be more valuable than a cell phone. While *16 can reach the Coast Guard, there are parts of Georgian Bay where one cannot get a cell phone signal. More importantly, when you make an emergency call on channel 16 on a VHF radio, boaters close to you can hear and respond immediately. Help from the Canadian Coast Guard or a local township fire department can take much longer to reach you and generally cannot provide immediate help.

The course will consist of two sessions on  April 23rd and 30th from 7:00 – 9:00 PM. Attendance at both sessions is necessary to receive your VHF license.

Book now to ensure a seat. To register and for more information call John Mason at 705-342-1315.

Here is a little more information about this Canadian Power and Sail Squadron  course:

To operate a maritime radio, you need the certificate. It’s the law! The Maritime Radio course teaches emergency radio procedures, and everyday operating techniques.

You will learn all about the uses of marine radios, choice of frequencies, operation, phonetic alphabet, procedural words and phrases, as well as Digital Selective Calling and the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System, (DSC/GMDSS). All mariners, including recreational boaters, will want to take advantage of the many features and capabilities of this innovative form “automatic” radio.

Upon successful completion of the exam, you will receive your ROC(M) – a Canadian Federal government issued certificate that allows you to operate a marine VHF radio.

White Squall the Movie – Excitement on the High Seas

There was a small but enthusiastic group of Power Squadron members present for the presentation of the movie ‘White Squall’ at the Parry Sound District Museum last night. You missed a good movie shown on a ‘big screen’. Rent the movie locally if you want to watch a film that combines sailing, the complex relationships that define humans, and lots of action.

An interesting factoid. According to Wikipedia, “a white squall is characterized as a sudden and violent windstorm phenomenon at sea which is not accompanied by the black clouds generally characteristic of a squall. The name refers to the white-capped waves and broken water, its meager warning to any unlucky seaman caught in its path. White squalls are rare at sea, but common on the Great Lakes of North America.” Here’s the link if you want to read more.

Well neither Anne nor I have any plans to cruise the Atlantic after watching this movie. As long as we don’t have to worry about ‘white squalls’ in Parry Sound harbor you can expect to catch us out there from time-to-time this summer.

Here is a link to information about the movie and another to the ill fated brigantine the Albatross. The link provides some interesting thoughts about the cause of the disaster.

Marine Radio Course – Registration Open

Are you planning to be on the big water around Parry Sound this summer? If yes, you must have a Marine Radio License to use a VHF radio, even if you are using a hand held radio on a kayak.

The Parry Sound Power and Sail Squadron will be offering the CPS Marine Radio Course April 16th and 23rd. Successful completion of the course will not only provide you with the information to effectively use your VHF radio, it will provide you with the license to use it.

For boaters in an emergency, a VHF radio can be more valuable than a cell phone. While *16 can reach the Coast Guard, there are parts of Georgian Bay where one cannot get a cell phone signal AND, most importantly, when you make an emergency call on channel 16 on a VHF radio, boaters close to you can hear and respond immediately. Help from the Canadian Coast Guard or a local township fire department can take much longer to reach you and provide immediate help.

The course will consist of two sessions on  April 16th and 23rd from 7:00 – 9:00 PM. Attendance at both sessions is necessary to receive your VHF license.

The cost is only $75 per registrant, with a discount for CPS members. The course will be given in Parry Sound.

Book now to ensure a seat. To register and for more information call John Mason at 705-342-1315.

Here is a little more information about this Canadian Power and Sail Squadron  course:

To operate a maritime radio, you need the certificate. It’s the law! The Maritime Radio course teaches emergency radio procedures, and everyday operating techniques.

You will learn all about the uses of marine radios, choice of frequencies, operation, phonetic alphabet, procedural words and phrases, as well as Digital Selective Calling and the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System, (DSC/GMDSS). All mariners, including recreational boaters, will want to take advantage of the many features and capabilities of this innovative form “automatic” radio.

Upon successful completion of the exam, you will receive your ROC(M) – a Canadian Federal government issued certificate that allows you to operate a marine VHF radio.

The Boating Course Started – You Missed It

Contact us for information on when the next course will be offered

This course provides in depth boat operation and safety training as the next step  after the boating card.  The BOATING COURSE starts January 16th and is especially needed as boaters experience twofootitis and as eyes are set on further harbours.

In Spring, Marine Radio Courses will be offered.  You must have this radio licence to operate a VHF radio on the water.

For more information call: John at 342-1315 OR Andy at 773-9527

Want to know why you should take the course? Read on:

Why should I take a safe boating course?”

Would you start driving a car before taking a course or driving lessons? No, and for good reason. But the answer to the same question about operating a boat, whether a power boat, personal watercraft or sailboat, is often very different. Most people believe that operating a boat is easier than operating a car.  Perhaps not!

Let’s think about this comparison. On the written driver test you must identify road signs. The same is true for travel on the water.  More than sixty different signs, markers, lights and flags are noted in Transport Canada’s Safe Boating Guide. Do you know them all? Continue reading