Real-time internet AIS Sharing to Navionics, iNavX, OpenCPN etc. with Boat Beacon

Boat Beacon can now share its real time AIS feed from our global AIS aerial network via NMEA with other apps on the same device or on the same Wifi Network. Boat Beacon acts as a “Virtual AIS Receiver” with over the horizon coverage and is the first and currently only app out there that offers this.
Boat Beacon’s global realtime AIS coverage.
 We hope this will prove popular with folks who already have other Marine Navigation apps/charts like Navionics, OpenCPN and iNavX which support an external NMEA AIS feed but don’t have their own Internet based AIS network or feed available.
Navionics have worked closely with us on this with their Boating app  AIS feature and recommend Boat Beacon in its own category in their  Boating app – AIS Devices Compatibility Guide.
The new Boat Beacon AIS Share feature is free to trial.  If you find it useful you can use it any time when you are out boating for a small monthly or annual subscription via IAP.
You can get the latest version of Boat Beacon from the Apple App Store here and Google PlayStore here.
By the way, our own top selling marine charts navigation app SeaNav already has AIS built in as standard and if you haven’t tried SeaNav why don’t you give it a spin for free first, you can download it from here now https://apps.apple.com/app/seanav/id857841271 .
Here are some screenshots from Navionics, iNavX and OpenCPN using it.

Navionics connected to Boat Beacon on 127.0.0.1 TCP port 5353

On iOS

On Android
 iNavX on same  device ( using TCP 127.0.0.1 port 5353 )

OpenCPN running on a Mac via Wifi to Boat Beacon running on an iPhone ( TCP to 192.168.1.106 port 5353).

 

There are some simple step by step instructions on how to set up Boat Beacon AIS Sharing with the Navionics Boating app here:-  https://pocketmariner.com/setup-boat-beacon-share-ais-navionics/

and here is the description in our user guide:-

AIS Sharing

Share Boat Beacon’s real time internet AIS feed via NMEA with other apps on your device and on the same Wifi network, like Navionics, OpenCPN on your Mac, iNavX etc. so you can see live ship positions around you on their charts as well. Pocket Mariner’s AIS service is fed by one of the largest network of AIS shore receivers world-wide covering most major ports, harbours and popular coastal areas with over 60,000 live ship positions at any time. Boat Beacon acts like a virtual AIS receiver and can also share your live position via Internet AIS with other users and internet based AIS services like MarineTraffic. After purchasing the Boat Beacon AIS Sharing IAP (monthly or yearly subscriptions available) just set your other apps NMEA TCP settings to connect to the IP address and TCP port (default is 5353) shown in Boat Beacon’s AIS Share setting. If you are sharing with an app on the same device you can use 127.0.0.1 as the IP address to connect to instead of the actual device IP address so you never have to change the setting when you are on a different network. Boat Beacon must be in sailing mode when sharing with other apps on the same device so it can track your position and continually update the live AIS data around you in the background. Tap the SailBoat icon  bottom left to enable Sailing mode. In the unlikely event that you need to change the TCP port number in Boat Beacon to another number, tap on the AIS Share setting row and enter it. 

On iOS you can try it out at home when there are no boats around your location by putting Boat Beacon into Demo mode ( Settings/Demo mode) first and then set sailing mode. Make sure the other app is showing the same map location as the demo mode is. Make sure to turn sailing and demo mode off when you are done. If Boat Beacon is not displaying any ships around your location then no ships will appear in the other apps either.

On Android get a 3 day free trial to try it out when you sign up for one of the subscription options. You can cancel the subscription at any time and will not be charged anything if you cancel before the end of free trial period.

Get the latest version of Boat Beacon from the App Store from here now and Google PlayStore here.

Entering routes and waypoints with SeaNav on a Mac

Here is how to enter routes and waypoints in SeaNav Mac
Left mouse click on the chart and select “Start new route here”
Screenshot 2019-05-21 at 12.48.31.png
A green pin will be placed on the map and the Navigation panel will display on the left with the first waypoint information.
To add the next waypoint move to another point and left mouse click and select “Add waypoint here”.

A red pin will appear with a blue line (route) from the first pin.
Screenshot 2019-05-21 at 12.48.59.png
You can add as many waypoints as you require and drag and drop the waypoint markers using a long mouse select on them.

Tap the i button on a Waypoint to give it a name ( optional) and view the full lat and long position ( including when you drag and drop it) so you can set its location precisely.

Screenshot 2019-05-21 at 12.53.03.png
Click on Done when finished and you can then sail the route at any time by pressing Sail. You can also select a previously saved route, Sail it , edit it or export it.
You can add a set of existing waypoints from a spreadsheet following this blog article:-
Here’s our guide on iPhone which also has some relevance to Mac. You can also export/import routes between the iOS SeaNav and Mac SeaNav app and also view them in Google Earth.
You can view the routes at any time by tapping the Navigation tab – there is a Demo route in the Solent included with the app that you can use to play with (tap the i button to view the route details and select Edit Route) :-
Screenshot 2019-05-21 at 12.58.45.png

Simple 3dB dipole VHF AIS Marine Aerial from co-ax cable

Here’s how we make an AIS tuned 3dB gain VHF aerial using RF-coax cable.
Buy a 5 or 10m length of  50 ohm RF coax cable with bnc connectors already attached – this makes two – http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00JVUP0L4. Cut to required length. Strip back the outer coating at the cut end to a length of 44.4cm + 5cm to make a loop (1/4wave for AIS frequencies). Pull the inner core through the outer sheath and lay the outer sheath back along the length of the coax and trim to 44.4cm. I add a couple of cm to the length so I can bend the tip of the inner core back on itself to hook it over something. Make sure the length of the inner is 44.4cm excluding the looped over end. Cover in heat shrink wrap if you want to make it waterproof and you have a 3dB gain AIS Aerial.
There is a useful video here showing how to do it here :-
and a photo of a 5m long one we made earlier. This one had a range of over 25NM when we put it on the 20th floor of a high rise in Singapore.
Screen Shot 2016-04-08 at 15.07.39

You could also go one step further and make a 6dB  collinear like this from Neil Arundale (I have made and used one of these too and it compared equally with a £120 commercial collinear).

I hope that this inspires someone. If you get connected up please consider sharing your AIS data with us. We can provide a dedicated port and web view for your data.

New Zealand and Finland Marine Charts for SeaNav

SeaNav now has seamless official raster (RNC) charts available for download for the whole of New Zealand and Finland. You can use all SeaNav’s route planning, POI and live navigation tools and display on top of the charts like you can with the existing vector charts.

Charts are automatically installed and saved as you browse and zoom in on SeaNav and you can also download all the charts in a map region for offline use ( no internet connection) in a single go.

Zoom right in to get fantastic detail on the charts. Here’s the marina in Auckland with live AIS ship positions overlaid:-

Here is Finland showing the chart coverage (outlined in red):-

and here is Helsinki zoomed in about half way:-

And zoomed close in at the beautiful Aaland islands between Finland and Sweden

You can find the new raster charts listed under SeaNav/Settings/SeaNav Chart Store in the new “Raster section at the bottom”.  A yearly subscription also provides ongoing chart updates from the Finnish and New Zealand Hydrographic offices. Get SeaNav for free from the app store and download  the new chart IAPs now:-https://itunes.apple.com/app/seanav/id857841271

Danish Vector Marine charts for SeaNav

Danish charts are now available in SeaNav. The vector marine charts are licensed and derived from the official Danish Hydrographic Office data. These cover the whole of the European Danish waters. Please see the coverage map below.

Coverage Map for Danish charts:

Here is a close up on the iPhone showing the approach to Copenhagen. Being  vector charts, all chart objects are tappable to give more information. This includes names and types as well as distance and bearing from your position. Sectored lights also show the colours, range and sector angle when tapped.

SeaNav also has complete live Ship (AIS) coverage for the whole of Denmark. Here is an example in the Aabenraa Fjord showing the Maureen S. just departed on her way to Germany.

SeaNav now has UK, IE, NL, BE, FR, DE, ES, US and CA charts available with complete coverage across the English Channel  and we now have continuous coverage from Nantes in France through Belgium and the Netherlands, across Denmark and Germany including the German inland waterways.  Current European chart coverage is outlined in red below.

Norwegian charts are also available for free in SeaNav’s sister app, NaviPlotter by Nautisk (same app as SeaNav but with different branding and additional Norwegian charts from the Norwegian HO).

The Danish charts and others can be obtained via a simple In App Purchase (IAP ) in SeaNav and SeaNav UK. All SeaNav charts are regularly updated while you have a valid chart subscription in place. You can read more about SeaNav and how to download our free version here –  SeaNav

How to import lots of Points of Interest using SeaNav POI csv to kmz converter

SeaNav lets you add individual Point of Interest (POI) at a tap of the screen in the app but what about importing a list of POIs that you already have? We have set up a service to make creating SeaNav Points of Interest from a list of latitudes and longitudes easier and faster. Simply upload a CSV file ( spreadsheet comma separated values) of the POIs using this web link

https://seanav.net/charts/poi_upload.form.php

A SeaNav ready kmz file will be downloaded to your desktop which you can then share and import to SeaNav via email or Dropbox. You can also view the kmz file in Google Earth.
The format for the csv file is very simple and contains one or more lines with:-
name,type (integer 1-6),description,longitude(DD.DDD),latitude (DD.DDD)

e.g. Bass here,3,Good spot,-0.473850,50.291134
The POI types are:

  • 1.  general
  • 2. hazard
  • 3.  fishing spot
  • 4.  diving location
  • 5.  race markers for club racing
  • 6.  favourite harbour or anchorage spot
  • 7.  bridge

These set the POI icon to be used as well.

The description can be html markup including an image link e.g.

“<img src=’http://myserver.com/mypicture.png’><br>Inlet</br>”

Be sure to wrap html descriptions in quotes as above.

There is more about SeaNav POIs here

SeaNav Favourite Places – Share POIs and Routes

and we have a large database of existing and publicly shared POIs including Marinas and Harbours that you can view and send to SeaNav here :-

https://seanav.net/charts/pois

 

 

Alexa Boat Beacon skill – talk with your boat

Boat Beacon now works with the amazing Amazon Alexa and Echo devices using our free Alexa Boat Beacon skill.

“Alexa, ask Boat Beacon my position”

“Sarita is travelling North East at 6 Knots in the English channel currently 5 miles south west of Plymouth”.

Or ask for “exact position” and hear : “Sarita. Latitude 52 degrees 1 minute North, Longitude 1 degree 52 minutes 34 seconds West, course 55 degrees true, speed 5 Knots.”

You can see a short 19s video clip of the Boat Beacon Alexa skill in action here :-http://boatbeaconapp.com/BoatBeaconAlexa.mp4

Just ask Alexa to register your Boat Beacon 9 digit BBSI number (without the BB prefix) to associate the Alexa Boat Beacon skill with your own Boat Beacon app and put Boat Beacon in transmit mode (sailing)  to update your location, speed and course in real time.

“Alexa, ask Boat Beacon to register 617648992”

Response: “Boat Beacon BBSI 617648992 has been successfully registered. You may now ask for its position”.

You can find your unique Boat Beacon BBSI number at the bottom of Settings/My Boat Details in the Boat Beacon app on your iPhone or Android device. See the iPhone screenshot below.

Friends and family can also use the Boat Beacon Alexa skill to follow your progress  when you share your Boat Beacon BBSI 9 digit number with them.

We have lots of other ideas up our sleeves for the Alexa Boat Beacon skill if it proves popular. “Alexa, ask Boat Beacon to alert me on CPA” , “Alexa, ask Boat Beacon to tell me if the wind exceeds 6 knots” and would love to hear your ideas. And if you want to know where another boat is by name or MMSI number you can use our free Boat Watch Alexa skill

Get the free Boat Beacon Alexa skill here now:-

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07BDN2W6X

How to find your BBSI number

Open settings in Boat Beacon on your iOS or Android device, select My Boat Details and scroll down to the bottom to see your Boat Beacon Id  (BBSI). Use the 9 digit number (without the BB letters ) to connect Alexa with your iOS or Android device.

 

Latest Global AIS Coverage map

Here is the latest snapshot of our worldwide AIS coverage broken down into 0.25 degree squares. Zoom in to see the detail. We have recently added coverage for the whole of Finland, Norway and Denmark, the Black and Red Seas, Istanbul, The Suez canal and the Panama canal (East) and mucg improved coverage around the UK and IE. We are now showing over 50,000 live ship positions per hour; amongst the best in the industry. We only use real time data. We do not use satellite data which can be several hours behind real item like some other AIS services do.

We also record all the AIS messages and store them for ever. We have global time stamped AIS data going back to 2014. If you would like to use our live or historic AIS data please contact us at support@pocketmariner.com

 

How to create and edit a route with SeaNav

Here is a quick guide on how to add a new route in SeaNav

Tap the route button at the bottom of the screen.

Long press on the chart where you want to add a waypoint and tap “Add Waypoint here” on the popup.

Add the next waypoint in the same way

And a third and as may as you want and then tap Done when you have finished. You can move the waypoints you have already added using a long press on one to select it and then dragging it to the desired position. You can also edit the exact position (latitude and longitude) later in the Manage Routes view.

After pressing Done the route will be shown on your chart. You can then start sailing the route or tap the Route icon again to Edit or Manage your routes.

Tap Manage Routes to see all your routes and select a different one of manually edit the current one.

Tap the i button next to a route to see more detail. You can also edit the fields on the detailed view. For instance change the route name from Route2 to Cardiff. Tap the i next to a Waypoint to add names for the waypoints and edit their precise latitude and longitudes. You can enter the latitudes and longitudes in most formats ( e.g. Degrees Minute Seconds, Degrees Minutes and Decimal Degrees (e.g. 52.1345) ) and you do not need to enter the degree, minute or second symbols. Here are some examples:-

DM : 28° 52.634 ́ N can be entered as 28 54.634

DMS :28° 52′ 48″W can be entered as 28 52 48W or   -28 52 48

This view also lets you export the route via email or dropbox to share with others, keep a backup or share with your iPad or Mac (tap the box with an arrow going upwards from it).

If you have any questions please email us at support@pocketmariner.com or view the SeaNav User Guide here:- http://seanav.net/help.html

Charter a yacht with Click&Boat – the Airbnb for boats

When I am travelling for business to places near the sea I always want to be able to charter a yacht to stay on instead of having to search for a hotel – I  just prefer the peace that this offers. I was actually able to manage it once while visiting Barcelona for a very large conference. You’d typically think that this would be just as, or if not more expensive but I was able to save a fortune compared to the cost of the regular hotels in the city. On top of this I  had a fantastic  sea view. Truthfully, at the time it was quite difficult for me to find and arrange. Although not any longer. I have discovered this great new website for yacht charter , Click&Boat.

The company is the boating equivalent of Airbnb. Boat owners create listing for their boats depending on their availability, they choose the price, dates and can offer charters with or without a skipper. Users simply enter in your search requirements, browse the range of boats available and take their pick. Once they have requested the boat they would like they are able to talk directly to the boat owner to make the final arrangements.

So in my case; I needed to stay in Southampton for a Boat Show. The exhibition hotel was over £300 a night and fully booked so instead I found a yacht to charter on  Click&Boat within walking distance of the show and for less than half of that price.

I am also thinking of putting my catamaran Sarita on the Click&Boat website – fancy a stay on the beautiful river Wye with power and water to hand?

Sarita alfoat again.

Click&Boat have more than 20,000 yachts listed on their websites and over 40,000 customer reviews. They are the European authority on peer to peer yacht charter and offer you a secure service.

Go take a look.