We now have a video ad for Boat Beacon, amazing what these creatives can pack into 12s of video.
Click here to see the ad.
We now have a video ad for Boat Beacon, amazing what these creatives can pack into 12s of video.
Click here to see the ad.
We are excited to announce the release of our next nautical navigation app – SeaNav®
SeaNav ® lets you explore, plan and navigate your boating trips in real time and outstanding high-resolution using the latest Digital Vector Marine charts covering the US & Great Lakes or UK and Ireland.
Buy once and use on both your iPhone and iPad devices. SeaNav works in high-resolution on your iPad and iPhone without having to buy an additional HD version.
SeaNav has two versions, SeaNav US which uses NOAA charts and provides complete coverage of USA and Great Lakes.SeaNav UK uses UKHO charts, and offers complete coverage for UK and Ireland. Both versions are available from the App Store on your iPhone or iPad.
We were asked if we could help out with a new Australian Coast Guard radio log system using Boat Beacon. The system is now live and made it onto Australian TV.
N.B. The clip where they accredited Pocket Mariner with making Boat Beacon is on the cutting room floor unfortunately – you have to love reporters 🙂
Pocket Mariner will be attending the AIS Summit in Hamburg, Germany.
Looking forward to meeting the Marine Traffic and AIS-Hub folks along with the rest of the world-wide AIS community.
Captain Ian Engelbrecht and First Mate Ibolya Palko from Worldwide Yacht Deliveries sent us a report today on how Boat Beacon helped them when they were caught in fog 4NM off the South African coast. They were sailing a Jaguar 36 Catamaran on a 900 mile, 12 day voyage from Cape Town to Durban, South Africa. There is a map showing their planned route to the right. They had just passed Hamburg on their route up the East South African coast when they lost visibility. Their primary AIS system had failed. They did the right thing and diverted in close to shore to find shallow waters and avoid any commercial shipping (see the track map below). They were hoping there wouldn’t be anything else so close in. They decided to power up Boat Beacon on their Android smartphone and leave it running to keep a look out.
Boat Beacon alerted them to a container ship, also close in, going in the opposite direction! At a range of 21 NM ( well over the normal VHF AIS horizon) Boat Beacon gave them plenty of time to assess the situation and take the necessary avoiding action.
They also had some very useful feedback. Having no visibility and due to the specific courses involved, they weren’t too sure on how the Closest Point of Approach (CPA) would pan out. In other words what would the CPA be in relation to their vessel – port or starboard? That made it difficult to decide on the correct avoiding action to take. Captain Iain Engelbrecht asked if we could add a new feature to Boat Beacon to give the bearing of the closest point of approach with respect to one’s own boat (e.g. 0° is dead ahead, 90° to starboard, 270° is to port etc.).
Captain Engelbrecht was impressed by Boat Beacon’s real time performance – that may have saved their lives – and our immediate response to his suggestion. We are now adding the new CPA Bearing feature, continuing Pocket Mariner’s commitment to providing useful, professional and affordable aids to navigation and safety.
The iPhone 5 had a nice surprise up its sleeve for Compass Eye. The camera on the iPhone 5 has a 4 fold increase in low light ability (iso 3200). Unfortunately Apple did not make this available to existing apps out of the box. You have to specifically request the function to be enabled within your app on iOS 6. Yesterday I did just that and tested a new version of Compass Eye on the iPhone 5 against the iPhone4S at dusk – and the results speak for themselves:-
I was trying to take a bearing on the Dovecot (white with pointy roof) – bit like a North Cardinal 🙂
This is pretty close to how the scene looked to the naked eye too (admittedly non-light adapted). Can you see the Dovecot?
Below is the same scene taken on the iPhone 5 , 28s earlier. Bearing acquired!
I continued taking photos with the iPhone 5 until they matched the iPhone 4 photo at 17:13:59. Even 10 minutes later the iPhone 5 was better than the earlier iPhone 4S photo and I could still just about take a fix on the Dovecot. This could be a real advantage.
A new version of Compass Eye (2.0) is now available in the iTunes store that takes full advantage of the new camera on the iPhone 5 and also has an automatic night vision mode to help maintain your dark adaption.
We recently received an excellent review of Boat Beacon in the German Yacht magazine including some great screen shots. It generated a lot of interest with German boaters.
I wrote to the author to ask if we could use his screen shots in the iTunes store. We received a lovely reply:-
“I am the author of the review at yacht.de. I bought and tested the app on a voyage from Emden (western Germany) to river west of Hamburg – and I was very impressed by the app. We sailed the whole night through with a lot of wind and high waves. My father was with me on board, his first time on the north sea – and he got seasick the moment we left sheltered water. So I sailed singlehanded and Boat Beacon was a great help. As the boat has no AIS-System attached to the plotter, it was very helpful to have it on the iphone. Also to be able to find out in which direction the other ships were heading when I saw us on collision course. The friends and family followed our progress at home on the computer. One friend even followed us sailing up the river Oste and sent me the phonenumbers for the bascule bridges the moment we reached them.”
BoatU.S. have reviewed Boat Beacon and lists it first of the 4 Best Apps To Keep You Safe On The Water
We popped down to the Southampton Boat Show to share our wares and look for new App ideas. We also got a chance to take Boat Beacon out for a spin on a $1M Speed boat and test at high speed!
Here are some real time screen shots from the boat and of Boat Beacon’s display. All lined up in real time perfectly. We are on the purple boat in the centre of the screenshot doing just over 20Kts overtaking Red Falcon which is to port.
We met up with Yachting Monthly Editor, Keiran Flatt and he is going to publish our Marine Apps survey on-line and in the next print edition and he also had some ideas for new Marine Apps he would like to see. He is thinking of setting up a photo shoot and story about our company with a trip down the Wye to the Severn from our offices on Sarita.
A fantastic day and some great new ideas and opportunites for Boat Beacon and for some new Apps.
by Steve Bennett, Captain, Pocket Mariner.
I sail a 30 foot Catamaran in the Bristol Channel, one of the most challenging areas of water in the World due to its high tidal range, currents and sandbanks – see http://www.bcya.org.uk/content/sailing-bristol-channel .
As with sailing in any waters, you need to keep in mind ports of refuge (most harbours dry), keep an eye on the weather (the channel faces West or South West, the direction of the prevailing winds) and keep a careful eye open for the very large vessels that use Bristol, Milford, Cardiff and Swansea.
With a following tide of up to 8 knots these vessels can have a speed over ground (SOG) of over 25 knots (30 mph!) – 75,000 Tonnes approaching at 30mph! Judging their position versus yours as you approach the narrow Channel under the Severn Bridge is challenging even in good visibility – in poor it’s beyond scary! It’s vital you keep out of their way because they can’t turn or stop quickly! At 25 knots they can appear from over the horizon in less than 5 minutes. Survival depends on you spotting them and getting out of the way. Even if they could see you they probably couldn’t avoid you in time – you just “don’t want to mess with them”!
The International Maritime Organization‘s (IMO) International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) requires AIS to be fitted aboard international voyaging ships with gross tonnage (GT) of 300 or more tons, and all passenger ships regardless of size. AIS works a bit like radar, but better. Ships continuously transmit their details and position and can be displayed on a live map display.
The Ship AIS units cost thousands of dollars. Small AIS receivers are available for around $400 which will allow you to show these boats on a computer screen including their course, speed and their MMSI – Marine Telephone Number – so you can call them up on VHF radio. But, that requires a large outlay and a computer screen or an even more expensive dedicated unit or Chart Plotter.
Worse than that there is also the horizon problem. An AIS receiver can only see as far as the horizon. For an aerial mounted at deck height as many are, the horizon is about one nautical mile away ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horizon ). A ship with its AIS aerial at 10m above sea level has a horizon of about six miles. With an approach velocity of 28 knots it could be upon you from nowhere in 15 minutes. This is where the network of shore-based AIS systems come to the fore. As long as you are within GSM coverage and there are AIS shore stations in your area then you can pickup AIS via the Internet and not only see over the horizon but anywhere in the world.
There were already a couple of iPhone apps available which will receive internet AIS data and plot ships’ positions over a Google map. One such app, widely used by sailing fans (though not necessarily sailors themselves) love it for spotting, watching and learning about ships around the world from their desk or the harbour-side cafe. It has even been featured on CNN. I tried using it in the Bristol Channel and it was a decent app, but it’s clearly aimed at landlubbers and there were several key features that, as a Skipper, I needed from an AIS app that this kind of app doesn’t provide. Collision Detection in the background and being able to transmit and share my position on global AIS systems Being the two most important.
I wanted to be alerted if I was on a potential collision course with another boat that I might not even be able to see yet and I didn’t want to have to keep checking a screen every five minutes.
There have been several collisions between small boats and ships reported over the last year. Fortunately no one has been seriously injured in the recent one below in the Solent at Cowes
I have been developing apps for mobile devices for over 15 years and decided to put that experience to the task of creating an ideal app for sailors like me – with the result being Boat Beacon. Not only will Boat Beacon display ships and their information on a Google map, it continuously monitors all ships within a 60 mile radius, 5 to 10 times further than a conventional AIS receiver on my boat could do, and calculates their Closest Point of Approach (CPA).
If any are going to be within 100m of me within the next 10 minutes, Boat Beacon alerts with an alarming Big Ship’s horn – plus a vibration and popup notification. We have tested it out in the Bristol Channel and on a misty day in the Solent and it has proved very reliable and accurate, with no false alarms and no missed alarms.
“It was fairly foggy with low vis so app was very useful. All worked well, the alarm was activated in good time and no false alarms as I saw it. Only had three alarms to deal with…………..I can see a new game emerging where one has to induce the collision alarm!”
and another from Lake Erie in the US:
“We did an interesting experiment yesterday while helping a friend bring his 42′ sailboat through the south passage of Lake Erie. On board: Ship Finder Iphone app. a Raymarine AIS driven by E80 MFD and the Boat Beacon. The results within a 40 mi range were: the Ship Finder app had the least number of targets (2) Raymarine AIS had 4 and Boat Beacon had at least 6. Interesting. Additionally the Boat Beacon had more detail on the targets such as Ship names etc. The only rationale for the mid performance of Raymarine AIS could be that some of the targets were on the other side of Kelly’s Island.”
Boat Beacon also has a host of other additional “Sailing” related features that I wanted:
Obviously, Boat Beacon should only be used for basic navigation reference in Coastal areas where there is internet and shore-based station coverage. It should not be solely relied upon to determine precise locations, proximity, distance, or direction. There is no replacement for the Skippers’ and their crews’ eyes and the Skipper’s ultimate judgement.
There are some possible drawbacks with relying on an Internet-based AIS for Coastal Navigation. It relies on you having Internet coverage, however most popular coastal areas in the US have cellular data access extending 12 or more miles out to sea. The UK has nearly complete coastal coverage out to 12 miles. It relies on AIS shore stations covering your area. The network of stations Boat Beacon can access covers the majority of popular coastal and harbour areas. It typically has live data available on over 45,000 ships around the world and coverage is continually increasing. In the unlikely chance that there is no coverage in your area then club together, set up a shore station and join the network!
In some cases, shore-based receivers can be provided for free – see Cover my area for more information. Another reservation is that you won’t show up on the big ships’ AIS systems unless they have an Internet AIS feed too. However, as I mentioned earlier, even if they can see you they are unlikely to be able to do much to avoid you in time!
The tag line for Boat Beacon is “See and be seen on your boat in Coastal Sea areas with 60 mile Collision Avoidance using just your iPhone or Android device. Lets you keep a watch on boats near you and others keep a watch on you using Boat Beacon and Global AIS systems.”