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TZ Navigator

For years, we used Maxsea v12.4.6.1 interfaced with our Furuno NavNet 2 chartplotter as our main tool for all our navigation requirements. This amazing software allowed us to do route planning, optimize our route based on weather patterns, show AIS targets, overlay Furuno radar onto the charts, etc. Although working perfectly, the software is now quite old and MaxSea stopped all support for this software back in 2014. It was time to upgrade our navigation software and we bought the latest TZ Navigator v3 from Chris Metcalf, Bluewater Books and Charts. Chris has been most helpful and after calling him on WhatsApp, he sorted me out in no time. I've been testing the software for the past couple of days and I must say it is so much better than the older MaxSea v12.4.6.1. Here is a short introduction video of TZ Navigator v3.  

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Large volume "Ownship" icons for OpenCPN

I made made a variety of "ownship" icons for OpenCPN navigation software - in 4 different sizes, 5 styles and in a range of colours. OpenCPN is sophisticated opensource marine navigation software and is free to download and use. These icons are in ".png" format - previously OpenCPN only allowed ownship icons in .xpm format which was cumbersome to create. Now OpenCPN v3.xx allows user icons to be in .png format and this is a whole lot easier to make. These icons were designed and calibrated in CorelDraw, exported to Corel PhotoPaint where it was edited and then exported as PNG image files with a transparent background. These Ownship icons are compatible with OpenCPN v3.xx and onwards. You can download these icons for free and use them for whatever purpose you want.

To use them in OpenCPN;

  1. Create a directory called "UserIcons" in the same place that holds your "opencpn.ini" (config) file. (In Windows 7: C:\ProgramData\opencpn)
  2. Download the Ownship icons and unzip/unrar somewhere on your computer.
  3. Each icon is in it's own unique folder - sorted in Size --> Type --> Style/Colour.
  4. Select and copy the "ownship.png" icon you would like to use.
  5. Paste this icon in the "Usericons" folder as above.
  6. To see your new ownship, attached your GPS and start OpenCPN.
  7. The Ownship icon is rendered as grey if there is no valid gps position fix available.

Download - WinRAR
Download - WinZip


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FREE Worldcruise Planning Map - A1 size

Our minds are now shifting to planning our world cruise and we realise it is impossible to do all the planning right now. Things happens, one learns of new adventures and destinations, weather and polictics keep changing, prices and currencies change unabated - so at best one can only plan for the first couple of months. Cruising information is available in abundance - in cruising guides, sailing blogs, nautical maps, sailing forums, magazines, etc. In fact there is so much information available, it is actually confusing. To make matters worse, information is not always accurate and needs to be verified. Strange places are mentioned and sometimes one have no damn clue of its location.

We decided that we need a large printed map of the world and laminated so that we can visually see all the information, what is going on, add notes and marks to hearts desire. Once we have done our planning, some of this information will then be carried over to our chartplotter and navigation software. Once all said and done, simply wipe the lamination clean and your world map is ready for the next planning session. So I created a world map with longitude and latitude Lines (10 degree increments) on A1 paper size, showing all countries, times of tropical storms, etc. It is available for FREE to anybody who desire a world cruise planning map.

  1. Download the map in Acrobat Reader format.
  2. Take to a professional printer and print on A1 paper size.
  3. Then have the printed map plastic encapsulated (laminated).

Download FREE World Cruise Planning Map - A1 Paper size in Acrobat Reader format.


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Cruising books and guides

In preparation of our departure date for our world cruise at the beginning of January 2015, I have been buying some cruising books and guides. We plan to briefly stop over at St. Helena Island for a few days, check out my long deceased buddy Napoleon and then to proceed to Brazil. This is a vast country with a huge coastline and as yet, I'm not sure where we will be headed. Hopefully once we read the guidebooks we will know where to go. One thing is for sure though, there is no way in hell that we are going to miss the carnival in Rio de Janeiro! It will certainly be quite a spectacle to see me swinging my fat arse and bulging stomach around. Hell, if those oiled dancers in their fancy costumes can do it, so will I! But will be a story for another time.

But back to the books. I ordered these 5 books from at a total cost of ZAR4400 (£220 UK). Damn, the South African currency is now worth shit and getting worse by the day! Cry

The author, a Frenchman, sailed his 47-footer, Izarra, across the Atlantic, with the intention of spending just a short while in Brazil ­ and simply stayed on, and on, for several years, sailing from port to port, anchorage to anchorage, and island to island, gathering experience and knowledge. So, he knows the Brazilian coast better than most, all 3000 plus miles of it, and he does for that part of the world what the likes of Rod Heikell have done for the Mediterranean or Caribbean, with their well-researched, comprehensive guides. His format is similar to other books of the guide nature, leading off with general information, which includes a history of Brazil, its geography, flora and fauna, language, religion, health, safety, cuisine, customs and formalities.

Then he divides the country into states, providing interesting information on each place, and vital practical advice on navigation, and how to make your stay as enjoyable and hassle-free as possible. It is the first guide I have seen devoted exclusively to Brazil, and it will no doubt be well received in South Africa, whose maritime ties with the South American country go back a long way. It is the perfect book for anyone thinking of doing the Rio race, or going cruising on the other side of the Atlantic. And if you are still undecided about taking the plunge, the superb colour pics in this publication will surely give you a decisive 'shove'.
  Long established as the bible for long-distance cruisers and a bestseller for more than 25 years, World Cruising Routes is the indispensable planning guide to nearly 1,000 sailing routes covering all the oceans of the world from the tropical South Seas to the high latitudes of the Arctic and Antarctic, geared specifically to the needs of cruising sailors. It contains information on the winds, currents, regional and seasonal weather, as well as suggestions about optimum times for individual routes.

The 7th edition assesses the effects of global warming on cruising routes and provides over 6,000 waypoints to assist skippers in planning individual routes. It is the perfect one-stop reference for planning a cruise anywhere in the world. 'The most important book for long-distance voyagers to come along in decades.' Cruising World
  Jimmy Cornell is the undisputed authority on long distance voyaging. In his new book, he helps the would-be voyager plan their trip step by step. Aimed at those seriously contemplating an extended cruise (and those dreaming about the possibility), this book will give an idea of what is involved in developing the right strategy. Amongst many other aspects, Jimmy looks at:

- World weather systems
- Strategies for sailing long or short circuits in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans
- The pros and cons of different routes at different times of year (taking into account weather, timings, wind directions and strengths, likelihood of fog, icebergs, gales, etc)
- The pros and cons, attractions and dangers of different routes (such as the problem of piracy)
- Practicalities (repair facilities, common gear breakage on extended voyages, places to leave the boat to fly home if necessary, health considerations, provisioning for a long trip, personal safety measures, and much more)
- Jimmy's top ten list of common things that ruin a voyage

Written from an international point of view, Jimmy Cornell's World Voyage Planner can help sailors from any country going to any other to achieve a safe and enjoyable cruise.
  'What Jimmy Cornell doesn't know about cruising isn't worth knowing' - Yachting World. One of the most influential cruising yachtsmen writing today, Jimmy Cornell has sailed over 200,000 miles on all the oceans of the world, including three circumnavigations and voyages to the Arctic and Antarctic. His successful guide to sailing around the world, World Cruising Routes, has helped many aspirational voyagers turn their dreams into reality and follow in his footsteps. This substantial new handbook profiles every cruising destination in the world and is intended as a partner to Cornell's bestselling World Cruising Routes.

Every destination is detailed comprehensively, with information on cruising attractions, history, culture, climate(including average monthly temperatures and rainfall, plus tropical storm seasons), local laws, regulations and formalities, facilities available, plus public holidays and events, emergency telephone numbers, and much more. Lavishly illustrated throughout, it is not only a must-have onboard reference work for long distance sailors, but will undoubtedly inspire the adventurous to sail where they have never sailed before.
  Cornell's Ocean Atlas is an atlas of 129 up-to-date pilot charts aimed at sailors planning offshore voyages. The charts in Cornell's Ocean Atlas are based on the most recent weather data gathered by meteorological satellites over the last twenty years. This new data highlights the changes that have occurred in weather conditions throughout the world as opposed to the pilot charts that are still in circulation but have not been updated for many years. Sixty monthly pilot charts of all oceans for the world show wind speed and direction, current speed and direction, approximate extent of the Intertropical Convergence Zone, the most common tracks of tropical storms, and the mean location of high pressure cells for each hemisphere.

Sixty-nine detailed charts of the most commonly sailed transoceanic routes make it easier for cruising sailors to plan a route that takes best advantage of the prevailing weather conditions at that time of year. Sidebars with tactical suggestions have been added to the months when most passages are undertaken. The comments and tips on tactics, as well as weather overviews for each ocean, were contributed by meteorologists and routers specializing in those oceanic areas.
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OpenCPN User Icons

I required some user icons for OpenCPN which are slightly larger and more colourful than the standard ones - so I created my own in .PNG format. Previously OpenCPN only allowed user icons in .xpm format which was cumbersome to create. Now OpenCPN v3.xx allows user icons to be in .png format and this is a whole lot easier to make. These icons were designed in CorelDraw, exported to Corel PhotoPaint where it was edited and then exported as PNG image files with a transparent background. These User Icons are compatible with OpenCPN v3.xx and onwards. You can download these icons for free and use them for whatever purpose you want.

To use them in OpenCPN;

  1. Create a directory called "UserIcons" in the same place that holds your opencpn.ini (config) file. (In Windows 7: C:\ProgramData\opencpn)
  2. Download the UserIcons and unzip/unrar in your new "UserIcons" folder.
  3. The name of the icon file becomes the name of the new waypoint icon. These new icons will appear on the Waypoint Properties dialog, and can be assigned to any waypoint. They can also be assigned in GPX Import files.

Download - WinRAR
Download - WinZip


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The UGRIB software

Another handy bit of free software is UGRIB. This freeware application allows instant and fully customizable access to global weather data. Within one simple to use interface you can download and view weather data right on your desktop. Their windows software will let you view the GRIB files you have just downloaded, animate them, display meteograms and much more! It also allows direct access to their backend servers without the need to open a browser.


Ideal for use either ashore or on a limited bandwidth connection e.g. onboard a yacht. Ugrib will let you choose your resolution, timesteps, variables etc. Also you can save these settings for future use. All this tightly integrated into one simple to use program. You can download grib files directly from within the application or from their website. The Grib data section it has a graphical selection tool that allows the immediate download of surface GRIB data with 10m Winds and Sea Level Pressure. There are no preset areas and you can select exactly the area you need.


Grib files may be downloaded in a variety of options such as;
• 3, 6, 12 and 24 hour interval times,
• 1, 3, 5 or 7 day period,
• 0,5 or 1,0 degree resolution,
• Wind, rain and pressure data.


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Visual Passage Planner 2

Visual Passage Planner 2 (VPP2) available from Digital Wave was designed to bring the power of the computer to the passage planning process. VPP2 automates the tedious, time consuming task of evaluating passage conditions and then estimating passage elapsed times with pen and paper. Using VPP2, many "what-if" scenarios can be played out in the time it would take to manually calculate one route using traditional methods, allowing selection of the best route.

In fact, VPP2 now has an automatic Route Optimization Feature that lets VPP2 do most of the hard work when it comes to selecting a route. Based on various wind, current, wave height and other Pilot Chart based weather information within VPP2, waypoints may be moved by mouse or keyboard to optimize a route. The Automatic Route Optimization feature in VPP2 will even try to maximize or minimize any of the many route parameters (i.e. minimize route time while also minimizing wave heights). The Instant Reports feature gives you continuous feedback on the passage in real-time as the changes are made. Further optimization of the route can be made right up to departure time and with a laptop computer aboard, VPP will continue to provide updates during the passage and predict your noon-positions as you progress.

Some of the features of VPP2 include:
• Global 1:1,000,000 scale map.
• Worldwide Pilot Chart data at 1-degree resolution.
• Detailed database of over 4600 ports.
• Automatic route optimization based on user defined parameters.
• Graphical wind, current and weather overlays.
• New 'Instant Reports' feature.
• Mercator, Cartesian and Spherical map projections.
• VPP2 is fully compatible with Windows 95, 98, Me, NT, 2000, XP and compliant with the latest Microsoft operating systems, including Windows Vista and Windows 7 (both 32 and 64 bit versions).

This software is essential for passage planning and allows untold variations, possibilities and will save hours of time. You can also download a free demo version of the software directly from Digital Wave.


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