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SailingGeek 06-07-2010 11:11 PM

iPhone Sailing
 
Hi, my name is Manuel, I'm a San Francisco Bay Area sailor, working with a bunch of developers and sailors to create a free iPhone app for sailing, focused on mapping and showcasing the knowledge local sailors have of their local waters. Our first, barebones version just came out, but we are thinking of features to add to it.

Anyway, I was wondering what iPhone apps, if any, you guys use for sailing or geeking out about sailing, what you like/dislike about them, and what features you wish they had. Also what your experience with cell coverage in coastal waters is. Here in the SF and Monterey Bay Areas 3G coverage is actually great.

Thanks!

mceveritt 06-08-2010 12:06 AM

it could be great... but cellphone range sucks on the water (at least in the northeast (long island ny))... i'll wait until 4g or better before relying on any phone for information while on the water...

I have tried Navionics which is great, (well it would be except for the service) - it could be great...

goodluck. - in general the service is the issue, not the services...

nk235 06-08-2010 08:36 AM

I sail in the Long Island Sound as well (out of Mt. Sinai which is pretty far east) but have to disagree with the above poster(no offense, just my experience). I get great cell phone service while on the water. Sail mostly between Eaton's Neck (Huntington) on the western edge and Mattituck all the way to Connecticut and inbetween and usually can always make calls and or use the internet. We sleep on the boat 3-4 nights a week and mostly anchor out in different ports on the weekends and always use the iphone to check the local radar for thunderstorms. 9/10 times it works perfect. I have a nokia 6500 and an iphone (both at&t) and have no trouble with both.

I just recently broke my last iphone but am going to be getting the iphone 4 when it comes out later this month. I'm excited to try out your app.

-Nick

JohnRPollard 06-08-2010 08:40 AM

Cell phone coverage on Ches Bay is spotty. Likewise along those portions of the New England Coastline I'm familiar with.

The cell companies place their towers in such a way to maximize coverage with the fewest possible towers. There is a radius of coverage around those towers. Particularly in less densely populated areas, they try to minimize both the number of towers and overlapping range.

So they place those towers inland, such that the radius of coverage just reaches the coastline or sometimes slightly beyond with good propagation. And because they want to minimize overlap, there are "blank" spots in the coverage out near the extremes of the range.

Personally, I would not rely on or invest in cell phone technology for even coastal navigation. It would only be okay if you did nothing but hug the coast tightly -- and even then you'd find plenty of areas where it had no coverage. But who wants to operate a navigation system that will be spotty at best and will go blank if you take a long tack out from the coast line? Or weather forces you to keep your distance from the shoreline? Or your course takes you away from it?

Maybe I'm missing something, but I think the appeal would be very limited to protected inland waters and bays. Maybe you'd find a micro-market in places like San Diego and SF Bay?

Then again, I don't have an i-phone and I know very few people who do.

SVAuspicious 06-08-2010 09:26 AM

My understanding agrees with that of JRP. The service providers have worked to steer their coverage where the customers are. Several years ago I could watch streaming video on my laptop while sailing from Annapolis to Solomons. Now the signal is down significantly out in the Chesapeake. Interestingly I had a great AT&T 3G signal from Block Island to City Island a few weeks ago.

That said I've had great luck using a laptop/datacard and/or my iPhone for weather updates, local information, and e-mail in anchorages up and down most of the East Coast EXCEPT for North Carolina which seems to be a cell phone wasteland.

For iPhone apps there is Navimatics with the entire ActiveCaptain local knowledge database. $20 / coast.

MikeClements 06-08-2010 09:33 AM

Sorry to hijack but does anyone know of any sailing apps for Blackberry?

mceveritt 06-08-2010 09:33 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by nk235 (Post 610855)
I sail in the Long Island Sound as well (out of Mt. Sinai which is pretty far east) but have to disagree with the above poster(no offense, just my experience). I get great cell phone service while on the water. Sail mostly between Eaton's Neck (Huntington) on the western edge and Mattituck all the way to Connecticut and inbetween and usually can always make calls and or use the internet. We sleep on the boat 3-4 nights a week and mostly anchor out in different ports on the weekends and always use the iphone to check the local radar for thunderstorms. 9/10 times it works perfect. I have a nokia 6500 and an iphone (both at&t) and have no trouble with both.

I just recently broke my last iphone but am going to be getting the iphone 4 when it comes out later this month. I'm excited to try out your app.

-Nick

Maybe I have bad luck?
I am generally in the peconic bay, where you would think there would be more service since it's between the forks. But yeah im just speaking from my own experience...

sailingfool 06-08-2010 10:01 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by JohnRPollard (Post 610856)
Cell phone coverage on Ches Bay is spotty. Likewise along those portions of the New England Coastline I'm familiar with.

The cell companies place their towers in such a way to maximize coverage with the fewest possible towers. There is a radius of coverage around those towers. Particularly in less densely populated areas, they try to minimize both the number of towers and overlapping range.

So they place those towers inland, such that the radius of coverage just reaches the coastline or sometimes slightly beyond with good propagation. And because they want to minimize overlap, there are "blank" spots in the coverage out near the extremes of the range.

Personally, I would not rely on or invest in cell phone technology for even coastal navigation. It would only be okay if you did nothing but hug the coast tightly -- and even then you'd find plenty of areas where it had no coverage. But who wants to operate a navigation system that will be spotty at best and will go blank if you take a long tack out from the coast line? Or weather forces you to keep your distance from the shoreline? Or your course takes you away from it?

Maybe I'm missing something, but I think the appeal would be very limited to protected inland waters and bays. Maybe you'd find a micro-market in places like San Diego and SF Bay?

Then again, I don't have an i-phone and I know very few people who do.

Your comments are correct for phones that relay on cell tower for location determination.

The Andriod phones have a true gps receiver, so the lack of cell tower coverage doesn't limit their useability for nav purposes (or for mountain hiking...). I understand the new, maybe more recent iPhones also now have a true gps. Although I have milspec Casio clamshell which has been an excellent phone - waterproof - after a buddy tracked the progress of last Sunday's thunderstorms to a T with his iPhone weather radar app, I feel that functionality is a must have...especially if you are sailing a smaller boat.

I need to figure out whether an Android is good enough, or even better...

SSBN506 06-08-2010 10:07 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by sailingfool (Post 610877)
Your comments are correct for phones that relay on cell tower for location determination.

The Andriod phones have a true gps receiver, so the lack of cell tower coverage doesn't limit their useability for nav purposes (or for mountain hiking...). I understand the new, maybe more recent iPhones also now have a true gps. Although I have milspec Casio clamshell which has been an excellent phone - waterproof - after a buddy tracked the progress of last Sunday's thunderstorms to a T with his iPhone weather radar app, I feel that functionality is a must have...especially if you are sailing a smaller boat.

I need to figure out whether an Android is good enough, or even better...


all iphones for sale today have true gps. the 3g,3gs and 4 all have it. Only the first gen didn't and you cant get them anymore except maybe ebay.

Icarus05 06-08-2010 01:32 PM

For Wind
 
I just got the windAlert app I saw on sailflows website but am not very impressed.

Then today I just got Windfinder which seems to be great. I wanted a good wind app to get an idea of how the Wednesday night races would go and think I could get some decent coverage on lake Michigan for the distance races when we are near shore.

I have not tried the Navioncs app yet but I'm interested. Is that the one you developed?


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