Newsletter #305

Newsletter #305 - February 10, 2016

One Giant Leap

>>> One Giant Leap >>>

Building a product like ActiveCaptain happens in small steps. It never happens as fast as you'd like. It takes time, persistence, investment, confidence, and a touch of arrogance.

We've done a pretty good job of building the user base to a quarter million users. We created API's for the ActiveCaptain data so developers could easily and quickly provide offline support with synchronization There are 50 products that license the API's making ActiveCaptain widely available on many platforms.

That left one major hole - accessing ActiveCaptain data from your chartplotter.

Furuno was the first announcing ActiveCaptain support in February, 2015 and providing it in products later the same year. That was a big step.

Today's announcement isn't just a step. It's a leap. And even leap isn't a big enough word.

This week at the Miami Boat Show, ActiveCaptain support will be announced for more than 600 models of chartplotters. Not 600 devices but 600 models, incorporating as many as a million in use devices. Support will include new models, as well as older, legacy models.

We're building a complete list of the chartplotters that will support ActiveCaptain. The list will include most of the chartplotters from Simrad, B&G, Lowrance, Raymarine, Sitex, Humminbird, Standard Horizon, and many others.

So how'd we do it?

Many chartplotters use charts from C-Map. We've worked with C-Map for the past few years on ActiveCaptain support on their Android Plan2Nav app. C-Map is well-known for having great worldwide chart support. The goal was to put ActiveCaptain data onto their different chart products - 4D, MAX-N+, and MAX. It took some great engineering from C-Map developers who figured out ways to compress and integrate hundreds of megabytes of ActiveCaptain data onto chipsets that never expected that much point-of-interest information.

The results work great. It includes all marinas, anchorages, local knowledge, and hazard markers along with every review. Nothing was left out - it's all squeezed onto the chart media.

If you're going to the Miami Boat Show, make sure to go to the C-Map booth and see it live. It works now.

All of this new data is scheduled for release in C-Map's March chart update. If you're a member of Club C-Map for 4D or MAX-N+ charts, you'll be getting the ActiveCaptain data automatically with the next update.

This accomplishment couldn't have happened without you. It's your updates and reviews that created this fantastic overlay for nautical charts. And now there will be millions of new users further filling out the data in Europe, Australia, and the rest of the world. The experiences you share have an even larger megaphone behind them, helping many more boaters navigate with a little more safety and a lot more fun.

We'll give more information and details next week.

>>> Communications Products We Use >>>

We received a lot of requests after last week's newsletter to describe the communications devices we use onboard our boat, aCappella. Note that no one pays us for product exposure and we're often trying new things to find the mix that works best for us. So here's what we're really using today:


Our personal phones are AT&T iPhones 6's. We also have an unlocked iPhone 4s that we use for tethering with the BTC SIM.

In the US, we also use a Verizon MiFi Jetpack 6620L. We could write a book about MiFi issues - some models eat data that you're not really using. The 6620L seems to have fixed that problem.

All of our iPhones and MiFi devices fit into a Wilson Sleek 4G amp. This is a cradle amp that we've written about multiple times. Wilson recently changed the name to weBoost and changed the product a little. We believe it is the same as the Sleek although there are rumors that the power output was lowered.

Unless you have a steel boat or a very large boat (75 feet or larger), never use a wireless cellular amp. They just don't work for the boating environment no matter what anyone tells you. Always get a wired amp like the weBoost with a cradle. Here's the actual device:

If you use this product with its magnetic mount antenna, you must place the antenna on something like a steel pizza pan. Stick it magnetically in the center for a dramatic boost in power output.

Our pizza pan and antenna are in the ceiling above our pilothouse and below/inside the roof. It does not need to be outside although it should be in an electrically quiet place.

Additional newsletters written about these products can be found here:


Our main router is the MikroTik RB951Ui-2HnD (great product, lousy name). Our outside, high gain WiFi modem is a MiktoTik Groove 52HPn and plugs into the WAN port of the router.

The main router has additional ports. Our Garmin network is connected to bridge it to WiFi for Garmin BlueChart Mobile. The Digital Yacht iKommunicate plugs into the router too providing full wireless gateway between the NMEA 2000 network and every WiFi device on our boat.

The router and high gain outside WiFi are powered over PoE (power over Ethernet) and use very little DC power - they are left on most of the time.

These WiFi devices all came from Island Time PC. They pre-configure everything and get our highest rating for quality and service:

We're also going to experiment with RedPort Halo this year. They have some interesting products that fit perfectly for boating use. More about them can be found at:

Every device on our boat automatically connects to the main router. Our TV is a Samsung SmartTV and streams directly through the router. The key to the entire WiFi setup is connecting the outside Groove WiFi device to a marina or external WiFi provider. We're about 2 miles from the Bahamas WiMAX antenna in use now and it provides about -60 dB signal strength which is quite good for making a reliable connection.

There are many WiFi articles in previous newsletters. A good place to reference is:

Or check out the entire newsletter archive at:

>>> Defender 1st >>>

Watch this spot every week in the emailed newsletter for the Defender 1st special promotion. To sign up for the newsletter, create a new ActiveCaptain account at:

...or log into the ActiveCaptain website and select My Account at the top right of the page and make sure the Newsletter checkbox is checked.

Remember - Defender 1st: one product, one week, one incredible price.

When you're thinking about purchasing boating supplies, think of Defender first.

Dylan and Dee Dee have been enjoying the beaches here in George Town, Exuma, Bahamas. There has been a lot of swimming and scavenging on the beach, and of course, the much loved dinghy rides around the harbor. Find out how hard life is as crew aboard aCappella - check out Dylan and Dee Dee's blog:

Karen and Jeffrey Siegel
Castine, Maine
sharing the experience
Social Navigation for Active Captains

Newsletter Archive
We are currently merging the different ActiveCaptain websites into a single website.

Because of this, all later newsletters are being only put onto the ActiveCaptain Help Center found here:
ActiveCaptain Help Center : Newsletters

Older newsletters will be duplicated here until these pages are removed.

2016-03-02 #308 - Unexpected Benefits
2016-02-24 #307 - UK's MCA
2016-02-17 #306 - Chartplotter Support Questions
2016-02-10 #305 - One Giant Leap
2016-02-03 #304 - Bahamas Internet
2016-01-27 #303 - Community Anchoring
2016-01-20 #302 - Sharing Your Identity
2016-01-13 #301 - ActiveCaptain is...
2016-01-06 #300 - MMXVI
2015-12-30 #299 - The Power of Sharing
2015-12-23 #298 - Joyful times
2015-12-16 #297 - Thoughts of Cuba
2015-12-09 #296 - The Power of Love
2015-12-02 #295 - Windyty
2015-11-25 #294 - Mary Had a Little Lamb
2015-11-18 #293 - DeLorme inReach
2015-11-11 #292 - Celebrating Furuno
2015-11-04 #291 - Your ActiveCaptain Identity
2015-10-28 #290 - iPad/Android Tablet Owners
2015-10-21 #289 - The Top 5 Things...
2015-10-14 #288 - Skype
2015-10-07 #287 - Locations 1.2
2015-09-30 #286 - Cell Phone Frequency Issues
2015-09-23 #285 - Cell Phone Unlocking
2015-09-16 #284 - Mr SIM Card
2015-09-09 #283 - Route Storage & Sharing Continued
2015-09-02 #282 - Route Storage & Sharing
2015-08-26 #281 - Here's What You Told Us
2015-08-19 #280 - Bahamas 2016
2015-08-12 #279 - What is Services Missing?
2015-08-05 #278 - Aqua Map for Android
2015-07-29 #277 - Obtaining Critical Mass
2015-07-22 #276 - Our Backup Anchor
2015-07-15 #275 - Which Anchor is Best
2015-07-08 #274 - Pocket Mariner's SeaNav
2015-07-01 #273 - Services Galore
2015-06-24 #272 - Canvas and Upholstery Services
2015-06-17 #271 - Locations, Locations, Locations
2015-06-10 #270 - Keeping Track of Everything - 4

Archive Complete list of all newsletters
ActiveCaptain articles Read the award winning nineteen part series on mobile phones on boats.

Learn how to train your canine crew to use the "poop deck" and a unique way to get them into the dinghy.

Find out what's in our ditch bag and see what unusual products we have found invaluable on our cruises.