[Continued from yesterday's post...]
OK, so let’s talk about the new features in Rose Point Coastal Explorer 2.0 that I’m REALLY excited about. Not that radar, video, mode customization, and route scheduling aren’t plenty cool, mind you.
We’ve written a lot recently about the various “cruising guide wikis”; see previous items here, here, here, and here. I’ve expressed enthusiasm and support (“tepid”, according to some ) for the four efforts I’m aware of:
Well, add Rose Point Navigation Systems to the list. In a big way!
According to Rose Point President Brad Christian, the Coastal Explorer product exists to facilitate a vision he’s had for several years. That vision includes a community-maintained wiki-style cruising guide, accessible right at the helm, constantly maintained and updated by mariners.
This Cruising Guide is just one component of the Coastal Explorer Network, an online service that provides users with server storage space, blogging tools (configurable for public or private, invitation-only access), the community Cruising Guide and Vessel Registry, and automatic US chart updates.
Share images and descriptions of your journeys with friends and family in your private blog. Note a missing aid-to-navigation in the Cruising Guide. Keep a private vessel log aboard your boat, secure in the knowledge that it’s safely backed up on the Coastal Explorer Network every time your onboard computer synchs up with Rose Point’s server-in-the-sky.
“Hold on,” I hear you saying, “My onboard computer isn’t connected to the internet, and I don’t want it to be!”
They’ve thought of that. If you don’t have internet connectivity aboard, you can use the Synchronization Tool and a USB flash drive to transfer program, chart, data, and content updates between your vessel’s computer and a land-based, internet-connected computer at home…or even one at a public library.
It works both ways, of course. Plan your cruise at home, creating waypoints, routes, and schedules, noting phone numbers and VHF channels you’ll need at various destinations. Then launch the Synchronization Tool and load it all to your USB flash drive.
Once aboard the boat, plug in the flash drive and Coastal Explorer will automatically download your plan, along with any updates to the charts or cruising guide it pulled off the internet. It does that automatically, by the way; you don’t have to remember to do it.
If you’ve got internet aboard, Coastal Explorer 2.0 can log in and synch up whenever it detects a connection. For some, this means it can synch anytime, anywhere, perhaps several times a day. For others, this can only occur while the vessel is in a WiFi-equipped marina. Even so, you’ll get near-realtime chart and cruising guide updates, right there in your navigation software.
Coastal Explorer 2.0 is one of the very best navigation packages available. But even more significant, the thing that we’re going to remember about it in five years, is that it was the first maritime navigation system to exploit the community and content integration potential of the internet in powerful and meaningful ways.
As with many powerful visions, this will all seem somewhat obvious in retrospect. Of course it should work this way. Was there ever any doubt? In ten or fifteen years, we’re going to wonder how we ever got along without it.