Saturday, February 28, 2015

WaveTrax Version 1.0.6 Awesome New Features

Application: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, iOS 6.0 or later
Function: Automated GPS based logging app
Rating: *****
Cost: $12.99

I reviewed WaveTrax back in July of 2014 and was impressed at how easy it was to make logs of my adventures. The latest version has added some unique and useful features.

WaveTrax is one of the many logbook apps in the iTunes Store.  I have reviewed most of them over the years including
Salid , Boating Suite and NavPlay.  The unique thing about this logbook app is that it synchronizes your travels with the WaveTrax online website where you can edit, save, print and share your travel logs. You can also manually create a trip log if desired.

Although the app is mainly geared for marine use anyone can use to it make records of their trips no matter where you are.  So if you bike, hike, boat or kayak it has never been easier to start recording your travels. Your device will need to have a GPS on board to provide the position location information.

The recent update to version 1.0.6 has some added features worth talking about.

  • Live Dashboard overview
  • Selections to record sailing, motor sailing and motoring time
  • Offline use
  • Combined log miles and time
  • Sync logs to WaveTrax website
  • Automated Logbook
  • Live GPS tracking
  • Poor GPS signal alert
  • Crew list
  • Certificates list 
  • Multiple ship details
  • Nautical charts
  • Trip details
  • Record all your adventures
  • Print logs in pdf format and share them online
  • Facebook, Twitter and email options
  • Compatible with iPhone or iPad’s GPS models
  • Records track logs in the background
  • Enhance your logs with maps, photos, notes & annotations
  • Access and edit your journeys on the Web
  • WaveTrax logs can’t get lost, damaged or filled up like a paper logbook.
  • Lifetime use of the App
  • Upgrades and customer support plus 1 year’s access to
  • Web access is renewable with an optional in-app purchase

The newest feature is the Dashboard.  This is a real time GPS display of all your navigation and trip data of your adventures.

The Dashboard also has easily available options to switch from sailing mode to motor sailing or motoring modes.  The different modes are displayed on the track in different colors to visually give you indication of how much you sailed and motored during you trip.

The time spent in the different modes is also recorded for each trip log.

You no longer have to leave the real time tracking display to make log entries or add crew and trip information.

At the end of your trip WaveTrax provides a personal log of all you logged data. Data includes Trip Type, Start and Stop times, to and from locations and times in the different sailing or motoring modes.

All of the logs are kept in the History tab and are automatically synced to the WaveTrax website and your account. A selection can be made in Settings to only sync when connected to WiFi if desired.

The History tab also shows a combined Distance, time and night hours traveled. This is handy to be able to keep track of the total logged hours on the water for all your recorded logged trips.

Cumulative history can be kept for several different yacht so if you crew or captain on other vessels you can keep track of them all separately.

GPS alert is another new feature implemented with this release.  The major cause of poor tracking or missing track data is a poor GPS signal. WaveTrax now will alert you if is senses a poor signal. You can then take actions to make sure your device and the app are properly recording your track data. GPS signal strength is shown in the upper middle of the Dashboard.
WaveTrax has made some much needed improvement to an already great app. The functionality and features have been improved to give the user a richer and more immersive trip logging experience.

Logging your travels has never been easier. Whether your boating, driving or hiking be sure to capture them all on this easy to use app. 

Once you have captured them make sure to share your travels with friends on Facebook, Twitter or by email.

~~~ Sail On ~~~~ /)

Saturday, February 7, 2015

British Virgin Islands Sailing January 2015

I have to apologize for the lack of posts lately.  January was a busy month with travel for work and vacations.  I was able to get a week of sailing in the British Virgin Islands.  The BVI are one of the best cruising grounds for charter sailing in the world.  The more than 30 islands offer an array of on the water and on shore attractions and entertainment.

I did take some of my technology along with me to use while sailing. During the trip I utilized my Delorme InReach to record our track and the Delorme Earthmate app to send emails back home via satellite. I used the Boatwatch app to locate and identify yachts in the area. I used the Garmin and Navionics apps for navigation.

The Lagoon 38 we were on had a 12 inch Raymarine Chartplotter on board too so it was easy to navigate.

I utilized my GoPro4 camera and app extensively during the trip and was able to get some great under water shots while snorkeling and hiking around the BVI. See the YouTube Videos below.

I was invited by chance to go on the trip by some of friends who just happen to have an extra spot on their boat.  My wife was not able to go because of work commitments so my daughter volunteered to do.

Lauren is a accomplished sailor herself and has crewed on many a sailboat race with me in our local regattas.

The Woody Lake Poinsett 1973
The friends who invited us sailing are actually old family friends that I met some 40 years ago.

My father, Lloyd, worked with a guy name Earl Holm.  Earl and his wife just happen to have a cabin on Lake Poinsett. We ended up spending quite a few summer days up at Poinsett water skiing behind our lovingly restored 1952 Century inboard. We all became very proficient at water skiing and tubing, back when it was an actual tractor inner tube.

Jody Nancy Earl 1974
My dad even built a surf board and we boarded behind our “Woody” before anyone knew it was cool.
Earl Holm was a tall good looking guy who was always sporting his Ray-Bans while at the lake.  His wife Jody was a bubbly little gal who was always the life of the party.
Earl mentioned that he had a sailboat and insisted that we all learn to sail.  This was in about 1973. I was about 14 at the time and was game for anything.  We all piled on the Johnson C scow sailboat and set out across Lake Poinsett. I am not sure we even had life jackets on board. 
Rick Brad Todd Mark and Dee 1973
Earl began to regale us with how the rigging and sails all worked together. He explained the names of the many cables and lines attached to the boat. I was intrigued and instantly wanted to learn how to make it go faster.  Earl sheeted in the big main sail and we took off.  I was hooked and have been sailing ever since. 
Later that day Earl’s son, Rick showed up with some friends from USD. I remember he was a big “college guy”. 

Rick brought a few other friends including a couple cute girls. They all hopped on board and my older brother Brad went out with them.  They sailed off into the setting sun, playing guitars and singing.  All I could think of was, how cool is that! I have to get a sailboat now, they are “chick magnets”!

We spent the next few summers sailing with the Holms on Lake Poinsett. If it was not for Earl, Jody and Rick I never would have learned to sail and developed such a passion for boating and the water.
Well, it was not long after that that my brother and I bought our first sailboat. He was in college at Concordia and found an old D scow. He called me up and said he found a real deal for “us”. The problem was that it had a hole in the side of it.  It was an old wooden boat (notice the pattern here) but he thought he could get it for about $500 hundred bucks. The other problem was he did not have any money.  So I became a sailboat boat owner at age 16.  We later sold the D Scow, Sundance to Earl Holm and moved onto a bigger boats which we kept in Yankton. My older brother Brad and I have since owned boats, chartered and sailed together throughout the Caribbean all the way from the Florida to Grenada.
Parker and Lauren
I went to college and graduated from SDSU ”GO Jacks” in 1983 and took an engineering job with the Department of Energy in Watertown, SD. I bought a little cabin on a local lake and we have been fortunate enough to live there for the last 32 years.  My kids were raised on the lake and are now only realizing how good they had it.  I can’t tell you the number of kids we taught to knee board, ski, wake board and sail.  The endless summers of entertaining and pulling the kids and their friends around the lake has been priceless.

Lloyd and  Earl racing 1974
So back to the BVI trip. Some 40 years later, Rick Holm, who's father taught me to sail asks me to go sailing with a group of his friends to the Caribbean. How cool it that.

One of the Cosmic Laws of the Universe is that, the people you meet every day are there for a reason.  The fun part is finding out how each of them will enrich your life.  All I can say is, thank God for the Holm family and Lake Poinsett because they both changed my life forever.
Mark and Rick 2015
It is only fitting that 40 years later Rick and I should get back together and do some sailing.  I think our Dads would be proud!
~~~ Sail On ~~~ /)



Thursday, January 1, 2015

GoPro Hero 4 Silver plus GoPro App

Application: iPhone, iPad and Android
Function: HD Video and Photo POV Camera
Cost: Camera $129 to $499, GoPro app and software free!

Guess what Santa brought me for Christmas?  Yes, a GoPro Silver! I have been looking at these cameras with envy for the last couple of years.  I am a confessed YouTube junky and have enjoyed watching all the great videos that are posted. Now it is my turn to get in on the POV action scene. Look forward to some cool videos in the future. My YouTube site is:

I want to wish you all a HAPPY NEW YEAR! 2014 was a great year and I look forward to 2015 with anticipation. I always say "Life is Short, attempt to have an interesting one"

 GoPro is the leading maker of Point of View/POV cameras in the world.  It all started by some surfer dude name Nicolas Woodman who wanted to take rad shot of he and his bros riding some gnarly waves. He got some investment money from his Mom and Dad and GoPro was born. His early models were 35MM cameras and in 2006 he released the digital GoPro.

Just when you thought all the great ideas were already thought of, a tiny POV digital camera was made, the company goes public and another American success story is born.

These cameras have started a video revolution never before seen in history. YouTube and every other video site are flooded with GoPro action video.  We are seeing the world from a perspective never before seen in history with these tiny mobile cameras.

Their small size and HD+ quality has allowed all these crazy adrenaline junkies to record themselves boating, sailing, snowboarding, skydiving, mountain climbing, wake boarding, snow skiing, scuba diving, surfing, driving, biking and flying. Its small size and mounting options make it easy to take anywhere the action is.
The Cameras

What is so unique about the GoPro cameras is that they were the first compact very high quality HD cameras. A lot of  less capable copy cats have shown up in the past few years. The GoPro cameras HD+ resolution makes them equal to any professional broadcast quality production camera. Their latest model, the Hero 4 now shoots 4K, 2.7K, 1080, 960p, 720p resolution color video and 12 megapixel pictures.

The present generation of GoPro Cameras include the Hero4 Black for $499, the Hero4 Silver for $399, the Hero3 Silver for $2.99, Hero3 White for $199 and the Hero for $129

Hero4 Silver Features:
  • Touch screen display
  • Waterproof case to 131ft
  • Touch screen backdoor waterproof to 10ft
  • Field of View, Ultra Wide Medium and narrow
  • Ultra sharp all glass lens
  • Low light performance
  • Video, 4K 15 and 12.5fps,
  • 2.7K 30,25,24 fps, 2.7K 4:3,
  • 1440P, 48, 30, 25, 24fps
  • 1080P, 60,50,48,30,25,24fps, superview
  • 960P, 100,60,50fps Ultra Wide FOV
  • 720, 120, 60,50,30,25fps Ultra wide, medium and narrow FOV
  • WVGA 240fps ultra wide FOV
  • Camera - 12 megapixels,
  • Burst rates 30/1, 30/2, 30/3, 10/1 10/2, 10/3, 5/1, 3/1 frames per second
  • Time Lapse .5,1,2,5,10,30 60 seconds
  • Built in WiFi+Bluetooth
  • Protune (photo and video)
  • Superview
  • Nightview
  • Highlight tag
  • Quick Capture - one button auto on
  • Simultaneous Video and photo
  • Looping Video
  • Bit Rate(H.264) up to 45 b/s
  • Audio - Mono 48KHZ 2x dynamic range, 3.5mm stereo microphone
  • Re-chargeable battery 1160 mAh lithium ion
  • Micro SD card class 10 up to 64GB
  • USB mini, composite AV, stereo mic
  • Free GoPro Editing Software
GoPro offers so many options it is hard to decide which model to purchase.  I looked at the Hero4 Black option. It cost another $100 dollars more than the Silver but it does not have the touch screen display that the Hero4 Silver model has.  The advantage of the Hero 4 Black is that it has a few more options in the 4K and 2.7 K video modes.  I don't plan on shooting much in these resolutions so these added features did not seem worth the money. I was more interested in the LCD touch screen display on the back of the Hero4 Silver.  It comes with a special touch screen back door which allows you to view and control your GoPro with a swipe of your finger.

The GoPro App:

The GoPro app allows control of the camera over WiFi from an iPhone using the iOS compatible app from iTunes or from the Android app from the Google Play store.

The app connects via WiFi plus Bluetooth. The Bluetooth connection only seems to be used to detect incoming connections so it can keep the WiFi off and save power. This feature is currently only supported in the iOS version.

The new WiFi transfer speeds are 50% faster than previous models. There is still a slight lag in viewing the video or image on the iPhone over WiFi.

To connect to your camera to your mobile device, select the gear icon in the top right corner of the app and follow the instructions to start WiFi and pair the camera with Bluetooth.

The app allows you to watch the GoPro Channel and view all the coolest GoPro videos and photos from around the globe. 

Once connected to your camera the app provides full remote control of all camera functions and settings.

You can play back the videos and photos that are on your camera on your mobile device. This is a handy feature to preview your videos and photos on the larger iPhone or iPad screen.

The app allows copying photos and videos to your mobile device. These files can then be shared via email, text, on Facebook or Twitter or other apps.

Functionality is also provided to browse and delete files on the camera’s microSD card if needed. Updating your cameras software can also be done wirelessly with the app.

Select the red button at the bottom of the display to take a photo or start and stop recording of video.  The image will be show in real time so you can use the mobile device to frame your shot.

All settings including Video, Photo, Multi-shot, Setup, Camera name and passwords can be modified from your mobile device with the app.

The app displays the resolution and frame rate in the upper left. WiFi status and battery state are shown in the upper right.

Options for movie, picture and burst picture mode can be selected easily on the screen of the iPhone app.

Video, Video+Photo and Looping modes can be selected by tapping the Video camera icon at the bottom of the screen. Video+ Photo lets you take a photo while taking video. The looping mode will take continuous video filling up the microSD card and copying over the oldest footage.

Settings can be accessed by selecting the wrench icon in the lower right. All camera settings can be set with the app.

All of the saved movies and photos can be seen by selecting the checkerboard in the lower left of the display.

The camera can be shut off using the power button in the top right of the screen.

GoPro has produced a wide range of accessories to accent their line of camera.  The battery BacPac allows the addition of battery capacity and is easily snapped on the back of the camera.

The camera and batteries are all charged using a standard USB cable connection. It retails for $49.99

The WiFi remote can be used to control your GoPro camera much like the app. Use it to start and stop the video or take pictures remotely. Settings can also be changed from the remote.

The remote can be programmed to control up to 50 different cameras. It has a range up to 600 feet. The WiFi remote retails for $79.99

The LCD BacPac can be easily snapped on the back of the GoPro to provide a view of the action.  Use it to easily frame your shots and follow the action. The LCD BacPac retails for $79.99

There are other small POV cameras out there.  I have even bought a few of them myself.  I prefer the GoPro because of its cutting edge technology and the hundreds of different mounts that are made to support the product. A whole new industry is developing around support of these cameras.

I know there are a lot of boaters and sailors out there that use GoPro camera. What are you using yours for?

~~~ Sail On ~~~ /)

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Vexilar SonarPhone now on Navionics

Application: iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, >iOS 4.3 and Android 2.0
Function: Marine Depth, Fishfinder, Sonar
Rating: *****
Cost: App is free, T-Box $149/$199

Along comes a company called Vexilar to shake up the sonar and fish finder world. They are a Midwestern company located in Minneapolis Minnesota. It is fitting they would be located in a state famous for great fishing and known as the Land of 10,000 Lakes.  They are probably more well known for their line of fish finders and underwater cameras for fishing and ice fishing applications.

They recently set the fishing world on fire with their SonarPhone application for smartphones and tablets along with the T-Pod and T-Box products.

Vexilar has their own free app called SonarPhone which comes in an iOS version or Android version found in iTunes and the Google Play store.

So, why am I so excited about this fish finder sonar?  Well, Navionics has recently released an update to their Boating and Charting apps that also incorporates the SonarPhone capabilities into their Marine apps.

If you purchase any of the T-Pod or T-Box products they can be easily connected to the Navionics app to provide sonar data and a depth display.  To get started, power the T-Box sonar unit up. On your mobile device enter Settings/WiFi and select the T-Box WiFi network.  Go back and open the Navionics app and the Sonar data should automatically be displayed on your chart display. See this YouTube video for easy setup instructions.

You can access the demo through the app in Menu/Charts and Upgrades. Select SonarPhone under Features.

Navionics app T-Box demo under Charts and Upgrades

Navionics App Note Sonar icon in bottom left on iPad

Navionics App Sonar chart split screen view on iPad

Vexilar App Features:
  • WiFi Connectivity to T-Pod, SP-200 and SP-300
  • Multiple user access via WiFi
  • Automatic Ranging
  • Transmit Range: 90 yards
  • Water Temperature, Depth Indicator
  • Audible Alarms for Fish/ Shallow/Low Battery
  • Gain settings
  • Depth Range
  • Depth alarm
  • Color Options
  • Fish Icon
  • Zoom Bottom Track
  • Noise Rejection
  • Chart speed
  • Keel Offset
  • Fish Alarm
  • Surface Clarity
  • Battery Indicator and alarm
  • Screen controls: Touch screen, split screen display with touch screen zoom control.
Vexilar SonarPhone App display features

Vexilar SonarPhone app iPhone
Vexilar SonarPhone app settings

Specifications - SP200 & SP300 Wi-Fi Boat Sonar
  • Permanent boat installation: (#SP200 only)
  • Portable boat installation w/suction cup transducer bracket: ( #SP300 only)
  • Transducer: High-speed skimmer-style transducer with keel offset and 6 meters of cable.
  • Max depth range: 240 Feet
  • Sonar frequency: 200/83 kHz
  • Dual Beam: 20º/40º
  • Power source: 12V DC power
  • Power output: 800 Watts Peak-to-Peak
  • Transmit speed: 100 Mbps
  • One year warranty
  • Included 12V, 4.5 amp-hour battery and charger. (#SP300 only)
  • Carry case with 12 volt battery and charger: (#SP300 only)

Vexilar offers several sonar units. The first is the T-Pod which is an rechargeable unit that can be towed or set in the water near your boat.  The onboard battery lasts about 4 hours. It has a water activated transmitter that will automatically start when it hits the water. It transmits through WiFi the same high quality sonar information to your smartphone or tablet.
If you fish from your boat or from shore this is a cost effective way to get sonar and fish finding information on your iOS or Android device. I found it for $115.00 on

Vexilar also offers the T-BOX (SP200).  This is a unit that can be more permanently mounted on your boat.  This is the unit that I am most excited about. If you own a small boat or sailboat and don't want to invest is a chart plotter costing thousands you can have a fully functioning sonar system for only $149.00. Vexilar has made it that cost effective to add depth and sonar to your boat.

The T-BOX (SP300) is similar unit but is a mobile version that can be temporarily mounted on your boat or used for ice fishing. It has its own battery and retails for $199.00.
The SP-200 system can be easily wired into your boats 12 volt power supply. The sensor can be transom mounted and will provide depth, sonar data and water temperature in that configuration.
You can also mount the transducer inside your boat on solid fiberglass hulls. The transducer will work right through your hull if it is not a cored hull. You will lose water temperature in this configuration.  
The SonarPhone uses WiFi technology to create a WiFi hotspot.  It turns your smart phone or tablet into a fully functional sonar system. There is no limit on the number of users, so everyone on board can have access to the sonar data. You simply open Settings on your iPhones or Tablets and select the TBox WiFi network source, enter the network password and your connected. This system is not dependent on cell coverage so it will work anywhere.
The SonarPhone app offers their app in 17 languages for world wide use. 
There is no easier way to get high quality water depth, temperature and sonar onboard your boat at a great price. Vexilar and Navionics have made it seamless and super easy to put powerful sonar data in the palm of your hand.  
This would be a great stocking stuffer for Christmas. Hint, Hint!
*****Happy Holidays Everyone*****
~~~ Sail On ~~~ /)

Saturday, December 13, 2014

iPhone 6 Plus - Awesome Marine App Display

I have been racking my brain trying to come up with a worthy post this week.  I have been hunting high and low for a new app that would both amaze and impress you my loyal readers.  I have been somewhat distracted by getting ready for Christmas.  Christmas is just around the corner so I have been busy with preparations for that season.  The house is decorated, the tree is set up and all the lights are working.  I hope you are getting in the Christmas spirit too!

I recently upgraded my phone to the new Apple iPhone 6 Plus.  I used to have an iPhone 4s. It served me very well for the 3 years I had it. I skipped the iPhone 5 upgrade because I was not impressed with the added features and improvements made my Apple at that time.  I was getting a little big screen envy of the large phones Samsung was developing.  I had even toyed with the idea of buying an Android phone.

I ordered my phone directly from Apple and it took over 3 weeks to arrive.  I was able to back up my old phone to the iCloud so I was able to download all my apps, messages and contacts to my new phone. I sold my old phone back to Apple. They gave me $105 in Apple store credit for it which was about $30 more than some of the other third party sites.

I am totally blown away how great my marine apps are looking on the larger iPhone screen.  The 6 Plus has a 5.5 inch screen and the iPhone 6 has a 4.7 inch screen.

The shot below shows the size compared to a 7 inch Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 tablet.  Notice the narrower sides bars with allows the screen to fill up more of the display.

Here are a few of the stats compared to the iPhone 5.

iPhone 6 Plus Stats                                                    iPhone 5 Stats

5.5-inch (diagonal) LED-backlit widescreen Multi‑Touch display with IPS technology  4-inch (diagonal) LED-backlit widescreen Multi‑Touch display with IPS technology
1920-by-1080-pixel resolution at 401 ppi  1136-by-640-pixel resolution at 326 ppi
1300:1 contrast ratio (typical)  800:1 contrast ratio (typical)
500 cd/m2 max brightness (typical)  500 cd/m2 max brightness (typical)
Full sRGB standard  Full sRGB standard
Dual-domain pixels for wider viewing angles   
Fingerprint-resistant oleophobic coating on front  Fingerprint-resistant oleophobic coating on front
Display Zoom   
The iPhone 6 has a new and improved 8 megapixel camera and a 1080P video camera. Video now includes slow motion and 120 or 240 frames per second. You can even take photos while recording video. The camera alone is reason enough to upgrade.

Here are a few of my favorite apps shown on the bigger iPhone 6 Plus screen. I am loving it! I am finding that I don't even use my iPad as much because the apps looks so great on the iPhone 6 Plus. They are easier to read even with my over 55 year old eyes.

Marine Information Display

NMEA Remote


Navionics US


Sea Nav

iRegatta Pro

I think the iPhone 6 Plus would be a great Christmas present for anyone, especially a sailor or boater. Be extra good this year so you end up on the "NICE List" and hopefully Santa will bring you one.  If you don't get one, there is no harm in buying one for yourself.  This could be considered required essential gear for any boating vessel. You can always argue that it is for safety reasons and you just had to have it to use all those great Marine Charting, Marine Data and Marine AIS apps.

*****Have a Super Holiday Season****

~~~ Sail On ~~~ /)