Ocean Tested: Must-have Software for Cruisers
For those sailors traveling offshore or to the remote corners of the world, a handful of programs stand out as truly essential for maintaining communication and accessing information, including weather forecasts. Practical Sailor contributor and blue-water sailor Beth Leonard offers a rundown of the essential cruising software.
Software for downloading e-mail, weather information, and tide information from the Internet over a high-seas radio or a satellite phone gets used most frequently aboard cruising boats. Because of the slow e-mail transmission rates on the high seas, data-compression software is a must to keep communication cost-effective, whether you’re using a ham radio, cell phone, or satellite phone. Some of the more popular software packages for offshore e-mailing are Airmail, Winlink, XGate, UUPlus, and SailMail. Once high-seas e-mail has been set up, users can download weather information from a variety of sources, including NOAA’s GRIB file system, Saildocs, and ViewFax. Weather fax is still important despite the increasing popularity of GRIBs (Gridded Binary files), but you’ll need a software program that can read the charts. Some our testers have tried include Xaxero and Mscan Meteo.