There are perks to Ron writing the occasional piece for Practical Sailor: the opportunity to test boating-related products. Once in a while he needs an extra tester. While cruising over the years, I’ve become the “log-keeper” of places we’ve visited, weather/sailing conditions, what we’ve seen, and any adventures we encounter. A year or so ago, Ron asked me to help “test” a log app for the iPad that was essentially a virtual logbook similar to an actual Weems & Plath logbook you might purchase from West Marine. I found it more annoying than enjoyable to use. I much prefer “journaling” to filling in all those labeled blanks. (I’m also one who prefers free verse to rhyme.)
This past spring, Practical Sailor asked Ron to test a new app for the iPad: WaveTrax Marine Logbook. Normally, I wouldn’t mention a product Ron has tested and written up for the publication, but I love this app and want to share with fellow cruisers.
Not only does the app use my (cellular) iPad’s GPS to record a track of our journey, much like you would see on a chart plotter, it also allows me to record text, take photos (which are saved according to our position), keeps track of our distance traveled, average speed, and duration of our journey. It’s very user friendly, easy to set up, and doesn’t run down my iPad’s battery.
Logs are saved and accessible within the app; an in-app purchase for syncing to the Wavetrax website is available for a small yearly fee. Syncing to the website allows you to edit log entries, destination names (the app defaults to lat/lon), generates PDF’s of your logs (photos are included), and allows you to share your logs (in PDF version) with others. I keep my cellular data turned off for the app to save on data (when I’m connected to wifi, the app syncs on open).
Downloading “maps” (note: these are not charts) for the areas we’ll be cruising is a bit “clunky” (populated areas are much larger files and need to be broken down in small segments for easier use), and so I have been spending time this fall trying to get my western Florida areas downloaded and ready to go before leaving home. Downloading the areas we traveled this past summer (Canada’s North Channel) was a much easier and less time-consuming task!
Check out the WaveTrax website if you’re interested. My understanding is that the app is half off until January 18, 2015.–jes