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How To Use the SailTimer app

The screenshot below shows you the main features in the interface. Tacking Time to Destination is one of the main functions sailors need, so it is always displayed in the center of the bottom bar. Your boat speed is shown in the bottom right corner in large letters. The basic layout is the same in Android and iOS, but most of the screenshots below use iOS as an example. There have also been slight changes to the interface in different versions of the app.  

The Input and Options buttons are on the left side of the bottom bar, and will be described in more detail below. They let you set wind and destination information, and the kind of charts you want to display. On iOS, the speedometer icon on the bottom bar is for the wind speed, which you can click to enlarge.

The yellow sailboat icon on the chart is you. The red needle on the bow shows where you are headed. The grey arrow is the wind direction, which can swing around the boat depending on the wind direction. The crosshairs in the upper left corner of the screen allow you to move the map view around (when white), or keep the chart centered on your location while you move (when blue).

Optimal tacks: these are the green lines. This is not just a map viewer; it is a powerful navigation tool for sailing.

The blue line above is your GPS track, which you can save and share. (See the FAQs about using GPS tracks with Navionics marine charts.) Your GPS track can also show all the tacking into the wind you did to get through a narrow passage, like in this screenshot of a GPS track on aerial photos.

With both Android and iOS, this is the first app that can display your optimal tacks as a chart overlay with a multi-waypoint tacking route. On Android you can see all of the tacks for the entire route, as shown in the screenshot below. On iOS, the optimal tacks go to the next waypoint in the route. 

If you are a racer you can paste in the list of lat/long coordinates for your race marks, and display your route around the course. Or for cruising or gunkholing, you can display the waypoints on your day's sail by either pasting in a list of coordinates or by dropping pins on the map for each waypoint. Then you can display your optimal tacks to the next waypoint, and see the TTD to get there (Tacking Time to Destination). You can also click on the waypoint and see a pop-up panel with the time, heading and distance for each individual tack (as in the second screenshot below).

You can use the Routes button in the upper-left of the screen to enter one waypoint or multiple waypoints along a route. As with all app interfaces, it is designed to be pretty self-explanatory. Just click Routes, then New, and you'll see it says Tap on the map to drop a pin. Once you tap, another message comes up telling you to press the Set button, to set that waypoint. Then you can tap again to place a new waypoint, or press Save Route.

Once you are displaying your optimal tacks for a tacking route, you'll notice a Next / Previous button slide up from the bottom of the screen. On Android, this is < and > arrows on each side of the screen. When you are getting close to the first waypoint and want to see the optimal tacks to the next waypoint, just press Next. Or press the Previous button to shift the tacking angles back to an earlier waypoint. This way, you can see the optimal tacks and TTD to any waypoint on the tacking route.

Optimal Tacks

For centuries, seafarers have had a dilemma when sailing upwind. Should you head more off the wind to gain speed (but at a longer distance), or head more upwind to reduce the distance (but at a slower speed)? The patented SailTimer calculations can provide a quick and easy display of your optimal tacks, based on the directions of the Wind and your Bearing (the direction to your destination).

1. Under the Input button, you can see the Wind panel below. If you are using our wireless SailTimer Wind Instrument™, go to the Setup tab and turn on "Use wireless data". Then the tacking results update automatically as the wind changes. If you do not have a wireless Wind Instrument, you can also enter the wind direction and speed manually on the Input - Wind panel. (When entering manually, use true wind speed and direction, not apparent.)

2. Then on the Bearing panel, you can select specify the waypoint you want (previously saved) by pressing the + beside Follow Route. That's it. Now, as you sail, the optimal tacks and TTD to your next waypoint will be displayed and continually updated.

If you prefer to see a video explanation of the above, here is a one-minute YouTube clip, showing how to easily display your tacking results.

You can also get the exact distances on each tack with the SailTimer calculations, along with your optimal tacks and Tacking Time to Destination. Just click on the red pin at the waypoint, to bring up the message box shown below with the heading, distance and duration on each tack. 

Options Panel

ActiveCaptain: This is like a real-time cruising guide, with crowd-sourced comments from other users. New programming was required when ActiveCaptain was acquired by Garmin, which we have not added yet.  But hopefully we'll be able to get ActiveCaptain working again in the SailTimer apps on both iOS and Android.

ActiveCaptain shows reviews and comments about anchorages, marinas and hazards. A flag on the chart like the red and green flags in this screenshot shows the location of each Point of Interest. If you already have an ActiveCaptain account, you'll be able to log-in. Or, you can register a new account and then use the same userid in the app. Once you do the in-app purchase (under Options - Charts - Marine Charts - Active Captain), just click on one of the flags and a panel will open with information about marinas, gas prices, customer ratings, hazards etc. The reviews from other boaters are especially helpful. It is like a cruising guide that gets updated in real time.

On both iOS and Android with the SailTimer app, the Options Panel is also where you select the type of charts you wish to view. Worldwide aerial photos and land maps are included free. Either of these or nautical charts can be used offline, although they need to be downloaded onto your phone or tablet while you still have an internet connection.

Nautical Charts: Select marine charts you need under the Options button in the lower left corner of the screen. Navionics vector charts are very well-suited to smartphones and tablets (see further information about them in FAQs).  There is also an FAQ for optimal display of raster charts. The raster chart prices are far lower than traditional paper chart prices, and give you great value. For example, the NOAA charts for the USA Atlantic region cover from Maine to Florida down the ICW. US marine charts are available for the Pacific Coast, Gulf Coast, Great Lakes, Atlantic Coast, Alaska, and US Virgin Islands & Puerto Rico (including large-scale charts of The Bahamas). The screenshot below shows individual charts in Canada, although region bundles are available for Canada too.  In UK and New Zealand, the one in-app purchase gives you access to charts for the entire country. Due to licensing difficulties with the Canadian and UK hydrographic offices, we have discontinued sales of raster charts in those countries, but the Navionics vector charts work great there.

Set-Up Panel

Under the Input button, the Set-Up panel is shown below. When you enter your boat's Length at Water Line, the app will display your boat's "hullspeed" (the maximum speed for displacement boats that do not plane such as keelboats).

SailTimer Inc. made the first masthead anemometer in the world that could send wind speed and direction through the air to a smartphone or tablet. Obviously this is very useful for sailing. The newest model is the SailTimer Wind Instrument RB™, with industry-leading features such as using solar panels for the tail, using the battery in the nose cone as the counter-weight, and cups that are designed for sailboats that remain equally accurate even when heeling.  The wireless connection should happen automatically in the app on both Android and iOS (but on iOS there are some controls for the wireless connection in the Set-Up panel). Once you are receiving the wind data wirelessly, the app will automatically update your tacking results as the wind changes. On iOS you can also click the speedometer icon for a larger view of the wind speed and wind direction. You can leave this open while en route, so that you can see gusts while also watching your location and GPS track on the chart.

There is also now a Wind Angle button (iOS) or Wind Gauge button (Android) in the upper right of the screen. When you are moving, it displays the wind angle relative to the boat's heading, and also the wind speed. The iOS interface also includes a countdown timer on the wind gauge screen. Large simple numbers are used for easy viewing.

Part 2: Learning your boat's polar plots, graphing wind speed, and converting True/Apparent with live wind data...

Part 3: Live Overlay of Wind & Race Maps - Crowdsourcing