Software, hardware, GPS, AIS

Hard and software 

(which I take along, and in my luggage on the plane when flying to the marina).


Notebook and antennae

Notebook HP Pavilion, only 3 USB ports (with the mouse, all ports were busy. I now have a Bluetooth mouse, easy).

Pentium N3700 1.60GHz, 64bit (a bit slow starting, after that OK)

Windows 10.

LibreOffice (latest version), and more...



External USB GPS antenna (purchased in 2001, I use a USB extension cable, works fine)

External USB AIS antenna (DigitalYacht, purchased 2016, 5 meter cable).




WLAN box using a local SIM (was rented and provides Internet access when a GSM antenna is not too far away).


Navigational software

ScanNav 16.1P4, active options: MrSid, Grib, AIS, Tides

Navionics Charts (SD Card plus online updates).


Portable devices

Samsumg Galaxy Note 3

Samsung Galaxy Edge 7S

Samsung Tab s 10.1.


The smartphone battery usually do not last more than 7-8 hours of coastal sailing (see below).


On the portable devices: 

Navionics Boating. I download the charts of the region in which we sail, Windfinder Pro, Google Sky and my usual apps.



I use ScanNav to prepare and to navigate and monitor the course. I use it to download the grib information using the WLan (or use my smartphone).


Protected smartphones

I carry the smartphones in a waterproof plastic transparent pouch hanging from my neck, I have a few loksaks and a ECase (more durable). I can monitor where we are, where we are going, check out for danger from the cockpit. Most rental boats have no good navigational aids in the cockpit. The plotters are not ergonomic (hard to read, menus are hard to use).


I also have a Samsung Tablet with its ECase, but we did not use it much.


Charging the electronics


I take along a transformer 12V (with car plug, all boats have at least one) to 220V and a Swiss multiple plug and adapters for European to Swiss plugs and a couple of extension cords for low Amp 220V.

When connected to the quai, we usually have 220V and a number of 220V outlets on the  boat.



Connecting the GPS needs the right parameters. I also used a GPS monitoring app to help me make sure the antenna worked properly - if the satellite reception is not optimal, one has to wait until enough information is received to be able to generate a usable signal.


Connecting the AIS antenna is more tricky, as the antenna sends NO information when no AIS signal is detected, which is the case at home, unfortunaltely.

The support of DigitalYacht in the UK has been excellent and told me: You should use NMEA and 38400 baud.

Only back on salt water could I test the antenna, and, ... it works fine (up to about 5 NM, which is sufficient for coastal navigation, as the antenna is mounted in the cockpit, which limits the range).



The Smartphone batteries do not last a whole day. I switch from one to the other when near the coast (off shore, I leave them being charged down below). The tracking by Navionics (on the smartphone version) is labile (I have had missing sections or missing beginning or end of the course). I haven't figured out if I touch the screen at some point and it turns off the tracking or whether when the devices shuts off the track stops and I do not continue it upon restarting.or if it is a feature of the software.


My Android devices have Boating Europe Navionics App installed, Windfinder Pro, Google Sky and my usual apps. I download the maps for the area I plan to navigate before leaving. I have not tried Marine Traffic while navigating, don't know how useful that information could be.


1. The new AIS antenna (with a not too good support, bending the connector, couldn't try it before the cruise). 2. Actual AIS information, verbose, in French. 3.Notebook connected to the external GPS and AIS antennae (its cable a bit too short and light gray power converter (12V -> 220V). 4. Electrical board and VHF radio and 12V plug. 5. Checking course with the helmsman using the smartphone.