Friday, August 14, 2015

Avoid Crowded Anchorages This Summer

Have you ever anxiously approached an anchorage wondering how crowded and busy it was going to be? Will it look like the beautifully secluded haven pictured on your cruising guide, or will it turn out to be every boater's nightmare with tens of noisy super-size yachts, reveling parties and loud music blaring all night? Perhaps even a cruise ship anchored right in the middle of it?

You can now check some real time vital statistics on the anchorage directly in many of the destination sQuiddio pages when you plan your next cruise. Thousands of checkins from boats large and small, including sailboats, recreational power boats and cruise ships are monitored every day to compile useful popularity stats in real time, and show key frequentation indicators in intuitive charts.

Add the rich selection of photos available in most pages, the famous sQuidd.io Pupularity Index, other user's comments and you can truly....get the picture!

Don't be surprised again! Make sQuidd.io your favorite cruise planning tool.

See the popularity stats on the top 100 cruising destinations

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Featured sQuiddio user: S/V Reboot

Our kudos and mos heartfelt thanks to Roger, advanced sQuiddio user and skipper of Sailing Yacht Reboot, a Catalina 42 Mark II. Roger has been one of the first users to deploy the embedded iframe in his blog, and has been sharing his thoughts and ideas with the sQuidd.io team for a while.

Nothing like the constructive feedback from an experienced sailor and IT professional like Roger to make sQuidd.io more helpful and fun.

Fair winds and happy sailing, Roger!

Friday, July 17, 2015

Sharing your positions map on your blog

Recent_log_posts

Sometimes you may want people not currently in your sQuiddio follow list to be able to view your current position on a map.

If you manage a blog or web site there's a pretty easy way of doing that: include an HTML iframe in one of your pages that renders the same Google map you see in your sQuiddio Dashboard, updated to the most recent position.


Here's a step by step process on how to do that:
  1. Log in to sQuiddio
  2. Go to Preferences (in the right-hand side of the blue top bar)
  3. Select Make my position map available publicly. IMPORTANT: The iframe is not authenticated. Selecting this option will make your map available to any one who invokes the iframe. Make sure you really want your position to be known to the outside world (and not only to members of your sQuiddio follow list)
    Not enabling public iframe support will cause the message no public map for user to appear when you invoke the iframe
  4. Include the following iframe tag in your web page where you want the map displayed:
<iframe src="https://squidd.io/users/YOUR USER ID/embedded_map?size=SIZE&records=NUM_RECORDS" height="300px" width="900px" > </iframe>

where:

  • YOUR USER ID: the number shown in your Dashboard's url. For example, the user id in the url https://squidd.io/users/11212 is 11212
    Requesting a non existing user id will cause the message no user to appear when you invoke the iframe
  • SIZE: L for large (w: 910px h: 600px) and S for small (280 x 280 px), case sensitive. If you omit this parameter the iframe will render a small map.
  • NUM_RECORDS: the number of most recent position updates you want to show. If you omit this parameter the iframe will show your latest 30 positions.

For example, these are all valid ways of constructing your iframe tag:

<iframe src="https://squidd.io/users/11212/embedded_map?size=L&records=10" height="620px" width="940px"> </iframe>

<iframe src="https://squidd.io/users/11212/embedded_map?size=S" height="300px" width="300px" > </iframe>

<iframe src="https://squidd.io/users/11212/embedded_map?records=10" height="300px" width="300px" > </iframe>

<iframe src="https://squidd.io/users/11212/embedded_map" height="300px" width="300px" >" </iframe>


Remember to size your iframe (using the height and width attributes) depending on the map size you specify in your request, and use any of the other HTML5 options available for iframes for doing things like hiding the iframe border, setting a background color etc..

To find out how to share your position updates on sQuidd.io, using your SPOT Tracker, AIS transponder or satellite phone refer to our FAQ and this log post.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

sQuiddio OpenCPN plugin version 05 released

see full announcement on the OpenCPN Facebook page



Key new features in v05:

  1. Support for Mac OS X (yes!) 
  2. Select the type(s) of destinations displayed on a chart (for instance, you can choose to only display anchorages and docks)
  3.  Improves performance during Internet downloads through the use of process threading 
  4. Displays server status messages in the log-sharing status bar
    addresses some usability issues around the use of credentials for log-sharing
  5. With the new release, sQuiddio is also introducing AIS ‘Aids to Navigation’ (ATONs) as a new category of downloadable points of interest.

 Download the new version of the plugin here

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Bigdumboat's great take on sQuidd.io

"sQuiddio is the ultimate resource for cruiser crowd sourced information. An amazing, dynamic knowledge base by cruisers for cruisers. Find marinas, fuel stops, and more right on your OpenCPN charts with sQuiddio's free plugin. "
http://bigdumboat.com/

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Over 100 destinations added in Northern Europe in recent weeks

Sailors in the Baltic and Northern seas must use the long cold winter months to do a bit of arm-chair sailing, planning the new exciting itineraries they will be able to enjoy come summer.

As a result, our coverage of sailing destinations in Finland, Denmark, Germany, The Netherlands and Poland has grown significantly over the last couple of months thanks the contributions of several users, in particular German user Hans and Finnish user Erkki

opencpn_screenshot

Our thanks go to these active sQuidd.io contributors for helping make us the leading user-sourced database of sailing destinations







Monday, March 2, 2015

sQuiddio plugin v0.4 gets thumbs up by OpenCPN lead developer


Here's what s/v Dyad skipper Dave (@Bigdumboat)  has to say after taking the latest version of the plugin for a spin:



"I want to thank you for creating your sQuidd.io plugin for OpenCPN. sQuidd.io is absolutely fantastic. All your features are excellent. 

Your check-in/out, is unique. As far as I know it's a one-of-a-kind and should prove to be popular. Cruisers will love the ability to share their location too. The sQuidd-Master is a brilliant mix of fun and responsibility. Well done." 

"We're thrilled with sQuiddio's plugin. OpenCPN users have been requesting this feature. sQuiddio answered the call. We think you're going to love it."
 

Needless to say, as members of the huge and fast-growing community of OpenCPN lovers, we are the ones who feel like thanking Dave for giving the plugin a try and sharing his feedback with us!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Sharing your current location on the Web and Social Media

While part of the attractiveness of cruising is to “get a away from it all”, we all feel the need (if not the responsibility) of keeping others regularly updated on our whereabouts and our progress. Whether we just want to reassure friends and family that all is well, communicate our current position to the race committee or fellow regatta members, or keep our charter agency informed on our itinerary, there are no excuses today for not keeping others “in the loop”, thanks to a combination of GPS, satellite systems, the Web and social media. The options are may, and in most cases are within reach of the average cruiser's budget.

Since the choice of the optimal method can be a bit daunting, we will examine a couple of the methods we have experimented with in the recent past. Each one has it's benefits an limitations, which we will try to highlight in the summary table at the end.

Navigation software

The rapidly increasing availability of relatively inexpensive mobile Internet access at sea is making this option more and more popular. Simply put, your navigation software most likely already knows where you are, your current heading etc. thanks to integration with the on board GPS, and very likely has access to the Internet, whether through a smartphone (while within cellular coverage), or a satellite-based system (when away from land). Why not have your navigation app take care of sending regular log updates automatically?

Granted, everything is fine as long as you have good, inexpensive Internet access, whether through WiFi at a marina or your cellular phone. Things are a bit different when you are away from land and are relying on satellite communications. Here, costs greatly depend on the system you have, but can quickly become prohibitive. The amount of data required for the typical log update is fairly small (20-50KBytes), but at the 2.4kbps data rate of many low-end satellite phones, where you are paying data minutes are in the $1 range, even a single daily update can become way too pricey.

Different story if you have already absorbed the investment in a high-end (100-300kbps) satellite station (such as the Iridium Pilot or Inmarsat Fleet One). In this case your average per-Megabyte cost, which can be as low as $1 or less, can make sending several updates a day quite affordable. Bottom line, navigation software-originated updates can be a viable solution depending on your Internet setup, and how much time you spend within reach of cellular networks.

Satellite Tracking Devices

The ever more popular Spot Tracker is a favorite among hikers, skiers, cruisers and other outdoors sports enthusiasts. At an affordable $99 for the device itself, plus $20 a month (including $5 for the Basic Tracking service, which you are going to need. A one year contract is required). It incorporates a GPS chip, which sends your position every 10 minutes to a network of commercial satellites, covering most of the navigable globe.

AIS

The Automatic Identification System (AIS) is an automatic tracking system used on ships and by vessel traffic services for identifying and locating vessels, by electronically exchanging data with other nearby ships and AIS Base stations. While originally intended for large cargo and passenger ships, low-cost AIS transponders are becoming more affordable and are increasingly popular among pleasure boaters.

Problem is, AIS was designed essentially for ship-to-ship communication, so how can it help you send your log updates to the Internet and the rest of the world? This service is provided by a network of land-based stations that has sprung up in the last decade that detects AIS broadcasts within a few tens of miles of the major coastal urban areas around the world, In addition, an expanding network of low orbiting satellites also picks up signals from remote locations and feeds it to the Internet

Manual updates

Last but not least, you can always send your current position manually as a GeoSMS, which is a fancy word for a plain old text message containing your latitude and longitude embedded in a special format within the message. You can do this either through your cellular or satellite phone.

Making your updates available to the world

OK, so you have chosen your ideal delivery method, or combination thereof. But how do your log updates end up on the web or Facebook?

That's where services like sQuidd.io come handy. Sign up for a free account and provide your unique AIS identifier (something called MMSI), or your Spot Tracker ID and your AIS or Spot log updates will appear in your profile page to anyone on your follow list.

If you have chosen to use the OpenCPN sQuidd.io plugin, simply enter your sQuidd.io user ID and a special API Key in your plugin settings and there you have it, your plugin log updates are now available on the sQuidd.io page. Optionally, you can have these updates posted to your Faacebook account.

Speaking of OpenCPN, anyone on your 'follow list' who uses the sQuidd.io plugin will also be able to track your position directly on their OpenCPN chart, a nice handy feature that spares your from having to constantly switch between your navigation software and your web browser.

So, to wrap it up, hare's a table that summarizes pros and cons of each solution.


Pros Cons Typical costs
Navigation Software (OpenCPN with sQuidd.io plugin) User-defined update frequency

Wide range of navigational information can be shared

Plugin allows display of friends' position on chart
Computer must be on and application needs to be running in order for updates to be sent Purchase: Free (both OpenCPN and sQuiddio plugin are open source)

Monthly service costs:

Cellular data: no incremental costs if your data plan is unlimited

Satellite data: highly variable (from a few pennies to $1 per update depending on the satellite system you use)
Satellite Tracker (e.g Spot Tracker) Ease of setup/use

Best when frequent updates are required (e.g. every 10 mins)
Minimum monthly cost cannot be adapted to usage needs

Information shared is limited to lat/lon coordinates
Equipment purchase: $99

Monthly Service Costs: $20, minimum one-year contract
AIS No recurring monthly or usage costs.

Equipment already a standard feature on many new boats, required by law in some countries
Coverage is limited to some coastal areas Equipment Purchase: $700 to $1200 for a class-B AIS transponder

Monthly service costs: free
Manual updates (GeoSMS) No equipment or software required (other than your cellphone or sat phone) Can be cumbersome/tedious to operate.

Unreliable as dependent on human manual operation
Each SMS is typically priced as one minute of voice time


In summary, the choice of the optimal 'log sharing' solution depends on how much time away from land you plan on spending, what equipment you already own (AIS Transponder, Satellite Internet station etc.) and how often you want to send log updates to the rest of the world. If you are starting from scratch, don't own and AIS transponder or fancy satellite station, Spot Tracker is by far your best bet. If you already have an AIS transponder, and spend most of your time sailing within VHF reach of land, AIS is entirely free. For those who plan on doing a lot blue-water sailing and can afford the cost of a high-speed, always on satellite Internet system, OpenCPN with the sQuidd.io plugin offer by far the most flexibility.

Have you successfully adopted any other method for sharing your logs? Do you have any comments and feedback to the solutions we discuss in this post? Please let us know by posting a comment


Monday, January 12, 2015

Set up sQuiddio to receive position updates though GeoSMS messages

There are a number of ways to share your current position in an automated fashion with people on your Follow List: Spot Tracker, your AIS Transponder (if you have one) and, for OpenCPN users with a GPS feed, the recently introduced sQuidd.io plugin.

If you have none of the above, and still want to occasionally update your friends and family through your sQuiddio Dahboard, or an iframe in your blog , and IF you have a SMS-capable Satellite phone (and most of them are) and IF you are willing to spend a few seconds to type an SMS, you can avail yourself of sQuidd.io's support for GeoSMS message to send a manual position update.

Ever thought of sailing to Iceland?

http://squidd.io/places?lat=64.9002769726575&lon=-19.871316210937497&zoom=5&map_type=hybrid&redo_search=true&latest_checkin=false&selected_boat_types=&selected_types=0,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,19,
Pick your destinations among 20 others, thanks to contributor Sy Abhaya.
It may be outside of the most popular sailing routes, but a quick look at the recent submissions by user  reveals some pretty amazing anchorages, marinas and other great sailing destinations.

So for anyone brave enough to sail the North Atlantic, here's a treasure trove of secluded spots, stunning mountain sceneries and well-served marinas.

Our thanks to Sy Abhaya and the many other users who are helping make sSquiddio the largest open-source repository of sailing destinations in the world.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Over 290 destinations added in the Philippines

quidd.io/places?utf8=✓&commit=Search+by+region&country_code=PH&state_code=ALL&selected_types=0%2C1%2C2%2C3%2C4%2C5%2C6%2C7%2C8%2C9%2C19%2C&selected_boat_types=
Our user-sourced database of sailing destinations is growing at an amazing rate, thanks to daily submission by users all over the world.

We wanted to thank Terry Sargent, on VALHALLA  for a mass-contribution of over 290 destinations (including 50 typhoon holes) recently added to the Philippines.

Judging by the some of the photos, these are truly some of the most stunning anchorages in the world. The submission makes Terry our largest contributor in 2014.

Many thanks to him and all the other users who have contributed to making sSquiddio the largest open-source repository of sailing destinations in the world!