THE VIRTUAL NAVIGATOR
Given that this is 2021 and one’s Tesla can chauffeur them to the marina or yacht club in autopilot mode, it should come as little surprise that some of today’s navigation software can formulate a route between a home mooring and a far-flung anchorage, even in another country.
Navionics, now owned by Garmin, pioneered this technology, dubbed Dock-to-dock Autorouting, in late 2015. As with several of the weather-routing products discussed, to take advantage of Dock-to-dock, a boat owner will need to enter their vessel’s parameters into their Navionics Boating app ahead of time, and they are highly encouraged to manually review the auto-calculated route before committing to it.
“When planning longer bluewater passages, auto-routing might not offer much more than ETA over a given distance,” Garmin’s Dave Dunn says. “However, for near-coastal and Intracoastal Waterway passages, auto-routing offers significant advantages when paired with up-to-date charts.” This latter bit matters greatly, given the shifting nature of some seafloors; Dunn explains that Navionics releases in the ballpark of 5,000 cartography updates daily.
While Navionics is no longer the only player offering auto-routing capabilities, the addition of Activecaptain’s community chart layers (also now a Garmin-owned entity), which users can switch on and off, gives Navionics users other integrated advantages. Dunn advises: “Crowdsourced features such as Community Edits and Activecaptain Community layers are not only useful, they’re necessary. Both offer useful insight not found in any other resource or chart by way of community feedback, ratings, additional data, missing chart objects and hazards, or more-timely navigation changes that chart sources have not yet reflected.” Garmin now also allows Activecaptain users to upload photos. This, Dunn says, lets “other users see what dock slips, hazards, important points of interest, and other relevant local knowledge actually looks like in the wild.”