Where is that CCCA yacht?

[This is the online version of an article in the May 2011 issue of the Mainsheet, the monthly magazine of the Coastal cruising Club of Australia. This month it is a bit self-referential, but I thought I'd put it up here anyway - MC]

TeMoana Yacht PageThis month, we’ll take a look at webcommunications.com.au [1], a Website which some friends and I especially built for cruising sailors, their friends and family.

Skipr was originally conceived on a cruise to Hobart (on Belage, the yacht of CCCA member Peter Style) in 2006. A friend had helped me build a Google map which showed the boat’s position. Having Internet access on board made it practical to build a Web based service which let others know where you were and what was happening along the way.

Today, it has matured into a popular service for cruising sailors who like to keep in touch with family and friends. I’m keen to “fold” that experience back into the Coastal Cruising Club. For those who haven’t used it, here is a quick overview of how you can have your boat displayed on the site:

  1. Register you boat [2]- it’s free, no strings.  Just go to the registration page, enter your name, boat name, a password and an email address (so you can recover your password when you forget).
  2. Report a position – log in and enter the Lat and Long and an optional comment into a simple web form and presto, you now have a page where friends and family can find your boat.
  3. Extras – In the Control Panel, you can add a photo and description of your boat and set some preferences such as whether you’d like to have Facebook comments on your page.

It’s in the nature of cruising that boats spend much of their time alongside or on a mooring. So it’s good to know who is on the move. The front page show the 30 boats which most recently logged a report, similarly, the “Currently Cruising” page shows anyone on the system who has reported their position in the past 30 days and highlights those who have done so in the past 7 days. It’s a wonderful surprise to find a friend at a distant anchorage or in the next bay along.

iPhone main screenAnd for those with iPhones and similar “smart phones”, we made it even easier. After registering your boat on the main website, just enter webcommunications.com.au/m into your phone’s browser [3] and you’re ready to let the world know where you are. It uses the phone’s built-in GPS to report your position and displays the other boats who have reported recently. We hope to soon even have a menu item to find nearby CCCA members who have joined up.

We’re creating a CCCA page [4] on the main Skipr site, where you will be able to find club members who have reported in over the past  30 days. You don’t have to wait until you go for a long cruise either, why not log your position when you’re at anchor on a weekend and let your friends know where you are or where the fishing is great! Come on, get on Skipr’s CCCA page!

References:

Happy Browsing,

Marius Coomans
skipper@webcommunications.com.au