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Old 14-12-2008, 07:29   #1
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Visual Passage Planner...any thoughts?

Hello! Anyone use Visual Passage Planner and find it worth its salt? Thanks, Chris
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Old 14-12-2008, 07:32   #2
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We have used it for years and find it`a good planning tool for long distances. It is not great for coastal cruising.
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Old 14-12-2008, 11:00   #3
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I find it to be a somewhat useful planning tool. Since it uses historical pilot chart data it tells you what weather you will probably get and suggests a route based on your boat performanace.

However, the actual weather you will see is hardly ever going to match the historical average. Therefore you still need to adjust your course for the real conditions. This can have a significant impact on any passage.

The program is a fun "what-if?" planning tool, but for the common passages you are probably better served by Cornell's "World Cruising Routes" (the book), or a similar guide.
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Old 14-12-2008, 11:08   #4
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I find it to be a somewhat useful planning tool. Since it uses historical pilot chart data it tells you what weather you will probably get and suggests a route based on your boat performanace.

However, the actual weather you will see is hardly ever going to match the historical average. Therefore you still need to adjust your course for the real conditions. This can have a significant impact on any passage.

The program is a fun "what-if?" planning tool, but for the common passages you are probably better served by Cornell's "World Cruising Routes" (the book), or a similar guide.

Interesting, and just how would Cornell's book be more accurate at weather information than the generalizations from the pilot charts?
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Old 14-12-2008, 12:22   #5
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One way they might be slightly different, is that according to Cornell, he has changed his recommendations to reflect recent changes in weather (Global warming) VS. the VPP which states its data stops in 1974. I have no idea how this would effect things...
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Old 14-12-2008, 12:31   #6
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I Use it often it helps and Cornells book also.
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Old 14-12-2008, 12:47   #7
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Interesting, and just how would Cornell's book be more accurate at weather information than the generalizations from the pilot charts?
The Cornell book wouldn't give more detail, but it does provide some useful discussion of the route options, including seasonal storm information that you may not see from the pilot charts (hurricanes are not the same as gales).

I suppose if one is already familiar with this "big picture" information then the Visual Passage Planner program is a good way to experiment with alternate routes. You have the choice of adjusting the speed and comfort (seas) you desire when the program is optimizing the route, and it will give you nice expected conditions reports on any route, be it optimized or hand-plotted.

My experience with it is in the route between San Francisco and Hawaii, and back again. The VPP program gives a nice "typical" route, but the actual track you end up sailing may be +/- hundreds of miles and several days going to Hawaii, and even +/- a week sailing back to California. And this is just typical weather pattern stuff, no major storms. It is a fun program when you are planning a trip and want to get a very rough estimate, but as the departure date approaches you are much better off looking at the actual weather and forecasts.

I have also used it when a friend was sailing from San Francisco to the Marquesas Islands. The program gave a good estimate, but when he approached the ITCZ he definitely took a different route, based on the actual conditions.

Back to Cornell's book -- VPP has more data to be sure, but either one is only a rough guide, and the book provides other advice as well.
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Old 14-12-2008, 13:20   #8
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Sounds like a good combination for offshore planning. But we all know that the plan usually get thrown out the window once the actual events unfold. The program is not that great for coastal cruising and near shore work. A good weather router for the duration of a passage should not be overlooked as again, these tools are only basics for rough planning.
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Old 15-12-2008, 07:29   #9
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Does Visual Passage Planner take into account traditional current patterns? I know the BA Ocean Passages and Cornell (since that's what he based it on) do, often putting as much weight on current as wind.
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Old 15-12-2008, 14:48   #10
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Apparently it does do currents well. Here's a link, from which you can download the demo. http://www.digwave.com/ No currents in the demo, but wind is included. I downloaded the demo (January data only) and played with it for hours. I sailed all over the place! I bought it last night from Armchair Sailor. Should be fun. C
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Old 19-12-2008, 21:34   #11
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Having just completed the USPS Navigation course I can relate that it is used in conjunction with Cap'n which incorporates (via CDs to hard drive) all U.S. charts. VPP2 plots the best course, through numerous ideations, across a given patch of ocean based on pilot chart data. The USPS course requires us to transfer waypoint data to Cap'n which attaches it to the chart database (raster and vector). Fine tuning at the beginning and end of the passage follow. It is a useful planning tool but you have to keep in mind that it is premised upon average data and conditions aren't always average. May is the time to go to Bermuda and my wife and I did so this year. The conditions were atrocious. The important point is that it is merely a planning tool.
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Old 09-05-2014, 04:45   #12
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pirate Re: Visual Passage Planner...any thoughts?

In the days before computer software we used the Admiralty Routing Charts for give us information on weather, currents, routes, storms, ice, etc etc. These were produced as full size charts; one for each month of the year for the various oceans of the world. There was a US equivalent and various publications have copied the data and made available in various formats i.e. A2 Charts in binders etc.
It would appear that VPP has copied this 'historical' data and made it into a functional program that can access the data quickly and efficiently.
It is still just a 'Planning Tool' and because it is now Computer based it gives us many variations on a theme very quickly.
The same routing charts are also available as an attachment module to programs like the Chart Program Open CPN.

It is only with the advent of up to date weather information (and our ability to receive this data) that this 'historical' data becomes just that..... A Planning Tool....!

Lets not forget that the weather information that these charts have compiled has been the result of many many years of observations. Sure, the climate is changing and small differences can and do occur.

But there is still a need to study previous patterns of 'historical' data even though it's nearly thirty years out of date. Maybe we will have an update in the next thirty years.

As a pure "Planning" Tool VPP does have its uses AND couple this with 'actual' weather and associated data and you have a great deal of useful information with which to make your decision with regard to your actual route taken.
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Old 09-05-2014, 12:19   #13
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Re: Visual Passage Planner...any thoughts?

Visual Passage Planner 2 is most certainly an asset to anybody contemplated cross oceans cruising. It is much quicker to plot possible routes with VPP than reading and extrapolating all the required information from books. Not only do I highly recommend VPP, Robert Gehrsitz the owner of VPP, is most helpful and a nice guy.
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Old 10-05-2014, 16:17   #14
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Re: Visual Passage Planner...any thoughts?

OpenCPN will do the same thing using the climatic and weather routing plugins. Cornells books are OK but really just an expensive condensation of what is available online for free.
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Old 12-05-2014, 12:16   #15
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Re: Visual Passage Planner...any thoughts?

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OpenCPN will do the same thing using the climatic and weather routing plugins. Cornells books are OK but really just an expensive condensation of what is available online for free.
The plugins you mention works with current weather files. There is no way you can plan your voyage weeks, months or years in advanced. We use Cornell books and Visual Passage Planner to plan our voyage well in advance. Just prior to departure, we import the route into MaxSea and OpenCPN and substitute the historical weather data with live weather data. For us, it deepens the planning, adds variations, options and alternatives.
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