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Old 03-10-2010, 06:38   #16
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I'm rather new to sailing so this may seem a silly question, but what would an expensive guide book offer that Active Captain doesn't offer for free and in a more user friendly format?
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Old 03-10-2010, 07:10   #17
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I'm rather new to sailing so this may seem a silly question, but what would an expensive guide book offer that Active Captain doesn't offer for free and in a more user friendly format?

There are many substantial differences but I'll just mention one. Directions and chartlets for out of the way anchorages. And, after you anchor, tons of information on what you'll find ashore, trails etc. and all sorts of info on the flora and fauna. In the Pavlidis' guides these are anchorages he's been to and surveyed personally. As for "user friendly", pick up one of his guides and start reading. Many cruisers use his guides to go exploring in the dinghy, try that with your laptop.
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Old 03-10-2010, 07:13   #18
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First, what is expensive? $35? Second, I've had my computer die, I've gotten my cell phone wet and have even lost one. The book doesn't need batteries, it dries off and is still useable and is harder to loss. I am a software engineer, I am not stuck in the 80's. I use all the modern tools at my disposal, but I never leave home without my trusty paper guide books and charts. I find the paper charts far easier to use than scrolling thru electronic charts. I also compare multiple sources of data to make sure I have as much info as I can before I make a move. When you are cruising in the outer Bahamas, the last thing you want is to run aground or to drop an anchor in an area of bad holding. there is not BoatUS to help you out.
ActiveCaptain is great for somethings but is not a total solution. I do us them and others, the Cruisers Net is updated regularly and by sailors who know the waters, just like ActiveCaptain, but has been around a lot longer.

Just my 2 cents, and I have nothing to sell.

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Old 03-10-2010, 07:14   #19
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FYI, Wilson's guidebook has been purchased by Waterway Guide. The book has been in production under Waterway Guide for the 2010 and 2011 season. Chuck
Didn't know that. Thanks for the head's up. It will be interesting to see if that fundamentally changes the content of his book over time. I like it much more than the Waterway Guides.
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Old 03-10-2010, 07:30   #20
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I love ActiveCaptain and use the integration with Rose Point Coastal Explorer. I have made quite a few user-entry contributions too. Keep up the great work Jeffrey.

Jeffrey you wrote that a paper guide is out-dated as soon as its published, but user-entries in ActiveCaptain also go stale. I think you should add an ability for users to flag another user's entry as outdated (and require that they enter some text to explain).

That said, I'm also a firm believer in paper charts and guides. In some ways a paper format is more usable (less usable in other ways) and it's a MUST to have information even if the electrons stop flowing.

So bottom line -- theres a need for both; get paper charts and guides, and use Active Captain. The web version is free, and it's free as an add-on to CE. I don't know if Jeffrey charges for other versions, but his work is brilliant and much appreciated -- worth a look if you're not familiar with it.
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Old 03-10-2010, 08:25   #21
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Jeffrey you wrote that a paper guide is out-dated as soon as its published, but user-entries in ActiveCaptain also go stale. I think you should add an ability for users to flag another user's entry as outdated (and require that they enter some text to explain).
Clarification -- would like to be able to flag user ratings if they are based on outdated info.
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Old 04-10-2010, 10:38   #22
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Since the thread has stalled, I thought I'd give some thoughts about the comments raised.

First, there needs to be additional input capabilities to reviews in ActiveCaptain. We currently display reviews with the latest one first. I think there is huge benefit in being able to get to all reviews - even ones that are years old. It shows trends and past possible issues. I have seen numerous marina reviews where there are negative reviews...then something changes and the reviews are positive. That provides good information.

That said, I'd also like users to be able to say "I agree with that review" or "That review was helpful" and allow the reviews to be sorted in order by those counts. That type of thing is very valuable when there are many reviews accumulating - and we're starting to get there.

I think that in the paper world there are two types of guidebooks: (1) Quality references, and (2) Tainted ad-based information.

The Pavlidis guidebook is an example of a quality reference. It costs some money and provides researched, quality information that can be trusted. It often contains historical information and other cruising data that is helpful. It has an issue of currency as some things can go out of date, but as long as those items are avoided (slip pricing, fuel pricing, pump out, mooring field changes, etc), they are quite useful.

The tainted ad-based information guidebooks are basically advertisements that attempt to lead you to the vendors and marinas placing the ads. The fact is that large, expensive advertisements from marinas cause much better content to be written about those marinas in these guidebooks. Anchorages are rarely discussed because the marinas don't want them displayed. It's all written in a way to make you think it's a reference and for $45 you'd think it should be. But what you're buying is advertising and it's tainted with hidden bias. Charging for this material disgusts me and it's the reason my wife and I started ActiveCaptain. There needed to be a better way to get current, honest information into the hands of cruisers.

So where are we going? I'm currently on the speaking circuit on the Chesapeake - various rendezvous, fests, etc. What I've been showing is the integration of existing quality reference material like Pavlidis' book into ActiveCaptain. It'll take a year to get it in place especially since our data flows through to other navigation products like Furuno, MaxSea, Coastal Explorer, Navimatics (iPhone/iPad), and others coming out next. But what it will do is provide a way to get this quality information into the hands of electronic users. There will be an extra cost associated with it but it'll be less expensive than buying the book (no costs of good sold) and it'll become available in all your navigation systems.
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Old 04-10-2010, 10:50   #23
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It is amazing how the revival of this thread seems to be just additional promotion for Active Captain rather than an answer to the original posters question regarding which guide books boaters are using on the ICW and Bahamas. Chuck
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Old 04-10-2010, 11:07   #24
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The only vested interest I have in either ActiveCaptain or Waterway Guides is as a user.

I do like a mix of paper and electronics. I get what I can from Navionics because that's what my E80 demands. I'm not going to replace my chartplotter for a different nav source.

On the ICW on paper I use the Kettlewell Guide. It's a useful and practical size and provides a good scale for what is ahead. The bridge list in the back is well formatted and really helps. I have a Waterway Guide on my iPhone for NC that I only use for daydreaming - in fairness I can't tell if that is more an issue of content or format; there is a limit to what you can do in that little screen.

I use ActiveCaptain each night on the ICW to see what has been recorded ahead (and mark up Kettlewell with Post-It notes). I also use ActiveCaptain for information that leads to fuel stops. When I don't have an Internet connection I use Charts & Tides on my iPhone, which has all the ActiveCaptain data available offline; hmm - that has been useful even on the small screen of the iPhone.

In the Bahamas I use Explorer Charts. I read Pavlidi's guide from the library and took some notes but wasn't moved to buy a copy. For both planning and on the move I check ActiveCaptain whenever I have a good Internet connection.

In my mind, ActiveCaptain is a tremendous value to cruising sailors. It is a little weak on big picture information but has been the best source of data for marinas, anchorages, and hazards to me for well over a year.
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Old 04-10-2010, 11:13   #25
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Yeah he's just trying to get traffic on his site.
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Old 04-10-2010, 11:19   #26
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For both planning and on the move I check ActiveCaptain whenever I have a good Internet connection.
Oh - I've got a good trick for you. The Navimatics Charts & Tides program for the east coast only covers the east coast (obviously). But if you zoom out, there's a base map that includes all of the Bahamas. ActiveCaptain data for the Bahamas is synchronized just like the US data - something I asked Bill to do. So every Bahamas marina, anchorage, hazard, etc. is all there - offline.
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Old 04-10-2010, 11:22   #27
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So every Bahamas marina, anchorage, hazard, etc. is all there - offline.
Excellent! Thanks.
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Old 04-10-2010, 11:43   #28
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Yeah he's just trying to get traffic on his site.
Not really. There was an open question in this thread yesterday asking "what would an expensive guide book offer that Active Captain doesn't offer for free and in a more user friendly format?"

Everyone in this thread has been to our site. We'll get no one new from this discussion although Auspicious will surely be able to take better advantage of the offline data.

And anyway...traffic to my site to generate what? We have no advertising in the guidebook. Go to other web sites (especially the tainted-advertising-laden ones) and you'll see them covered with banner ads. THEY are the ones who want traffic because that allows them to justify more views and higher prices for the ads. We have no advertising like that at all.

I will say that I do want traffic to the site because the more traffic we get, the more local knowledge gets entered. And that ends up being better for everyone.
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Old 04-10-2010, 12:38   #29
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And anyway...traffic to my site to generate what? .
So the $300.00+ software you sell on your site, splashed all over the front page, does not count but ads on other sites, including this one, somehow makes them tainted? Just want to clarify. Chuck
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Old 04-10-2010, 12:47   #30
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Oh - I've got a good trick for you. The Navimatics Charts & Tides program for the east coast only covers the east coast (obviously). But if you zoom out, there's a base map that includes all of the Bahamas. ActiveCaptain data for the Bahamas is synchronized just like the US data - something I asked Bill to do. So every Bahamas marina, anchorage, hazard, etc. is all there - offline.
Jeffrey, maybe I'm not doing something right, but I tried zooming in on islands in the Abacos, and many are just roughly drawn blobs which only vaguely represent the actual islands. There's no detail, no anchor markings, no depths, many of the islands are mislabeled and many are not labeled at all. Is there something I need to do to get more detail?
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