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Old 15-05-2014, 11:38   #16
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Re: Active Captain

We use AC often to decide which marina to stay at, but it is only one source of information.

The problem with AC is that the majority of marinas have a four or five star rating. Five star should mean that the marina is perfect in every way. There should be very few that qualify, just as there are very few marinas which deserve a one star.

Another problem with the marina ratings on any crowd sourced site is that too often marina staff send in a glowing report pretending to be a objective reviewer. Usually it it is impossible to identify for certain these phoney reports. However one advantage AC has is that a reader can see how many reports a reviewer has sent in, so any report from someone who has submitted few ratings can be considered suspect.

However, once these limitations are understood and allowed for, AC is a valuable resource on marina data.

AC navigation data is less reliable. The problem there is that there is no way of knowing how accurate the depth reports were even when first reported, and time probably has degraded the data further.

ARGUS (Cruisersnet.net) is more likely to be accurate, since that data is gathered automatically, and can not be manipulated by the reporter. However, there are gaps there too. No data is available for areas that have not been traversed by an ARGUS equipped vessel.

Disclosure: I am an ARGUS beta tester.

So what I am saying is that no crowd sourced data site is perfect, but taken all together, and with an understanding of the limitations of each, we are much better off than we would be without this valuable resource.
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Old 15-05-2014, 15:23   #17
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Re: Active Captain

Active Captain "owner" used to be a regular here? Haven't seen him for a while
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Old 15-05-2014, 16:03   #18
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Re: Active Captain

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Originally Posted by boat_alexandra View Post
My issue with active captain is, I offered my time to integrate active captain into opencpn.

Via email, the active captain author denied this because essentially he dislikes opensource and freedom of information. He only intends to support closed source programs, which control the user rather than allowing the user to control the program. He believes that the information in the active captain database personally belongs to him and therefore has very strict controls for how it can be used. In other words, he is is paranoid that someone will copy all of the data onto a new server and provide an identical service using it. I tried to explain this is rare (consider wikipedia) and when it does happen, it is for a good reason and a benefit to all of the users, but he "cringed" at this suggestion.

Because of this, there is no way a third-party can verify that the data has not been intentionally manipulated. Consider someone paying the author off to put in warnings to avoid certain areas, or false endorsements for services.

For these reasons I suggest avoiding Active Captain. Contact me via pm if you have interest in developing a system for sharing points of interest and tracks based on freedom of information and universal knowledge.

I wonder if Jeff's concern was more about the method you might have proposed (if any) versus the concept of integration itself?

I know AC data is available through several other plotter interfaces (MaxSea, Plan2Nav, MX Navigator), and he professes to want to integrate that data with every electronic thing that floats, flies, jumps, whatever...

Not an argument, just an observation...

-Chris
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Old 15-05-2014, 17:08   #19
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Re: Active Captain

I'll ping Jeff and make sure he's watching this thread; SSCA hosts the Active Captain Forums on the SSCA site; I'll ask him to post something about which app's are using AC API's now and which are planned.
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Old 16-05-2014, 13:39   #20
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Re: Active Captain

I agree that Active Captain is for reviews of shore facilities. I think they're overstepping common sense trying to be a resource for navigation. Because, well, they're not.

And trying to be such a resource puts them in the ridiculous position of either delivering inaccurate (navigation!) information or developing some system to check reports out, and then you end up with things like this newsletter.

"Hey, Skeeter, there's an old report of shoaling over past that mark. Will you go over there and see?"

Sometimes the outcome just doesn't matter... if the hazard isn't there anymore, well, then we're going to get a report that Skeeter says the hazard isn't there anymore, which will be just as useless as the initial report, and if it is still there, then we're going to lose Skeeter's boat, Skeeter, or some combination thereof. Which is okay, because he was dumb enough to use his keel to "investigate" a report of shoaling. I seriously doubt Skeeter knows how to use a lead line or establish, correctly, what the depth should be from the chart at the moment he's there.

I'm in Seattle, and there's lots of Active Captain data here. Fortunately, there doesn't seem to be much navigation data entered here in Puget Sound.

My theory is it's because a) Puget Sound is relatively deep, drops off fairly quickly in most places, and you're either an idiot aground in 18 inches of water, or you're in a hundred fathoms and wouldn't know if there was a hazard under you, and b) Puget Sound is heavily frequented by pros driving commercial boats, who don't report navigation data to Active Captain, because they know better than to use Active Captain for navigation.

It's just us amateurs who have the arrogance to try to become an authority on something we're not capable of achieving.
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Old 16-05-2014, 16:28   #21
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Re: Active Captain

I don't turn down tips from fellow boaters about hazards... just as I appreciate marina reviews, tips to good anchorages, fuel docks, etc.

Doesn't matter to me if I know the reporter, and I can worry about the his/her skill level later. It helps me to look at the "average" of reviews, and hazard reports benefit from that kind of weighted interpretation, too.

But in the short term, it doesn't immediately matter to me if a warning comes from AC's crowd sourcing, or from one of the cruisers nets, or from a cruising guide published in paper form...

-Chris
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Old 16-05-2014, 16:51   #22
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Re: Active Captain

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I don't turn down tips from fellow boaters about hazards...
I do.
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Old 16-05-2014, 17:06   #23
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Re: Active Captain

Like all crowd sourced websites such as TripAdvisor and Wikipedia, you should always take into consideration where the information comes from.

Use all of the navigation information available to you, weigh it based on your intuition and experience and then make your decision. This is how navigation is both an art and a science.
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Old 16-05-2014, 20:29   #24
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Re: Active Captain

I would much rather get an occasional false report of a hazard and have it not be there than no report of a real hazard and find it with my keel.

I don't recall them ever suggesting it should ever be used directly as a chart plotting tool, so Scooby running aground is a mis-use of the product. Likewise, with any review application, if you have no common sense, it won't help you. If you have an ounce of common sense, it's quite useful information.

I don't believe they ever suggested this wasn't a commercial operation, so as their business, it's their option how to integrate it with other programs.

It's still by far the best source I've come across for marinas.
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Old 16-05-2014, 21:25   #25
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Re: Active Captain

Jammer, do you believe every sounding on your charts - knowing that many haven't been updated for decades?

If you don't like AC, fine (and I agree it's of less use on the West coast where shoaling is less of a problem). But why the name calling of those who find it valuable? Navigating the ICW in a six foot draft sailboat is far safer with AC than without it.

The AC crowd source data is easy to use if you follow a few simple rules:

1. The more reports, the more reliable. A single report is highly suspect.

2. Old reports are obviously not as reliable as recent reports (the date is right there).

3. AC navigation reports should be treated simply as an advisory that the chart may be inaccurate. Blindly following the AC comments is as stupid as blindly following the soundings on a chart.

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Old 16-05-2014, 21:37   #26
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Re: Active Captain

Looking at the Active Captain reports through iNavX, there is no data about age or number of reports.

From the tone of the last news letter, we aren't talking about an "occasional" false report. We're talking about so many false reports a new mechanism for "checking" them is necessary, and the only mechanism suggested so far is that Booger drive his bass boat over the area, sober up, and report what happens.

Of course, no one has heard from Booger since this method was suggested, but I'm sure there's no connection there.
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Old 16-05-2014, 22:50   #27
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Re: Active Captain

My take is that Active Captain "is what it is" . . . a useful planning tool if taken with a grain of salt. It carries all of the vulnerabilities of a crowd sourcing site and the management consistently overreaches trying to get you to sign up for stuff that benefits them (and creeps me out) like boat cards and onboard nav aids. That said, I regularly use it as one tool to plan trips and potential anchorages and marinas. The compilation of info in one place is hard to find elsewhere.

I am a bothered a bit by Jammer's reports that AC is asking people to edge up to hazards in order to confirm or refute them . . . but since I am not about to do anything like that, I suppose I don't really care that much. Someone mentioned an OpenCPN replica . . . I'd love to see that just to know that the useful benefits of AC will remain available.
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Old 16-05-2014, 23:10   #28
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Re: Active Captain

My report?

What I quoted came straight from Active Captain, a cut & paste from their newsletter.

I'd leave all of Active Captain in the wake before I'd suggest doing something like they ask.

I signed up for the E-boat card thingies when they first came out, but my perspective is that no one here in Puget Sound appears to use them, mainly because I don't think anyone understands what they're for. And they're useless for fleet people.

And yeah, "watching" where everyone is is sort of creepy, although it's not as bad as, say, a weird uncle. It's more of a strange nephew who isn't old enough to be dangerous.
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Old 16-05-2014, 23:35   #29
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Re: Active Captain

The NutiCharts android app overlays NOAA charts on AC info ( or the other way around)

Useful as a secondary source.
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Old 17-05-2014, 00:36   #30
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Re: Active Captain

I have posted on AC some locally known hazards, and one poorly marked (and often mistaken with dire consequences). These hazards will be there for many centuries ... we have the rock everywhere here.

There is some value in "local knowledge" ... just know when/how to incorporate it into the overall assessment, or just ignore it if your better judgement says so.
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