Handheld log keeping

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In the pre-GPS days of navigation, log keeping was a central element of good navigational practice. A log of dead reckoning (DR) information like course steered, wind direction, sea state, barometer reading, etc., recorded every half hour or hour provided a baseline DR position for plotting on a chart. A log book also was a great tool for reliving memorable passages. The advent of GPS and electronic charts has made such log keeping almost seem redundant. Most electronic chart programs can spin out GPS-position log information which can be printed and put in a binder.

But what about a way to make log keeping a bit more fun? A way to get more involved in the process? A sailor named Thaddeus B. Kubis, who has a U.S. Coast Guard master license with a sailing and towing endorsement and who loves to sail, has written an iPhone application that brings log keeping into the electronic age. His app, called QuickLog, allows you to make log entries to your iPhone. QuickLog includes entry pages to start a new log, to view past trips and get links to weather and other sail-related online resources.

According to Kubis, QuickLog allows you to record your port of embarkation, time and other departure data. Record your course, make en route trip comments, indicate your position (in lat/long), note sea state, wind speed and direction on your iPhone. You can also make a list of your crewmembers and emergency contact information and then e-mail your float plan to your home base or to friends and relatives.

Once you reached your destination you can save the route. If you’d like to review a past trip, Kubis says you can go to the archived QuickLog screen and all your stored trips are ready for you to review, relive and enjoy again. When asked if he thought an easy-to-use iPhone app might make sailors more likely to keep log information, Kubis said, “I hope so, it is critical to keep a log. I use my logs not only for legal reasons, but also for memories.”

An added feature for version 1.1 of QuickLog, due in January, will allow the unit’s internal GPS to provide lat/long position data. The current version 1.0 requires a user to manually enter lat/long positions. The app is available at the Apple store for $5.00.

By Ocean Navigator