Tag Archives: IPAD


Free SMS messages to satellite phones has been available for many years. Unfortunately it has not been that well known or easy.

Satway is an APP for sending free SMS messages to an Iridium, Inmarsat or Thurya phone. This APP is available both for IOS or Android phones, and makes it easy for everyone to stay in contact.

Satway APP

Satway APP

Make sure your love ones download the APP before you leave!




On Bella Luna we only use electronic charts for navigation.  I often hear people saying that is not safe just relaying on electronic navigation.

I think it is fair to say; you should always have a backup plan, independent if you are using electronic navigation or paper charts.

On Bella we carry a number of standalone electronic backup alternatives.

The aviation industry is changing to electronic navigation.   One advantage being in a boat instead of being in an aeroplane is that we can actually stop the boat if we are not certain of the position.   That luxury you do not have in the air!  I have surprised myself forgetting this obvious option when being disoriented in the Swedish archipelago.  Continuing in full or reduced speed in the archipelago is not a good option if you are not sure what is in front of you!  After stopping the boat, it is much easier to get your bearings right as you are not working under stress any longer.

If worse came to worse I´m sure most of us would find our way in to a safe harbor without charts, even if it would be exiting.

Here are some examples of arguments I have heard over the years, why it is irresponsible to sail only with electronic charts.

“What do you do if power is lost and you have a blackout?”

“What do you do if lightning strike destroy all the electronics?”

“What if the GPS system is turned off?”

All of above are valid concerns. Lets look at them one by one.

Black Outs:

In my 40 years of sailing a blackout has never happened.  This is off course not to say it could not happen.  This is why we have a  backups that work on their own battery.

A number of computers are on-board. They all have internal batteries that last 5-6 hours. With a GPS puck they work great as a stand-alone backup.

In addition to that we have one IPAD and one IPHONE with the Navionics APP.  As both have built-in GPS, they can serve as a stand-alone backup.   With a fully charge IPAD we could probably sail around for a week without having to recharge, as I do not need to have the device on all the time.

But perhaps more important, I´m sure I could restore emergency power in any event, within 30-60 minutes.  I recommend you to familiar yourself how your boat is wired ahead of time and carry basic material for a “MacGyvor” solution.


This is probably the most likely event for causing a problem.  Even if the risk for a lightning strike is much higher in a sailboat on open water, it is not that common as you might think.  Nevertheless it is a good idea to keep some of your backups in a safe place as sensitive electronics can be damaged by the static air around a thunder storm.

If hit by lightning, it will be lots of damage to electronics.   I´m sure you heard about Faraday’s cage, the idea is that everything is safe inside the metal-cage for when lightning hits.  How safe it is in reality, I´m not person to answer.   But yes, putting your backups in a metal box, is probably the best alternative to protect your electronic backup solution. Your oven is one alternative.  Do not forget to take the IPAD out before cooking!

GPS System turned off:

First, it makes no difference if you are navigating with electronic or paper charts, as the GPS just gives you long/lat.  You need position independent if you are using electronic or paper charts.

If position is lost when you are sailing in coastal areas your radar, echo sounder and compass will be very useful.  On open sea, the old fashion sextant could be invaluable.

It is not very likely that the GPS system would shut down, as most logistic services would stop worldwide, with enormous economic consequences.   In an event of a major military conflict it might be possible, but then I´m sure we have other problems to deal with!

It is more likely that you lose GPS position due to a problem onboard your boat.  Get familiar with how your system is installed.  There are most probably several connectors between the GPS antenna and the Plotter.  Every connector is a risk factor.  Troubleshooting normally starts with checking the connectors.  A backup could be a spare GPS that plugs in directly on the backside of the Plotter.

The advantages of electronic charting are many and obvious.

One important feature apart from the obvious is that is easy to update the charts.  I was not very good at manually adding updates in my paper charts.  Most of the charts I had on-board were well out of date.  This has changed with electronic charts.  Updating electronics charts is normally only a mouse click away.

Updated Chart to the left

Updated Chart to the left with Tuna nets outside the inlet to Faro Portugal.


“Rocks does not move” and therefore updated charts are not that important you hear sometimes.  Rocks do not move, but new are found!   More important is that there are new man-made obstacles like buoys, fish farms etc. showing up every year.  When you do coastal night-sails you are constantly close to fish farms and buoys.  Hitting a buoy in 7-8 knots will make a lot of damage to your boat.

In most countries updated charts, are mandatory .  In some countries Paper Charts are still mandatory.  You might want to check what the rules are in your sailing area.







Books are heavy on the airplane,  and take a lot of space on the boat.  The solution is E-books.

Vickie has been reading a lot on her Kindle. She is very happy with it, as she can download new books from the Amazon bookstore. The disadvantage with Kindle is that not many books are available in Swedish.

I prefer to read my books in my own language. As a result  I have been forced to carry heavy books on the plane. Some weeks ago I read an article about the E-Book service that the libraries in Sweden was offering.

Next day I was in the library signing up for a library card.  In order to get a Swedish library card, you need to be resident in Sweden.

With the access code you are able to borrow two books/week.  As the books are published in EPUB format you need an EPUB compatible E-book reader, and an Internet connection when you download the book to your device.  One book is quite small and does not require much bandwidth.

Vickie picked up a NOOK E-book reader for me when she was in the US.  NOOK is compatible with the EPUB format. (Kindle is not) NOOK is sold by the US-based bookstore, Barnes & Noble.  Unfortunately I can not buy books from BN as they require an US credit card and an US address in order to be accepted as a customer in their On-Line store! This is not a an issue for me, but might be good to know if you want to be able to buy books on-line.

There are many other E-Books readers that are EPUB compatible. Sony, IPAD etc.