Reeds Online is worth waiting for

                                   Editorial

Reeds Almanac 2011The thing I’m most looking forward to using, having seen it in action at the London Boat Show, is Reeds Nautical Online. And one of the best things about it is that – unlike so many of the other tempting goodies on show at ExCel – it’s not going to cost anything.

Well, OK, you have to buy a Reeds Almanac to qualify to use it, but like many thousands of other yachties, I buy one of those anyway, and have done for years, and would have done with or without the online add-on, so to my mind, that makes it a free extra.

And maybe that’s just as well, as its launch keeps being put off, and if I’d paid extra for it, I might be getting a bit impatient by now. First they said it would be available at the beginning of the year, then at the end of January, and now they’re talking about some time in March – there are still a few little details to be ironed out apparently.

But having seen the Beta version working on the Adlard Coles stand at the show, I’m well convinced it will be worth the wait.

What advantages does the online version offer over the tried and tested printed version, diehard users of the Almanac may wonder. Well, the most obvious is that all the information is there at your fingertips without constantly having to leaf backwards and forwards through all those 1,000 plus pages.

But probably the most important is that, unlike the printed almanac, the online one is constantly updated. No need to make all those painstaking monthly corrections, it corrects itself. So you always have the most up to date information available, a vital safety feature.

And the live updates extend to the tide and the weather, with customised weather data from the Met Office and interactive tidal data from UKHO, as well as port information, chartlets etc.

So, decide on your destination, and on a single screen you’ll have all the information you want for optimum passage planning. If the tidal diagram shows the tide’s in your face, for example, you can find straight away when it will turn fair, and what will be the best time to leave.

In fact the aspect of the software I’m most looking forward to using is the passage planning tool, which enables you to store frequently used routes, as well as sorting out the best way to tackle the long delivery at the beginning of the once a year holiday cruise.

Users will be able to download the almanac on to two computers – one at home or the office and a laptop to take on the boat – and the good news is that once its downloaded, you can use it even without Internet access, so the information will be available all over the world, whether at sea or ashore.

(You won’t of course get live weather, tide etc in this mode, but you can still access all the data more quickly than by wading through the weighty tome and seeing everything you need on one “page” is much more convenient).

At the moment it’s not available for mobile phones, but that is one of the things Reeds are looking at for the future. Further improvements are also in the pipeline – you get the impression that one reason the launch date keeps getting put back is that they just don’t know where to stop.

It’s a case of “watch this space.” This is an extremely exciting development which in theory at least can only go on getting better. I just hope it really will go live in March in time for the main passage planning season.

For further information visit www.reedsnauticalalmanac.co.uk