BLUEWATER RACING is a
set of tools for tactical and strategic planning of long-distance yacht
racing and cruising. With the software you can:
- Display and edit routes.
- Interface to GPS units.
- View a selection of chart formats, including: a built-in highly-detailed global planning chart; BSB format charts (freely available from NOAA); and arbitrary raster images (JPEG, GIF, etc., assuming the image uses a standard map projection)
- Display, examine, and manipulate multiple GRIB weather files.
- Display weather images, and track your route across them.
- Examine and edit boat performance "polar" files.
- Combine polar performance data with forecast winds to estimate travel time along routes.
- Compute optimal routes, combining boat performance with multiple wind forecast files of varying precision.
- Track competitors.
What the program
- A primary navigation tool, providing services such as AIS display. Bluewater Racing is a planning tool.
Routes, waypoints, and polar data are stored as XML files or text files that you can examine and edit directly with your favorite XML or text editor.
You can view the forecast time it will take to sail any given route you have constructed. Most other programs will only give you one approximate “best route,” and won’t tell you how long it will take to sail a different route of your choosing.
Besides giving you an estimated best route, the Bluewater Racing optimizer gives you additional information, such as a “routing tree”, which tells you the best time to all the points in your travel region, and a “sensitivity analysis,” which gives you an idea of how far afield from the best route you can sail, and still arrive in close to the fastest time. Use it when you are considering issues besides minimal travel time, such as tactics against competitors, safety of navigation, or uncertainty of forecasts.
You can work with multiple Grib files simultaneously, to generate a complete wind picture that combines extremely accurate, short-range, small-scale forecasts at the start of your race, with long range, larger scale forecasts for weeks later at the end of your race. The Grib display options are highly editable.
Boat polar files can include data for motor saipng, allowing travel time estimation for power boats, or yachts that will use power when the winds are pght.
BLUEWATER uses high-quality, free, publicly available data from academic and government sources, including:
- The Global Self-consistant Hierarchical High-resolution Geography database from the University of Hawaii.
- GriB format weather files available for free from multiple sources, such as Saildocs, NOAA, and sailflow.com.
- Magnetic declination data from the World Magnetic Model, developed by the National Geophysical Data Center at NOAA.
The GUI is written in Tcl/Tk, a popular and powerful scripting language. If you have some programming skill and inclination, you can directly manipulate GriB and Route files via simple Tcl scripts, using a command shell connected to BLUEWATER. For example, you can construct a new Grib file that averages the values in several existing files, or construct a Grib data set at lower density and then take a look at it with the program.