Friday, May 6, 2011

Kindle and Sailing

I finally broke down and purchased a Kindle (link to the particular version at left.)  I have been reading Kindle books on my PC but that is a bit of a pain plus it uses a lot of power.  Positives: Its lightweight, very compact and very easy to read even in the brightest sunlight. Negatives, there is no back lighting making it impossible to read at night or in low light.  One has to purchase some form of light for illumination at night. Amazon sells a variety of covers that have built in lights.  Also it comes without any case.  Next time my retirement check comes in I will have to invest in a case.

OK, so I bought a Kindle. What is the big deal?  One of the major drawbacks in sailing are chart notes.  As you navigate you cross large areas of red crosshatch with notations such as "restricted area 334.430 see note 'A'".  So you go to note "A."  It says: "Navigation regulations are published in Chapter 2, U.S. Coast Pilot 4, Additions or revisions to Chapter 2 are published in the Notice to Mariners."  (Why the electronic chart producers don't actually add the text from section 334.430 is beyond me.)  You can download a PDF copy of the Coast Pilots from http://www.nauticalcharts.noaa.gov/nsd/cpdownload.htm for free.  However we are back to using the computer (normally wrapped in a waterproof cover and put away while underway.)  The Kindle provides the solution.  Not only is it "instant on" but you can load PDF files.  Even better, by sending the PDF via the free Kindle conversion process you can get it sent back in Kindle format.  Then it becomes searchable so I just open the document and type 334.430 and I am reading the note.

This ability is not limited to Coast Pilots. I have downloaded light lists, NGA pubs such as sailing directions and the port index.  I have also converted the PDF versions of manuals for Reboot's equipment, my checklists and so forth.  I should point out that the system will also convert other formats.

Neat!

I did look at the iPad but I was not willing to pay what I personally consider to be an outrageous price.  The Kindle will store images but since they are in black and white I find that capability a little less useful.

The Kindle does include a simple web browser.  It is a little clumsy to use but does come in handy to download the latest weather forecast.

Great fun

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