GSSR 2010 no 3 – Shelby goes to a hotel

Greetings all!

I mentioned in a prior blog that I had attempted upgrading the nav computers on Sans Souci, only to give up in frustration.

My goal had been to replace my ‘antique’ three year old XP system running Nobeltec, with a new four-processor 64 bit Windows 7 computer running Maxsea Timezero. It would be overkill, but an argument can be made that computers paid for the boat, so the boat should at least deserve a proper computer.

Prior to beginning I installed Maxsea Timezero on the new computer and tested it. It performed beautifully. I then removed the old computer and started swapping wires. This is where the problems occurred. The computer is buried deep in a cabinet with wires that disappear into a hole in the wall, and then reappear on the other end of the pilot house, behind the helm, in a place I can’t get to. Somewhere amongst all the wires are devices that transform the signals from one format (serial) to another (usb). These converters require drivers, and to obtain the drivers I have to jump through two hoops: 1) I need to know what brand, and model, the converter is, and 2) The drivers for my fancy new computer actually have to exist, and be downloadable. To make a long story short, I had troubles with the first of these two items, and then failed completely on the second. To install the new computer, I need to swap the little converters to ones that have drivers available for my computer. Of course, this assumes I can track down the little buggers, which are well hidden.

Thus, my fancy new computer is now a very expensive paperweight. I’m not worried. The next time I’m sitting somewhere for more than a few days, I’ll dig in again and get it solved. There was really nothing wrong with my old Nobeltec system, and it is now back in its place.

That said, I’m mentioning this only because my failure somehow convinced Don, on the boat parked behind me, Starr, that I knew something about computers and Nav systems. He was independently wrestling with the same battle as me! However, unlike me, his fancy new computer was easily accessible, as were all the wires.

Don was trying to install another Maxsea product, called Maxsea Easy, or also fondly known by its other name, Maxsea 12.6.3. After trying to convince him that upgrading wasn’t worth the effort, or perhaps even possible, he convinced me that he really didn’t have a good system to revert to. His XP computer was dying and he needed to move forward. His story, though, has a happy ending. I did get Maxsea Easy to install, although the screen came up garbled. I tried all the ‘obvious’ things: reinstalling Directx, reinstalling video drivers, etc. Nothing worked. So, I decided that maybe I should try installing Maxsea Time Zero, and that went horribly. It wouldn’t work at all.

(Note: Yes. I know this is a boring topic. No worries, I’m about to change subjects entirely. Hang in there, or skip ahead.)

This led to a series of emails and phone calls to Maxsea, and ultimately to a conversation with an incredibly helpful tech support person! Believe it or not, Maxsea gave this answer, “To run Maxsea Easy on 64 bit Windows Vista, on computers with Intel video cards, you need to find an old version of Intel’s XP device driver. They have a bug in their recent driver that wasn’t there in the old driver.”

As long as I had the tech on the phone, we discussed Maxsea Timezero. It turns out I had been trying to install their official released version rather than the upgraded version from their website. I used the latest from their website, and it worked immediately. We still had one battle, in that Don didn’t have any AIS data showing, so after time spent tracking down AIS data, and verifying the data, we finally determined that another $250 add-on module was needed. Once we had that resolved, we could finally study what we had accomplished.

Maxsea Timezero, as pretty as it is, was a wasted installation. Maxsea Timezero’s charts for this part of Japan are of horrible quality, and have huge data errors. I gave the Maxsea support representative a hard time about the quality of the charts, and he made his best feeble attempt to defend them, but the bottom line is, “they are a work in process.” On the other hand, the C-Map based charts used by Maxsea Easy are beautiful! Great coverage. Allegedly, Nobeltec Max Pro also uses c-map charts, but I’m not sure. My charts on Nobeltec don’t seem as good as what Don has on Maxsea Easy, so, I’m not sure what is going on.

And with that topic out of the way…

Roberta and I decided to get off the boat for a few days and go into downtown Osaka. We’re at a marina in a small town called Ashiya about a 20 minute train ride out of Osaka. We thought it would be fun to stay at a hotel, and just walk around town exploring.

I remember thinking that once we returned to Japan we’d never be in cold water again. Thus far, that hasn’t been true. All we’ve seen is rainy days and cold. It feels like a long way to go to wind up back in Seattle. One hint that all the rain is fairly standard for southern japan is that many of the pedestrian shopping streets have rain shields over them. and most cars have little rain shields above their windows. 




Roberta and I spent two days walking around Osaka, hitting the popular tourist spots. One fun note; not only has Osaka copied Seattle’s rain, they’ve also copied our fascination with Starbucks. I have no idea how many Starbucks there are in Osaka, but would guess the number at 100 or more!

We couldn’t find a hotel in Osaka that would take dogs, so poor Shelby had to go to a kennel. We’re very nervous about putting Shelby into a kennel because of a bad experience we had a few years back while cruising in the Bahamas. We put her into a kennel in Nassau for a few days, so that we could stay at a fancy resort. The experience almost killed her, literally. She came back ill and terrified.


We found a place in Ashiya that was incredible – the Serenity Pet Resort and Hotel. It’s so nice I thought it was a real hotel at first. An awesome place, with a nice yard for the dogs, and an incredible staff.


Shelby had a great time! And, above you see the nice card the staff put together for us as a souvenir of Shelby’s stay at the hotel.

And, to flush out the rest of this blog …

I thought you’d enjoy seeing the high-tech toilet we had in our hotel room. This is the control panel. In addition to being able to control the seat temperature, which runs from “hot” to “well done”, you can control the auto-wash (don’t ask), the artificial flushing sounds, and even do a powerful deodorizing!

And, this concludes my final pre-cruising blog…

My hope is that the next time I post a blog we’ll be at sea, and the GSSR 2010 will be started. That said, we’re on a slight delay getting started, so my best guess is that we won’t actually start cruising until the end of next week.

Ken Williams
Sans Souci, Nordhavn 68
And, if you are interested in my books, check out :  


3 Responses

  1. Hello Ken… You don’t know me, but I’ve been following your blog since the beginning of your trip last year. I never really left a comment. I’m not sure why, I guess I just thought I didn’t have anything to add.

    I read what you said about trouble getting the navigation drivers installed, in addition to trouble with your Windows 7 Computer. I have some suggestions you may consider.

    For starters, about the USB driver issue. You said “The drivers for my fancy new computer actually have to exist, and be downloadable.” That’s not entirely true in reference to Windows 7/Vista. Obviously the drivers have to exist, but these days you can have USB drivers run through a “Virtual Machine.” That means that if you have a USB device for Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, probably even ancient Windows 98/95, you can make a new installation and give the USB device direct access to that operating system.

    You probably have no idea what I’m talking about ~ check out the VirtualBox project at ( It is completely free and can be run with Windows machines as the “Host.” You merely need a Windows XP Install CD or a .iso image file of whatever operating system you wish to install.

    From my understanding, I think it may also be possible to run a 32-bit operating system on a 64-bit machine, which may also be a good way to get around that conflict.

    I think the only real catch is, they haven’t implemented good DirectX support (last I heard). That could be an issue with your 3d nav software. However, 3d is going two different directions, OpenGL and DirectX. There is a similar project to VirtualBox that has good DirectX support, but it’s commerical. It’s called “VMware.” (

    There’s also “Virtual PC” by Microsoft, but I’ve never really read into it and have no idea how well it would work. There’s also “Wine” for the linux operating system which emulates windows programs, but you would have to make your computer dualboot, and there is no guarantee of success, so it’s probably overkill to try. There is also NDIS wrapper, which is a program for Linux which can “wrap” windows XP USB device drivers, but again, it’s also probably overkill because not only would you have to have Linux but also you would need software to use the USB devices (which may exist.)

    I apologize for the long winded explanation, I just wanted to be sure I covered what you need.

    I’m just some guy that played your sierra adventure games as a kid. After looking up what happened to you, I found reading about your trip fascinating, as I know very little about boats or the hardware behind them.

    Wishing you and your family the best,
    Ronnie, Knoxville, TN.
    Website: (

  2. L.O. Ken and cruisers! MAXSEA looks Great (1st image), hope it works! Hooray for Shelby! Have fun and enjoy your journey! Thanks for sharing your photos and blogging!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Be the first to know when

the game releases!

Plus, receive special insider, behind the scenes, sneak peeks and interviews as the game is being made. Don’t worry. We will not spam you, and we will not flood your box with too many emails.
 — Ken Williams

Credits     |     Video produced by: Rock Steady Media     |     Teletype photo: Arnold Reinhold     |     PDP-11 photo: Trammell Hudson