Jessica crosses the equator, and Maxsea Timezero reviewed

I’ve been continuing to read Jessica Watson’s blog. She’s the 16 year old currently circumnavigating. Her blog can be found at:

Today’s entry:

I mention it today because it is a bit of a milestone for her: she has now crossed the equator. (Video:

When I first mentioned her circumnavigation, I hadn’t realized that she was going around the world NON-STOP. I did read this, but somehow it didn’t make sense. I didn’t think it possible. But, she really is doing it! Apparently, there’s a tradition of sailors doing this, and even a set of rules you have to honor in order for the trip to qualify as a true non-stop round-the-world journey. According to the “rules”, she needs to cross the equator at least once during her circumnavigation. She started on the south east corner of Australia, so to reach the equator she has had to sail north east for 4,000 miles! After this she will head south east, down to the southern tip of South America, and then stay south around the southern tip of Africa. This is sure to put her in some rough weather.

She has been doing daily updates, and thus far hasn’t had much to write about, although I very much look forward to her little blurbs each day.

And on a much more techie topic…

As most of you know, I’ve been evaluating different charting packages.

          I just received Maxsea yesterday. It is incredible, and will almost certainly become my favorite PC-based charting package.

A few negatives:

– It feels like a release 1.0 (which it is). Poor documentation, clunky install (particularly of the charts)
– No Windows 7 support (although, they say it is coming in January)
– No S-63 chart support
– Large hard drive requirement for the charts (not sure the total, but I’ve installed about 6gb of charts and already and am just getting started)

A few positives:

– It supports the 3-d cards, so panning and zooming are incredibly quick.
– The user interface feels very intuitive. I like how you can shift time to see future currents and tides
– It’s the best integrated support for downloading weather I’ve seen. You just highlight a rectangle on the screen and ask it to download weather. So far, it hasn’t charged me.
– It supports my screens full resolution. I’m running it at 1920×1200, and can split the window in two
– The 3d mode is slick, and fast. I like running with a 2d chart in one window and a 3d chart in the other. You could also split the screen to have a raster chart in one window, and vector in the other, or charting, plus radar. (That said, I’m having trouble getting the radar to appear.)

I am early on the learning curve, and haven’t figured a lot of things out, so the above is just based on a cursory look at the product. One thing: I had expected it to be based on the Navnet3d code base, and it does seem to have much in common, plus appears to have good integration with Navnet3d. However, it really is a different product, and doesn’t have, or doesn’t have yet, many of the features of Navnet 3d, such as camera support, depth sounder, arpa support, multiple screen support, etc.

It slightly annoyed me that the support is based in France. My questions to support are responded to by someone for whom English is a “second language,” and there is a lot of French mixed into the response. The good news is that all questions have been answered within 24 hours, and they do claim Windows 7 support by January, whereas Nobeltec claims nothing.

I’m currently puzzling over how to import all my Nobeltec routes, tracks and waypoints. I “think” there is a way, but it certainly isn’t intuitive.

As to stability, there’s no way to say. It is too early in the ballgame. Ask me 10,000 miles from now…

Overall, it appears to be a revolutionary step forward, and something that most users will love. However, it also feels like an immature product, and less adventurous cruisers might want to give it a year or two to stabilize before swapping over.

And, on a different topic…

I’m now in San Jose Del Cabo Mexico, where I’ve been missing our boat, which is still in Japan.

Separate from our Nordhavn, I’m partners with a neighbor in a sport fisher here in Cabo. We’ve owned jointly for several years an Ocean 48, but this summer we decided to upgrade to a Cabo 52. 

Image cabo_52_express.jpg

My partner owns the majority of the partnership, and I don’t really fish, so he assumed all responsibility for picking out the new boat. I had no involvement beyond answering the phone once in a while to say, “If you like it, I’m sure it will be fine.” I hadn’t seen the boat until a couple days ago, and was very curious about it.

We have a full-time Mexican captain, Ramon, who took me out, just for a quick spin around the bay. And, a quick spin it was. My Nordhavn weighs 120 tons, and has 680 horsepower, most of which I never use. The Cabo 52 has 1,600 horsepower, and weighs about 30 tons. We were quickly at 40 knots! Of course, my Nordhavn typically burns about 12 gallons per hour of fuel, whereas the Cabo burns around 170 gallons per hour at 40 knots. As you can imagine, I won’t be going fast very often.

More interesting to me than the high-speed performance was the low-speed performance. I wanted to know the fuel burn at 10 knots. At 9 knots, I was able to get it to 10 gallons per hour, or about .9 nm/gallon, and at 10 knots the burn jumped to 30 gallons per hour, or .4 nm per gallon.

Image fiji-silvertip-manasa.jpg 

Specifically, I was trying to figure out the range. There are some islands about 220 nm south of Cabo, called Socorro, that are famous for their diving. There are no facilities at Socorro, and I’m trying to decide if I could run this boat out there or not. I’m a little worried about running these engines at such low rpms for so long, but think I could make it there and back. We’ll see. My next goal is to see if I can get a permit to visit Socorro.

The boat is certainly beautiful, and fun to drive. And, according to my partner, it is very comfortable in high seas. He ran it from San Diego to Cabo between hurricanes, in fairly rough seas, and said it was as not bad at all. I don’t fish, so all I really use the boat in Cabo for is occasional sightseeing expeditions with guests (when you live in Cabo you get LOTS of guests!)

I should also mention, although you’ve probably already heard this…

I released my book about the Great Siberian Sushi Run! A preview of the book can be found here:

You can buy a copies of my GSSR book, as well as my previous books, at:

And, lastly, the trip planning for next summer’s GSSR trip is still continuing. …

Roberta and I had dinner a few nights ago with Hugh and Teresa O’Reilly, of the trawler Westward. (

Hugh and Teresa recently ran Westward, their historic 85 year old trawler, across the Pacific, through Polynesia, to Japan, and back to Seattle, via the Aleutian islands. I was appropriately in awe.

In addition to discussing their trip, they gave me a link to a website for the sailboat “Shadow of Lorelei” (

There are no cruising guides for the part of the world we are headed towards, so each piece of information has to be fought for one scrap at a time.

Shadow of Lorelei’s owners, Mauro and Pauline, who are Australians, are now in the Philippines, and recently cruised the same places we’re going next year: Southern Japan, South Korea, the Ryukyu Islands, Taiwan and China. I have made contact with them, and will be studying their blog.

That’s it for now.

Thank you,
Ken Williams
Nordhavn 68, Sans Souci

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