As I write this article, the summer season for 2015 has just ended. It has been a very mixed year on the weather front, starting out well and deteriorating throughout the cruising months. Once again, though, it hasn’t stopped the team in the CSIG from continuing to explore the fantastic waterways, which we all share, or indeed opening up yet more hidey places for general use. The survey teams worked very hard this year keeping the mappers, and in particular Brian, very busy. Feedback has been good but we would really like some more from the testers, a little more on that later. The pilot project between the CSIG and Waterways Ireland (WI) has reached another milestone and we are very hopeful that this project will lead to even better cooperation between the organisations. In this article, I want to also cover some of the positional anomalies that can happen, particularly with floating buoys. The CSIG has also released Beta v6 charts, which have many more depths and other changes following on from the feedback with the testers.
BETA V6 RELEASED
In October 2015, the CSIG released the latest version of the charts, namely Beta v6. I think it appropriate here to get a little technical and show some numbers associated with this release just to show the scale of this project. I think you will agree these numbers are quite astounding.
More data – the CSIG database now has 3.56 million valid spot depths that are used to create the charts. This does not include any of the spot depths that have had to be cleaned out for different reasons. Also, the Lower Lough Erne area is being populated rapidly thanks to Robert Navan and Mike Kingston
The “most appropriate” 519,000 spot depths are selected to appear on the charts. An algorithm is used to decide which depths should be shown, and at what position for each level of resolution. Remember there are four levels of resolution under the MemoryMap versions, and seven levels of resolution under the SQLITE versions. Yet another ingenious solution produced by Brian Willson who has automated this process as best as possible.
836,000 soundings of less than 10ft are used to build the coloured contours. You will note the CSIG only uses contours in detailed surveyed areas, because of the possibility of ‘filling in’ by the generating programs. This is why we use spot depths instead of contours in areas where we are not fully sure of the data.
In this release, there have been many corrections to navigation marks as a result of feedback from the testers.
There have also been a few corrections to land and island shorelines.
Pat has finally taken the positions of the Firing Range defence markers on Lough Ree and these now appear on the Beta v6 charts. It is interesting to note that the firing range area has been excluded from all other paper charts, even though this area is marked and is most certainly dangerous to enter. We have raised this with WI and they will include the area in their next set of guides.
We would also like to thank Giles Byford for a very detailed survey of Becker’s Rock in north Lough Derg, and also around Banagher Bridge which have now been included in this release. Many thanks Giles.
The CSIG have started to introduce facilities icons in this release, and these will be rolled out to cover many more harbours for the next release. These include Pump Out and Fuel icons that should appear at the actual location of the facility, with additional icons for Water and Electricity “generically” shown below the harbour name where they exist. Shower and Toilet blocks will also be indicated at their actual position. Brian asks that all beta testers let him know of harbours that have these facilities so he can include them in the next release. For Fuel and Pump Out, please state either a Lat/Long position or an image that has the position marked. Please also copy the Beta test team (email@example.com) to avoid duplication.
There have been many other minor changes and additions thanks to the efforts of the team. If you would like to become a tester or contribute in any way, please contact me Les Saunders at (firstname.lastname@example.org)
ANOMALIES ON FLOATING BUOYS
The feedback from some of our testers showed us that the floating buoys seemed to be out of position on the charts when they measured them in quite a few locations. This was puzzling to us at first until Pat checked with the WI engineers as to how they lay these floating buoys to take account of the changing water levels. WI has a general rule when laying these buoys, which is to attach a chain that is twice the length of the depth at the position of the buoy. Applying a little Pythagoras shows that if a buoy is deployed in 20 foot of water with a 40-foot chain, the buoy is then free to move in a circle with a diameter of almost 70 feet. We had solved the anomalies. Well done Pat, your maths teacher would have been proud of you.
NEW CRUISING AREA – ROGER’S LANE
The CSIG is all about finding new places to go, and we have been very successful over the last couple of years in opening up areas previously shown as unsafe and not navigable. These areas will not be shown on any WI Guides, since that is what WI produce, Guides and not Charts. WI has been very cooperative in helping us open these areas and we fully expect that cooperation to continue and even improve. Recent openings include the Wood Passage in Lough Ree, Meelick Pool near Victoria Lock, and T4 at Terryglass. Well, here is yet another one opened with the finding by Dr. Donal Boland, the surveying by Pat McManus and the testing by the Heritage Boat Association and the IWAI Derg Branch, namely Roger’s Lane. So where is it located? Well, as you travel north out of Lough Derg and just leave the 4 posts entering the river, travel about 200 hundred meters, and if you look left you will see what looks like a small channel. In fact it is the channel separating Roger’s Island from the mainland. It is deep, around 8 feet, right into the shore, and opens onto the swimming area at Portumna. A road is right beside the location and a short walk leads to the centre of Portumna. It is extremely well sheltered, and we have to thank Galway County Council for cutting the grass and making walkways linking to the road. A good number of barges and cruisers used the location for the Shorelines Festival held annually in Portumna. It really is a magical place hidden from view and almost in the town. Well done Donal and Pat.
PILOT PROJECT – CSIG AND WATERWAYS IRELAND
I mentioned in the last bulletin that the CSIG was in negotiation with the IT department of WI to create a working group with the aim of sharing certain information between the two organisations to the benefit of both. I am delighted to say that all the legalities have been completed, the Memorandum of Understanding has been signed by both parties, and the first official meeting of the pilot group has taken place in mid August. At this meeting, tasks were assigned to each group and everyone involved did their part to ensure the project went well. There were of course challenges, since each party uses different tools and the hoped for outcomes were different from each side. I am happy to say all the challenges were overcome, the pilot tests completed, and at the last meeting in September all that is left to do now is complete the report, and present that report to the Executives for decision on future cooperation.
WHAT PLATFORMS DO THE CSIG CHARTS RUN ON?
This is a question I seem to answer many times, so I think it is appropriate to state it here especially for any newcomers to the IWAI.
The CSIG charts come effectively in 2 formats,
- MemoryMap Raster charts
- SQLITE Vector like charts
Raster means they are picture like, so a zoom in only makes the same picture bigger.
Vector means levels of data can be added or removed as you zoom in.
The MemoryMap versions will run on Windows, IOS and Android platforms using the appropriate app from MemoryMap and the CSIG charts.
The MemoryMap versions have over 200 charts to load and are especially good for ‘techi’ types because of the flexibility and functionality that that platform provides.
The SQLITE versions run on IOS and Android tablets and smartphones. IOS uses an app called Galileo Pro, and Android uses an app called Locus Pro. And of course you need the CSIG charts.
The SQLITE versions have 10 charts to load, are very easy to use and utilise all the functions of tablets.
Remember, your device must have GPS on it, if not, Bluetooth and USB GPS dongles can be purchased. A laptop screen is almost impossible to see in daylight, I use a VGA connection to a TV to see the screen in bright sunlight.
A good solution for low cost and excellent results is an Android tablet (big one) with GPS on board, the Locus Pro app, the CSIG charts, and a good flexible tablet mount. For steel boats where the GPS signal might be hindered, a Bluetooth GPS is great because you can place that on a window and mount the tablet anywhere.
A quirky solution is also possible by using a smartphone with a VGA cable to a TV or monitor. The full detail is available on the smartphone and displaying it on a big screen makes it easy to read. Make sure you buy a VGA cable that can also take a power lead; GPS eats batteries on smartphones.
So, in summary, there are loads of options to accommodate all tastes. Email me if you are still unclear.
In summary, it has been a great year for the CSIG group. We have introduced new releases of charts, added new platforms, produced new icons, opened new areas to navigation, added many more testers, added new surveyors, upgraded the surveyors app, conducted Pilot tests with WI, released a new distribution methodology, and had great fun doing it all. Many thanks to all of you, for the support and assistance in keeping this great project alive.
Here’s to next year and another great boating and charting season.
© Les Saunders 2015