Cool People and OpenCPN

I began using the Internet when was just light green text on a dark background—no graphics—reminding me now of equipment submariners use. Primitive by today’s standards but it kept me in touch with people and information I depended on for my work.

Screenshot of OpenCPN plotting navigating software from my Twitter friends @BigDumBoat and their team of volunteers.

As the ‘net developed and offered more purposes and became accessible to more people, it became further integrated into my life—not only could I communicate with clients in South America, Europe and the Middle East, I could socialize casually with total strangers sharing recreational interests. Some of them I’ve now known for years. We look for each other online at Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and other places. We worry a bit when someone isn’t around.

It’s fun. Need weather conditions off the Dominican Republic? Check with Sara. Crave a recipe for lamb done New Zealand-style? Ask Sean. Have an itch to send a sick cat joke to someone? Address it to Olaf. And in return, receive way more.

While I’m drydocked indefinitely on the Pineapple Hill farm, I live vicariously through other boaters. Among them, I’ve most enjoyed contact with Dave and Kathi, full time live aboarders cruising the Intracoastal and offshore waters of the eastern seaboard in step with the changing seasons. Since 2000, they’ve headed South when it’s cold up North and vice versa—with no home port—from Newfoundland to the Bahamas. That alone is interesting enough, but they’re also the leading force behind OpenCPN, the free, open source chart plotting navigating software tool Dave started programming in 2004 when unhappy with what was available commercially.

OpenCPN is a fast-running, no-nonsense alternative to high cost gadgetry loaded down with too many ‘eye candy” features useless to practical cruising. [My tech clients back in the 90s might call this streamlined-yet-robust approach “elegant” but they’re all out sailing or sipping parrot-colored umbrella drinks on beaches so I’m just guessing.]

Kathi and Dave, living full-time aboard m/v Dyad. Look for them on the Intracoastal and beyond.

Today, OpenCPN is used worldwide and a team of fellow cruisers keep it going. Dave leads the team: a group of volunteers—all seasoned sailors—that manage the Facebook page, updates/edits user manuals, provides forum support, oversees the translation project, and more. Kathi spreads the word through social media and their websites and How cool is that?

Answer: So cool that Dave won the 2018 Ocean Cruising Club Award as follows—

“The OCC Award, which recognizes valuable service to the OCC or the ocean cruising community as a whole, goes to David Register, lead developer of the OpenCPN navigation software. OpenCPN is chart plotter and navigational planning software developed by a team of active sailors using real world conditions for program testing and refinement. Their motto: “We’re boaters. We’re coders. …A network of more than forty volunteer software coders now work to improve the product, update it and expand its capabilities. Dave continues to co-ordinate this work from his floating home, Dyad, the Big Dumb Boat. See” …Open CPN has made a magnificent contribution to the enjoyment and safety of sailors cruising in small boats, and Dave deserves every bit of recognition for his invention and his ongoing efforts.” by Daria Blackwell, January 1, 2018

Dave’s reaction: “I’m honored and humbled. But I’m only the tip of an iceberg. This award and recognition would not be possible without the help and support of the worldwide OpenCPN team. Thank you.”

The award is a story within another story (Dave and Kathi) within yet another (fun on social media).

It all comes around neatly and taps gently against the dock just as the gods would have it.

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They read the sailing sections of my book while riding out Hurricane Florence.

Tim Bryant
Author of Blue Rubber Pool
Surf Director at Pineapple Hill


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