Software Review: NavRules for Windows
by Ralph Díaz / Folding Kayaker
Computers, cyberspace and CD-ROMs are proving to be learning tools and means of communication and discovery beyond the wildest dreams of their creators. I recently discovered a piece of software for Windows 3.1 (or 3.11 Windows for Workgroups) that I would like to share with you.
This is a wonderful training tool that gives life to parts of the official Navigation Rules, International-Inland. It concentrates on issues of collision. And so its emphasis is on identifying lights and sounds from different type vessels engaged in varying activities. Yes, sounds. It has the various bells, whistles, and clanks you hear if paddling in a fog or the dark. These are authentic sounds. They are best heard via separate speakers and a sound card, but don’t despair if you are not so equipped. The software contains a special driver that allows your computer’s internal speakers to do a credible job in the sounds department.
The program is terrific. What I most appreciated were the run through of dozens of situations of light displays by boats under different conditions. You first see just the lights (you do have to have a color monitor or it just will not show right) in total darkness such as the example of a boat towing a partly submerged vessel (yeah, that’s an extreme case, but I pull that one out because this will let you know that the program deals with all of the more mundane situations you are likely to ever see). The lights do look strange. Then in the next screen, you’ll see the silhouette of that vessel and a partly submerged barge or derelict vessel.
The lights show is pretty complete. You will see the lights of the vessel (or vessels) in the situation from astern, the bow, and port and starboard sides. If there is a flashing light (such as the flashing yellow on the bow of a barge being towed by pushing on Inland waters other than Western rivers) you see it flashing. In all it is quite realistic and helpful in learning about such situations.
The same goes for the sounds. You are subjected (I feel really “treated”) to sounds for all sorts of situations. For example there is the sound you would hear in limited visibility (i.e. night or fog) from the last vessel of a tow, if manned (how specific can you get!).
It is not all about groping around in the dark. In clear visibility situations, you will hear the sound made by a large vessel that is operating astern propulsion, i.e. going backwards. This is something handy to know if you are about to paddle behind a large vessel lying in an anchorage. You will also get the sound made by a vessel that is about to overtake you and is indicating it will do so on the starboard side. Of course, most of the time this involves a powerboat and its operator, knowing nothing of the Rules, will just honk on his horn with all his might to scare you out of the way.
The person behind this nifty program is Bruce Pennypacker. Bruce is a long-time instructor in the US Coast Guard Auxiliary in the Greater Boston area. He is a professional software engineer with lots of experience in Windows programming. All of this shows in this delightful product.
If you are on CompuServe, you’ll find it in the Outdoors Activities Forum in Library 3 listed as NAVWIN.ZIP (you will need something to unZIP it such as WINZIP). You can try it free for 30 days and then you should register it for all of 20 bucks. Here is how to reach him otherwise. On CompuServe at 74534,1066. On the Internet you can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org (that’s the word channel followed by the number 1 with no space). Or you can write to him at 18 Hancock Street, Winchester, MA 01890.
I hope some day that he does something similar with navigation lights such as buoys, lighthouses and the like. It would be great to have a simulation of paddling into an area at night with just those lights (and to complex things, ships at anchor and on the move!).
Just a Mouse click below and you can download this exceptional program!
Nav Rules for Windows Home Page
Reviewer Profile: Ralph Díaz
Index of Pages!'
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