A Kiwi couple's cruising adventures on America's Great Loop and around the coast of New Zealand

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Active Captain

As follow-on from my last post, I find myself compelled to write one about Active Captain. For those followers who already know what it is and think “Duh – has he only just found out!!”, then my defence is that it is a well kept open secret amongst the US boating fraternity. I only found it by searching the net after finding an oblique reference to it in another AGLCA member’s blog that I am following. I have since done a search in the AGLCA forum and, while it says there are 109 references to Active Captain, none really detail what it is or what a brilliant, almost essential, resource it is for planning.

"So what is it then?" (I hear the uninitiated few ask). It is an interactive website that details marinas, anchorages and points of interest to boaties, displayed in formats of either road maps, NOAA charts, satellite images or satellite/map hybrids. You can move around anywhere in the world and view data without having to download individual pages or charts. Once you have registered for FREE membership, you can access the data for individual sites and add reviews or update the data yourself. You can even add anchorages or other points of interest yourself. It is a huge resource for any planning of boating activity and particularly in our case for planning the Loop, as the information for that part of the USA is very detailed.  I recommend anyone who didn’t know of it before now to go to www.activecaptain.com and join up.

Prior to finding Active Captain, my research required guide books, NOAA chart downloads one at a time, and hours on Google Earth. Active Captain rolls all of those up into one package and allows, or more correctly encourages, input from the members. I only wish I had found it earlier – it would have saved me an awful lot of time.

And yes, Kiwi boaties, New Zealand is there. No charts of course (NOAA doesn’t do charts of NZ),but most of the marinas and boat ramps appear to be shown. There is only one anchorage showing at present – Chamberlins Bay (North Harbour), Ponui – and that’s because I put it in to try the system out. It would be great to see all the anchorages around the country input as well as I reckon this is going to be of huge benefit to any passionate boatie.

23 DTG


  1. Welcome to ActiveCaptain!

    Yes, New Zealand is definitely in the database. While there aren't charts on the website currently, the data is licensed by many navigation software products. So you could use MaxSea or Nobeltec or others to view real nautical charts with our data over it in all parts of the world. Garmin is the latest licensee and their upcoming product for the iPad will have full charting capabilities for their entire worldwide database of charts.

    We'd love to have more New Zealand and Australia data in the databases. There has been some data updates to the cruising areas of Australia but more is needed. The ActiveCaptain model works and the data could be filled out for your southern latitudes to the same extent as the US has been filled out. The more people filling out the data, the better it gets for everyone.

    Glad to know ActiveCaptain helps!

  2. Coastal Explorer, the finest navigation software out there, also integrates Active Captain into its interface.

    If you aren't already using CE on Loopy Kiwi, I would highly suggest you check it out.

    (not connected, just a satisfied, happy user since vers. 1.)