Best laptop for navigation watch?

i’ve seen several different laptops during watches on the training ship used by the mates. i’ve seen mostly windows though some apples too. I’m wondering maybe if I should get a Panasonic toughbook even, but maybe thats a bit over the tip. I’m wondering whats good so I can run programs for celestial, great circles, etc? I have a powerbook but i doubt there are good, if any programs that run on apple. it would be awesome to somehow get the ecdis connected to the laptop, maybe even wirelessly, but im probably getting ahead of myself. thanks!


[img]" border=“0” hspace=“6” vspace=“6” width=“224” height=“148” align=“right” />[img] I run a macbook and it work’s great. Most of the programs you’ll use for work are for windows but that’s not a problem if you use Parallelsof VMware Fussion. I wouldn’t spring for a toughbook unless* you are taking the thing out on deck (hard to do on most ships because they aren’t intrinsically safe) or on a Winter North Atlantic Run and expect to drop the thing. I would recommend the toughbook for pilots, ABS inspectors, tugboat capts… or anyone else who goes on and off of boats.

I was actually in a long term (and friendly) argument with a coworker over the whole mac vs windows issue for well over a year until we took a class in Major Emergency Management. It was taught by a guy who responds to BIG crisis situations. He was using the training center’s desktop for his presentations then day 2 of the class he stopped and said “I have a good picture on my personal laptop, let me get it. This laptop is the best purchase I’ve made since doing this job, it’s cased in aluminum, never crashes and ‘just works’. I love it” He then pulled out his macbook pro!!

My coworker hasn’t* been interested in continuing the debate since that day :slight_smile:


<p> F— the laptop! Just look out the F------ windows! Also why would you be running a nav computer out on deck. What computer is intrinsically safe? None. </p>

<strong> “laptops during watches on the training ship”…</strong>

<strong>I certainly hope you’re talking about a cargo mate doing inventory or something of that nature.</strong>

Guest… good point, mostly.

A) Computer’s haven’t have designations like “nav” in many years. A computer is a computer and while I haven’t ever taken one on deck I sure as shit would like to have a lite, intrinsically safe, wireless, tablet pc for inspections or just looking up info.

B) It seemed to me (I could be wrong) that argo hasn’t gotten a job yet. Maybe he’ll become something other than a mate?

<strong>I certainly hope you’re talking about a cargo mate doing inventory or something of that nature.</strong>

He’s probably talking about bridge watches. There are countless hours in the middle of the Atlantic with nothing around. On most of the ocean crossings I’ve done the captain would be fairly pissed if you weren’t getting some sort of work done on watch… especially if you have a lookout and there is daylight.

<strong>What computer is intrinsically safe?</strong>

How about any one of THESE

That being said… I would agree that you should keep the laptop in the draw any time you would need to use an ecdis.

Damn ISM!!! Still think that anything that is used for navigation needs to be type approved like true ECDIS, Radars, etc… as required (for good reason) . When personal computers get relied upon (for nav.), you just don’t know how much the person behind the wheel is relying upon the information (possibly too much)…and you have no control over the equiment or software (other than allowing it or not). I would say <strong>not</strong> 100% of the time. Not, as a commercial mariner anyway. Liability is a funny thing…plus other problems arise…freecell and solitaire are a few.


ECDIS is a good tool to get your mind back in the game if you temporaraly loose situational awareness (how many of us have said crap is that bouy 18a or 21b?) and to double check your own calculations but that’s all I think it’s good for. It should never be used on a laptop for navigation by anything over 100tons

I recall in the many stories about the COSCO Busan that I read mentioned of the idea for the SF Pilots to bring their own laptops aboard so they would be using an electronic NAV display they were sure to be familiar with. If they follow through with this idea, it will be interesting to see what the SF Pilots come up with. Maybe there are some R&D guys working on it now.


Be assured there are!

I;ve had some interesting talks with some interesting R&D guys working on the problem. One even blogs about it:

i havent got a job yet, but will be out in february. just seeing mates on training ship use the laptops, either to check celestial sights, or voyage planning and such, also cargo with cargomax. then again there are way too many people on the bridge on that situation with all the multiple lookouts.

im sure there are very viable for ocean voyages but i want to do coastal, but there should still be some use for this? gotta look out the window yup but all these new rules and regs and checklists, codes, would be made easier with a computer IMO.


I’d definitely recommend bringing a computer for all the paperwork just aviod using it while on bridge watch untill you get a feel for the Captain and your own ability to maintain situational awareness.

The primary reason the mates on training ships need to have one is to quickly check all the cadet’s answers. He doesn’t have the time to run down the answers to sight reductions, amplitudes… manually.

Just get whatever you would normaly use. The toughbooks are too expensive and you will almost definatly never use a laptop on deck. I would recommend going small. Traveling with a desktop with a screen becomes a pain after a while.

The dell XPS1330 is 700 off currently. My second mate just bought one, bad ass!

As with anything, you get what you pay for. While a Toughbook may be overkill for your needs, the fact that a MacBook is preferred by some is somewhat humorous. A Lenovo (IBM) is comparable in price to a MacBook. Encase a MacBook in aluminum and guess what, you’ll be in cost comparison with a Toughbook. The similarities when purchasing computers at this level? “Encased in aluminum, never crashes, and it just works”.

One of the reasons an Apple based system is so stable is because everything that goes into the computer is made/manufactured by Apple. It’s built for their software and their software is built for it. Makes stability a non-issue. The drawback? Virtually everything you get for it must be purchased from Apple. If they don’t make a particular software that you are looking for, such as navigation software, you have to get software to enable it to run PC software, which inherently introduces instability.

Dell, HP/Compaq, Gateway, and the like all pull parts from different suppliers. They buy parts in lots at bargain prices and modify them for use in their systems. Sometimes they don’t work as well together as they should. The best example I have is when I was doing computer work. We sold a network system and the owner insisted on AMD processors (and thus motherboards) but also wanted a particular Intel network card for HIS computer. We built the computers and installed the network at his business. 3 days later we get a call that the network is down. After trouble shooting the network over the weekend we learned that if we left the Intel network card out of his computer, everything ran fine. The minute we re-installed that card the network crashed.

Lenovo and Panasonic build their systems similarly to Mac in this regard. Everything in a Lenovo is going to be stamped with Intel on it, all of the parts will work seamlessly and flawlessly with each other, increasing the stability of the operating system…

Anyone with the knowledge and desire can write software to operate in Windows. Only Apple can write software to operate on an Apple.

The cheaper the better, but with a reliable back up. I have a $300 gateway that has flown off the desk twice & hit the deck as well as had water pour directly onto the keyboard from a leaky kick pipe during a rain squall. It is still running strong but I make sure to back it up to a separate hard drive at least once per week.

One with good speakers in case there is no radio on the bridge.

Recently saw an advertisement for a laptop designed specifically for mariners. It has an HD screen, great speakers and sound card, long battery life and a simplified input system. There are only two keys on the keyboard. One labeled “porn” and another labeled “music”. Seriously, any ship’s business will most likely be conducted on company computers and nav functions will be handled by a dedicated ECDIS. Your personal laptop will be used during your time off watch. With a PC you will have more software options, but programs for the Mac are becoming available. Whatever you decide, best of luck…

Ive had a Toughtbook CF-29 for about three years. I bought it used for $400 Retail was $3-4K. Its worked flawlessly even after it flew off my desk, bounced off the bulkhead, and skipped across the deck in my room. It did as advertised: kept on ticking.

The CF29 is number 4 laptop for me since 1987. Ill stay with this brand and buy used from a reputable seller from now on. Ya just cant lose buying a $3,500 mil spec laptop for $400.