I’ve been a fan/power user of Nobeltec’s various versions for years, using Visual Navigation Suite for deliveries, offshore races, and planning purposes. I’ve always been quite happy with the software’s many features and user-friendliness.
Since Jeppesen acquired Nobeltec about five years ago, we’ve seen one update, to version 9, but it’s been a while since a new version has been released. Jeppesen’s purchase of the marine cartography unit C-Map last year was a calculated move, as is the reflected by the name of the latest version of Nobeltec, NNS MAX Pro.
The new program, which should look familiar to anyone accustomed to the previous version, uses C-Map’s excellent MAX Pro charts. In addition to having some of the best quilted cartography available, these charts feature satellite image overlay, 3-D view, dynamic tides and currents, detailed marina and coastal roads, AIS target tracking, ETA calculator, and support for autopilot and radar. With an internet connection, you can easily update the C-map charts and Notice to Mariners via Quick Sync. For users who have a library of Raster charts, the $50 Raster Plus Pack is a worthwhile addition.
Some of MAX Pro’s other optional features will be of special interest to racers, including GRIB weather download and overlay via OCENS Weather, Sirius Marine Weather, and XM WX satellite weather support, available with the purchase of the Weather Plus Pack. The Sailing Plus Pack ($300) has the Windvantage Weather Router feature, which relies on the Route Wizard to make calculations based on the boat’s performance characteristics (which are stored in the polar files) and a GRIB weather file. The software then creates a recommendation for the best possible route. Using incoming wind and sailing data, whether delivered via Ockam or B&G instruments, or strictly from NMEA input, the software creates on-screen indicators such as laylines, reverse laylines, and over-the-chart wind vectors. Polar targets and actuals, displayed as a real number or percentages, provide instant feedback to help racers sail at peak performance. You can also measure data and performance using analysis tools built into Nobeltec’s Strip Chart technology.
Current owners of VNS Admiral or VNS 9.0 qualify for free upgrades as well as some deals on chart regions. If you’re not a current owner, the retail price for VNS Max Pro is $490, $1,290 for Admiral Max Pro. For most racers, VNS Max Pro with the Weather and sailing Plus Packs should work well, as Admiral is geared more toward larger vessels with multiple screens.
We’ll be installing and using the Admiral Max Pro for our distance racing this summer, which includes the Block Island Race this weekend and the Bermuda Race on June 20th. After some more time in the aircraft, we’ll come back with a more detailed review.