sQuidd.io: Frequently Asked Questions

Destinations: Frequently Asked Questions

Q. How does sQuidd.io help me discover new, exciting boating destinations?

Boaters rely on a variety of sources to plan their sailing and cruising experiences: cruising guides, information from other boaters, charts, magazines and blogs. Until today, there wasn't a comprehensive, user-generated and easy to use application to make all this information available to your laptop, tablet of mobile phone through an intuitive map-based interface. If you use OpenCPN as navigation software, you can view all the sQuidd.io destinations for a specific area directly on your charts.
Whether you are sailing in the Australia coral reefs, looking for a marina harbor in Florida, or planning your upcoming cruise in Croatia, sQuidd.io is as indispensable as your navigation software and your marine charts. And it's available for free

Q. What type of Destinations do you show in a search?

A Destination is a place of interest for boaters. Marinas, boat harbors, anchorages, yacht clubs, public docks, ramps, fuel pumps etc. are the typical examples of boat cruising Destinations you will find on sQuidd.io. Each Destination has its own page. Destination pages are meant to provide boaters with a sense of how attractive and well served a particular Destination is (through pictures, member-assigned ratings and member-provided comments) as well as practical information, such as phone numbers or tips from other boaters.

Q. Do you show Destinations worldwide?

Most of the Destinations currently on sQuidd.io are in North and Central America, the Caribbean islands, the Mediterranean (at least the European side), part of the European Atlantic coast, Australia and new Zealand plus a sprinkling of islands here and there. Because sQuidd.io relies on user-provided information, we expect our coverage to grow rapidly in the near future, as more users start adding new interesting Destinations.

Q. Can I view sQuidd.io destinations directly in OpenCPN?

If you use OpenCPN, the most popular open-source chart plotter and navigator software, you can install the sQuidd.io plugin. See the sQuiddio plugin section of this FAQ for additional information,

Q. The address, location or other data of a Destination is outdated or incorrect. Can I fix it?

Yes. If you are a registered user, you can click on the Edit link in he Destination page. This will allow you to add or update address, phone numbers, introductory message and other destination information, as well as reassign the Destination to the correct coordinates by simply pointing and clicking on the map. All the changes you make are reported in the Media Feed section of that destination. You can undo any changes you made by clicking the delete (x) button on the corresponding entry of the media feed.

Q. You are not showing my favorite marina, anchorage or other sailing place. Can I add it myself?

Yes. If you already have the coordinates for the new destination, just go to this URL and fill out the form. If you don't have the coordinates:

  • Go to the Destinations Map page for the approximate location of your new Destination (for instance, by using the Find Destinations page and clicking on the Google map at the bottom, approximately where your new destination is located).
  • Move the map around, zoom in (or zoom out) if necessary, until you find the exact location where you want the new Destination to be placed. Double-click on the map at the desired location. A temporary marker will be added to the map.
  • Click on the new marker and fill out the form.

sQuidd.io will attempt to assign an address to the new Destination based on the geo coordinates. Please verify the address and if necessary correct it and add other contact information you may know.

Q. What are the criteria for submitting a new Destination?

For a submission to be accepted, the Destination needs to meet certain requirements. For instance, if you add a Marina, a Dock or a Ramp, the facility must be easily recognizable on a Google satellite map at the closest level of zoom available at the geo coordinates you have entered for the Destination. When creating a new Destination, be as accurate as you can be in clicking on the correct position on the map. If you are submitting an anchorage, the location should appear to be in a natural setting which is suitable for overnight mooring. The sQuidd.io Webmaster reserves the right to reject submissions that are not deemed to meet these basic criteria. Also remember that users will rate and comment on your submission, and comments that consistently indicate that your Destination is misplaced or invalid may lead to the removal of a user-submitted Destination.

Q. What is the number of unique visitors?

sQuidd.io tracks the number of boats that check into a destination and reports the total count for the last 12 months. Checkins are based on automated (AIS, SPOT, OpenCPN sQuiddio plugin) or manual position reports, This number gives you a feel for how "popular" (or crowded) a given Destination may be. If you are seeking peace and solitude, look at this number to decide where not to go!

Q. What is the Popularity Rating?

It is a ranking of the most popular destinations (5 being the highest ranking) based on the total of 1) the number of unique visitors, 2) the number of posts to the media feed and 3) the number of favorable ratings (i.e. more than 3 stars) for beauty, service and Wi-Fi. See the complete rank of sQuiddio's most popular destinations.

Q. Should I enter a Destination's latitude and longitude into my GPS as a waypoint?

We strongly recommend you do not! None of the information you will find on sQuidd.io is intended for navigation purposes. Please continue to rely on official charts and publications to make navigation decisions.

Checking in or our out of a Destination

Q. What do you mean by checking in or out of a marina, anchorage or other Destination?

Checking into a marina is a way to associate your current position with a sQuidd.io Destination in order to let other sQuidders know exactly where you are. Of course, you can simply post your latitude-longitude coordinates without checking in at a specific Destination, but those coordinates will be rather meaningless for most of your friends, whereas the name of the Destination may be known to them. By checking out of a Destination you inform your followers that you have left that Destination, and when exactly you did that. You can choose to be automatically checked in or out of Destinations by setting the relevant option in the preferences page.

Q. How do you check in or out of a Destination?

To check into a Destination manually, you must be located within 1 kilometer (.6 miles) of the Destination itself. When on site, simply go to the Destination's page and click on the check-in button marina_checkin , which will allow you to check out when you are ready.

If you have an AIS transceiver, Spot Tracker device or are running the sQuiddio plugin on a GPS-enabled OpenCPN you can choose to automatically check-in upon reaching any of the sQuidd.io destinations. For AIS, simply enter your MMSI in your boat profile. For Spot Tracker, enter your GlID in your user profile. If your are running the plugin, your user id and API key in the plugin settings will do the job. Finally, do not forget to update your preferences to activate automatic checkins. See the Stay Connected section for more information.

Q. What is the Skipper's Dashboard?

Think of the Dashboard as your home page on sQuidd.io. This is where you will find the most commonly used functions:

  • you can view all your friends' latest known positions at a glance on a map
  • you can add and delete other cruisers to and from your follow list
  • you can check in or out of a nearby marina or anchorage
  • you can view all your pending, active and expired charter reservations (both as an owner and as a renter)
  • you can view and respond to private messages from other sQuidd.io members

  • Your automatically reach the Dashboard when you log into the service. You can always return to the Dashboard at any time by clicking on the green Dashboard link in the top bar.

Hashtagging a destination on Twitter and Instagram

Q. Why hashtag a destination?

Hashtagging a sQuiddio destination is a quick and easy way to add photos and comments to the destination page. In addition to enriching the destination page with images and useful information, hashtagging a destination also increases its Popularity Rating, helping the destination stand out in sQuidddio and OpenCPN searches. Of course, you can always go to the destination page directly and add a post manually to the Media Feed section, but since Instagram and Twitter make it so easy to share information with others, why not use them to share information with all sQuiddio users in one go?.

Q. What happens when I hashtag a destination?

Two important things happen: 1) the image you upload with your post shows up in the photo carousel of the destination page and 2) the text of your post appears in the Media Feed section. Photos are an excellent way to convey the attractiveness and main features of a destination, often more effectively than any written text message can. Text posts are great at conveying factual information. For instance, the Instagram post from an anchorage may look like "#squiddio beautiful secluded #anchorage in small bay, stern-to recommended, good holding ground on sandy bottom, exposed to SE winds, room for 5-6 boats". Of course, nothing like a great photo at sunset will make people realize how beautiful the place really is.

Q. How do I tag a destination on Instagram?

Just send a regular Instagram post. Only, make sure to 1) add the #squiddio hashtag and 2) choose the exact location you are sending from (within roughly a 1/2 mile). Hashtagging #squiddio triggers the destination's page update (within a few seconds) and the location's coordinates (which Instagram sends sQuiddio together with the post) enable sQuiddio to identify which destination to update. If the location is not yet available on Instagram, create one yourself. It is always recommended to include a tag with the destination type (e.g. #anchorage, #marina etc). If the destination is not present in the sQuiddio repository, sQuiddio will create one and will use this tag to determine the destination type (see the later question on this topic).

Q. How do I hashtag a destination on Twitter?

The process of hashtagging a tweet is very similar to that of an Instagram post. Two main differences: 1) since Twitter does not require an image to be included in the post, make sure you add one! Media-enabled posts are always more appreciated by users, and they contribute more than pure-text posts to the Popularity Rating. 2) as of the day of writing, Twitter doesn't allow you to create a new location on the fly (you have to do that on FourSquare, which Twitter uses). However, your current coordinates are sent to Twitter as part of the tweet, as long as you have enabled location tracking on your Twitter account. sQuiddio will use these coordinates to update (or create) the destination.

Q. What if I submit a tweet or Instagram post from a location that doesn't exist on sQuiddio?

Submitting a tweet or Instagram post from a destination that doesn't yet exist in our repository is basically equivalent to submitting a new destination online or from OpenCPN, provided you have a sQuiddio user account. The submission will be reviewed by the sQuiddio webmaster and, if approved, will result in a new destination being added. Unlike manual submissions, however, hahstagged submission will be automatically approved as soon three unique submissions (meaning from three different squiddio users) have been received from the same location. IMPORTANT: you must have logged into your sQuiddio account using Twitter or Instagram at least once in order for this feature to work.

Q. Can I hashtag any other type of point of interest?

There is currently an experimental process for hashtagging Uncharted Navigational Hazards (UNH) and have them appear in OpenCPN directly. Obstructions, reefs and shoals, missing markers etc. are typical hazards reported. The process is identical to hashtagging destinations, only make sure to add the #hazard tag (don't forget the #squiddio tag!) followed by a few words to describe of the nature of the risk to navigation. It is all the more important that you CORRECTLY IDENTIFY the location (in terms of its lat/long) if you are using Instagram, and create one if necessary (on Twitter, your current coordinates will be used, so this is not necessary). Note that the location name will be used to name the OpenCPN waypoint, so choose a sufficiently descriptive name (for instance "submerged wreck"). It is useful to hahstag additional words as well (for instance #reef or #missingmarker). Over time we will build a dictionary of keywords to be used for refining searches. NOTE: this process is experimental, and only provided as a complement (not a substitute) to approved marine charts and instructions.

What are the recognized destination type hashtags?

This is the dictionary of hashtags we look for when creating a new location:

When creating a:use any of these:
Marina marina, harbor, harbour, port, dockyard
Anchorage anchorage
Dock/Pier dock, pier, wharf, quay, slip, berth, jetty, embarkment
Yacht Club yachtclub
Mooring mooring, buoy, buoys, mooringbuoys
Fuel station fuel, fuelstation, fuelpump
Dry dock drydock, boatlift, boatyard, boatbasin
Launch Ramp ramp, launchramp, landing
Hurricane Hole hurricanehole, typhoonhole
.

Stay Connected: Frequently Asked Questions

Q. How does sQuidd.io help me stay connected?

sQuidd.io allows you to track your friends' boat's position on a map and track the boat's progress over time, whether they are gunk-holing in the San Juan islands or taking part in an ocean race. For instance, you can keep track of the members of a fleet during an ocean crossing, see where competitors are in a boat regatta, or follow your loved ones as they brave the unknown.

You create your network of sQuidders by inviting your friends to your Follow List, either through squiddio_on_facebook invites or email messages, or by adding other users you meet on the service.

Q. How do I share my position with friends on the Follow List?

There a are multiple ways to do this:

Q. I own a SPOT Tracker device. Can I use it to share my position with the sQuidd.io Follow List?

Yes. Just follow these easy steps:

  1. Enter your Spot Tracker glId in the Number and keys tab of your user profile. (Note: You can also find the User Profile button in your Dashboard ).
  2. If you have set a password on your shared SPOT page, make sure you enter that as well in your User Profile.
  3. Save the changes.
  4. Activate the Tracking mode in your SPOT device: your position updates will soon appear in your friends' Dashboards or OpenCPN charts

Track updates do not propagate to sQuiddio instantaneously. Several minutes may elapse between the time your SPOT update is sent to the satellite network and when it shows up in sQuidd.io or OpenCPN.

Q. How do I obtain my SPOT Tracker GlId?

  1. Go to your SPOT page and log in with your SPOT credentials.
  2. Click on the Share link at the top and Create A Shared Page if you don't already have one.
  3. Ensure that the shared page is active and click the View Details button.
  4. Click the Share button, then select URL. You will be shown a url similar to: http://share.findmespot.com/shared/faces/viewspots.jsp?glId=0pbfaSfr4gfc8BWSKfBBfYjWyhfXksJfo. The glId is the last part of the link, so in this example 0pbfaSfr4gfc8BWSKfBBfYjWyhfXksJfo is your glId.

Q. I own an AIS transponder. How do I use it to share my position on sQuiddio?

If you own an AIS transponder (note: a simple AIS receiver will not do the job!), you can make your position available to other sQuiddio users, assuming the system is operating properly and provided you are in the coverage area, by entering your MMSI identifier in your boat profile.

AIS updates do not propagate to sQuiddio instantaneously. Several minutes may elapse between the time your AIS transceiver sends a position update and when the update is reflected in sQuidd.io or OpenCPN.

IMPORTANT: sQuiddio relies on AIS position updates available on the Internet and provided by a network of private and independently operated AIS Base stations around the world. Coverage is therefore limited to certain areas, mostly within a 20-50 mile radius of heavily populated areas. THIS SERVICE IS THEREFORE PROVIDED ON A BEST EFFORT BASIS and should not be relied upon when sharing your position with others at all times is critical. Check our AIS service provider's coverage map to find out what areas are currently served.

IMPORTANT: as a result of partial AIS coverage, not all registered MMSIs are present in our database. We record a new MMSI in our database when we receive the first AIS report from that vessel. Therefore, you may not be able to add certain vessels to your follow list.

Q. What is an AIS system?

The Automatic Identification System (AIS) is an automatic tracking system used on ships and by vessel traffic services for identifying and locating vessels by electronically exchanging data with other nearby ships and AIS Base stations. While originally intended for large cargo and passenger ships, low-cost AIS transponders are becoming more affordable and are increasingly popular among pleasure boaters.

Q. What is the Follow List?

It is the list of other sQuidd.io members who have agreed to share their logs with you, and whom have allowed to view your logs. You can invite friends using email or, if you have sailing Facebook friends, send them squiddio_on_facebook invites. To manage your Follow-list, log into sQuidd.io, go to the Dashboard and click on the Update Follow List button in the You are following section.

Q. How often do you report a user's position?

As often as the user decides to report his/her position. As a default, each log post is manual so it is entirely up to the discretion of the user when to send your position updates. If you use our OpenCPN plugin you can set the reporting period from ten seconds to once a day.

Q. How do you post a position update using your iPhone, Android or other GPS-enabled phone?

Well, truth is....there is NOT an app for that! The sQuidd.io site renders in a mobile-friendly way automatically, using HTML5. (You may want to save the URL to your phone's home page, for future use) Simply point your mobile device's browser to http://squidd.io/positions/new (there is a link in the Dashboard and at the bottom of the home page as well).

You will be asked for your sQuidd.io credentials to log in. Once logged-in, you will be prompted to share your location's latitude and longitude. If your browser is Html-5 capable and your GPS is enabled, your current coordinates will appear on the screen. You can add a brief message, which will also be displayed on your sQuidd.io profile. Simply tap on the send position button to post your position and your status message on sQuidd.io. If you logged into sQuidd.io using your squiddio_on_facebook account, you will also be given the option to post your position and status on your wall.

Q. What happens when you have no cell coverage?

If you are out of cell phone coverage but have access to a satellite phone, you can send a GeoSMS message to communicate your present position.

Q. What is a GeoSMS message?

It is an SMS message that includes your latitude and longitude in a machine recognizable format. Simply put, it is a message that contains the special keyword 'geo:' anywhere in the text, immediately followed by your coordinates. Coordinates must be specified in decimal format, separated by a comma (preceded by the - (minus) sign for latitudes west of Greewnwich and longitudes south of the equator). sQuidd.io simply scans the text of your message looking for the GeoSMS-tag and displays your position on your friends' maps at the next refresh. For example, the message:

currently at geo:17.345,-66.234, winds from the NE at 15 kts. All is well.

will place you at coordinates 17.345N, 66.234W, somewhere in the Caribbeans.

Q. How do you post a position update using your satellite phone?

Most satellite phones are capable of sending SMS messages. Simply add your satellite phone number to your user profile and send an SMS message containing your GeoSMS-tagged coordinates, and any other textual information you want your friends to see. If you are a squiddio_on_facebook user, you can choose to have your update automatically posted to your wall. Send the message to the number:

+1 650 458 0290

IMPORTANT. This service is currently in beta, and is available free of charge to all sQuidd.io registered users with a limit of 90 SMS messages per month. Options for purchasing additional capacity may be made available at the end of the beta period.

Q. How do you post a position update using email?

Just send a GeoEmail to this address (or cc the address on an email to others):

reservations@squidd.io

(Never mind the strange email address: it's for historical reasons). What's a GeoEmail? Well, you guessed it: an email message with your coordinates either in the subject header or in the body of the message, preceded by the geo: tag, just like in the GeoSMS message explained above. For example:

From: mysquiddioemail@sailordude.com
To: reservations@squidd.io
Subject: Oh no! Another position update!
Body: Sailing in paradise! Currently at geo:39.22, 7.352


is a valid email message, and will place you at coordinates: 38.22N, 7.3524E

IMPORTANT: the email message must be sent from the same email address you have used to sign up to sQuidd.io

Q. Can I show my position map on my blog or web page?

Yes. You can include an html iframe showing the same map you see in the "Your Log Posts" section of the Dashboard.

OpenCPN Plugin: Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Can I access sQuidd.io directly in my OpenCPN chart plotter?

Yes! If you are like thousands of boaters worldwide who have come to rely on the leading Open Source chart plotter and navigation software OpenCPN, you can now enjoy sQuidd.io's unique social navigation features through an OpenCPN plugin:

  • Access our open-data, user-sourced repository of sailing destinations (marinas, anchorages, yacht clubs, docks, fuel stations etc.) as way-points in your charts
  • Contribute by submitting your own favorite marinas, anchorages and other destinations not yet available
  • Follow your fellow cruisers right on your OpenCPN chart and share your GPS position, speed and heading with other cruisers through the Log-sharing feature of the plugin (plugin version 0.4 or greater)
Set up

Q. What are the requirements for using the plugin?

  • OpenCPN version 3.3 or greater
  • An Internet connection for downloading destination layers (though these can be accessed offline once downloaded) and for using the log-sharing feature
  • A free sQuiddio account for submitting new destinations and to use the log-sharing feature
  • A working GPS Connection set up in OpenCPN if you plan on sharing your logs through the log-sharing feature

Q. What steps are required to use the plugin?

  • Download the plug in from the OpenCPN web site and follow the instructions on the site to install it
  • Enable the plugin (OpenCPN Toolbar->Options->Plugins->sQuiddio->Enable)
  • If you are planning on using the log-sharing feature, enter your sQuidd.io ID and API key

Q. How do I obtain the API key?

(Required only for Log-sharing) Log into your sQuiddio account and click on the Edit Profile link in your Dashboard. You will find the API key in the Numbers & Keys tab of your profile.

To view a demo of the log-sharing feature before you create your Follow list, enter your squiddio id and the special key squiddio_demo_api in your plugin settings dialog box. See up to date log reports for randomly selected vessels (the names of boats and users are fictitious to protect user privacy, but the demo is based on actual log reports.)

Viewing destinations

Q. How do I view destinations for a specific region?

Once you have enabled the plugin, simply right click on any location on your chart and select Download local sQuidd.io Destinations from the contextual menu. If you have Internet access, and if there are destinations in the database for that area of the world, your destinations will appear as waypoints on the chart. Double-clicking on the waypoint will display the destination's dialog box, which includes address, ratings and other information, and a link to the destination's page on sQuidd.io.

Q. I don't see some of my favorite destinations on the chart. Why?

sQuidd.io's user-sourced repository of sailing destinations already includes close to 10,000 points of interest worldwide, and is growing rapidly thanks to our active user community. That said, it may well be that the destinations you are looking for have not yet been submitted for inclusion in the database, so be the first to do that!

Q. How do I add a destination that is missing?

Right click on the exact location on the map and select Report a Destination at This Location from the contextual menu. This will bring you to a page on sQuidd.io where you can enter information about the place and submit the destination for inclusion in the database. The sQuiddio webmaster will review and approve your submission, based on certain criteria. (Of course, you can also submit destinations on the sQuidd.io web site, as outlined here )

Sharing your position, speed and heading (Log-sharing)

(Note: Version 0.4 or greater of the plugin only)

Q. How does the Log-sharing feature work?

If you are sailing with a group of other boats, chartering with a flottilla, participating in a regatta or simply want to follow your friends as they brave the unknown from the comfort of your home, you can use sQuidd.io's Follow List feature to track the other boats' position, speed and heading on OpenCPM (as well as on the sQuiddio web site and,optionally, on squidddio_on_facebook ). The plug in will retrieve the latest log updates from your Follow List and send your own GPS position at regular intervals. The plug in provides a choice of various time intervals, from ten seconds to once a day

Q. Who can view my log updates, and whose log updates can I view on my charts?

Only sQuidd.io users you have chosen to invite to your Follow-list can share log updates with you

Q. How often should I retrieve and send log updates?

Your choice will depend on quality and cost of your Internet connection. While crossing an ocean and using an Internet-capable satellite phone or satellite-powered Wi-Fi hotspot, a couple of updates a day may suffice, whereas for a local regatta more frequent updates would be recommended. Please note that your log update will only be sent to sQuidd.io when Internet access is available. Should you temporarily lose data coverage all log updates in that period will be lost (in other words, the plug in doesn't manage a queue)

Q. Can I use the plugin with a satellite phone?

Yes, provided that your satellite phone is Internet capable (for instance an Iridium 9555 or Iridium 9575 Extreme ) or a Satellite-powered Wi-Fi hotspot (for instance the Iridium Go or the Globalstar Sat-Fi )

Q. Does the plugin require a lot of bandwidth?

No. Most low-bandwidth Satellite phones will do. The plugin is designed to minimize bandwidth requirements and data consumption. A single outbound position update uses less than 800 bytes, while retrieving a log-sharing report for 20-30 cruising friends will typically not exceed 30KB. If you are trying to keep your sat-phone bill in check, and you set your retrieval interval to, say, an hour, that would translate in less than half a megabyte a day. A typical download of regional destinations (which is done manually) will average 50-100 Kbytes.

Q. What if I do not have internet connectivity?

You will not be able to retrieve and visualize your friends log updates. However, you may still be able to share your position updates with your follow-list using SPOT Tracker, your AIS transponder, or sending a GeoSMS. Please understand that AIS position updates are only available on sQuidd.io on a BEST EFFORT BASIS. See additional important information on sQuiddio's support for AIS