Tracking Never for Ever with Farkwar

Before I get started

If you read my previous post about adding KMLs and posting tracks website be sure to go back and check out the new addendum. A comment someone posted made me realize I could eliminate a lot of hassle in the middle bits by using Google Earth as an editor.

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Where are we?

I’d been looking for a way to track my position and share it with friends and family in as close to real time as possible. Again it is something I could do by buying something like a Garmin INReach and paying for a subscription, but I just can’t justify the cost. I came across Farkwar because a bunch of other boat blogs I follow used it (Denali Rose and Little Cunning Plan). It’s a personal project by a cruiser/programmer and is available for free (unless you feel motivated to donate something).

Farkwar was designed to work with things like inReach or Iridium Go but also accepts input from a simple web interface or by email. The designer set it up to automatically parse position footers from emails coming from the popular Airmail/Sailmail program. Simply send an email and it updates your position. Of course this necessitates having the proper linkage etc. between your GPS and mail which I don’t have.

What Farkwar does is take your submitted position reports and post them on a map on it’s website.

It will also share your position on Twitter and (if they can get it working again because FB broke the interface) Facebook. You can also set it to link the position report to current blog posts on your site.

What I do

Once I decided to use Farkwar, I set about figuring out how to use it with the tools at hand. What I needed to do was to send a specifically formatted email to a unique “secret” email (which Farkwar gives you after you sign up). The trick was in getting the formatting right since it is parsed by a computer and doesn’t like stray commas or spaces. Once I got eh format figured out I saved it as a master file.

This is my saved default email:

We are currently tied up at our slip in Nanaimo.
–––––
At 28/06/2018 10:15 (pdt) our position was 49°11.3095?N,123°56.8367?W
Destination: finished trip

I use an iPhone. So I save the above email in Notes and just reuse it whenever I want to report. I did have a problem at one point when the iPhone helpfully changed the 5 dashes to one long line and the emails stopped working until I figured it out.

There are 4 main parts:

  1. The body of the report. I don’t know if there is a character limit, but I haven’t run into one. You can put as little or as much as you want in the report.
  2. 5 dashes indicate the end of the report body and the start of the position report.
  3. Time and position. There are several formats of lat and long that will be accepted and it depends where you get that data from.
  4. Destination. I usually just change this for bigger destinations like Desolation Sound or the Broughtons. This is mostly because I use Farkwar as part of my Float Plan.

How I do it

Step one: Open My GPS Coordinates on my iPhone. This is a free app that instantly gives me my lat and long in a mostly correct format. After I’ve opened the app I just hit the wheel in the upper right and hit Copy Coordinates.

Step two: Open Notes and find my Farkwar template.

Step three: Select the old GPS coords and then paste the new ones over top. At this point I need to fix the format because My GPS Coordinates puts spaces between the degrees and the minutes as well as between the minutes and the direction (N or W). Simply delete the 4 errant spaces

Step four: Edit the date and time and add a brief note about what we are doing.

Step five: send the note as an email to your secret Farkwar address and you are done.

This info is updated on the Farkwar map and sent out as a tweet (and hopefully some day once again posted to your Facebook feed).

Embed the Map

I have the map embedded on my float plan page. If you ever want to see where we are, then check there. I try to update it every day we are aboard. If I don’t have cell service I send it anyway and it will update when the phone connects.

To embed the map simply add an iframe to your website with this code: <iframe > src="http://farkwar.com/boats/<boat name>.map" height="500px" width="100%"> </iframe>

Other Bells & Whistles

You can also manually add positions using the web interface. If you add your website it will associate blog posts with position reports.

Farkwar also allows you to follow other boaters and get email notices, and also to form fleets of other boats that you might want to track. All in all a great little tool at a great price.

 
—Bruce #Cruising

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