Neptune Tides Review




Having reviewed the UKHO TotalTide program in the July issue I decided to find out whether there were any alternative tidal programs on the market and Neptune Navigation kindly sent me a full program in order that I may review their tidal prediction software.

The Product

As with the TotalTide this product is designed to run on a PC using the MS Windows operating system but Neptune have customers operating the software on MACs fitted with Windows compatibility. A separate version is also available designed to run on Pocket PC or PALM handheld computers.  Separate programs are available for UK only, UK and Europe and USA.

Having purchased the disc it will only activate after registration which provides the user with an activation code. As with TotalTide, Neptune also allows additional unlocks for the users laptop and home PC the proviso being that the program is only for the purchasers use.

Running the program

This is simplicity itself and upon opening the program the tidal curve for the user selected “home” port is displayed for the date and time of the user. As with TotalTide this uses date and time of the computer in use and obviously if this is not set correctly the information displayed will be nonsense.

Setting the home port is very simple since the UK database is divided up into 27 sea areas which are in turn subdivided into a list of the main and secondary ports contained within each area. This makes selecting information for a specific area far simpler than the convoluted process within TotalTide. The information window contains all the required data in a clear and concise format.

_ Tidal curve for the day

_ Current time, tide height and tendency (rise or fall)

_ Alongside the graph the times and heights of HW and LW are


_ The user can select either local time or GMT

Placing the cursor over the graph produces an index line which can be moved over the graph and the resulting time/height is displayed in the area next to the graph. Clicking either mouse button locks / unlocks the index line in any chosen time/height location.

Changing the date is simple and quick process

Comparing the data displayed with my UKHO based tide tables I noticed a discrepancy between the times/heights and upon contacting Neptune they provided the following explanation:

All popular tidal height prediction software with the exception of Total Tide and the Proudman Institute’s Poltips appear to use the same restricted harmonic data from the UKHO and typical accuracy that might be expected is +/- 20 minutes and +/- 0.4metre with greater variations for certain south coast ports particularly in the Solent.

Whilst my own observed discrepancies were much less than those declared parameters this does reveal a drawback for use of this program where the depth / time element is critical and thus may render it of limited use to pilots in some districts.  This is a pity because the additional features of the program include the facility to set up a user depth for a location and use draft and UKC parameters to display times available and lost over a bank etc. The simplicity of entering this data compares favourably with the TotalTide process and the resultant tidal window is displayed as a separate curve on the main display graph.  Several options are available for data to be collated / printed out or copied into other programs such as Word or Excel.  Other additional information is easily accessed and includes times of sunrise / sunset, moon phases, nautical and civil twilight.  The harmonic constants and astronomical data used to produce the data is also available for specialists. Again all of this can be collated / printed if required. The program can also be linked to a GPS receiver and will automatically select and display data from the closest reference port.

An optional add-on to this program is a tidal atlas which consists of a basic (but accurate) outline raster chart with direction /rate arrows, based on the Admiralty chart tidal diamond data, displaying real time flow data. Again this facility is clear and simple to use and if the GPS receiver is connected the GPS position will be displayed on the chart. The facility also exists to integrate a Yeoman plotter into the program and waypoints can also be entered and tracks displayed. Since I do not have a GPS or Yeoman plotter I have been unable to assess the effectiveness of these functions.

All these features create the potential for the program to be used for passage planning and indeed the additional tools to effectively use the program for passage planning are available on the disc and can be unlocked for a further charge. I have not trialled this facility but Neptune advise me that they are currently updating the whole software and an enhanced program is due to be released at the London Boat Show in January.


This is a delightfully simple yet efficient program sold at a reasonable price. There are no additional annual update costs and predictions are available up to 2050! Unfortunately the inaccuracies of predictions resulting from the use of the UKHO limited data release do restrict its effectiveness as a pilotage tool but it is still useful for rough planning purposes and Neptune are currently undertaking market research which may result in a version using the fully accurate UKHO data.  Costs: Tidal Program UK £29.95. Pocket PC tide £39.95 . PALM tides £29.95. Tidal Stream add-on £15 per area. Route Passage Planner £65 + £25 per chart folio (UK is divided into 15 folios and each folio contains approx 10 charts). Route Passage Planner for use with C-MAP charts £99.95 (Release expected January 2005)

Contact: Neptune Navigation, PO Box 5106 , Riseley, Reading

RG7 1FD UK. Tel: +44 (0)118 988 5309. Fax: 087 0056 7329



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