Our TimeZero setup

If you own a boat, you know how important your electronics are. If you are looking at buying a boat, you would expect any brand to be reliable but not so fast!

On our sailing catamaran Seamlessly, we had fairly new Raymarine navigation electronics, and on our new trawler Patience, we have Garmin electronics. Unfortunately, both Raymarine and Garmin have not met our expectations, but thankfully we had TimeZero along the way, stepping in to save the day.

What is TimeZero? TimeZero is a PC software that you can install on any Microsoft Windows PC! We have TimeZero installed on a Lenovo laptop, connected to a DELL touch screen.

We quickly learned that we feel most comfortable with several layers of redundancy. If one system fails, there is another separate system that can take over. In our case, we are migrating to making TimeZero our primary navigation system and having Garmin as the secondary — And Garmin will likely be replaced with Furuno when the budget allows.

This is why TimeZero is better.


We found that TimeZero was much easier to get used to, than any other navigation and planning tech that we’ve had. Everything is easy and quick to get to. The dedicated “planning” panel is what we have up when planning a route and when we are at anchor. While we are underway, we’re on the “navigation” panel, which shows us everything we need to know. TimeZero is SO customizable that it would be impossible for us to outline all the options — but more importantly, customizing TimeZero is EASY.
Route creation is very easy with TimeZero.
Planning a new route takes us between 1-4 minutes. First, we draw the basic route, then we zoom in and tweak the route to ensure it isn’t routing us over objects or shallow areas.


As relative newcomers to boating, we are overly cautious, and planning is critical to us. Without a well-planned route, we wouldn’t feel safe. Planning a route in TimeZero is easy and much quicker than on a traditional chart plotter. In the Bahamas, we usually start planning a route using the Explorer Charts (Raster), and then check the route against the Navionics Maps (Vector), and adjust the route to suit both maps.

TimeZero showing a section using Navionics charts

This screenshot shows the Navionics charts for a section that shows some very shallow sections that we needed to pass over.

TimeZero showing a section using ExplorerCharts charts

This is the same area, using Explorer Charts, showing much different depths.

And the ability to set an arrival time, or departure time, or time-at-waypoint, and have TimeZero automatically adjust the required departure time has been invaluable.
The route planning wizard in TimeZero
This is the first step in the route planning wizard. It allows you to schedule the route based on specific criteria. We mainly use this wizard to ensure we pass over shallow parts at high tide.
But TimeZero does so much more, more than we can fit into this blog post. But for us, TimeZero is much better for route planning than either Garmin or Raymarine, by a longshot.

Underway & At Anchor

When we are underway, we spend most of our focus on staying-in-course. TimeZero is much more responsive than any of the chart plotters we have used. This isn’t a make-or-break bit, but it sure is nice to have the responsiveness, and TimeZero also wins this category hands-down.

At anchor, our focus on the anchor and how well it is holding. The redesigned anchor alarm feature in TimeZero V4 is amazing. It is easy to set, it is easy to move the center, and it’s easy to adjust. Enough said, another win for TimeZero.

The anchor watch feature in TimeZero
The anchor watch feature enables a boundary with an alarm, so if the boat drifts out of the boundary, an alarm goes off. We also make sure to “track” our boat when we’re at anchor to see the anchor pattern, looking for strange movement that could indicate the anchor is dragging.

Hardware Selection

Choosing the best option for electronics is hard because electronics are expensive. Not only is the hardware itself expensive, but also the installation. When we were researching to replace our Garmin chart plotters, the low end for a plotter was around $5,000 per unit, and we would need at least two of them. It doesn’t end there. In most cases, the radar unit and the sonar are manufacturer-specific. For us, a radar unit replacement would be around $6,000 and a sonar replacement another $3,000. TimeZero brings a bit of relief on this front. While TimeZero does not connect to our Garmin radar or sonar, TimeZero can access all the other devices on the boat’s network (NMEA2000).

We plan to only replace our autopilot for roughly $4,000, which TimeZero can connect to, instead of spending $20,000+ to replace our Garmin devices (for now).

Our TimeZero is connected to our boat’s network, and we use a $400 Dell touch screen connected to a laptop, which has not failed us yet.

Reliable Updates

When we upgraded our Raymarine chart plotters to Lighthouse 3, they became unreliable and kept crashing. We had to revert back to the old version. When we upgraded our Garmin chart plotters, Garmin Express, the required PC and Mac software from Garmin, kept on aborting our download attempts. A few days later, with a very unresponsive Garmin, we finally got the chart plotters upgraded — to the last software update, Garmin will ever publish for our chart plotters. So, going forward we there will be no more bug fixes, performance improvements, or new features for our Garmin chart plotters.

You can probably blame TimeZero for our frustration with Garmin and Raymarine, setting the bar really high. We have never had issues updates maps on TimeZero. We have never had issues updating TimeZero itself. TimeZero is very responsive to feature requests, and we always hear back from them when we send in a suggestion.


Unlike our Garmin watch, we need our marine electronics to work. And we understand that every product will have its issues, but when support tickets go unanswered (Garmin) for weeks, it causes issues. Our experience with Raymarine support has been pretty good, with relatively quick and competent responses. The same can not be said about Garmin or Simrad, where emails disappear into the abyss.

Once again, TimeZero has never let us down. All of our emails to the general support at TimeZero receive a quick and competent reply.

We are so grateful to have found TimeZero early on in our cruising adventures. Without TimeZero, route planning and navigation would be much more difficult and time-consuming, and we’ve got plenty of other things that we also need to tackle. TimeZero wins in each category, and we don’t say that because we received a free license for TimeZero. We’d never continue to use something or share something if it didn’t work for us. In case you haven’t noticed, we are picky and have high expectations.