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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2005

    Mapquest for boaters.

    Boater site making waves Online:


    Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

    Wednesday, July 18, 2007

    BOCA RATON When Ken Litvack took up boating 12 years ago, he quickly wished there was more help for the novice mariner.

    Having to learn through trial and error, he envisioned a better way for boaters to plot their course - a MapQuest, if you will, for the ocean.

    "It was a dream I had when I had a big boat," said Litvack, 66, who used to take his 58-foot Ferretti to the Keys each year. "I've been telling everybody about this for five years."

    The Palm Beach County entrepreneur finally found a partner to help him turn his dream into reality, teaming up with New York computer whiz Harry Sangha, 36.

    In February, the two launched NavQuest, a patented online marine navigation tool to help boaters plan their trips. The free, advertiser-driven Web site - - is similar to the popular MapQuest, allowing boaters to plug in their starting and ending points. Boaters get a trip ticket, similar to AAA's TripTik, that calculates the trip time, distance and fuel consumption, based on their vessel.

    Boaters can then download the needed National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration charts. The site also has live weather and tide information, a map of marinas with information on their services and listings of other points of interest along the route.

    "You can find this information in pieces, but we bring it all together," said Litvack, a New York native who moved to South Florida 17 years ago.

    The Boca Raton-based NavQuest will debut this week at the annual Marine Aftermarket Accessories Trade Show in Las Vegas with its new partner World of Boating, the only nationally syndicated boating radio show.

    "It's an amazing tool," said Greg Holt, one of three hosts of the weekly two-hour radio program produced in Oviedo, just outside Orlando. "The concept is great. Once it's really built out, this thing is going to be a major resource for boaters."

    NavQuest's audience is the casual boater.

    "We're dealing with the novice," Litvack said. "A real good boat captain doesn't need us to plan their trip."

    But the site offers something for boaters of all experience levels, said Gaspare Marturano, 35, NavQuest's vice president for sales.

    Boaters can share routes with other boaters. They can e-mail a float plan to the Coast Guard or family members.

    Marturano said he plans to add more features, including maps of dive spots and fishing holes.

    Some boaters say it's a novel idea, but not likely to float.

    "My initial reaction was that it's one of those things that sounds good but nobody will use it. You've got to have the real charts. You can't take shortcuts with that," said Bob Adriance, technical director for the Alexandria, Va.-based Boat Owners Association of the United States, or BoatU.S. "I don't think it's going to translate nearly as well as it does for cars."

    But Adriance, who has been boating for more than 50 years, said he could see boaters using the site to check out a route they hadn't cruised before.

    Tom Twyford, executive director of the West Palm Beach Fishing Club, said he could see the appeal for beginners, but most boaters are loaded up with devices such as electronic charts and GPS navigation. "New electronic devices make navigating so much easier than the old days," he said.

    But Litvack says NavQuest is not meant to replace GPS or chart books. It's a tool to help boaters plan trips from their landlocked offices before they hit the water.

    In its first six months, the site has received 1 million hits from 40,000 unique visitors, Marturano said.

    Before venturing into the Internet business, Litvack owned a school supply manufacturer in New Jersey. He sold the company after 20 years and was a consultant for a few years in New York, where he met Sangha.

    Litvack and Marturano handle the sales and operations from Boca Raton, while Sangha produces the site in New York. The firm also has two additional salesmen.

    Litvack estimates he's invested a half million dollars into the privately held business. But with a growing number of advertisers, he said the company is starting to break even.

    "We just keep adding features," he said. "It'll just get better with time."

    NavQuest Inc.

    Principals: Ken Litvack, chairman; Harry Sangha, president; Gaspare Marturano, sales/marketing vice president.

    Headquarters: Boca Raton

    Product: Web-based marine navigation system

    Employees: 5

    History: Launched in February

  2. #2
    Gold Member Gold Member pkspx's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Fort Lauderdale, FL
    Great site to look up information on the computer, point and click. Weather the results are true I am not sure.

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