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Boating Apps to Make for Smooth Sailing

by Mike Anderson, ABA Staff Member and Fellow Boater

Advances in technology like the GPS and Chartplotters have made boating safer and more accessible to more people than ever. Now along comes the smartphone with access to even more information and resources, right in the palm of your hands.

Here are a boatload of iPhone apps (many free) that you might find useful to your boating experience. Most of these apps are also available for the iPad as well. Check for availability for Droid and other smartphones. Keep in mind that some apps will only be available when you are in cell phone range or a wi-fi hotspot and should not be used as a substitute for GPS and/or radar when offshore and out of range. Many of the apps will load the data onto your phone’s memory though and the resources and information will be available to you no matter where you are.

WeatherUnderground (i.wund.com)(Free): This may be the most useful weather app you can find. It gives you up to the minute weather data and forecasts as well as current radar that can be put in motion. When you see those dark clouds off in the distance, now you can tell what they are bringing.

My Radar (Free): Another great weather app that brings in motion animated weather radar that locates where you are and displays on your phone. Seeing fronts on the move is invaluable information when you are on the water.

Buoys w/ NOAA Data ($0.99): Easy access to recent buoy data for waves, wind, water and air temps and more. Use the “Nearby” function to find those around you or search for buoys by location. Good indicator of conditions where you are headed.

Gas Buddy (Free): Need to fill up the tanks on the way to the launch ramp? Find the cheapest gas on the go. Locate stations near you and check their current gas prices. Gas Buddy is a community of users working together to update gas prices and helps everyone save on gas.

Boating Suite ($4.99): Designed for boaters, by boaters, this is designed to manage and keep track of the different aspects of your boating life. A single app for your trip logs, fuel log, maintenance reports, knock list, expenses and shopping list. Data can be compiled by date range and trip and other useful ways. A much better way to keep track of your boating stats than writing in the margin of charts and on cocktail napkins.

ChronGlobal Tidal Chronoscope ($2.99): Know the tide where you are, when you need it. It uses the face of the most popular tide watch ever to show the tide in a visual format. Also shows solar and lunar position where you are. It’s as easy to use as a watch. Also gives high and low tide information along with sun and moon rise and set in a table format.

WindAlert (Free): Gathers the latest data from over 40,000 weather stations and provides data in numeric and chart format. Provides wind direction and speed along with forecasted speed and directional shifts. Great for sailors!

Just Light (Free): Turns the screen of your phone into white light with one touch. No fancy strobes or games, it is what it says - just light. Stays lit until you turn it off or your battery dies. Essential for finding that loose wire in the bilge or reading that combination lock in the dark.

Marine & Lakes, USA (Navionics)($9.99): This is the top selling marine and lakes app. It provides access to the Navionics database ofcharts and maps for the entire USA. Charts can be downloaded to your phone’s memory and are available even when you are out of cell or wi-fi range. Plan and track routes, find waypoints and marinas, share tracks and routes via email and Facebook, and so much more. This is one cool app and more than justifies the cost.

Emergency Distress Beacon (Free): Sends emails with your latitude and longitude to a list of contacts you designate. Helpful to determine your location if lost and in trouble. Keep in mind though that you must be in range of cell phone or wi-fi coverage.

Pro-Knot ($1.99): This shows you 25 essential rope knots and 25 fishing knots all in clear, easy to follow and swipe through instructions. Great for learning and refreshing all those knots you need.

Ship Shape Boat Lights ($1.99): A graphic display of the various boat lights that may be encountered on the water. App comes with many vessel types and configurations. Whether you are not sure what those lights you are seeing mean or just want to study up on your lights, this is a good app to have.

The Captain’s Toolbox ($4.99): This is a fairly comprehensive collection of maritime tools. Including COLREGS, maritime flags, lights & shapes, SOLAS symbols, sound signals, wind barbs, marine radio info and more. Resources are loaded to your device so you do not need to have signal availability to access the information.

Sailboat Championship Pro ($2.99): When you can’t be on the water, try this app for a little virtual sailing. Power boaters and sailors alike will enjoy this addictive game that allows racing against the computer, other players online and even your buddy in the office down the hall. If you can’t be on the water why not pretend you are?

These are some of the best apps available to boaters to use on their phones. More are in development and will continue to update the resources and information that can be obtained with the push of a button on a device that you carry with you at all times. As the world of information keeps expanding to make our boating more hassle free, just keep in mind that nothing can replace the feel of the wind in your hair and the spray on your face. Bon voyage and enjoy your time on the water!

 

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