Whether you are just cruising for holidays or you circumnavigate the world, there are some apps you should know about that help you get around and facilitates your daily life on a boat. In this article we have listed our five favorite apps.
Having a reliable GPS system is crucial when navigating with your boat. Navionics is probably one of the most popular navigation apps among boaters. With this app you can turn your mobile phone or tablet in an additional chart plotter with a wide range of functionalities. Among nautical charts for cruising, sailing and fishing, it also provides you with tide information and allows you to create routes from A to B and an easy waypoint placement. Furthermore, you can access comments from other boaters regarding anchorage areas, mooring balls or other useful information.
The Navionics app is available for both Android and IOS. It is free to download in the App Store or Google Play Store. Once downloaded, the charts will be stored on the device and can be used offline. Navionics offers a free two-week free trial after which the charts must be purchased to continue using the app. Depending on the regions the price varies between $14.99 and $54.99.
2. Open CPN
When cruising further afield to more remote areas, there are sometimes only sketchy charts or the areas are entirely uncharted. In order not to entirely rely on eye-ball navigation, using satellite imagery can help you immensely to navigate through uncharted areas. You can even check the satellite images before starting your trip in order to explore the best anchoring spots or whether it is possible to land the dinghy on shore. Many cruisers use the free Open Source CPN, which is a chart plotting software that can be downloaded both on your laptop or your phone. There are many free charts you can download as well as others for purchase. One great use of the software is that you can overlay satellite pictures from Google Earth into raster charts for Open CPN using the G2KAP software. Unfortunately, it only works on Android so far.
As an alternative to Windy or WIndfinder, Predict Wind offers you very accurate and high-detail forecasts using PredictWind’s proprietary PWG and PWE forecast models as well as ECWMF and GFS models. It is probably one of the best choices for cruisers. You can choose between wind, clouds, swell, rain and air and sea temperature forecasts shown in a table, map or graph views. The file size is incredibly small, making it ideal for transmission over low bandwidth Satellite & SSB connections. Free accounts do have access to a 7 day forecast at 1km/8km resolution. You can upgrade with an In-App purchase for full access to additional tools listed such as weather routing, departure planning and forecast alerts.
4. Marine Traffic
Marine Traffic is a great app that gives your family and friends an opportunity to keep track of your travels using the AIS system. The website displays the position, route, speed and ship’s type and your last port of call. Although it only works when your vessel is equipped with an AIS system, Marine Traffic also allows recreational boats without an AIS transponder to self-report their position if they have devices with connectivity and GPS, so other boats using this app can see you.
Cruising is not only about living on the boat, but also explore your surroundings on land. Maps.ME is a powerful app to aid you with that. It is an interactive offline map, relatively similar to Google Maps, but does not require an internet connection. Once you have downloaded a specific region, you can use it offline. Maps.Me provides you with nearby restaurants, supermarkets, and on top great hiking routes. A route planner can estimate the time you need to get from A to B. The app is free to download and use.