Using a smartphone or tablet, the skipper can keep all – or nearly all – of his usual navigation and weather apps close at hand. David Schmidt, Gadget Editor at Cruising World, reviews the latest software for boaters. When Steve Jobs unveiled the Apple iPhone in January 2007, yachtsmen may not have fully grasped the dawn of a new era.
Using a smartphone or tablet, the skipper can keep all – or nearly all – of his usual navigation and weather apps close at hand. David Schmidt, Gadget Editor at Cruising World, reviews the latest software for boaters. Please also use Passage planning software to plan your whole trip and required items for your ocean trips.
Here’s an overview of the best navigation and yachting apps available today, as well as their most important features:
When it comes to working with on-screen maps, it is important to be able to easily create routes and set waypoints, as well as determine the distance and position of the vessel. These tasks are easy with i-Boating: Marine Charts and GPS (for iOS devices) and i-Boating: Marine Navigation Maps & Nautical Charts (Android compatible) from developer Bist . Users can choose between “light” and “professional” versions, the latter of which allows downloads of maps for a variety of areas. The lite version allows you to download only the cartography of a specific quadrant of the map.
After the maps have been imported, users can touch and hold objects on the vector map, triggering a “feature query” that helps identify, for example, buoys or beacons. I-Boating takes from the library mostly vector maps created by official cartographic sources (such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA or the Canadian Hydrographic Office, CHS) and fills open areas with NOAA raster maps.
A raster map is essentially a reproduction of a paper map viewed on a gadget’s screen, while a vector map extracts data from various sources by compiling it electronically. Route planning consists of dragging and dropping the map and adding waypoints where necessary. After creating a route, the application displays the distance and direction between waypoints, and, importantly, it also supports offline navigation . Therefore, it allows you to navigate using previously downloaded maps in places where there is no cellular connection or Wi-Fi.
C-MAP AND ITS EMBARK
Long trusted in e-cartography, C-Map has created the Embark application that provides easy navigation. All displayed cartography is “smart”, meaning it automatically adjusts color and contrast for good readability during daytime, nighttime and in the sun. Users can further customize their screen views by choosing between the “classic” view of the application and its more detailed “outline” view, the latter of which is popular with anglers.
BOATING MARINE AND LAKES BY NAVIONICS
Considered the “gold standard” in electronic cartography, Navionics recently compressed its suite into a one-stop-shop for seas and lakes, Boating Marine and Lakes . It also includes access to the ActiveCaptain community (information from sailors on various topics) and works on all Android and iOS devices . Sellers can try a two-week trial before connecting to a paid subscription.