Helpful Boating Apps for Sailors
Things have really moved forward for sailors in the last decade with navigation aids and how they go about things when afloat. Boating apps on both smartphones and tablets have completely transformed the sailing experience. You can now access detailed charts of pretty much the whole globe at your fingertips as well as useful warnings such as if your anchor drags whilst you’re enjoying a drink at a waterside pub!
We thought we’d put together a list of helpful boating apps for sailors to make sure you can access the best information and advice that’s available when you’re out on the water.
The C-Map App offers the latest, most detailed chart data to hand, you can use it on your phone, tablet or laptop and personalise your experience with the chart layers that you wish, view it your way.
It makes planning routes really easy; save your favourite destinations, check the weather, create your own route or let auto-routing do it for you. The free version gives you access to pretty much the same amount of worldwide charts as the premium edition does.
Navionics charts offer a wide coverage, including embedded tidal height and tidal stream data; charts can even be displayed with contours that show actual depths allowing for the height of tide.
Chart areas are very large, so a year’s subscription covers a wide area and includes a huge amount of data, including user-generated content with detailed information on things like anchorages to onshore facilities. It’s good to be aware that vector charts are used, so you must zoom in tightly to ensure all dangers are shown, this can sometimes be difficult if you’re using your phone with a small screen.
SailGrib provides a range of products that offer top-notch routing for keen sailors, including forecast models which tend to mostly be found on powerful PC-based software, it’s pretty impressive what this app has to offer.
It takes time and patience to get the best of this app, but it’s a real favourite amongst many sailors for serious routing work. It has a variety of weather models and optional plug-ins to enable tidal stream data to be included in routing calculations. The only drawback is that this boating app is only compatible with android devices.
This routing app is like Google Maps for boats – charts, weather, tides… it has everything you need in one place. This powerful app takes into consideration the needs of sailboats and is really powerful; it also includes chart plotter functionality.
It has a different set up to other routing software which makes it really quick and easy to understand. It’s a really good app for anyone with more basic navigation knowledge. Functionalities like tidal heights, streams and weather have been added to this app, it’s all presented in easy tabs to follow on the dashboard – you can even download charts for use offline, great for chartplotting!
Imray Tides Planner
Tidal height calculations used to be really time consuming, this is where Imray can make a huge difference as it provides both tidal stream and tidal height data in easy-to-use formats.
You have the ability to scroll forwards in time to instantly show the height of tide at any time and location. This makes secondary port tidal height calculations extremely simple. For example, in an unfamiliar port you can quickly figure out how much the depth under the boat will drop by the next low water and whether or not you need to move to a different berth in order to stay afloat.
The free version of this boating app provides data for a huge database of ports around the world, or a small annual subscription opens up even more.
Knowing what the weather is doing is so important to check before going out on the water. Windys Pro version provides data from a raft of models, including ECMWF and Arome data.
Data is presented in an easy to understand format across a wide variety of parameters. The mean wind speed, gusts, wind direction, precipitation, cloud cover and surface pressure are covered with hourly time steps. This is a really popular boating app for everyday use.
This is a really impressive weather app that includes routing options, PredictWind runs its own models for popular sailing areas around the globe, it uses algorithms that were first developed for the America’s Cup. This app is very popular amongst the racing community, but is great for any cruisers that sail some serious miles.
Anchor! Drag alarm
This is the latest anchor app, which has improved from other versions. Even an anchor that’s well dug in can break out on a windshift, change of tide or by another vessel’s ground tackle. This app is a great idea, although they can already be included on many chartplotters and MFDs, it can be useful to have it on your phone as well.
It’s great if there’s a problem when you’re ashore, or even on a friend’s boat in the same anchorage. This is one of the highest rated boat apps and is available for a reasonable one-off payment.
AIS data has been a game-changer for both commercial and leisure traffic at sea. A boating app isn’t a substitute for AIS equipment on board, but it’s great for tracking family and friends on the water, understanding shipping routes and lots more.
Marine traffic is one of the best apps for giving the public the data in an easily digestible way. This app now includes live winds and 48hr forecasts, as well as a great function where the ship’s data is shown if you point the phone’s camera at the vessel.
We hope this round-up of the best boating apps has been useful and you choose to give some of them a go to help you out at sea – you can never have too much help out on the water!