For many people the allure of sailing is the simplicity of putting the sails up and letting the wind dictate the speed at which you arrive at your destination. Today, technology, even for the most novice, holiday sailor, is part of the sailing experience. There are many apps to make sailing easier, here are some of the most popular ones we like:
Tried and tested navigation apps and are often used by sailors as their primary way to navigate. The user interfaces are easy to use and they all have NMEA (National Marine Electronics Association) integration which means the GPS point comes from an external trusted feed rather than a GPS receiver built into the tablet. As with all software it is wise to carefully identify the features you want.
Crowd sourcing information has enabled the boating community to easily share local knowledge and the “Active Captain” network is similar to an online almanac. Most apps now incorporate this information in some way.
Navionics and Navionics+ – best apps for navigation. This is the market leader and highly recommended. This app turns an phone (and 3G enabled iPads) into a chart plotter. It is superb for planning a trip and for using at sea instead of an expensive hand held plotter. Compatible with Raymarine products which means you can plot all the waypoints below deck on the iPad and then wirelessly upload it to the Raymarine chartplotter.
iNavX – a great chart plotter. Marine navigation, NOAA (National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administtration) sailing charts.
MaxSea TimeZero – great if you want to use raster charts (an electronic picture of the paper chart).
Transas iSailor – this tool has been built with amateur sailors in mind. Marine navigation, chart plotter and AIS viewer. Charts continually updated for free.
Garmin BlueChart Mobile – good for planning, but only shares with Garmin hardware.
iBoating – a simple tool.
There are weather apps galore. Here are just a few:
Weather Pro – up to date information with 7 day forecasts at 3 hourly intervals. Over 2 million worldwide locations and free to download.
Windfinder – up to date weather information. 25,000 locations worldwide and free to download.
Predict Wind – combines wind and weather predictions with local topography maps. Highly accurate and free to download.
iGrib – up to 10 days forecast of temperature, wind, cloud, rain etc.
NOAA Buoy Data – weather wind and wave data from US controlled buoys around the world.
Meteo Consult – largest independent supplier of weather forecasts and position themselves as shipping forecast specialists
And aside from navigation and weather another great app is the DragQueen Anchor Alarm. It means you can sleep at night without having to listen out for movement. It provides distance and GPS accuracy alarms along with an alarm delay. Just remember to turn the app off when you leave the boat with your device.