Best Boating Apps: Navigation, Fishing, Weather & More

Although we always have to remember that cell phone coverage can be sketchy on the water and you should never depend completely on a phone for safety reasons (see our Boating Safety Guide to learn more about how to stay safe on the water), there are a slew of awesome boating apps out there that can make life better for boaters. And these days, just about everyone has a phone sitting at the helm and USB ports scattered throughout the boat.

So let’s take a look at a few popular selections from five categories of boating apps:

  • Marine Navigation Apps
  • Fishing Apps
  • Apps for Sailing
  • Weather Apps
  • General Boating Appsinavx navigation app

Marine Navigation Apps

iNavX

If you’re looking for an in-depth app that morphs your phone into a serious navigational tool, this might be your pick. You can bring up charts on-screen, navigate more or less as you would on a chartplotter, display instruments like speed and bearing, and even pull in NMEA data via WiFi. iNavX also has some interesting add-ons like tides and current data, GRIB weather forecasting, and an anchor alarm. The app goes for $4.99, and in-app purchases (like buying new charts) apply.

Click here to download.navionics app

Navionics

If you want to turn your phone or tablet into a chartplotter, Navionics is tough to beat. In fact, it’s the most popular boating app around and has world-wide chartography coverage for oceans, bays, and lakes. You can use it to navigate with some advanced features including dock-to-dock auto-routing; you can see user community updates; you can synch it with your onboard chartplotter if it’s WiFi-equipped, and more. The basic version comes free for two weeks; subscribing for a year costs $30.

Click here to download.

Learn More: Marine Navigation: How to Navigate a Boatfishbrain app

Fishing Apps

Fishbrain

Fishbrain claims to have millions of users, making it one of the largest social networking apps for anglers. Not only does it get you connected with other fishermen, it gets you updates on hotspots and what’s biting, crunches real world data to recommend top lures and baits, and includes fishing forecasts. The base version is free, but to enjoy all the app’s features you’ll want to spring for $5.99 a month, which gets you the Premium version.

Click here to download.fishtrack app

FishTrack

This app focuses on all the data you want to hunt down the deep-sea predators: sea surface temperatures, tides and currents info, bathymetry data, moon phase, and also weather. The base version is free, but advanced features require in-app purchases.

Click here to download.

Terrafin

terrafin appTerrafin is a sea surface temperature app with downloadable charts and the ability to set waypoints, get bearings and distances, and also look at altimetry and chlorophyll charts. Its beauty is its simplicity, and rather than trying to be all things to all anglers it just delivers that SST/chlorophyll data and makes it easy to use. The base app is free, but a yearly ($109) subscription is needed to get the most current and detailed info.

Click here to download.

Apps for Sailing

ASA Sailing Challenge

asa sailing challenge appThe American Sailing Association created the Sailing Challenge app ($3.99) to both entertain and educate. It may be a game, but while playing it you race a sailboat with factors like points of sail, apparent wind, sail trim, and tacking and jibing all coming into play. You can zoom out to see the big picture, rotate the “camera” looking at your sailboat, and race against the clock to learn sailing fundamentals.

Click here to download.

Sailflowsailflow app

This app gets rave reviews from serious sailors who want to keep tabs on wind conditions in specific locations. It’s a free app with in-app purchases, and gives real-time “Nowcast” wind reports for top sailing areas as well as forecasts plus on-site reports from sailors.

Click here to download.

Portbookportbook app

Portbook is a marine services directory which covers the East Coast but specializes in the areas most popular with sailors, especially Annapolis and the DelMarVa Eastern Shore, Newport, RI, and Narragansett Bay. It also includes directories for restaurants, bars, local attractions, and visitor and local’s information ranging from water taxis to nearby golf courses.

Click here to download.

weather channel appWeather Apps

Weather Channel

The Weather Channel app is the number-one choice for all weather apps, and it’s no wonder – it lets you tap into all the same in-depth forecasts, weather maps, and live radar you’d find on the Weather Channel itself. It’s free, but there are in-app purchases, too.

Click here to download.weatherbug app

WeatherBug

Another incredibly popular weather app is WeatherBug. It also has a wide range of weather data including forecasts, maps, and the like, and it has a few special perks boaters in particular will enjoy. Lightening alerts, severe weather alerts, and doppler radar are all in the mix. This one’s free, with ads.

Click here to download.

boatUS appGeneral Boating Apps

BoatUS

The free BoatUS app has general data like tides, weather forecasts, and weather alerts, but more importantly, it lets you call for towing assistance 24/7 with the swipe of a finger. And since your phone has GPS, the dispatchers immediately know your location and can get help on the way asap.

Click here to download.

sea tow appSea Tow

This is another app that delivers some basic tide and weather data, but the main purpose is being able to signal for a tow. Basically it’s like the BoatU.S. version, but for people who have towing insurance with Sea Tow instead. Yup, this one’s free, too.

Click here to download.

Waterway Guide Marinas

This is a relatively simple, free app which lists out listings for over 3700 marinas and boatyards nation-wide. You can use it to find which marinas have transient slips, what channel they monitor on the VHF, approach depth, and similar information that will come in handy when boating in unfamiliar areas.waterway guide marinas

Click here to download.

We have to stress once again that boaters should never rely 100-percent on a cell phone for tasks like navigation and communications at sea. That said, however, each and every one of these apps can make your day of boating a better experience.

Read Next: Best Fishing Apps


You Might Also Like:

 

Category: Day Cruising