Boating and Navigation – “There’s An App For That”

Published on May 27, 2011

There are few of us these days who haven’t heard the phrase “There’s an app for that.” It refers to software applications (apps) that can be downloaded and used on mobile devices, such as iPhoneTM, Blackberry, Android, Palm, etc. Those of us who own these devices increasingly rely on them for everything from daily tasks – such as checking email, traffic, weather, news, and the stock market— to entertainment, such as listening to music, podcasts, and radio, or watching movies, video, and YouTube. We can even use GPS on our handhelds, to locate where we are, where we are going, and how to get back home. There’s no excuse to be lost anymore!Day on the Lake

We use mobile devices at home, work, school –just about everywhere we go. But what about when we spend a day at the beach, or the lake? Do we lock them up or leave them behind when we go out cruising around the bay, or pulling water skiers or towable tubes with the boat? If so, there’s no need to do that anymore— we can boat with our Blackberry, paddle with our Palm, and sail with our iPhone.

Several companies now offer mobile device apps that can be used while boating. So if you live, work, or play on the water, here are a couple apps to check out!

Mobile Mariner™

Mobile Mariner, LLC, has an application for your BlackBerry® smartphone that provides not only the current weather conditions from the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) National Weather Service, but also local tide conditions, both observed and predicted. For sailors, the weather radio app gives wind speed, heading and gusts, barometric pressure, along with the water and air temperature. The data is updated on your device at least every 6 minutes, with a history of the last 24 hours provided in a graph format.

Planning a long trip on the water? Not to worry – the Mobile Mariner™ can monitor up to 10 different weather zones and 10 different tide stations, (when such information is available).

You can try it with a free seven-day trial; if you choose to keep it, it’s just $5 per month. You can start and stop your subscription anytime, so you are only paying for the application during boating season (this means no long term contract!). The app currently covers the coastal U.S. and Great Lakes areas; international areas will be covered in future releases.

Active Captain

When you want to know where you are going, where you were, or track your progress, just click on Active Captain, and you’ll be updated instantly. Active Captain turns your smartphone into a GPS and Chartplotter tool, whether you are sitting on the beach or shore, or out on your boat. It also provides the location of thousands of anchorages, marinas, other local knowledge points, buoy data, and even known water and boating hazards. If you already have an onboard GPS or navigation system, it’s a great backup for that or other systems on your boat. So now you can determine your current position, plot your course, and navigate from A to B, or even better, A to Z, with ease!

A free trial is available; once the trial period ends fees apply and vary depending on the number of regions you choose (currently $19.95 per region: east coast, gulf, or west coast).

We’ve always said that, for safety purposes, you should have a cell phone with you whenever you’re out on the water. Now, you can have many more boating functions with the right applications and a single smartphone device. How smart is that?!

About the Author
Jane Warren is a water sports enthusiast who spends part of her time in Atlanta, GA, and the rest of the time at the beach; usually Seven Mile Beach in Grand Cayman, B.W.I. She enjoys boating and other water sport activities, including scuba diving, swimming, and tubing. She and her husband constantly have friends and family who come to visit; one activity that they can all enjoy is riding the boat towable tubes; they can load up on a 2-rider tube, and ride the waves all day!

She also loves to use her computer, and is happily finding ways to blend those two activities together – taking a laptop to the beach, and learning more applications for her iPhone.

Jane also manages the website