Gear

Sea Tow: the all-in-one app for your smartphone

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Don’t let the fact that the Sea Tow app is produced by Sea Tow Services or that you are not a Sea Tow member dissuade you from installing it. This is a great free app that combines marine weather forecasts, alerts, radar, tide and GPS information all in one place. A professional captain designed it, and it draws its weather and tide data from the ever-popular Weather Underground. Better yet, if you are a Sea Tow member, the app provides automatic links to 24-hour on-the-water assistance.

I give the Sea Tow app 5 stars based on its convenience, ease of use and fit for purpose.

One of the app’s key features is its ability to display information for multiple locations. On the main screen, select between Tides, Weather/Radar, GPS/Compass, Assistance, Day-Night mode and Information about your Sea Tow membership (optional). Both the Tides and Weather/Radar pages support up to 10 locations at a time. The default location is set using your smartphone’s GPS, and you can add additional locations by keying in an address or lat-long coordinates. To switch between locations, simply swipe across the screen.

When viewed vertically, Tides displays a seven-day forecast of the time and height of high/low tides and moon phases. Rotate the phone horizontally and the screen switches to an up-to-the-minute tide graph. These tides are displayed using data from 3,800 U.S. tide stations. To see which station you’re pulling from, or to swap to a new station, select the map view in the upper right corner.

Weather/Radar pulls info from Weather Underground to display current conditions, wind speed/direction, air/water temperature, visibility, barometric pressure and sunrise/sunset times. Scroll to the left to choose to view either a seven-day forecast or weekend forecast, or click on the upper right to view a live radar screen.

GPS/Compass displays speed and compass heading on two analog gauges. Tap the screen to switch the topmost gauge. The speed/compass shows the True or Magnetic heading, Speed Over Ground (SOG) and Course Over Ground (COG). Tap the icon in the lower-right corner to switch to Google map view. Settings for SOG can be set as MPH or Knots using the Settings menu, located in the upper right corner.

If you are a Sea Tow member, you can use the “Slide for Assistance” bar along the bottom at any point. After you click it, a Yes/No popup asks if your situation is life-threatening. Either one takes you to the Sea Tow Assistance Request, then your membership number and GPS coordinates are sent to Sea Tow. Hopefully, you’ll never have to use this feature.

I have to agree with Sea Tow’s Capt. Pratt, “The Sea Tow app turns an iPhone or Droid into a boater’s best friend.”  This is a must-have app for all sailors!

More apps for sailors: Garmin BlueChart, Predict Wind

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