Gear

Smartphone Anchor Watch

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Many onboard electronics systems include anchor-watch alarms that sound if a boat drifts too far from where you anchored it. But what if you’re ashore at that time? That’s when anchor-watch smartphone apps come in handy. 

Anchor-watch apps use a phone’s GPS to track the boat’s position and raise an alarm when the boat moves outside the safe-zone circle. It’s best to set your anchor position using one phone from the bow immediately after you drop the anchor. Leave that phone on board and configure a second phone to receive messages on shore. These apps track your position, compensate for GPS accuracy and send alarms as pop-up messages, tones, vibrations, e-mails, texts or phone calls.

There are over a dozen anchor watch apps on the market, ranging in price from free to $9.99. Drag Queen ($0.00) and Anchor’s Aweigh ($0.99) are easy to use and provide basic anchor-watch capability. Drag Queen raises an audible alarm, while Anchor’s Aweigh displays pop-up messages.

For more than just basic functionality, Anchor Alert ($3.99) and Boat Beacon ($9.99) display the boat’s position on a map or satellite image with a compass rose. Additionally, Anchor Watch ($0.99), Boat Monitor Local/Remote ($1.99/$4.99) and Boat Beacon display the boat’s track, allow custom alert configurations and send e-mail alerts. Boat Monitor also interfaces with boatmonitor.com to send SMS alerts and to provide remote monitoring via a web browser. 

Each app functions slightly differently, and it’s important to experiment with a couple before making a selection. Test for functionality, alarm modes, battery drainage and false-position filtering. Remember that constant use of GPS will dramatically decrease your device’s battery life, so consider if you’re going to be able to keep it plugged in. Think about which kinds of alarms you prefer – I found the track display and e-mail alerts were key. I particularly liked Drag Queen for its simplicity and price, and both Anchor Watch and Boat Beacon for their tracking and e-mail alerts. Boat Beacon also provides integrated AIS monitoring.

Whichever app you pick, you’ll find one common result: greater peace of mind.

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