While your smartphone or tablet will never take the place of your other onboard electronics, it never hurts to have a backup. Loading up with a bunch of apps to help you get from point A to point B can also be a lot of fun, whether you’re underway or planning your next cruise from the comfort of your office or living room. Here are a few we’d recommend.
Marine Imray Charts
Use this app with your iPhone or iPad to do much more than you ever could with a chart book. This chart navigator is the best-looking of the ones we reviewed, with aerial photos in addition to charts, and a tide tool. You can easily input waypoints and then save them for later, while the built-in GPS tracks your trip, like Googlemaps on your phone.
iPhone & iPad from $42.99. Tucabo/Imray
Marine Tides Planner
If you don’t download Chart Navigator, which comes with Tides, this is a handy app that works with Imray to get the tides by your location, or by searching a list. You can then view the tides on a chart or a daily timetable. Make favorites for easy access and Internet access is not necessary. This is a simple and straightforward tool.
Marine & Lakes
An all-in-one app, Marine & Lakes helps you plan ahead by providing tidal information, a marina search tool, local points of interest and more. Best of all, it comes with NewsStand, which gives you “access to boating articles published by the industry’s most recognized magazines.” This includes SAIL (of course), where you can search for articles by category or title, and view text-only versions or their original print layout. Purchase by country or region.
Android, iPhone & iPad from $9.99. Navionics
AnchorAlert Worry-Free Anchoring
There are few things worse than leaving your boat at anchor and not being able to relax ashore because you’re worried about it dragging—except, of course, returning to find your boat has done precisely that! AnchorAlert ensures neither will happen by notifying you the moment your boat moves from the spot where you left it. To operate, just get a GPS fix as you drop the hook. The program then establishes a safe perimeter, beyond which the boat cannot wander without setting off an audible alarm. A screenshot even shows how the boat is swinging.
$2.99 iPhone; $3.99 iPad. MSTApps; (Note: Anchor Watch/Alarm is a similar and free app for Android)
This is your go-to app for weather forecasting and information, including cloud coverage, current, and wave heights and direction. It’s easy to use and has a nice-looking map. There is a high-resolution option, but it’s over 100MB, and we were happy with the low-res version. iPhone & iPad for $19.99. Jens-Uwe Mager
Why use a compass on your iPad rather than the one on your boat? It works like compass binoculars, and will give you your bearings while you view where you’re going. You can also lay the iPad flat to view your heading on a live Google Map. That’s why.
$4.99. Electric Pocket
Looking for a digital alternative to your mildewed log books? Saild will keep track of your course, allowing you to focus on logging your adventures. First create a free account at saild.com, and your iPad-tracked trips will upload automatically for later viewing.
iPhone & iPad. Free.Saild
“An app that could save a life,” Man Over-Board costs only $0.99. While this app shouldn’t be your only MOB alert system, if a crewmember has it running on an iPhone or iPad when someone goes overboard, those extra seconds could make all the difference. One touch of a button is all it takes for this app to give you an exact position and bearing to the victim. The app also displays an alert when you’re getting close.
iPhone for $0.99. Intelligent Maintenance LLC
Sailboat Race Starter
In addition to providing five, four, and one minute-to-start countdowns, this app will calculate the time needed to reach the closest point on the start line given your speed as you sail past (and tap to note) the location of the committee boat and starting line. This feels a little like cheating, but if you have a crew member with free hands at the start, it could be a very helpful tool. There is also a vibrate function for alerts, if you don’t want to share your very accurate timing with the rest of the fleet. Plus, you can time your race (but only up to an hour) and calculate how late you were to the start line.
$5.99. James Eskew