Here are suggestions about apps that are useful to have on your smart phone or tablet. Some will work anywhere, some depend on an internet connection, some depend in part on an internet connection (e.g. to download a map). Most of the apps quoted have iphone/ipad and Android versions. (We include some apps for racing also!) Your comments about apps you found useful are welcome.
GENERAL NOTES ABOUT APPS: Links to further information are provided where possible and prices, where known, are given. Click on ANDROID to visit the adroid version; on APPLE to visit the apple version. Note that the word “free” in software unfortunately no longer means “free” as we understand it in Europe. Some apps are indeed “free, gratis and for nothing”, some are “free, gratis and with adverts”, others are offered fully functionioning on a trial basis for a limited number of days or uses, still others are partially functioning and you pay for the full version or for extras. The most user-friendly apps will tell you the basic cost and “in app purchases”, if any. From a sailing point of view it is important to know if an app depends on internet access or not so check that aspect.
Before using any apps for navigation you need to check out their accuracy and reliability.
VIRTUALLY ESSENTIAL UTILITIES
SafeTRX – The SafeTrx App for Apple and Android. This requires internet access and GPS and allows you to do what is essentially a traffic report of your trip and ETA. If you don’t cancel the report on arrival the utility will, after a reasonable period of grace, report your delay to one or more named contacts. It makes solid sense! When out of internet reach the app keeps recording. It also keeps excellent records of trips. This app is an Irish creation and is free to Irish people. New updates bring new features and it now carries a lot of useful information for sailors including a very well presented Met Eireann report. Probably the most important app of all!
Navionics: charts for UK & Holland (includes Ireland) – This now costs between €34 and €60 and, provided your iPad, iPhone or Android gear has GPS, you can use it to navigate. It’s the equivalent of a chart plotter! After you install it you do have to mark off the areas of chart that you want to download so be sure to do this at home before you venture out to sea and get lost! Once you have downloaded the charts you no longer need an internet connection to run this app (except for the weather forecasts) but GPS is essential. After you install it you can buy some add-ons for a few euros each. These allow you to mark out shallow water, to include many routes, to do auto-routing. I recommend them all. An almost essential app if only as a back-up. It includes a tide chart! It’s portability is a big advantage for planning (or dreaming) ashore. Its claim to “sync” with some chart-plotters does not appear accurate since the data needs to be imported rather than synced.
Embark: For Apple and Android. A new app very definitely aimed at competing with Navionics and is free though downloadable charts will cost. Apart from displaying marine charts it also shows a local weather forecast. It can store waypoints, routes and tracks. Like Navionics it will also do automatic routes though it is always advisable to review and edit these to suit your own requirements. A little worrying is that some of the charts (from C-Maps) showed some inaccuracies. The app does sync well with some chartplotters.
Pocketgrib: Grib files are free uptodate weather forecasts. No matter what computer/tablet you have, there will be one or more programs that can access grib files. For me the very best is “Pocketgrib” available for Apple and Android. It allows you to examine the weather in that part of the sea you intend to sail in and not just the coast. Requires internet and, ideally, GPS. The latest update now includes gusts information. €6
PredictWind: For Apple and Android. This app claims to have the most accurate weather forecasting on the web. It does require you to register and the full version is subscription based. However the free information available is detailed and useful. The full version has many very useful tools.
World Radar: For Apple and Android. An interesting free app that does need internet. It will show an animation of rain detected by radar in the last hour so you can see any showers that are heading your way. Includes weather forecasts.
Anchor – This is an anchor alarm (and there are several versions of anchor alarms for both Apple and Android). It needs GPS and benefits from internet for the maps, though this is not essential. You click it when anchoring and indicate the range you feel is safe. If your boat’s GPS position goes beyond the set range, an alarm sounds (and there is an option to send an email to another phone or computer). Internet needed only for maps or remote notification. Even if your chartplotter has an anchor alarm, this option probably uses less battery. (Don’t forget, no alarm is infallible!) €3
Absolute Tides: For Apple. This app uses admiralty tidal information. The free version gives short range tidal information but you can have a full year’s tidal information for about €4. The tidal graphs are very neatly done and details for secondary ports can be entered. A valuable feature of this app is that it also incorporates tidal atlases for the UK coast and the Irish Sea.
Tides Charts Near Me: for Android and Apple. This app uses an algorithm to estimate tides. It’s free, excellent and has no time restrictions. (Check that it is by 7th Gear as there is a similar app that is not the same.)
Boatie: For Apple and Android. This gives a neat tidal display also combined with weather information if there is internet connectivity. Displays some tidal stream information. Costs about €5. (Have read somewhere that tidal information is no longer provided by this app. Cannot confirm that as it works fine on mine.)
Marine: Flytomap: For Apple. This is a whole series of chart apps. Purchasing a given area allows you to download that area for offline reference. The big plus for this app is that it offers a range of mapping overlays, offline, FlyView (downloads Flytomap), Sat, Road, Apple, Cycle and Bing. The internet maps are available for all areas. Costs about €20 for Ireland.
Avalon Router Coastal: For Android. Helps you plot a route incorporating wind and tide information. Coastal version is free.
Marinetraffic: For Apple and Android. €5. A great way to locate any vessel that has AIS. Requires internet connection. The app Shipfinder does a similar job. For Apple and Android. Costs about €3. For some reason Marinetraffic and Shipfinder do not always display the same current data!
Boatbeacon: For Apple and Android. Costs about €13. Needs internet connection and GPS. Allows you to see AIS signals and also to send them. The sent signal can be seen on their own website and , if you have an MMSI number, on www.marinetraffic.com but NOT by other ships on AIS receivers. Good to have as a receiver if you do not have real AIS. Boatbeacon can warn you about possible collisions.
Compass Eye: From the Boatbeacon stable. For Apple. Provides an electronic compass with hand-bearing facility via enhanced reality! €4.99
Saildroid: An Android app that displays Compass, Speedometer, Position and distance measurements/Log in Nautical Miles in clear lettering.
Course to Steer: the sailing app for Android that calculates your course to steer to compensate for tide, wind and magnetic compass errors. €1.48 (Apple has a similarly named app from a different programmer.)
SeaNav UK and IE – for Apple, from the Boatbeacon stables and costing about €20. It’s a basic chart plotter, not as good as Navionics but much cheaper. Nice maps! Does need internet connection and, for a chart plotter, this is a weakness in my experience. Also needs GPS.
Wind Meter: For Apple. €0.99 This interesting anemometr uses the phone’s microphone to estimate wind speed and does a reasonable job. A slightly more complex model is ZephyrPro costing a little more, €1.99. These do not use internet.
Boat Battery Amps Calculator – For Android. a neat utility that allows you to work you to work out how many amps your on-board electrics are chewing up and how many hours (or years) charging you need to compensate. Does not need internet or GPS. There was an iPhone equivalent but it seems to have been dropped.
Knots 3D – For Apple and Android. Handy reference to lots of knots, marine and otherwise. Shows you how to tie them (animated) and lists pros and cons of each. Cost a few euros. You might not need it but your new crew could. GPS and Internet not needed. €3
ExpenseShare – For Apple free trial/€1.99. Great way of keeping a record of shared expenses onboard. Does not depend on internet, does allow for mixed currencies, has excellent summary reports, user-friendly.
As well as specific apps there are several general-purpose apps that allow you to read documents in different formats. These are useful for storing documents relating to a cruise.
OK, so this is not a racing page but we thought we would mention some apps that could be of interest for racing. Given the pressures of racing, apps don’t suit everyone’s style but you might just get a surprise looking at some of these!
Elvstrøm Starter: For Apple. Allows you to set start line, gives countdown, distance and time to line. Free.
Sailboat Race Starter: for Apple. Allows you to set start line, gives countdown, distance and time to line. €5.99
Sailing tactician: Android only, helps sailing teams win regattas. It will help you prepare for the race start, navigate you through the race field and help you win the race by giving you accurate data about your current speed, position, heading, wind direction, distance and time to the next buoy based on the race order etc. The free Beta program ends on December 1, 2016!
iRegatta: This is a really complex but very powerful app for Apple bringing great technology to support racing. The basic working version costs about €10 and there’s a free trial version. Reading the instructions is essential.
Sailing Master GPS Performance Training Tool: for Apple. For serious training using polar charts. €11.99.
PredictWind Tracker: This app for Apple and Android is free to download. It provides a way to track boats in a race and see action live or in replay on a website. A good explanation is given in iMarineApps. and there is a demo on the predictwind website (remember to zoom in on Auckland).
RaceQs: This free app for Android also allows you to record the track of a race. (Available for Apple but not in Ireland!!) Any boats using RaceQs can upload their track to raceqs.com and the whole race can be replayed in 3D.
TackTracker: Another race-tracking app for Apple and Android. The app allows you to view races for free. To get going with live tracking, no license is needed. The costs are the €34 tracker right per device and €2 or less per race published. The Club Regatta license is an optional extra and the €335 cost is a one off. (Euro conversion approximate!)
Not forgetting the race officials: There are a few apps that could interest race organisers. Sailing Race Starts Pro for Android. Pin End for Apple and Android for €5. Regatta Manager Assistant for Apple Free.