In this day and age where the Internet and smartphones are deeply integrated into our lives, you are probably wondering whether there is a boating app that could make your journey safer and more convenient. Indeed, there are many very different boating apps available for boaters’ use.
And if you happen to be looking for one, then we think our top 9 of must-have boating apps will be of interest to you.
Boating & Sailing app types
There are many boating apps available out there, all with varying functionality. However, among the hundreds of apps on the market, you probably need only one or two, depending on your needs.
Below, we are going to overview boating app types that you must have on your smartphone, as well as a couple of optional app types that could make your life more convenient.
The kind of app that any boater is going to benefit from are navigation apps. Whether you boat just for fun or to fish, a navigation boating app can make your life easier.
As suggested by their name, navigation apps are designed to help you with navigation during your journey. A navigation app basically turns your mobile device into a boating GPS device.
The vast majority of boating apps out there are navigation apps, so no matter how specific your needs are, you should be able to find an app that will be suitable for you. Some navigation apps also include weather forecast and other functionality, but they are more limited in this regard than specialized apps.
While there are many navigation apps out there, not everyone is going to work for your needs. Due to this, we’d like to draw your attention to certain features that a navigation app should have.
Important things in navigation apps
A boating app with plotting functionality will allow you to plot a route on the water towards your destination. You just need to enter the information into the app and follow its directions. Some apps also store previously used plots for future trips.
Coverage in your area
Needless to say, the boating app needs to provide coverage in the area you will be boating in. If you live in North America or Europe, you can expect to have excellent coverage. As for the rest of the world, the coverage quality will vary from app to app and from area to area.
Some apps offer navigation coverage in add-ons for a fee. So when choosing a navigation app, you will also need to consider how much money you are ready to invest in one.
An active community makes any product or service alive, and boating apps are no exception. With community features, other boaters can share their experiences for you to then plan your next trip with. You could share your own experiences as well to help others with diving tips or a list of good fishing spots.
Waypoint and float plan functionality
Providing someone with the details of where you plan to be fishing or just hanging out is the number one rule in boating. If your boating app has a float plan and waypoint functionality, you can basically share your location information with others on the fly.
Built-in navigation routes
Built-in navigation routes are going to help you with picking your first boating location. Aside from that, some apps allow users to review these navigation routes. So if there are certain things or safety precautions that you need to know about a navigation route, user reviews will tell you about it.
Weather & tide information
Having weather & tide information at hand is also quite important. These are key decision criteria that would determine whether you are going boating today or not. While navigation apps have good weather forecast functionality, they are far behind specialized apps. Still, if you only need general weather info, a navigation app’s functionality should suffice.
Fishing apps are designed specifically for anglers. While fishing apps are aimed at enhancing your fishing experience by providing fishing tips and fishing locations, they sometimes have additional weather forecast and navigation functionality in them.
A good fishing app will have a comprehensive fishing spot database. In addition, you would greatly benefit from the app if it also allowed you to leave reviews and tips for the fishing spots for others to see and learn from.
Weather apps are specifically designed to provide you with accurate weather forecasts. While other boating app types can have weather forecast functionality, it is usually rather limited.
Weather apps usually rely on dedicated weather station networks, as well as offer extended coverage on lakes, rivers, and ocean & bay waters. Other boating apps typically limit weather forecast to temperature, expected weather, wind speed, and other basic things.
Some boating apps are specifically aimed at providing you with tips on boating safety. These apps won’t help you with catching fish, but they may make your trip much safer. They will provide you with safety tips, equipment checklists, as well as may help you with having your boat inspected. Thus, we think that having a safety app is a must for any boater.
Boat renting apps
Boat renting apps provide boat owners with a platform to rent out their boats through. Such apps usually use the peer-to-peer model where individuals rent out their property to others. Thus, boat owners get the opportunity of earning money from renting out their boats. This is in contrast to corporate property owners who have their own boat fleet.
This is not to say that boat renting apps do not provide info on corporate rental dealers in your area, but they are mostly focused around peer-to-peer rental.
A good boat renting app should have a rating system for both owners and renters. This would allow renters to know that they are renting a good boat, on one hand, and owners to be sure that they are dealing with a trustworthy renter on the other.
9 must-have boating & Sailing apps
Now, let’s have a look at 9 boating apps that we think are going to be useful for you. For our top, we’ve picked boating apps for a variety of applications in order to satisfy whatever needs people may have. For some boating app types, we’ve picked more than one app to showcase.
iNavX is a highly popular navigation app that has originally been available only for IOS devices. But recently, it has been ported to Android as well, so pretty much anyone could make use of its features.
The reason for the popularity of the iNavX app is its functionality. Among the key features of this app are:
- Real-time plotting.
- Real-time display of speed, course, and waypoints.
- Waypoint creation and route planning.
- Comprehensive route creation functionality.
- Track recording.
- Import/export functionality in GPX or KML format.
- Weather forecast integration.
- Tide & current information.
iNavX also has a couple of add-ons like the Navionics+ charts for the US and Canada or AIS Live. These add-ons are quite pricey, reaching $99.99 on IOS, but you don’t necessarily need to buy any packages since the base functionality of the app is decent enough.
Navionics is another renowned developer of boating products. Their plotter charts are widely used among a wide range of boaters, as well as are available as extensions for a variety of GPS plotters. This is thanks to the functionality and precision of Navionics charts, which have both found their place in the Navionics Boating app.
This app is available on the App Store and Google Play with a 2-week trial, after which you are suggested to buy a one-year subscription for your coverage area. The prices for coverage areas vary around the world, but for the US, it costs just $14,99.
Navionics boasts that its Boating app has the same detailed charts and features used on the best GPS plotters. In terms of charts, the Boating app offers:
- Nautical charts.
- The Navionics SonarChart.
- Community edits.
- Unedited US government charts.
Navionics claims that they make around 2,000 updates to their Nautical Chart every day. Thousands of SonarChart and Community Edits a day are registered as well.
Needless to say, the Navionics Boating app does have the most essential navigation features like weather & tide information, tracking, routing, distance measurement, etc. For an additional price, Navionics also offers advanced features like Autorouting, Advanced Map options like highlighting shallow areas or targeting multiple fishing ranges, as well as the Navigation Module with its advanced route planning with fuel consumption, ETA, and more.
An angler is definitely going to benefit from a regular boating app, but a specialized fishing app would be an excellent addition to a navigation app. The Pro Angler app is a nice option to complement your navigation app with.
The primary feature of the Pro Angler app is its expansive fish database. The app contains data on over 220 fish species, with each species being accompanied with:
- Safe handling tips.
- Habitat & behavior.
- Gear advice.
- Bait & lure rigging.
- Angling techniques.
- Current regulations.
- Identification guide.
The Pro Angler app also features a major location database for the included fish species. For each location, users are provided with fishing time recommendations, current activity logs, and whatnot.
Aside from info related to fish species and fishing spots, the Pro Angler app provides info on places like bait shops, IGFA weigh stations, public boat launchers, and charters & captains.
As a little bonus, the Pro Angler app also has a database of recipes, a sharable catch log, how-to materials, and many other useful things to help you get started with fishing.
Perhaps the best thing about the Pro Angler app is that it is free. However, it has some paid options which are there to enhance your fishing experience.
As the name suggests, FishWeather is aimed at providing weather info for anglers. This app uses over 50,000 weather stations around the world. The most remarkable feature that such a number of weather stations allows is real-time wind information in any part of the world. Aside from wind information, FishWeather provides data on sea surface currents and tides in high resolution.
FishWeather boasts hour-by-hour forecasts for specific locales, which seem to be pretty accurate in terms of wind speed and direction. This feature is only available to subscribed users though.
Speaking of subscriptions, FishWeather has 4 subscription plans – Free, Plus, Pro, and Gold. The Gold, Pro, and Plus cost $14.99, $9.99, and $3.99 per month respectively. What essentially differs between the subscription plans is the available statistical data and accuracy.
Overall, even though this app is designed for fishing needs, we think it is going to benefit even those who are boating for other purposes.
The USCG Boating Safety App
Boating apps aren’t only about having an enjoyable and fruitful trip. Some apps are more focused on ensuring safety. One of such apps is the USCG Boating Safety app that is available on IOS and Android.
The USCG Boating Safety app, first of all, contains the latest safety regulations that apply to your area. Plus, it provides users with navigation rules to help you ensure a safe trip not only for you but for other boaters as well. The Boating Safety app also allows you to file a float plan for your friends and family to see.
Perhaps the most remarkable feature of this app is that it allows you to request a vessel safety check. If a safety check isn’t an option for you, the app instead can provide guidelines on ensuring the safety of your equipment.
The USCG Boating Safety app also contains information about hazards and pollution in the area. And if you come across an unmarked hazard, you may report it so that it is added to the app’s database.
And perhaps most importantly, the USCG Boating Safety app allows you to request emergency assistance, which can be an insanely helpful feature. Though arguably, in extreme situations, it would be more convenient to just call emergency services, especially given that modern mobile devices allow you to do it very quickly.
Needless to say, all these benefits are only going to be available for boating in the US since the app is developed by the Coast Guard specifically for US use.
Knots occupy a significant place in boating. They may be more necessary for some marine activities than others – for example, they are very important in sailing – but we think that anyone should know how to tie a knot or two.
The Animated Knots app available on IOS and Android provides you with detailed instructions on a variety of knots popularly used areas like climbing, fishing, or general boating. For each knot, the Animated Knots app provides detailed info, as well as stop-motion animations to guide you through the tying.
For a mere $4.99, the Animated Knots app can make a big difference for you if you are dealing with knots on a regular basis.
Strictly speaking, the Boatsetter isn’t an app – it is an entire peer-to-peer boat renting platform. However, it does have an IOS and Android app to allow you to look through listings and rent a boat.
On the Boatsetter platform, you can find a wide variety of boat types for the most specific needs. Boatsetter itself is going to serve as an intermediary in the renting deal, provide you with certified options, as well as protect you via its $300 thousand liability insurance policy.
Aside from that, the Boatsetter platform allows boat owners to rent out their boats. Thus, when you aren’t using your boat, you can rent it out to earn some side income.
Due to its peer-to-peer nature, the Boatsetter app is going to be of interest to both owners and those who just want to have a fun trip in the weekend.
West Marine Waterlife Pandora Station
In the US, Pandora isn’t a new thing, but the West Marine Waterlife station is. Like the Pandora Station, it provides boaters with thousands of hours of tunes, but West Marine Waterlife shifts its focus on tunes that are dedicated to the boating lifestyle.
At the moment of this material’s writing, Pandora has been available only in the US, so you won’t be able to enjoy its benefits elsewhere in the world. However, if you do some research, you should be able to easily find an alternative to it.
Divemate is quite a unique and specific boating app. As you’d guess from its name, it is designed for scuba divers. More specifically, it is kind of a logbook that allows you to share your diving photos, personal notes, and maps with others.
Remarkably, the Divemate app has been designed for 100% offline use. To accompany the app, Divemate offers its Fusion accessory that links your mobile device to the computer to automatically transfer your dive profile. This accessory isn’t a must to have for Divemate app users, but it is going to make profile transfer a little more convenient.
The Divemate app isn’t going to be a must-have for everyone, but if you happen to be a scuba diver, this app may interest you.