Saturday, March 26, 2011

Wind Meter

Application: iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch
Function: Weather, wind speed
Cost: $.99
Rating: ***

I was a little skeptical about this Wind Meter app but after reading several positive reviews I thought I would give it a try.  The reviews seem to support the claims of the developer.  Although not perfect, the meter was surprisingly accurate in estimating the wind speed.  It does have some limitation though.

The meter works by simply holding your iPhone up directly into the wind and pressing the "Get Wind" button.  After about 5 to 10 seconds push the "Got Wind" button.  The app calculates the average wind speed over that period of time.  The authors website says that it will estimate the wind speed fairly accurately between 4 and 28 miles per hour. 

The app also has a convert function which allows you to measure wind speed in miles/hour, knots, knot/hour, Beaufort scale, meters/second and feet/second.  A calibration feature allows adjusting of the units reading up or down to more accurately reflect the true wind speed.

The app works as advertised but I found it's limited range of 4-28 miles per hour a big drawback.  If you are looking for a more accurate and full range wind meter I suggest you invest in something else.  For $.99 the Wind Meter app gives you a handy way to estimate the wind.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Harry's Sailor

Application: iTouch, iPad, iPod Touch
Function: GPS Navigation/ Sailing Companion
Cost: $2.99

Harry's Sailor is just one of developer's Harry Shlangmann apps.  This one is based on an advanced GPS engine developed specifically for sailors aboard boat.  This is a slick looking app that displays all your GPS data, magnetic compass, customizable skins, allows navigation to a waypoint and integrated Google Maps for following your position in real time. It has some unique features not seen in your average GPS app.

After the initial splash screen the main navigation screen appears with five soft keys across the bottom. These are used to bring up the five main screens of the app.

Selecting the navigation soft key displays a large compass.  GPS strength indication is displayed across the top of the screen. Bearing, heading, deviation and distance reading are displayed across the bottom of the screen. 

The navigation feature allows you to navigate to a waypoint or a polar coordinate.  It also give you the option to set a course.  To set up navigation tap on the wrench icon in the upper left hand corner of the navigation display.

The compass display is interactive and shows you the difference between heading and bearing with an arc at the top of the compass. If a green arc appears it shows you how many degrees you must correct to get back on course.

A handy man overboard button makes it easy to create a waypoint for ease of navigating back to pickup your lost sailor.


This display incorporates all your needed GPS data including Heading, Bearing, Speed Over Ground, Velocity Made Good, Deviation, Nav Status, Distance, Course.  One unique item that I have not seen in any other navigating software is a built in Healing Gauge.  It displays the heal of the boat in degrees and graphically shows your yacht healing also. 

Another feature that might be usable to novice sailors is a right of way indicator.  A right of way tack indication shows green if you have the right of way on a starboard tack and red of you are on a port tack and have to yield to others boats with the right of way.

The GPS displays is a little busy but it gives you all the info you will want. A nice signal meter shows the strength of your GPS signal.  Date a time are shown below the signal meter.  Speed, heading, altitude, slope, accuracy, GPS rate, latitude, longitude and lateral and lineal force measured by the accelerometer.

A graphical display showing the history of most values can also be displayed by tapping on the display. 


The Map feature needs alot of work. It shows the basic Google maps in standard and hybrid formats.  The biggest problem is that it does not work off line so it is pretty much useless unless your in cell range all the time.  There are many times while boating that I am not in cell range, off line maps would be more useful.

The More soft key displays Waypoints, Add Ons, Reference displays for flags, lights, markers and the Beaufort wind scale.

There is an extensive Settings page to set speed values, skins, units, power saving and GPS data.

The help function give you a quick reference for the app. The only problem with that is that you have to be connected to the Internet to get the help feature.  This should be a function that could be use off line.

 I found the app easy to use and amusing.  It has many features your standard GPS does not have.  The author put some real thought into the development of the app.  The navigation features are a little clumbsy and take some getting use to .  For $3.00 it is worth buying. Have fun!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Boating Suite

Application: iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch
Function: Boat Organization and Logging
Cost: $4.99
Rating: ***

As an electrical engineer I like things to be organized, not only on my boat but in all aspects of my life. There is a lot of information that needs to be logged and kept on board if you own a larger yacht or boating vessel. There are needs for a cruising log, maintenance records, fuel log and to do lists.  One app that looked useful to consolidate all of this is Boating Suite.

The people at Boating have put together a nice app that not only lets you consolidate your data but it can also create useful reports when it is time to use the information.

  • Six apps in one
  • Log Book
  • Fuel log
  • Maintenance log
  • Expense log
  • To do list
  • Shopping list
  • Reports
  • Easy to use interface
The Log Book:

We all know how important it is to keep a detailed cruising log of every trip. Boating Suite has an extensive logging feature that allows you to keep Trip Date, Departing Port, Departure and Arrival times, Boating hours, Air Temp, Water Conditions, Crew and Trip description. Even if it is a short pleasure cruise you can quickly add the information to the app an have a record of your trip. The once dreaded logging chore has become quick and easy with the use of this app

Fuel Log:

Information about the performance of your yacht is also useful to keep track of fuel expenses and determine your fuel economy.  The Fuel Log allows inputs for Purchase Date, Engine hours, Gallons per Hour and Hours per Gallon, Purchase amount, Gallons Purchased, Octane type, Vendor and Notes. Any change in mileage can be noted and it may help you find performance or other maintenance issues with your yacht.  Whenever you fill up you can quickly add the information right at the dock while you waiting to get underway.

Maintenance Log:

A maintenance log can be very useful to keep your yacht performing at its best. It is useful to track all your maintenance and repair costs.  The Maintenance Log allows for inputs of Purchase Date, Engine Hours Purchase amount, Vendor, A short description of the item and Notes. This is useful information to provide to your mechanic if he needs a history of what has been replaced and when.

Expense Log:

Most of us don't want to keep track of what our boating costs us, but if you do, Boating Suite can do  it for you. These are all other expenses other than Maintenance and Fuel.  Inputs include Purchase Date Engine hours, Purchase Amount, Vendor, Short Description and Notes.

To Do List:

There are always projects and things that need to be fixed on your yacht. This list allows you to make an entry so you do not forget to do those small things that fall through the cracks.  Simply add them to your To Do List and work on them in your free time.

Shopping List:

I am getting older and find that I need to make lists to remind myself to do things and pick up various items.  I use the yellow sticky notes extensively. Now I can simply enter the item on my Shopping list and swing by the marine store or liquor store and pick up the necessary items.  Don't forget the rum!


The reporting functions allow you to get important data out of the app when needed. There are individual reports for each function and an export feature that allows you to download the data to you PC or Mac computer.

I found the app useful and easy to use.  It has cleaned up my record keeping and consolidated the scraps of paper and various other notes that were floating around the boat. I now have it all in one place. Organization is good!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Imray Marine Chart Navigator

Application: iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch
Function: Marine Charting and Navigation
Cost: $41.99

If you have ever sailed in Europe or the Caribbean you have probably used Imray charts or cruising guides.  Imray and Tucabo  have formed a partnership to produce the Imray Marine Chart Navigator app for use on your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch. They have just released the navigation app for the North Sea with coverage for Belgium, Holland, East England and East/North Scotland a total of 149 charts. 

Their tag line seems to be "Written by sailors for sailors", and the app appears to be intuitive and fairly straight forward.  When the app is opened there is a disclaimer splash screen where you have to hit accept.  Once by that the main navigation screen is displayed.  There are four soft keys on the bottom of the app. They are Settings, Move to, Charts, Navigation and GPS enable symbol. 

The "Settings key provides the ability turn on or off the chart info, position, destination, waypoints, routes and tracks. It has a night setting dim the screen and the ability to turn on the instruments view across the top of the app.

Routes are added by tapping on the screen where you want to travel. The route points position can be adjusted by using your finger tip to move them to where you want. Shown at left by the circles.

Waypoints can be added at the GPS position or by entering the coordinates of the waypoint. Shown here by the red flag.

The "Move to" key allows you to move your viewing position to your GPS location, current position, destination, a coordinate or waypoint.  

The "Navigation key" allows you to navigate a route, turn on tracking, navigate to a waypoint, a destination or a position.  Each of these has a different icon so you can keep track of where you are navigating to.

It has a whole list of features including the usual routes, tracks, waypoints with the ability to save and name each one. This management feature makes is easy save and store the data.

  • Award winning raster charts from Imray
  • Waypoint creation and management
  • Routes: distances, targets, bearings
  • Position and destination
  • Course to steer, speed and bearing
  • Magnetic compass overlay
  • Distances, bearings from any point to any point
  • Electronic bearing line
  • GPS and instruments displays
  • Tide stations can be shown on maps
  • Aerial photographs and harbour plans
I like the look and feel of the app. It works both in landscape and portrait mode which is a bonus. Panning, zooming are smooth with the pinch or expand functions.  I really like how they have incorporated aerial photos into the app also. They show up as a camera on the maps. Just select and they pop up to show you the approach to the anchorage or harbor.  These are not the usual Google view we are use to seeing. These photos are very nice quality images taken from the air.

It appears that they only have the North Sea region out so far.  I am expecting more region covering the West UK and Ireland, Atlantic France, Spain and Portugal, the Mediterranean and the Caribbean but don't know yet when they will be available.  The price of $41.99 for a region seems high compared to other apps with similar functionality. 

Check with iTunes and search for Imray to find the app for your area.