Saturday, April 14, 2012

PolarView MX

Many of you might be familiar with Polar Navy.  If you are not make sure to check them out on their website.  They did not pay me to say that, I just like the program.  They are one of the most economical PC, Mac or Linux based navigation and chart display programs out there today.  I know many coastal cruisers who like and use their PolarView NS software.  They are one of the few charting programs that allow you to view both NOAA BSB raster and S57/S63 vector charts.  A complete set of ENC vector charts of the United Kingdom and Ireland are also available for an additional price. 

Over the years they have added waypoints, routes, GRIB file download, tidal information, AIS and most recently the ActiveCaptain points of interest offline database.  The free PolarCOM program is also great for displaying GPS and NMEA data on your laptop. After all these developments, it only makes sense that the folks at Polar Navy enter the iOS world with their own app.

Application: iPhone 4/4s, iPad 2/New
Function: Nautical Chart Viewer
Rating: **
Cost: Free!

PolarView MX version 1.0 was just released on April 13th.  It appears that the free app is now just a chart viewer.  I am sure they are working on additional functionality for a paid version in the future.

  • Free NOAA BSB Raster and S57/S63 Vector charts
  • NOAA USACE ENC charts
  • Chart filtering
  • Passage and chart planning
  • Latitude and longitude indication
  • Multi-touch function for panning an zooming
  • Seamlessly quilted for fast rendering

The chart download and settings screens can be accessed by selecting the menu button at the bottom left side of the screen. NOAA ENC, NOAA Raster and USACE ENC charts can be downloaded for free to the device for offline use. Simply tap the chart type name at the top of the screen to view the available charts for down load.

Select the chart or charts that you want to download, a blue check mark will mark the charts for down load. When you have checked all the charts you want, hit the download button on the lower right side of the screen.

All charts can be checked with the gray check mark and unchecked with the regular screw head looking icons on the lower left side of the display.

Charts can also be filtered by All, Not Installed, Installed or Installed/Expired with the icon on the top left of the the charts download display.

Once a chart is downloaded it will appear in bold black text with indications in the right column with two green boxes.  I am not sure what the color indication of the boxes means yet. I think the first box may indicate that it is good or expired. I will try to do some research and get back to eveyone on that.
Additional settings can be accessed from the main page menu button. Select the tools settings menu. Here there are general settings for the type of chart you want to view.

Color schemes for day, traditional or night vision can be selected also. Contour depths can also be customized here.

The Units settings include Depth, Height, Distance, Position, Bearings and speed. Each of these have English and metric settings.

The folks at Polar Navy have indicated that this is just the first basic version of this app. I am confident we will see many new releases with additions to give the app the needed features and functionalty similar to their PC base software.

Not bad for a start Polar Navy. Keep up the good work, I like what I see so far!


  1. The box "lights" on the right hand side of charts do indicate status. The one on the left will be green if chart is current, red if chart is expired. The one on the right will be green if chart is turned on, amber if it is turned off.

    For best rendering quality it usually helps to download all available charts for a given area. The total size of all ENC (vector) charts for US is about 500Mb, raster - perhaps 1Gb. So, these are fairly modest amounts (compared to, say, movies).

    BTW - I am glad you have used Key West as an example. It's one of my favorite areas (chart and otherwise) - I use Florida Keys charts for testing all the time :)

    1. Thanks for clearing up the lighted boxes, it make sense now. Key West is one of my favorites too. Please keep in touch and let me know of any major upgrades if you can.

      Sail On

  2. I down loaded the free version some time ago - and it crashed several times during my evaluation. But, it is a terrific integration with Active Captain so I paid the small fee, down loaded it again, and went to work learning the product enough to use it in my day to day travels South on the ICW.

    Boom, it crashed twice more.

    I feel like a guy with a pace maker that has just been informed that the software inside has a bug. Now, electronic navigation isn't the only means I have, but it is the preferred means. So, when I'm traveling along and a sudden squall hits and I decide to pull over and anchor, the electronic charting program is the way I find "over".

    I have two running - Polar Navy and or the one it is replacing - and a Standard Horizon chart plotter.

    Nevertheless, two crashes in 4 hours doesn't speak much for a product I just bought.

    Maybe I should wait until XP is replaced by Windows 7 (8?) (9?). My experience is that unreliable software doesn't get better with time, but maybe this is different.

  3. CaptStu,

    I would correspond with the developers on their website and try to resolve the crashing problem. An upgrade to Windows 7 might be of help also. Crashing is not good, especially in a emergency situation. Always having a backup is a good idea. I still carry my Garmin 76C as my backup.

    Good luck.

  4. I just downloaded the PN navy app and have downloaded the gulf of mexico chart but how do you launch the chart? No matter what i do it doesn't launch/open/ Anyone know how? Thanks Jerry

    1. Tap the chart you want to download, then tap the download arrow in the bottom right of the screen. It will show that it is downloading. When finished, hit the Done button top right, that will take you back to the map. Your chart will show up as a blue rectangle for the area you downloaded.

      Try that