Sunday, October 7, 2012

SailTimer Version 5.2.1

Application: iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch
Function: GPS navigation, sailing navigation, charting, polar plots
Rating: ****
Cost: Free

As I sit here this morning it is a beautiful, sunny 25 degrees outside.  The golden leaves are gently dropping off the trees in preparation for winter. Squirrels are scurrying about collecting food for the cold days ahead.  It is that time when I must put away my boats and give in the the change of the seasons. As I was looking through some apps I saw a fresh update to one I had briefly looked at a while ago, SailTimer

Navigation for sailors has always been a problem because most GPS chartplotters only calculate a coarse in a straight line.  They fail to take into account the tacking we sailors do when headed up wind. The SailTimer app now will calculate the best tacking angles and the shortest tacking time to destination, TTD.  Steve Summers is the brains behind the app. His company is named Indepth Navigation and is located in St. Margaret's, Nova Scotia.

Many of us sailors have been looking for a way to determine the optimal tacking angles to maximize speed and make headway upwind. The question has always been, should you minimize distance by sailing close to the wind, or head off the wind and try to make up the extra distance with more speed?  This is particularly true when racing sailboats.  The app has the ability to create your boat's polar diagrams on the fly and use this data to plot the fastest coarse. At last someone has finally created an app for sailors.

The SailTimer app now provides a marine chart display, complete with Waypoints, Tracking, points of interest, GPS realtime tracking and of course the calculation of the optimal tacking route.

  • Save waypoints on the map.
  • In-app purchase of Marine charts for $15.99-$23.99
  • Charts sets for US, Canada, New Zealand and the UK.
  • In-app purchase for $9.99 for custom polar plot creation
  • Calculates tacking distances, headings and times to get to waypoint.
  • Use on an iPod or iPad with no GPS
  • Use with the SailTimer Wind Vane to provide wind direction and speed wirelessly.
  • Google maps and road maps are available free. Add marine charts with in-app purchases.
  • Charts can be used offline.
  • The crosshair icon provides your current location 
  • Multi touch gesture support
  • GPS real time tracking of position
  • The Graph button will save the wind data. You can save both wind speed and boat speed.
  • Continuously monitor your progress on the chart.
  • ActiveCaptain™ points of interest support is provided. It does require an in app purchase for $4.99
  • Distance, heading and time of each tack is calculated.
The newest version of SailTimer  provides some pretty impressive upgrades.  I had looked at the app about a year ago and thought it looked cumbersome to use.  This version has a more professional look and feel and provide useable results.

The main screen provides a Google map display with options for marine charts and road maps. At the top there are Waypoint
and Drop Pin buttons. Selecting the waypoint button will show you the list of waypoints.  Selecting a waypoint allows you to edit the name and save it.  It would be nice to be able to manually edit the coordinates also. You can select the Go There button to navigate to the waypoint.

I found the waypoint creation procedure a little awkward.  The Drop Pin button is used to create new waypoints in the middle of the display.  I could not find any way to move the waypoint once it was created. It would be nice to be able to graphically move the waypoint pin around to exactly where I wanted it.

Under Options you can make in-app purchases for marine charts and a polar plot function.  I think the NOAA marine charts are overpriced at $15.99. Tracks can be save or deleted here too.

The bottom left of the screen has the Input and Option buttons. Input allows you to manually input your wind speed, direction and bearing data and to set up some options within the app.

Select the Bearing button to either enter the direction and distance to your destination, or select Go To Waypoint.  As you sail the optimal tacks will continuously update. Your Tacking Time to Destination will be updated and displayed along the route.

Select the Wind button to input the wind direction and speed. The app will then calculate your TTD, tacking time to destination. 

Here the distance to the waypoint is only 3.3 mile but since the wind is on our nose, we have to tack a distance of 4.3 miles. The TTD is estimated at 43 minutes.  Actual boat speed is shown in the lower right corner of the app.

There is a YouTube video that shows how to use the app. I found this helpful in explaining some of the features.

The blue speedometer looking device at the bottom of the screen is the latest addition to the app. Tap the speedometer to enlarge the wind data display.

If you manually set the wind direction and speed under Input, those readings should show up here. If you have the new SailTimer WindVane those realtime values will show up here. 

SailTimer has recently developed a wireless windvane to enhance the capabilities of their app. Under Input/Set-Up you can select the SailTimer WindVane to set up, calibrate and use the real time data.   Some unique features are that it is solar powered and connects through WiFi or Bluetooth. So no wires need to be run up the mast to power the device.

Wind data and boat speed can be graphed from data within the app for further analysis. Within the blue speedometer display select the Graph button to save the data.

The Sailtimer WindVane is a little pricey at $689.00 US but it is priced alot less than some other wind instruments in the marine industry. It looks like a good value for what you get.

I like what I see with the recent additons to SailTimer.  Steve and his crew at Indepth Navigation are continuing to update the app and provide added features and benefits especially for sailors.  The addition of some electronics hardware to wirelessly provide wind data to the app is a real plus. 

~~~Sail On~~~ /)


  1. Good review -- thanks for sharing.

    There is actually a procedure for setting a Waypoint that is easier than you thought... After you click the Drop Pin button, "Drag pin to adjust location" appears across the top bar. Just move the pin on the screen with your finger to place it exactly where you want it. Then click the Set Waypoint button, to make it appear on the Waypoints list.

  2. It has been a few years since the above post, so the 4th-generation SailTimer Wind Instrument is now available at

    For readers from outside North America, the SailTimer Wind Instrument has a new pricing arrangement that minimizes your customs duties, taxes and fees. Advance orders get a price of $350, which is split between the physical Wind Instrument ($150) and live wind maps on a cloud server ($200).

    That way, if you are in a country where customs would add a lot of extra fees, duties and taxes, you only pay it on the package that is delivered.

    1. Thanks for the update on SailTimer. Glad to hear the product is still around and being supported.

      Happy Holidays