Saturday, May 11, 2013

Electric Pocket's SeaNav

Application: iPhone, 3GS, 4, 4S, 5 and iPad
Function: GPS Charting, planning and navigation app
Rating: ***
Cost: $9.99

The creative folks at Electric Pocket have another great app offering for sailing enthusiasts.  I have previously reviewed their Boat Beacon and Compass Eye apps.  They have built on these apps and expanded their lineup with a new navigation and charting app called SeaNav.  It was just recently released in April in the iTunes Store. They have released two versions of the app. One is for the US coastal waters and includes the Great Lakes and the other is for the UK and Ireland.

SeaNav is a basic planning and real time charting navigation app.  It uses the NOAA vector charts so the all of the United States coastal waters including the Great Lakes can be downloaded for offline use on the device.  When you zoom into an area the charts start to download automatically.  The charts have a very vibrant colorful look to them and include a map, satellite and hybrid versions which also show roadways and a satellite view of nearby land.  You only have to buy the app once and your able to use it on both your iPhone and iPad.  Charts are downloaded on the device and can be used while your out of cell range.

Navigation on the charts includes the usual panning and zooming and multi-touch functions. The vector charts allow the user to display a variety of layers and data about the chart.  Charts are automatically updated through NOAA so you always have the best data.

AIS targets collected through the Internet or your onboard receiver are available as an overlay on the charts.

  • Route Planning and real time tracking including Waypoints, SOG, COG, ETA, CTE etc.
  • Waypoint
  • Routes
  • Distance and Bearing measuring feature
  • Route export, import and sharing .kmz format.
  • Map, satellite and hybrid displays
  • Charts downloaded and stored on device so they work without mobile coverage!
  • Seamless fast panning and zooming across charts.
  • NOAA Vector Charts
  • Live AIS Ship positions overlaid from Boat Beacon app.
  • Live buoy weather data, Internet required
  • Configurable layers; buoys, lights, depths, rocks, wrecks, anchorage areas etc.
  • Automatic Chart updates

The on screen menu is shown at the bottom of the display.   The Ship icon starts the real time GPS navigation tracking and enables the heads up display. Basic navigation data including latitude, longitude, distance, bearing, course over ground and speed over ground, estimated time of arrival, velocity made good and ETA are provide with the heads up display.  If you have a route or waypoint selected it will give you the distance and bearing to your next waypoint.  The next waypoint in a route can be selected by tapping the forward or backwards arrows. Reverse your route with the two circular arrows in the lower left of the heads up display.

The next Bullseye Eye icon locates your current GPS position and centers it on the chart. 

The Search icon lets you quickly search for any location in the world. Hit search and it displays that position on the chart.

The Compass icon brings up the distance and bearing measuring tool. The green pin is your starting position and the red pin is your ending position. Tap these to move them and measure between any two points. Latitude, longitude, distance and bearing are shown at the bottom of the screen for the two measured points.

The Route icon is next, it lets you add waypoints along with the ability to edit and manage routes on your charts. Tap the Route icon and select New Route, Edit Route or Manage Routes. Select New Route then tap your finger and hold on the chart to start creating waypoints for your route. Continue tapping to add points until your route is complete. Tap and hold any waypoint to reposition it on the chart.  You can rename the route at the bottom of the screen while in Route Edit mode.

Selecting Manage Routes has settings to show, select, edit, delete, rename and share your routes through email. A handy double arrow allows your to reverse the direction of your route.

Setting can be found under the Gear icon. Here you can manage Routes, Map Layer, Charts, and Display Mode.  Advanced settings has a variety of options for charts, units, sounds, power save, safety depth and others.

The last Export icon is for sending your position by email, message or saving the image to your camera roll and printing it.

Optional AIS and buoy weather buoy data is available within the app.  To receive AIS data you will have to have the Boat Beacon app installed also.  The AIS position data will be shared from this app.  The Boat Beacon app can be configured to use the data from land based AIS receiving stations.  This data is received on land and re-broadcast over the Internet.  This option requires that you have an internet connection. This AIS data can be added to the chart display under Settings/Manage Map Layers.

The Boat Beacon app can also be configured to use your on board AIS receivers data over a NMEA TCP/IP wireless connection.  These NMEA settings can be setup in the Boat Beacon app under Local AIS Settings. 

The app is a welcome addition to the many charting apps on the market.  The charts are very colorful and incorporate multiple layers which can be turned on or off the de-clutter the display. I liked the map and hybrid versions especially since they show surrounding towns and highways for reference. Whenever you tap on an item on the chart a pop up first tells you what it is. Tapping again provides additional details.

The waypoint and routing function is very easy to use and I found that I could quickly create and edit a route with minimal effort.

The AIS feature is versatile and can be configured to utilize either Internet based data or on board AIS data through the Boat Beacon app.

I had trouble finding the buoy weather data. It would be nice to have a weather icon to select the weather buoys in the immediate area. Other obvious additions would include GRIB weather data, NMEA instrument data, night mode, points of interest, social media posting, anchor alarm and track recording.

I did have the app freeze on me a few times and it did crash on occasion.  I can only hope some optimization can be done to make it more responsive in future versions. The price is comparable to other app with similar features.

This is a great start for Electric Pocket and their SeaNav app.  I look forward to more additions and improvement in future revisions.

~~~ Sail On /)


  1. Hi Mark,

    Thanks for the review . We have been working hard over the summer with extensive Sea Trials . One trip in the company of the Captain of the RSS Discovery - the man who discovered the biggest wave in the world! He said he was impressed by SeaNav :)

    The latest version has a lot more chart data detail and depth contours out to deep ocean, much faster UI response and we have fixed the crash!


  2. Steve,
    Thanks for the feedback. I did see a new version come out and noted the changes and improvements. I will check out the sea trials article too. Thanks for the heads up on that.

    Keep up the great work on your apps!