Saturday, November 2, 2013

Anchor Alarm

Application: iPhone, iPad
Function: Marine Anchor Alarm
Cost: $1.99

One of my greatest fears as a sailor is dragging at anchor during the night and not waking up until it is too late. That is probably why most captains sleep with one eye open.  The advent of apps for the iPhone and iPad have made it even easier to quickly set an anchor alarm and get a good night sleep.

I have looked at several anchor alarm apps over the years.  This Anchor Alarm is unique in that it has an easy graphical way to set the anchor position and alarm distances.  I even lets you move the anchor position and alarm distance if needed.

  • Easy to set anchor position
  • Set position at your current location
  • Choose a position on the map or relocate anchor with drag and drop
  • Navigate with standard map gestures (zoom, scroll ...) 
  • Works without an Internet connection. Once offline the map is replaced by a graphic.
  • Three alarms methods
  • Attention catching visual alarm with a blinking black/white screen,
  • Audible alarm
  • Operates in background mode, acoustic alarm with a notification.
  • Adjust alarm distance in settings or graphically on the map
  • Enhanced track recording with colored path displayed on a map

Main Display:
The main display has five soft keys at the bottom of the screen. The first Warning icon brings up a disclaimer page pointing out that this is only a tool for sailors and should not be solely relied upon for safety concerns.
The second Anchor icon allows you to set the anchor alarm while dropping the anchor.  This should be done at the bow of the boat while setting the anchor.  The closer you set the alarm to the actual anchor position will give you a more accurate position reading on the display.
The Map icon displays a satellite map of your position and the anchor position. Manual settings for the app are made on this page including alarm distance, alarms type, alarm sounds, map type, tracking, position and monitoring features.
To set the anchor, tap the drop anchor icon in the bottom right of the screen.  The anchor position default is set at your GPS location. To move the anchor position, place your figure on the anchor and move it to the desired anchor location.  A red circle show the alarm distance. If your boat moves outside of this circle the alarm will sound. To move the circle, place your finger on the circle and move it towards or away from your anchor position.
Alarms can be set with the icons in the top right of the display. Select an email, visual or audible alarm.  Map orientation can be selected with the orientation center in the lower left side of the map screen. Select between north up, course up, or center the map on your boat or the anchor position selected.

The Setting icon has options to set the alarm distance, change metric or English units, set the anchor position and enable alarm types.  The app provides three map types including satellite, map and hybrid options.

The tracking feature can also be enabled here. The app will track your position as you swing on your anchor. This is helpful to re-adjust your anchor position and alarm distance if you are getting false alarms.
Tracks can easily be exported in an email in the .GPX and .CSV file format types.

Another option in the setting menu that is listed as experimental is the Remote Mode. This works in coordination with the Find My iPhone app and allows you to track the phones location and your boat as long as it has a GPS and Internet connection.
Help Page:
The app has an extensive Help screen which can be selected by the last icon in the menu at the bottom right side of the screen. It is nice to have a help screen to explain all the features. All the features are detailed along with graphics where needed.
Many programmers are good at coding but most are very poor at documenting how their app actually works.
Most chart plotter these days have built in anchor alarms, so you may ask yourself, why do I need an app to do this also. Well most of us can't take our chart plotter to bed with us. The iPhone or iPad can be placed close at hand near your berth when you turn it and notify you if needed.  It never hurts to have a back up also.
The Anchor Alarm app will cost you a couple bucks but it is well work every penny for the peace of mind you will have knowing it is monitoring your position while you sleep.  A good night sleep at anchor is priceless.
~~~ Sail On ~~~ /)


  1. Thanks so much Mark. It's been a while since I have been by to check out your blog. With 8 months til we leave BC for Mexico and beyond...we are having to make some decisions about techy stuff. I am thinking about getting an iPad, and maybe a google Chromebook as a back-up. I already have an iPhone 5. Do you know much about the Chromebook and if there are apps that could be useful for offshore?

    Any info is greatly appreciated !


    1. Rose,

      I am not that familiar with ChromeBooks, but I do know it was built to provide optimal functionality when connected to the internet. It was built to be a connected device. It has limited functionality in the stand alone mode but there are many apps being developed to work offline.

      I found the ChromeBook Store where you can download apps: The Lifestyle/Travel sections has one Marine app named Marine GeoGarage to view Raster charts online.

      I do not see much advantage in buying a Chromebook. Spend a few hundred dollars more and get a low end PC that will do realtime GPS charting, play video, store and edit pictures, create ships logs, create and edit spreadsheets.

      I am not discouraging you from buying one, just consider your needs and purchase accordingly.

      Good luck on your trip and keep in touch

  2. WakingNews Alarm Clock app
    WakingNews Alarm Clock is yet another beta app release with some potential. It functions primarily as an alarm clock. You set an alarm as usual and it goes off on time as usual. However, this one reads you the news from a variety of sources when it goes off. So it functions a little bit like old school radio alarm clocks. It has several good news sources, including Yahoo Finances, Yahoo Sports, Engadget, etc. However, there are some lesser sources of words there as well. Thankfully, you can choose the sources that play when the alarm goes off. It's in beta so there are definitely bugs. It is also free and has potential.