Monday, October 8, 2018

C-Map Embark Marine Charting and Navigation

Application: iPhone, iPad, and Android devices
Function: Marine charting, navigation, weather, routing and way points
Rating: *****
Cost: Free with in app purchases

Finally, we have another new marine app introduced for our mobile devices.  Navionics, iNavX, SEAiq, i-Sailor, SeaPilot and SeaNav are the most popular apps to date. There have been many upgrades to these existing app and I have tried to cover most of them. You can see my list of Best Marine Charting Apps in the blog menus above.

I am excited to see how C-Map Embark stacks up with the existing list of apps. Embark is now available in iOS on iTunes and Android versions.

Features:
  • C-Map Charts
  • Offline Maps with in app purchase
  • Routes
  • Way points(Places)
  • Tracking
  • Real time navigation 
  • GPS tracking
  • Search feature with 1000's of marinas and points of interest
  • User POI ratings and feedback
  • Speed
  • Heading
  • GPS position
  • Weather 
  • Tides and wave forecasts $8.99/yr
  • Marine Traffic
  • Share your position with friends
  • View other Embark users
  • Backup places, way points and routes

Display:

The main display of Embark as the app opens up is a world map. The continents are shown in a tan color with a white background.  There are very few soft keys or buttons for navigation.

The menu for the different features is reached using the three horizontal lines in the left side of the search box in the upper left of the screen.

Selecting this shows a drop down of features including, Place, Routes, Tracks, Transport mode, Traffic, Weather forecasts, Offline Maps and Help and Feedback.

The Search feature is very powerful and will help you locate specific locations and services.  Tapping in the Search box will display search headings for marinas, anchoring spots, fuel and beach locations.

The chart is then updated to display the locations of your selected searches.  Some searches produced good results while others produce very few on the chart.

Using the pinch to zoom gestures you can quickly zoom into the area of  your choice.  Once zoomed in you will see more and more chart detail come into view. Lights, channel marker, depth gradients, anchorages and wrecks will show up on the chart.

Charts:

The Embark app uses C-Maps marine charts. Charts are updated monthly and can be used with an Internet connection for free or purchased for offline use with an in app purchase. Charts are not yet available for worldwide coverage but most continents are covered. Charts are purchased from a list of 70 regions with the app. Purchases are only good for one year subscription.

There is a 14 day free trial of the offline charts, weather and tide information. Chart prices range from $25.99 to $65.99 dollars depending on the region you purchase. Maps colors can be adjusted for depth contours and night versions for ease of viewing.

Places:

The Places page can be reached from the main drop down menu in the search box in the upper left of the main chart page.

Places are not really way points in that they cannot be use in a route. They are more like pins of locations you may want to save to go back to.  It would be nice to have a "navigate to" option for places that you have saved.

Once you have created a place you can view the list of places and sort them with the icon in the upper right side of the screen.


Traffic:

The app has a Traffic feature which can be reached from the main drop down menu in the search box in the upper left of the main chart page. Enabling this feature will allow you to see nearby vessels and for them to be able to see your location on the chart.  This is not a true AIS feature in that it you will need Internet or cell service for it to work.

This feature will only show vessels with AIS targets that are picked up by land based receivers.   You can also elect to show your position to other nearby Embark users.

Weather:

Weather is a premium service and is only available with a paid subscription. There is an offer of a free trial period to see if these functions are worth the price. One month of service is $8.99 and one year of service is $39.99.

This feature will only work with an Internet connection so it is of little use offshore.

Forecasts include maritime weather, water, air temperatures, tides, wave, wind speed and direction. Tides are also included with the weather data.

Tracking:

The app has a tracking feature which can be reached from the main drop down menu in the search box in the upper left of the main chart page. 

Select Tracks to bring up the Tracks page and the list of saved tracks.  To record a track select the red record button in the bottom right of the screen. The tracks can be sorted with the up and down arrow icon in the top right of the screen.

Routes:

The app has a Route feature which can be reached from the main drop down menu in the search box in the upper left of the main chart page. 

Select Routes to bring up the Routes page and the list of saved routes. To create a route, select the purple button in the bottom right of the screen.

The routes can be sorted various ways with the up and down arrow icon in the top right of the screen.

There are some display issues on the Routes page which need correcting. You can see that the way points list on the bottom is not properly displaying the latitude and longitude.


Transport Mode:

The app has a real time Tracking Mode feature which can be reached from the main drop down menu in the search box in the upper left of the main chart page.

Selecting this brings up your current GPS position and chart of the area. On top of the display you will see your speed (COG course over ground) and you heading.  The current GPS location is also listed.

This display is pretty basic and only shows minimal data of speed and heading for real time navigation.

There were some display formatting issues which can be seen on the knots and heading display.  This error showed up in the landscape and portrait displays. Hopefully this will be addressed by the developer. I was using a 5 generation iPad to take these screen shots.

Cruising Guide:

The Cruising Guide contains information about places added by boaters and is made available to the entire boating community. Users created posts with marinas, fishing spots, anchorages, beaches, restaurants, services, pictures and reviews.  A search feature allows quick look up of various locations in these groups. Simply type in a location to find it on the charts.

The app is pretty basic in its features and functionality. If you are in need of some free charts and only do coastal cruising this app is a good free choice.  If you are in need of advanced charting features and more functionality, I would suggest some others apps like Navionics, SEAiq or iNavX.

What charting app do you use? What features do you look for in a charting app? Comment below!

~~~ Sail On ~~~/)
Mark

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