Friday, December 31, 2010

Navimatics Charts and Tides

Application: iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch
Function: Marine Navigation and Charting
Cost: $24.99
Rating: ***

As I write this we are getting hit by the second blizzard in two days. Another 6-8 inches with 30-40 mph winds. Living in the Midwest you would think I would be use to it. I wish I was someplace warm sailing about now. Back to the review.

Navimatics has been around for years providing quality celestial, aeronautical and marine charts for navigation. The Charts & Tides program for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch is claimed by Navimatics to be the first full resolution, seamless charting  program for marine navigation.  With the purchase of  Charts & Tides you can run the software on both your iPhone and iPad for one inclusive price.

Like all iPhone and iPad charting applications Charts & Tides should be considered as a backup to your onboard navigation system. 

Navimatics offers four different coverage regions depending on your use and location. It offers East Coast, West Coast, Gulf Coast and Great Lakes.

  • Supports standard NOAA vector charts.
  • All chart data is provided in the app and automatically updated to ensure the most recent version.
  • A true heads-up display instantly rotates your chart as your boat turns, including text.
  • The app has chart quilting which seamlessly displays the next chart as you move.
  • The full ActiveCaptain database is provided in the app for offline use. 
  • Fully synchronize the offline POI database with the ActiveCaptain server when you have an Internet connection so you can have the latest information.
  • Built-in search mode for finding any location, marina, bridge or other navigation items quickly.
  • 3D Bathymetry view for a different perspective of your navigation surroundings.
  • Plus integrated tides/currents, weather, sun/moon calendar and much more.
What I found unique about the Navimatics app is that is has the entire ActiveCaptain database downloaded in this app.  The database literally contains thousands of marinas, anchorages, hazards, bridges, boat ramps and other points of interest.  The ActiveCaptain website can also be utilized when an Internet connection is available. Having access to so much information in the ActiveCaptain database is a plus and it is what sets this app apart from any other charting app.
The app uses the NOAA ENC charts, bathymetric and topographical charts.  The app also provides tidal data for realtime current computation. The app allows the user to use it on the iPhone or the iPad with one purchase. No need to purchase two apps.

The NOAA ENC charts are free and can be downloaded from NOAA.  The author has simply put together this free information and provided it in an easy to use manner.  The ActiveCaptain data can also be accessed for free at their website  If you think it is work the $25.00 to have it on your iPhone or iPad it is available through Navimatics.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Overton's Marine App

Overton's Marine App

Application: iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch iOs 3.1 or later
Function: Marine and Boating Supplies
Cost: Free 
Rating: **

I opened my email this morning and found a nice surprise. A new Overton's App. Man this is like Christmas early.  Overton's have been around since the mid 1970s selling water skis and the quality boating gear. The business started out of a grocery store in Greenville, NC and has since grown into one of the world leaders in boating supplies. It is one of my favorite sites for boating gear.  Overton's acquired Gander Mountain in 2007 and continues to grow.


The app is brand new and is focused now on Christmas goodies for boaters. They are offering $2.99 regular shipping on all your purchases.  It is not too late to load up on goodies for your favorite boater. I am sure Dad could use a new pair of deck shoes. They are now offering a great line of marine Christmas cards and boating ornaments for your tree. Other categories include gift in the $30, $50 and $100 dollar range.

Overton's always has great prices and the many clearance items are always a bargain. Check it out! 

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Navigation Lights

NAV Lights Study Guide

Application: iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch
Function: Nautical Reference and Study
Cost: Free
Rating: **

If you ever sail at night you will want to pick up this handy reference and study guide provide by Tollway Solutions called Nav Lights. You may also know these as running lights.  These are the light that boat, yachts and ships are required to have illuminated while they are operating during the non daylight hours. These lights along with their configuration and color help boaters identify each other and safely navigate at night. These light also allow boaters to determine the position, heading and status of the vessels around them.

Did you know that navigation lights play a key role in determining who has the right of way. On boats, yachts and ships, a red light will be mounted on the left or port side of the ship and a green on the right or starboard side. These lights help two boats on a collision course determine who has right of way.  If a boater sees a vessel on a path crossing his, he will see either its red running light or green running light. If he observes a green light,  he is on the other boats starboard and has the right of way. If the boater observes a red light, he knows that the other boat has the right of way, and he is required to change his course to avoid the collision.

History lesson:

The United States passed an act in 1828 requiring steamboats operating between sunset and sunrise to carry signal lights. The United Kingdom passed regulations in 1848 that required steam vessels to display red and green sidelights as well as a white masthead light. The U.S. Congress required sailing vessels to operate with lights starting in 1848. United States held the first International Maritime Conference in 1889 to consider regulations on preventing accidents at sea. The resulting Washington Conference Rules were adopted by the U.S in 1890. The international 1948 Safety of Life at Sea Conference recommended a mandatory fixed stern light for almost all vessels. These regulations have been the standard since then.


Nav Lights is a quick reference and study guide to help boaters learn the many different configurations of navigation lights.  It has several categories to choose from.  It shows navigation lights for fishing vessel, power driven vessels, towing and pushing vessels and vessel not under command or with restricted maneuverability.

It also has a neat section with flashcards to test your knowledge once you have mastered all the lighting configurations.  If you are pursuing your Coast Guard Captains license this app will help you study for the requirement to identify vessels by their navigation lights. Whether your a weekend boater for seasoned captain this is a handy reference and a must have app for your mobile device.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Navionics Mobile Upgrade

Navionics Marine and Lakes 1.0.1 "NEW" Release

Application: iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch
Function: Marine Navigation, Charting
Cost: $9.99
Rating: ****

Navionics has some new releases, but are they worth it?  Navionics 1.0.1 has been released and they have decreased the number of Marine apps from 30 down to 7 regions. The regions now include; Marine and Lakes USA, Marine and Lakes USA and Canada, Marine Caribbean and South America, Marine Australia and Africa, Marine Europe, Marine UK and Holland and Marine Denmark and Greenland. The new Marine and Lakes USA includes the ability to download Lakes in any state plus Marine charts for coastal regions. The two major changes are that the NEW apps now include User Generated Content (UGC) and a selection box that you size to select an area to download maps.

UGC is a neat feature that allows users to add information to their charts and have this information available to all user. The addition of this "local knowledge" will make the charts more usable, accurate and up to date. It will be much like having your old paper charts and being able to pencil in notes and points of interest right to the chart electronically. Under Menu make sure the Community Layer is turned "ON".

To add an UGC object to the chart simply Tap and hold the map on the spot where you wish to add an object. Next tap Edit Your Map. Next Select Object. Choose from the major categories that appear, they include Rocks and Wrecks, Buoys, Beacon and Signs, Lights, Shops and Repairs, Ports and Marinas, and Anchorages and Moorings. Once you have selected the Category then select the subcategory your object falls under, fill in the fields and save. You also have the option to edit move or delete an object. These changes will be save to the chart and shared with the Navionics server and community.

The other new feature is the map download. The old set of 30 apps were broken up that way to make the file sizes manageable. The seven NEW apps have a feature where you select what area of the region you want to download.  This is done with a selection box that you can adjust by moving the four corner to enclose the area of the maps that you want. Simply select download and those maps are then saved to your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. You will have to be connected to WiFi or a cell network connection to download the maps and share your UGC content.

The NEW version of the apps are not available for the iPad yet.  Although the HD version for iPad has been upgrade to version 5.0 which has the new UGC feature. The iPhone and iPod touch can continue to use the retired 5.0 versions. The added features to the NEW versions are nice but probably not worth buying the app again unless your like me and always need the latest and greatest version. 

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Nautical Signal Flag Information

Signal Flag Info

Application:iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch
Function: Nautical Signal Flag Code
Cost: Free or $9.99

And you thought those pretty flags were just a way to decorate your yacht on holidays.  Signal flags have been used for centuries as a way for ships to communicate in situations related to safety and navigation. This international code works well especially when language difficulties arise. This handy little app will help you identify any of the 40 international code flags. Each flag spells out a specific letter and also has a specific meaning. For instance the square Yellow flag represents the letter Q(Quebec) and also is known as the quarantine flag flown by arriving vessels in a foreign port requesting entrance.


The free Signal Flags Info version give you a reference to the commonly used flags by warships, merchant ships, commercial fishing and private yachts. I also provides the full International Code of Signals for Visual Sound and Radio Communications document, Revised 2003.

The $9.99 version includes everything the free version has but also includes the United States Coast Guard Inland Navigation Rules and a handy Quiz tab to help test your memory on the flag signals and their meanings.


This information is readily available on the Internet but the author has put it in an easy to use form for your iThing.  The addition of the navigation rules is useful because it is a required safety item on all boats over 39.4 feet.  This is a very nice reference tool for helping the occasional boater and seasoned skipper to interpret the meaning of these signal flags.


I personally would not spend the $10 bucks to get the Signal Flags version 1.2.  It does allow multitasking for iOS4.0 if you need that.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Maretron Marine Electronics N2KView

Maretron N2KView App

Application: iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch
Function: System Control and Monitoring
Cost: App is free, separate licensing needed
Rating: *****

Monitor and control your yacht from you iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch, wow, how cool it that! Maretron has long been known for their yachting monitoring and control systems.  The N2KView app simply take their systems and makes them available to any one of your iThing devices. 

This has to be one of the greatest apps in boating. The 3G iPhone and iPad app will work from anywhere you can get a 3G connections.  A WiFi only iPad and iPod Touch will only work over the ships network connection and act as a remote monitoring and control device for all your yachts systems.

This application can be set up to monitor and control just about any device on your yacht. It requires that you first have all these devices networked on an NMEA 2000 system.  Once connected to a PC the data can be made available to another PC or many other handheld devices such as the iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch.  An Android version is also available if your not an Apple fan.

  • Allow the monitoring of just about any system or device on your yacht.
  • Works with your yachts NMEA 2000 network devices.
  • Is flexible and allows the user to design screens and controls to their specifications.
  • Requires that your NMEA 2000 network is connected to a networked PC via a USB device.
  • The PC acts as the server and required a licensed dongle.
  • Two levels of service, basic and platinum, one server license and one client license is provide with each service. Additional client licenses can be purchased.
  • Display and graphing of almost any monitored function.


The app is fully configurable to monitor and control many of your yachts systems including Air Conditioning (HVAC), Anchor Watch, AC Power, Battery, Depth, Engine, Environment, Fuel Management, GPS, Heading, Ice Makers, Navigation, Rudder, Speed, Tanks, Time, Transmission, Watermakers, Weather and Wind.

Maretron allows the user the flexibility to design and develop the screens to their own specifications. It allows the user to determine the number of screens, size of the controls and layout. They offer two levels of service with varying levels of monitoring and control.

If you already have a NMEA 2000 network on your yacht, this may be the next step in bringing the data to your fingertips anywhere at anytime.


The system requires that you already have a NMEA 2000 network. While the app is free, additional licensing is required to allow the client device to connect to the PC network server.

With all this cool technology you may be watching your yachts systems more than the beautiful scenery around you.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

MotionX GPS - The Art of Motion

MotionX GPS

Application: iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch
Function: GPS Navigation, tracking
Cost: $2.99
Rating: ****
This may be the best $3.00 you will ever spend for a GPS navigation app. Fullpower has put together an easy to use application to help navigate your favorite sport or activity.  Wether you sailing, biking, driving, hiking, skiing, boarding, geocaching or flying MotionX GPS can do it all. With up to nine different chart types this app will take you anywhere you want to go.

This is a full featured app which includes a GPS realtime tracking map display, a digital compass and a powerful trip computer. It has the ability to record waypoints, tracks and even photos and share them with friends via email or post then to your favorite social networking sites.


  • Allows you to track your position on land, sea, streets, topographic and terrain.
  • Download maps and charts for offline use.
  • Nine map overlays including Google, Bing and NOAA marine charts.
  • Save up to 303 waypoints of your favorite locations.
  • Double tap screen to create waypoints.
  • Follow your tracks in realtime with track up or north up and save up to 101 tracks.
  • Easily post your track to Twitter or Facebook.
  • Digital compass with true and magnetic north.
  • Audible voice coaching anounces your time, distance and speed at set intervals.
  • Interactive stopwatch and trip computer. Record live altitude and speed graphs.
  • Works on iPod Touch with Dual GPS cradle.

This app has the versatility that no other iPhone app has for the price. I found it easy to use and very intuitive for the user. I was able to download several different map types and display my position and track while navigating. Waypoints can be made by tapping twice on a map. The multitouch screen allows panning, zooming and dragging of the map. Facebook and Twitter integration allow you to share your current position, track and waypoints.  The app works with the iPhone and iPad GPS and WiFi.  I have an iPod Touch and was able to get it to work with my Dual GPS cradle.


I had a tough time finding many things wrong or missing from this app.  One comment might be that this is a good all around app but may lack detail if you are looking for a detailed marine chart plotter.  It allows you to track many different types of activities but may not replace your dedicated plotter. It would certainly work very well as a back up to most systems.  I did not find any integration of any NMEA 183 or 2000 data either. This may be another reason to hang onto your dedicated chart plotter.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Marinalife Enhancing the Yachting Lifestyle


Application: iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch
Function: Points of interest, Marinas, restaurants, services
Cost: Free
Rating: ***

Marinalife by EarthNC has put together a nice app to help out the wayward boater.  If you are not familiar with an area pull out your iPhone and fire up this Marinalife app.  It will show you all the Yacht clubs, marinas, marine supply and services you might need in the area. Selecting one of the marina listings brings up a nice entry with a description of their services, a picture, if available, the address, latitude/longitude coordinates and phone number.  Clicking on the Make a Reservation tab takes you to the Marinalife website and allows you to reserve a slip prior to your arrival. It couldn't be easier to find your way in unfamiliar waters.

  • Extensive list of marina, and related marine services throughout the United States.
  • Searchable by city and state.
  • Listed from closest to furthest away from your location.
  • Uses NOAA maps to show the location of the marina or site you are interested in.
  • The map is scalable with a pinch to zoom in. Use your finger to pan around.
  • The map view show the lat/lon coordinates and heading to the marina.

The app does what is say it will do. Search any place and it will give you the marinas and services in that area. I like the Map view, it give the user the exact location, lat/lon and bearing to the marina. The Details tab is very helpful to know what services and accommodations the marina or yacht club might provide.


I found it hard to think of anymore details I might want out of this app.  Marinalife did a great job in putting this together. It is easy to use and very informative and best of all, free.

tideApp Worldwide Tidal Data


Application: iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch
Function: Nautical tide data
Cost: Free
Rating: ****

If you have ever sailed in Florida, the Bahamas or other shallow areas you know how important tidal information can be.  tideApp is a free application for you iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch that gives you an extensive list of tidal locations not only in the United State but around the world. I was amazed by the number of entries from the US. Hit the Ports tab to view the locations that have data.

  • Selecting the Near Me soft key list the tidal stations near the user.  This is a nice feature to locate tidal information when you enter a new area. You don't have to know what the stations are named, tideApp already know which one are best for this area.
  • The Port soft key is where the list is divided into US and Non-US stations.
  • Once you have found a tidal station that you want you can save it as a Favorite and show it when you launch the program if you like.
  • Extensive list of US and Non US tidal readings.
  • Internet connection required. 
This app is well worth downloading. For free you get worldwide tidal data. The extensive list will have almost any location you sail or boat to.  It displays the data in text and graphical form. I like the favorites selection, it allows you to save your favorite tidal locations so you can return to them easily.

It lacks a map of the tidal stations. A map would help the user to see where the data is coming from compared to their location. The application needs an Internet connection to work. No connection, no data. Most of us don't always boat in an area where WiFi or cell service is always available.

Monday, November 8, 2010

gTrax Ship Tracking

Application: iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch
Function: Ship tracking
Cost: Free /$5/$10
Rating: ***

Ever wished you could find out the name of that big ship sitting in the harbour? Now you can, with the use of a handy application on your iPhone called gTrax. The app collects the AIS (Automatic Information System) data from ships in your area and displays it on a nice Google map.  AIS is a system that major ships use to identify themselves to others in the area.  

  • Uses a private network of AIS receivers.
  • Displays ships on Google maps or a list view.
  • Multiple port coverage around the country.
  • Color coded ship icons detail the ships speed and course.
  • Clicking on the vessel shows information about the ship including name, destination, navigation status and job function.
  • Sorting functions allow sort by function.  It will show cargo, tankers, commercial and passenger ferry's and cruise ships.
  • It tracks any ship with an AIS transmitter.
  • gTrax offers updated information for an additional monthly fee. If you want to see updates once every 24 hours it will cost you about $5. To get live streaming data the service will cost you $10.00 per month.
Pros: This basic app is free, that is one plus. The app is very easy to use and works as advertised. The Google maps are functional easy to read.

Cons: The AIS network is not that extensive and spotty in some areas. There are only about nine ports covered in the US. Make sure it covers your area before you download it.  If you need up to the minute information it will cost you $5 per port. It would be best to install an AIS receiver on your boat if you wanted to keep track of ships in real time. Check out the Ship Finder and Ship Tracker apps. They offer up some competition to gTrax with additional features and functionality.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Navionics Marine Charts

Navionics Marine
Application: iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch
Function: Marine navigation and charting
Cost: $9.99-$24.99
Rating: ***

If your looking for a quality charting system with fewer bells and whistles at a great price then this may be the app for you.  Navionics has been in the digital charting business since 1984 and has been a leader in supplying state of the art charts for navigation.  Navionics has worldwide coverage which is offered by region. The regions are North America, South America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Oceania. These regions are broken into sub regional map sets.  The smaller sets start at $9.99 and the larger set like Marine Europe cost $24.99. I purchased the Caribbean and Central America package for $19.99 and was pleased by the quality and detail in the charts.

  • Detailed marine charts with points of interest.
  • GPS works through location services on the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.
  • GPS worked with the external third party Dual GPS cradle.
  • It has a powerful search function which helps the user find marinas, restaurants, marine repair, boat dealers, tides and currents. 
  • The software can track your position in realtime on the charts.
  • It has the ability to record tracks, routes and waypoints and measure distance.
  • Navionics has the ability to overlay satellite shots from Google or Bing providing an Internet connection is available.
  • It has Facebook and Twitter connectivity.
Pros: Navionics provides state of the art marine charts. The software works right out of the box with no setup required. The price of the sub regions is fairly cheap compared to other charting apps. I thought the overlays of the Google and Bing satellite shots was a plus.

Cons: It would be nice to have inputs for AIS tracking or other instrument types. Navionics does not give access to NOAA charts. There is no caching of the Google or Bing overlays images so an Internet connections is required to display the overlays.

iNavX Marine Navigation Application

Application: iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch
Function: Charting and GPS navigation
Cost: $49.99
Rating *****

Whether your a weekend boater or a coastal cruiser you will appreciate this application on your i-thing.  The iPhone and now the iPad have put computing, GPS, charting and navigation in the palm of our hands. The use of these devices and apps as the primary source of navigation on boats is still up for debate.  This app has gone a long way in reaching that goal.

iNavX is in my opinion the most full featured application for charting and tracking your position while underway on the water today. The author has done a nice job displaying the charts and integrating soft keys to access the main menus. iNavX updates the product regularly and they continue to add functionality and new features.

The charting display shows a navionics chart with access to charts, waypoints, tracks, instruments and forecast data through the use of softkeys at the bottom of the screen.
  • It allows addition of waypoints, routes, tracks and has a full compliment of displayable instruments.
  • iNavX can communicate with your favorite marine navigation software.  Through your WiFi connection, NMEA data can be transmitted over TCP/IP to the iNavX app. Support is included for GPS, AIS and numerous instrument types. 
  • The application works with the third party Dual GPS cradle.
  • I have used GPSGate and Polar Com to transfer GPS and other NMEA data to the application via TCP/IP.
  • The application uses the built in locations services feature of the iPhone, iPad and iTouch.
  • It uses charts that you purchase through X-Traverse. Available charts types are CHS Canada, Navionics Gold, Fish'N'Chip, HotMaps, NV. Verlag, Hilton's Fishing, TRAK Canada lakes fishing charts and Solteknik European waters charts.
  • NOAA charts, similar to your paper charts are free to download with the X-Traverse account.
  • GRIB weather data files can be downloaded through your X-Traverse account.
  • Download it from iTunes and give it a try!
One thing that sets iNavX apart from the other charting apps is that you can connect your ships instruments to the app through TCP/IP.  This feature give you access to all the NMEA data on your boats network.  I have found no other charting app that offers this feature.

Simply add your host IP address and port number and select TCP or UDP. Once the Link button is selected the NMEA data starts scrolling shown in green.

Several different setups can be saved and bookmarked for later use.

Pros: I found it to be full featured and very easy to setup and use. The iNavX website offers help and answers to many FAQ.

Cons: It is a little pricey compared to some other charting apps. Charts need to be purchased separately in addition to the app.

iNavX upgrades to 3.2.5

Rich Ray at iNaX continues to take request for additions to his popular app. He has recently added notification when a waypoint is activated either manually or automatically.  The alert will will display the waypoint name.

One request that I made and I assume others did also was to have the instruments displays in digital format instead of the original speedometer looking gauges. Rich did a good job in this application. Simply go to Preferences and select Instruments. There is now a selection for digital only.

A "More Detail" selection is now provided for the Navionics charts. This will show a list of objects near the location where you tap on the chart.

UDP support has been added in the TCP/IP NMEA Client Setup. Go to preferences and TCP/IP NMEA Client. There is now a setting to toggle between TCP and UDP.

Navionics Region 1XG, 35G 2011 editions.
Great job Rich, keep up the good work. We are all loving iNavX!