Navigation apps have been constantly evolving since their conception, but with so many out there to choose from and new ones appearing all the time, how can we decide which is the right one? Certainly there is a nav app out there which is perfect for you, whether you’re just a couple of hours from your hoe moorage at Semiahmoo Marina, island-hopping in the San Juans, or crossing oceans. Here are a few options to consider:
Navionics is probably the most well known of all the navigation apps available, and for good reason, its fast, reliable and easy to use software allows you to keep track of your location, access live weather and tidal data, and easily take bearings and measurements with the planning tool. The Navionics app is free to download, meaning that you only need to pay for the charts you use (the US and Canada charts are $14.99 on iTunes), and there are loads of additional features available to add-on to suit all your navigation needs. Another useful feature of this app is it’s offline capability, once you have downloaded a chart all the data is available offline so no need to worry about losing internet signal! Navionics is available on iTunes and the Google Play store.
iSailor is an up and coming app which provides clear chart mapping including route planning, GPS positioning and monitoring, of course, speed and position. It is fast, easy to use and really good value for money; the app itself is free and, like Navionics, you only pay for the charts you need. iSailor has an extensive (and growing) folio of charts, divided into small areas making this a very reasonably priced product for more localized sailing (the Pacific Northwest – Puget Sound to the Canadian Border chart will set you back a mere $4.99). The only downside is that iSailor does not currently offer any live weather or tidal data, so take this into account before committing to buy. The iSailor app is available for iPads, iPhones and Android devices on iTunes and the Google Play store.
Garmin BlueChart Mobile
Garmin is a big name across the navigation industry, and their BlueChart mobile app provides the intuitive and reliable interface that we would expect from such a revered brand. The BlueChart mobile app is formatted to match the cartographic appearance of Garmin’s range of chart plotters making them seamless to use together, a huge bonus for those who already own a Garmin plotter. Even if you don’t, the display on the BlueChart app is clear and precise, and its functionality in route planning, setting waypoints and the overlaying weather feature is excellent. Like the other apps above, the BlueChart app is free to purchase, but the charts can be pricey (starting at $29.99), and the app is currently only available for Apple devices.
Although navigation apps are no replacement for the ‘good old fashioned’ chart plotter or ‘even older-fashioned’ paper charts, they can work alongside them to make navigation easy and stress-free. With access to smartphones, tablets, and the internet becoming more and more unlimited, why not consider an app for navigation alongside everything else?