As we count down the days to the start of boating season (hang in there, captain — it’s coming, we promise!) this is a great time to make sure all our gear is in tip-top condition for opening day. While you’re checking your battery, engine, safety gear, anchor, and trailer hitch, don’t overlook one vital piece of equipment: your smartphone.
Yes, that handy little pocket computer, when armed with the appropriate apps, can be a boater’s best friend. We scoured the web to track down five of the most highly recommended boater apps around, just waiting for you to download.
Price: Free to download, in-app purchases
Knowing exactly where you are and where you’re headed is an absolute must for any successful boating excursion, and a reliable GPS system can save you a whole lot of trouble. Ask just about any boater for his favorite GPS app, and nine times out of ten you’ll hear the name Navionics. Download the app for free, then search for the charts and upgrades you need to plan a fun-filled day in any location.
Price: $3.99 for iOS, $9.99 for Android
Next to knowing where you are, knowing what the weather holds ranks right up there as a must for any boat captain, and who knows weather better than the folks at NOAA? Their smartphone apps for iOS and Android feature high-resolution maps and unmatched accuracy. Perfect for planning your day on the water … or just for year-round weather geeking.
Sure you’ve bookmarked our post on 7 Knots Every Boater Should Know, but sometimes you need a quick resource to help you find the right knot for the job and tie it correctly. Enter Animated Knots for iOS and Android devices. Named the best knot-tying app by Outside magazine, Animated Knots includes step-by-step, animated (hence the clever name) instructions for hundreds of hundreds of boater’s knots, from the most common essentials to obscure gems.
Need to book a mooring in a hurry? Enter the Dockwa app — think of it as an OpenTable for boaters. View the marinas in your location and request a slip or mooring right from your smartphone. Once the marina approves your request, you can book the reservation with a credit card and receive instant confirmation.
Say goodbye to that falling-apart grocery-store notebook you’ve been using to keep your records and download the Boating Suite app. This handy multitasker is all you need to manage every aspect of your boating life: it’s a log book, fuel log, expense log, maintenance log, vessel log, to-do list and even shopping list, all in one. You can even pull up detailed expense and usage reports with the tap of a button.
Remember, the more apps you’re using on your smartphone, the faster you’ll drain your battery, and there are few things worse than having your phone die while you’re out on the water. (Okay, maybe more than a few things — shark attacks, sudden water spouts, scurvy outbreaks, running out of beer — but you get the idea.)
Make sure to bring along a power source that will keep your phone charged up and happy all day long. If you checked out our 5 Gadgets Every Boater Needs post, you’ll find a link to Kodiak’s waterproof, dustproof, shockproof power bank — just the thing every boater’s smartphone needs.