Safety Apps

Boat Essentials – USCG Safety Gear

Boat Essentials app icon

Released by the American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC) this year, the Boat Essentials app is currently available for iOS devices only. The app is based on a simple checklist of required boating safety gear, which helps you make sure you have all the necessities aboard. It goes a few steps farther as well, by tracking scheduled maintenance in your calendar, filing and saving float plans, setting replacement reminders for gear that has an expiration date or requires regular inspection (like flares and fire extinguishers), and providing links to boating agencies. For those of you who own multiple boats, it can maintain lists for up to three different vessels. The app was developed with funding from a US Coast Guard Recreational Boating Safety nonprofit grant, so naturally, it's free. Judges of the International Boatbuilders' Exhibition and Conference (IBEX) were so impressed with the Boat Essentials app, they awarded it an Innovation Award. Available on the App Store. Free.

BoatUS

New BoatUS app icon

Maximize the power of your BoatUS membership with this new app. Call for a tow 24/7, upgrade your towing service, find local discounts, file a claim, check a claim status, pay bills, request an insurance quote, renew your membership, pinpoint and share your current location, and receive up-to-the-moment weather and tide info including Hurricane Alerts. Available on the App Store or Google Play. Free | BoatUS.com

Colregs: Nav Lights and Shapes for Boating and Sailing

COLREGs and Nav Lights app icon

If you need to know what two red lights over a white light mean (vessel aground) then this app could be just the thing. Sure you can find all the day shapes and lights in a nautical almanac but by the time that you have found the correct page you could be in danger. This app is a quick and easy reference guide and will prove useful whether studying for your captain's exam or you just want to have something at your fingertips while on passage. Available on the App Store or Google Play. $3.99.

Flashlight And Morse SOS

Flashlight and Morse SOS app icon

We'll bet you've seen the free Flashlight app for iOS and Android before — it sure does come in handy when you drop your keys in the darkness — but you may not think of it as a safety app. Think again. Simply by making your screen as bright as possible with a white light, the Flashlight app can turn your cellphone into a signaling device. Similarly, the Morse SOS app (also free, and also available for both iOS and Android) turns your cellphone screen into a signaling device. But instead of a mere white light, it becomes a flashing, nonstop SOS. This has already proven a lifesaver, and was credited with helping the Coast Guard spot a sinking boat with six people aboard at night — including an infant and a 9-year-old on the Niagara River. One of the boaters downloaded the app and began using it on the spot when they saw the lights of a 25-foot USCG response boat in the distance. Available on the App Store or Google Play. Free.

Float Plan

Float Plan app icon

This app (for both operating systems) has been around for a couple of years now, but it's such a good idea we wanted to make sure everyone's heard about it. It helps you create a float plan with all of the important information needed, like destinations, vessel info, crew info, and ETA. Then at the click of a button, your float plan gets emailed to a pre-programmed "person of trust." If you don't already have another method of reliably filing a float plan — which is the best way to ensure help is sent if you don't reach your destination and you can't communicate with people on land — this app is something you should consider. Available on the App Store or Google Play. Free.

Mazu

mazu app

Bluewater cruisers can stay connected far offshore with email, texts, weather forecasts, location tracking, SOS notification, and basic navigation data with this Iridium satellite-based app system. NOAA charts can be downloaded, but given their size, they need to be downloaded while connected to the internet via Wi-Fi. Available on the App Store. Free download; plans start at $9.95 | mazu-marine.com

Safe Skipper

Safe Skipper app icon

This app is like a book on boating safety, which lives inside your cellphone. It includes boating safety information and tips, lists emergency equipment, includes emergency procedures, and has more than 100 graphics designed to inform. Specific sections on communications, trip preparation, and emergencies are spelled out in detail. Safe Skipper was just updated this summer and comes in both Android and iOS flavors. Cost is $2.99, which seems fair for an app that took this much work to create, but since some heavy reading is involved, you may want to keep this one on your tablet instead of the phone. Available on the App Store or Google Play. $2.99.

US Coast Guard Safety App

US Coast Guard Safety app icon

This app includes state boating information; a safety equipment checklist; free boating safety check requests; navigation rules; float plans; and calling features to report pollution or suspicious activity. When location services are enabled, users can receive the latest weather reports from the closest National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather buoys as well as report the location of a hazard on the water or pollution, or call the nearest CG command center. Available on the App Store or Google Play. Free | uscg.mil/mobile/

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