Boating Apps That Keep
You Current

By Mark Corke

Want to be a savvy boater? There's an app for that.

Photo of navigating using app on a tablet

Although many of us go boating to escape and unplug, there are some very compelling reasons to take your smartphone or tablet with you, even if you have no intention of making a phone call. With a seemingly unending number of apps available for the boater, we loaded up our phone with some of the latest and most popular, then took them for a spin. Available on the App Store or Google Play, but we also included a website, when possible, where you can find extra information.


Dockwa app

This award-winning platform makes it possible to manage your next cruise from one integrated platform. With Dockwa, you can book slips, moorings, and dock space right from your phone or computer. No more reservations via email, phone or VHF radio! Dockwa is driven to simplify the exchange of information between captains and marinas.

As an exclusive BoatUS benefit, members can digitally upload their Membership within the Dockwa app or online at, allowing discounts at BoatUS participating marinas to be automatically applied prior to checkout. In addition, BoatUS members will have all booking fees waived when arranging dockage at a BoatUS participating marina, when a discount applies. Average savings are $20 per booking.

If you do not see a marina on the platform that you like to visit, please let Dockwa know. The app and service is free for marinas, however they must elect to participate. Available on the App Store or Google Play, web | Free |


SonarChart Live functionality

The recent addition of SonarChart Live functionality makes this old favorite an even more powerful tool. If your sounder has Wi-Fi, you can stream data from the sounder to your phone or tablet and add your own, personal, and up-to-date HD bottom contours on your chart. The information is saved to your device, so the next time you need to navigate that tricky channel, you'll have the best possible information in your pocket.

The download is free, and with charts stored on the device itself, you can use the phone or tablet to navigate without a cell or Wi-Fi signal. For additional detailed charts and cartography features, there is a charge; even so, the free version is still impressive. Available on the App Store or Google Play. Free |

GoFree Hooked app

GoFree Hooked

New from Navico, the parent company of Lowrance and Simrad, GoFree Hooked is a mobile tracking solution for anglers, that merges navigation data with your catch data — fish details like size, weight, and a photo or two, for each trip you take. The information is stored on the GoFree cloud server for easy access at any time, so you have a digital fishing log that you can share with your fellow anglers. The app also lets you build communities and "compete" in virtual tournaments with guidelines you set yourself. Right now, GoFree Hooked is only compatible with iPhones 5 or newer. Available on the App Store.

Boater's Pocket Reference

Boater's Pocket Reference logo

This app is like having a whole nautical almanac in your pocket. Need to know what a particular sound signal means, how to distinguish a ketch from a yawl, or what's the best way to set an anchor? All this, and more, is displayed in a simple, logical, and easy-to-understand format. Originally published as an 800-page book (the print version is still available), the Boater's Pocket Reference is an indispensable guide that makes interesting reading, even when you're not actually on the water. This is a great app for settling arguments at the marina after a day on the water. Available on the App Store. $4.99


iExit logo

One of the joys of trailer boating is that you can get to distant launching locations with relative ease. Travel any distance, however, and sooner or later you'll need to find a restaurant, gas for the truck, or hotel for the night. iExit could be the answer. This app lists services that you might need, how close they are to the highway, and which exit you need to take. One of the great functions of this app is that you can tell it what your favorite locations are. So if you can't drive more than 50 miles without refilling your travel mug with coffee, this app could prove indispensible. Available on the App Store or Google Play. Free |

Ship Finder

Ship Finder logo

All commercial vessels longer than 65 feet are required to have an automatic identification system transceiver installed. AIS is a VHF system that continuously transmits the vessel's name, course, speed, MMSI number, and other information. While it's not as good as having a dedicated AIS transceiver on your boat, this app comes pretty close at a fraction of the cost. Providing you're in cell range, you can track AIS-equipped vessels in real time, so if you have to call that big car carrier in the distance over the radio, you'll have its information. Available on the App Store or Google Play. $3.99 |

BoatUS app

BoatUS App

The upgraded design lets you view weather
and tide tables, locate BoatUS Towboat
ports, switch between day and nighttime modes, and find discounts nationwide. You can connect to the BoatUS 24-hour Towing Dispatch Center for assistance on the water or on the road with the push of a button, and it's also an easy way to display your digital membership card. Available on the App Store or Google Play. Free |

Boat Ramp

Boat Ramp logo

Want to know where to launch your boat? Nothing is as comprehensive as Boat Ramp, which has been around for a while. You can find ramps based on your current location, or put in an address and search there. The app also gives driving directions to the ramp so you shouldn't get lost even if you're in unfamiliar territory. Available on the App Store or Google Play. Free |

Radar Now

Radar Now logo

Knowing the current weather and what's likely to come is important to every boater. Check the weather on this app and you can track storms, check current conditions, and see what's headed your way. Easy to use and comprehensive, it includes satellite images and weather maps, along with local conditions on the ground. A five-day trial period lets you try before you buy. Available on the App Store or Google Play. Free for basic download, $5.99 for premium edition |

iFishing Lite app

iFishing Lite

Fishing is one of the most popular sports in the country. For those times when it's impossible to get out on the water, iFishing Lite is a simulator that let's you land the big one right on your phone. This app offers a choice of lakes to fish, and to add to the realism: Reeling speed, lure depth, and choice of tackle, all make a difference to the type of fish that you can catch. You can even record the size, weight, and type of fish you catch so you can brag to your friends. Available on the App Store or Google Play. Free 

— Published: Fall 2015


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