Boating Apps: Make Your Smartphone Smarter

By Mark Corke

We spent hours playing with our phones and tablets, looking for the coolest apps for the boater. Here are the most intriguing:


GRIBview app icon

Did that wind shift foretell a fun sailing day, or are you about to be caught in a storm? Getting up-to-date and accurate weather information lets you know whether to head out or stay put waiting for a front to pass. Currently only available for iPad, which is a shame, as it's one of the best weather apps we've come across, GRIBview is simple and easy to understand with an intuitive user interface. The app uses NEXRAD Doppler radar, just like major weather forecasting services. Upgrade to the premium service, and you'll get weather and wind information in addition to barometric pressure, air, and sea temperatures down to 1-kilometer resolution, a boon for racing sailors, fishermen, or anyone else who needs accurate, up-to-date information. The basic app is free, but much more detailed information is available for a monthly subscription; £11.99 standard or £23.99 premium. Available on the App Store |

First Aid By American Red Cross

First Aid By American Red Cross app icon

Accidents happen, but thankfully many mishaps are minor and require little more than a Band-Aid to patch things up. But would you know what to do if a friend or a loved one had a heart attack, broken bones, or other serious injury? If not, The American Red Cross has an app for that. Called First Aid, the app is simple to navigate and takes you through step-by-step instructions on the correct way to treat stings, bites, shock, and more. The emphasis is most certainly on first aid and what to do until trained medical help arrives, but knowing what to do in the first few moments could prove critical to the eventual outcome. When used on a phone, you have the option of calling 911 at anytime from within the app. Available on the App Store or Google Play. Free |

Drag Queen Anchor Alarm

Drag Queen Anchor Alarm app icon

The title says it all. You know the scenario: you put into some strange harbor, dog tired after a long day on the water, and set the hook. You do everything you can to ensure the anchor is set properly, but how can you be sure? The Drag Queen Anchor Alarm could be the answer. A GPS-based app, it constantly monitors your position, and if the boat moves outside of a user-set area, a loud alarm sounds to warn you that your anchor may be dragging. The only downside is the app doesn't work in the background. The device has to be awake, which means your batteries take a hit, so you really have to have it plugged into the boat's power overnight. Free | Available on the App Store or Google Play.

Knots 3D

Knots 3D app icon

Not sure of the difference between a sheep shank and a surgeon's knot? Then you need Knots 3D. This simple, straightforward app gives easy-to-follow 3D animations of the most common knots for boaters and fishermen. Additionally, there's a section on decorative knots so you could, perhaps, make a nice rope door mat to show off your skills. Animations can be slowed down or paused entirely, enabling you to work at your own pace. Available on the App Store or Google Play. $1.99 | 

— Published: February/March 2016

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