Best Boat Navigation Apps

Hi. I’m Allan Stokell. If you’ve ever considered using a smartphone or a tablet for navigation, you have to watch this, the top five navigation apps.

Small-boat cruising shouldn’t just be reserved for the rich. I believe we all should be allowed to take the time to enjoy the adventure. Let’s get ready, learn a few necessary skills, find a boat, and take off for the adventures of our lives. I’m Allan Stokell, and this is Budget Boat Cruising.

Hi. I’m Allan Stokell, and welcome to Budget Boat Cruising where we respect your right to cruise on a budget. If you already have a chart plotter, you know how really expensive they are. If you have a smartphone or a tablet, you also know that there are apps that allow you to emulate a chart plotter. I personally prefer paper charts because they give you the big picture, but I do use several of these navigation apps.

Never head out with just your cell phone. Always keep charts handy on board. Everyone raved about OpenCPN, and you can go online and read all the raves. I’m raving all right. First, I never pay for a free app. But this time, it costs me the equivalent of 10 U.S. dollars with the promise of free chart downloads.

If you live in Canada, these charts are very limited, and being raster, they’re also not so great for detail. It took me three days to figure out how to download the charts and don’t go looking for help. The help section must have been written as a doctoral student’s thesis. Never mind. There’s an online forum. You must register, and when you do, you get a window saying that you should check your email to complete the registration.

The email, however, never came, and when I went back to the site, it barred me access because someone else is using my username. Yeah, like me, two stars. Now, i-Boating has a much better chart that actually shows not only the buoys, but also the numbers on the buoys just in case you’re lost.

I’ve been using Presqu’ile Bay and the Murray Canal as a test for the quality of the maps and details. The maps show all the buoys in great detail, so much better than the raster charts provided by NOAA. The one annoying feature of this app is that you can click to have it stay on all the time. But that feature doesn’t seem to work with my tablet, so it goes dark, and then the screen goes blank, and I have to start it up again.

I used to use Memory Maps which was a free-to-download app, but it charged 10 bucks to access the NOAA charts. I already have from OpenCPN. I’m backing this app off to two stars, and it’s not even cheap. I hope you’re enjoying this video so far. Please give us a thumbs up and click on the bell for notification next time we post a video. Thanks for watching the commercials.

For my purposes, the lack of detail on the raster charts make the app not my first choice. So, let’s say three stars. NavShip is misspelled. It should be NavShip. It uses Google Maps, which, as of this video, are not suitable for our navigation on water. Zero stars.

Seapilot came a highly recommended, and it uses vector charts. The app is free, but it’s about $20 for a map of your area. It has many useful features that actually work such as a proper dashboard and a Man Overboard button, God forbid. There is actually proper support and a well-made instructional video.

The app stays on all the time, which means it uses more battery power, but it actually does work just like a real chart plotter. So, I’ll give it four, maybe four-and-a-half stars. Maybe more if they didn’t require yearly subscriptions to their maps.

Do you have a favorite app we haven’t mentioned? Please leave comments below, subscribe, and click on the bell to be notified the next time we post a video. I am Allan Stokell, and thank you for watching.