Best sailing apps every sailor should use to navigate their sailboat adventures.
Let’s be honest. Mobile phone apps have invaded every aspect of our lives, and it is no surprise that sailors rely more and more on their little companion, the smartphone. They help us navigate, allow us to sleep while they keep anchor watch and make funny sailing animations for us to share with sailing friends. Since we moved on ForTuna in 2019, we have experimented with different sailing apps, and these are the 5 sailing apps we think every sailor should use.
We are not affiliated in any kind with the apps mentioned below. The recommendations are based on our personal experience.
Navionics – Boating
Paper maps and nautical Almanacs have helped sailors navigate the world for centuries. And while we do think they are still instrumental and should be on board a boat for backup, the modern world has presented us with a smaller and more efficient solution: Digital maps.
Digital maps allow us to have detailed maps of the entire world on our screens and access the latest version of those maps! No matter if you access them on your plotter, smartphone or tablet. We use the maps provided by Navionics and have been very happy so far. The maps show sea depths and marine ports and include information about anchor and diving spots. Everything is paired with reviews of sailors, which can provide additional information.
We particularly like the tracking function provided by Navionics. It does not only allow us to keep a digital boat log but also provides statistics about the routes we sailed.
Anchor ! Drag alarm
Do you struggle with sleep at anchor because you are afraid to drift? This app will become your new best buddy. The concept behind it is straightforward. The app tracks your movements via GPS. If you move outside of your swing radius of your anchor, the alarm will go off. Simply drop the anchor symbol where you throw your anchor, draw the swing radius according to the amount of chain you have put down, and the app will keep anchor-watch for you. We have been trusting this app for over 3 years, and while the app could use a design overhaul the functionality is there. Simple and practical, this sailing app is a must for us.
Ps: when you draw the anchor’s swing radius, keep in mind where you sleep. If you sleep in the stern cabins, you must include the length of your boat as your GPS position will be at the end of the boat and not on the bow where the chain starts.
The first rule on a sailboat is always to check the weather forecast! So having a weather app is a no-brainer. There are multiple weather apps for sailors on the market; honestly, we have not figured out our favourite yet. Depending on where we are and what route we sail we switch between apps. We loved MeteoConsultMarin and Lamma while sailing the Mediterranean Sea. We use the NHC website during hurricane season, Predictwind for longer crossing because we get updates on the way, and Windy and Windfinder for short-term forecast in the Caribbean. It’s always good to look at different apps as they use different prediction models. If you find a local prediction app like Lamma, even better. Just try them out and see which one you like best.
PredictWind / Windy / Windfinder / MeteoConsult / Lamma / NHC and co.
While Navionics features Anchor spots and marinas on the navigation maps, this app makes it visually more appealing. The app provides you with ratings and comments from sailors, and you can book marina slips on the app. The short explanation is that it is like TripAdvisor or booking.com for sailors. In the last years, the app has evolved. They added many different features, including the weather forecast to predict how suitable the anchor spot is or the ability to see which other app users are already in that anchor spot. We find this app useful, but unfortunately, it is not very much used in the Caribbean, so we stopped using it. However, it is great for the Mediterranean Sea.
Not an essential sailing app for boating but a fun visual way to share your sailing route with friends. You can draw the route you have sailed, choose a sailboat, and the app will create an animation for you.
We are curious to see what sailing apps will be developed in the next years and which apps we have not discovered yet. Let us know in the comments if you use the apps here mentioned or if we missed one you think every sailor should have on their phone.
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