“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” – Arthur C. Clarke
Over the past decade or so, mobile applications have burst onto the scene providing us with quick access to information and helping us to perform numerous tasks more easily and effectively. It is hard to find an area of our lives that apps have not yet advanced into, nor a person who isn't carrying around a number of them on a device in their pocket.
The sailing and wider boating industry is no different and performing a simple search online, or in any of the main app stores, will reveal hundreds of applications promising to optimize various aspects of your boating life. To save you some time researching, downloading, and trying them all, we've put together a list of our favorites according to different boating categories and use cases. A key criterion for this list was that the apps be available for both IOS and Android devices and for each app listed we have downloaded and tested its main features. However, in order not to rely solely on subjective judgment, we have also analyzed and taken into consideration online reviews and user feedback to ensure we are not missing or overlooking any major issues in our assessment.
We have also highlighted which apps are free and where payment is required so you can decide what is the best fit for your needs and budget. Ready? Let's dive right in!
The Best App For Fishing and Boating
Fishing is one of the most popular pastimes in the world. Recent reports from both the
US and the UK indicate that the sport's popularity is soaring and showing no signs of slowing down. Similar trends can be observed for boating with the recent global pandemic contributing to the desire for nature and outdoor activity as alternatives to spending time indoors. It's hard to find two activities more suited to each other and so it's no surprise that one of the most popular reasons for going out on a boat is to fish. With this in mind, we've looked into the best apps to make your life easier while angling from your boat. Fishbrain Fishbrain gives you all the tools you need for a successful fishing trip. The app features data for more than 1.7 million different waters worldwide with catch data for more than 2,800 different species of fish. It also allows you to tap into a huge fishing community of more than 13 million anglers from all over the world. You can find different types of catches, make connections and learn different techniques from virtually any water area on the planet. Some of the most impressive features include local fishing maps which include water depth, fish forecasts, a personal logbook, the ability to drop waypoints, scope to connect with other anglers, data on logged catches for each body of water, and a shop with member discounts on the best fishing gear. The app is also beautifully designed and easy to use.
There is a free version available with limited features. The Pro Version costs $9.99/month or $74.99/year with a 14 day free trial on offer.
You can download the app via the
play store or app store. Best Educational Boating Apps
There is no shortage of apps out there offering to teach you various things related to boating. After considering the different options out we've narrowed it down to the three important areas: Learning to sail, docking a boat, tying knots.
The Sailing Challenge App
For those who are completely new to the world of sailing or perhaps just recently started the
Sailing Challenge App from the American Sailing Association is pretty cool and acts as a real aid to those on the learning journey. The app allows you to "take control of the tiller in one hand and the mainsheet in the other, and sail off on a virtual sea of fun". Key features worth highlighting are; the ability to learn about points of sail and how to orient your boat relative to the wind; understanding how and when to trim your sails; lessons on tacking and jibing; knowing the right of way in relation to other vessels and also how to safely dock your boat. All of this can be learned through different challenges with varying levels of difficulty. Another awesome thing about the Sailing Challenge App is that it is available for desktop as well as mobile so you can enjoy practicing on a bigger screen at home.
With rave reviews from existing users, this is definitely one to try out if you are new to the world of sailing or simply an old hand wanting to have fun testing your abilities.
The app costs $3.99 and is available from both the
play store and the app store. Boat Master
For those of you (like most of us at savvy navvy) who get a little nervous every time it comes to bringing a boat safely into a marina, you can work on honing this skill using
Boat Master a marina berthing simulation app where you have to berth different boats in varying conditions. The app is designed to replicate the controls and conditions of berthing a real boat in a marina as closely as possible and is a great (and potentially much less expensive ;) ) way to practice this often tricky task.
Some notable features worth highlighting: Learn to control a large Motorboat or a Superyacht with two with 2 engines as well as bow and stern thrusters drive a single-engine sailing yacht with a prop walk, life-like water physics with speed based drag, and realistic boat handling, A variety of maps and marinas of different sizes, multiple viewing angles for all boats including front, sides, back and a top view along with a view that looks at the target berth, making it easy to find while playing.
The app is free to download and free for limited boat and level usage. It costs $2.99 to unlock all boats and levels. Download it at the
play store and the app store.
Let's face it, learning to tie knots takes time and practice, and while we're not suggesting you don't invest in this, having an app that shows you how to tie every knot you'll ever need is a pretty handy tool - both to use when learning, but also to have in your pocket when out on your boat (just in case your memory decides to fail you at a critical moment).
Knots 3D boasts a
catalog of more than 150 different knots but what really sets this app apart from others, is the ability to change the angle and view your knot from any angle in a 360° range. Of course, you can learn all the classic boating knots such as the Anchor Hitch, Bowline, Sheet Bend, and the Cleat Hitch but you will also get access to other knots which are often used for things like camping or climbing.
There is no free version and you will have to pay a one-off fee just to download it. But at $5.99 for lifetime access we consider this a pretty good offer.
You can download Knots 3D at either the
play store or the app store. Best For Weather and Tidal Information Windy.com
While many other boating apps (savvy navvy included) provide a good overview of the weather forecast. Sometimes you really want to go into the minutiae or examine particular aspects of it in more detail.
Windy is a well-established app that provides global weather data within a slick and easy-to-use interface. What I particularly like about this app is the ability to toggle between the weather radar and the satellite view and then within each of these views switch between wind, rain (and thunder), temperature, clouds, waves, and even air quality. You can go further still and explore the humidity; precipitation type; high, medium, and low cloud coverage; standard currents and tidal currents, and also different types of swell.
If you want to do a detailed analysis of the weather before heading out on your boat or even for longer trip planning this app has everything you need. The app is free to download and includes less frequent daily updates as well as in-app advertisements. For $29.99/year you can get the premium version which provides high-resolution one-hour forecasts, more precise data, technical support, and of course no ads.
You can download Windy at either the
play store or the app store. For Boating Navigation savvy navvy
Time for some shameless self-promotion ;)
savvy navvy is a boating app with a wealth of powerful features to supercharge your boating experience. The " Google Maps for Boats", includes; charts licensed from international hydrographic offices; data from more than 8,000 tidal stations worldwide; GPS active tracking so you can view your live position and instantly check your COG and SOG; a wind direction map; detailed weather forecast; the ability to plot routes by adding and removing waypoints as well as dynamic planning capabilities. The industry-leading departure scheduler shows you different routes and journey times based on the conditions at the time of departure, as well as showing you estimated fuel consumption and your time of arrival.
The app also has night & satellite modes, marina, and anchorage information (with the possibility to book a berth from within the app) and you can also export all your planned routes and download your charts and weather for offline use. Another thing worth mentioning is the world-class customer support team who usually responds within just a few hours. savvy navvy offers a fourteen-day free trial after which you can choose from different plans ranging from $39.99/year to $69.99/year, depending on the features required. It is a serious
Navionics Alternative for any boaters getting out on the water.
savvy navvy can be downloaded from both the
play store and the app store and a desktop version is also available. For Marine and Vessel Information Marine Traffic
When out on the water you'll find yourself wanting to know more about the different vessels around you. This might be to keep an eye on friends out on other boats at the same time or to simply satisfy a curious itch. Marine Traffic is one of the most well-known boat tracking tools and for good reason. You can use the search functionality to find any vessel or port and then view the boat details including live location. One particularly useful feature if you are heading out with other boats is the ability to group different vessels into a fleet and set up notifications in order to track them. You can then toggle between viewing all boats around you or just those in your fleet. The app also provides useful animated weather maps displaying both live and forty-eight-hour wind forecasts. Another awesome feature is the ability to identify any vessel using augmented reality. Simply point the phone at the vessel in question and the app will show you the boat's details. Other notable features include the ability to activate live tracking and record your route, an option to select the different points of interest (ports, marinas, anchorages, lights, etc.) you want to be displayed, and also different map options including satellite and nautical chart views.
The app is free to download and includes features that allow you to find and track different vessels. The starter plan which includes the weather maps, nautical charts, and density maps costs $10.99/year. You can download Marine Traffic from the
play store and the app store. For Marina & Anchorage Information.
When you are out on the water and decide to spontaneously anchor somewhere or book an unplanned overnight stay at a Marina it can be really useful to have an app in your pocket to help you do so. But convenience isn't the only thing that matters and you'll want to view the place you'll be dropping anchor or docking for the night, and access as much detailed information on the location as possible. Luckily for you, there are two apps (one focused on the US, the other on Europe) that provide you with everything you need to research and plan your stops, whether you're doing so well in advance of departure or while cruising around an entirely new area.
Europe and the Med Navily Navily helps you to find the best anchorages and book marinas in a variety of locations. While their inventory is stronger around Europe they do offer good coverage in pockets of the Atlantic, Caribbean and Pacific as well. The app boasts more than 12,000 anchorages and 5,000 marinas with the ability to book in more than 700 partner marinas. You can use the 150,000 photos and reviews to make informed decisions about where to stay while also measuring distances and easily creating your itinerary from within the app itself. Another really cool feature is the ability to find and chat with other users nearby to ask for help or recommendations. In total, more than 350,000 users have shared their experiences on their favorite marinas and anchorages.
Navily is free to use for the main features while the premium version, providing weather forecasts, distance calculation, and itinerary planning, costs $19.99/year. The app is available to download from both the
play store and the app store North America Dockwa Dockwa provides many of the same features as Navily but with a core focus on the US where it has excellent coverage of harbours, slips, and moorings across the entire country. You can use the map to plan and save trips and one nice additional feature is the option to access Dockwa deals with special offers on bookings at certain slips and marinas. You can also sync your BoatUS membership from within the app to avail of further benefits.
Dockwa is available to download from both the
play store and the app store
For Charter and Boat Rental
If you are in the enviable position of planning a charter trip it can be pretty convenient to do so from your own mobile phone. This is especially true if you are already away somewhere and want to plan a spontaneous rental. While there are a wealth of companies out there offering this kind of service there are a couple that offer really good, easy-to-use mobile applications. Since some companies specialize in the short term while others focus on long-term rentals, we've decided to include one of each in our review.
Long-Term Rental Click and Boat
This company, based in Paris, France, boasts an inventory of more than 40,000 private boats to rent. You can search according to the type of boat you would like and filter results according to capacity and berth requirements, price, engine power, and whether or not you would like a captain as well. There is also a detailed breakdown of onboard equipment included and you can read reviews from previous customers. The app is well designed and provides access to all the same inventory and search capabilities as the website. You can also favorite different boats to a list and contact the owners with questions all from inside the app.
The app is free to use and can be downloaded from both the
play store and the app store. Short Term Rentals Boatsetter
Boatsetter, based out of Florida, specializes in peer-to-peer boat rental with a focus on short-term hourly or daily hire. The strong search functionality allows you to easily enter where you want to go and then filter according to the type of boat, the size, number of hours you need it for, the price, whether or not you need a captain, as well as any required activities for your trip. Another nice thing about using Boatsetter is that every peer-to-peer rental booked via the platform is automatically insured by the company, giving you that extra bit of reassurance when heading out on the water with friends or family.
Boatsetter is also free to use and can be downloaded from both the
play store and the app store. For On Board Entertainment Skysafari
Picture this. You're sitting out on the deck in the middle of some beautiful ocean surrounded by nothing but the wind and the waves while above you is a blanket of sparkling diamonds in the sky. What better way to tickle your curiosity than to use an app to explore the sky from your boat. Skysafari is basically a pocket planetarium that allows you to point your phone at the sky and discover what all the different stars and planets are called. You can pinch to zoom in and out and click on the various objects to find out more about them. You can use the search function to search for different kinds of objects such as moons, asteroids, comets, and the nearest stars. Using the app’s cosmos collection you can take your stargazing to another level and travel to other planets and stars where you can view objects in 3D and listen to audio-guided tours. Another nice feature is the beautiful soothing background music which conjures up feelings of sitting in a beautiful spa.
Skysafari is free to download while the Cosmos Collection is available for a one-off fee of $2.99. You can find the app at both the
app store and play store.
We hope you found this list useful and will get the chance to try some of these apps out on one of your next boating trips. No doubt there are other awesome
boating apps out there so let us know your favorites in the comments below so we can check them out as well.