Navionics App for iPad & iPhone
Try this darn thing—you might really like it!
A week ago I was driving along the waterfront of a big American city with a yacht-broker friend of mine using an iPad with digital Navionics cartography that was conveniently secured to his SUV’s dash to show us how to get where we were going. Wow! Idling through back streets and parking lots, he was able to steer with one hand and rapidly whisk through topographic maps, marine cartography, and even relevant photography with the other. A small pulsating orb religiously kept tabs on our position. “You know,” he said at one point, “when somebody buys a new boat from me these days and they want to put in an extra plotter, I tell them [to consider buying] an iPad with Navionics [if] it’ll be out of the weather.”
Does the guy have a point? Well, I just recently downloaded to my new iPhone the latest Navionics cartography app for the United States and Canada (essentially all the charts needed to navigate the coasts of two whole countries, including the Great Lakes), and it’s gangbusters. Indeed, I recently compared it to the standard NOAA chart for my normal cruising venue, and not only does it offer updates from fellow cruisers (via a so-called “community” layer that can be disabled), restaurant and other helpful shore-side information, tides and currents, and wind data, it also displays privately maintained navigational aids that my NOAA chart does not.
Will my iPhone become my primary navigational tool? Heck no! For my money, nothing beats a dedicated chartplotter. But I will use it as backup, for sure. And who knows—this cool, inexpensive ($10 for the iPhone and $30 for the iPad) app might just constitute a glimpse into the future of electronic navigation.
This article originally appeared in the June 2011 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.