Last year when I lamented on the dismal state of digital chart Point of Interest info, an exciting possible cure was the brand-new ActiveCaptain, a free Web service specifically designed so boaters can share data and opinions about marinas, anchorages, and so forth. Well, promise nicely fulfilled, as more than 6,000 users have now created some 30,000 entries; in some harbors I know well, the coverage is the most accurate and honest available. Now ActiveCaptain has introduced a cellphone application that puts both a backup plotter and two-way access to the POI site in your pocket. I saw the $50 ActiveCaptain Mobile (ACM) running on a relatively inexpensive Centro Smartphone and was astounded by how smoothly it can handle the whole U.S. NOAA chart portfolio that comes with it (reasonably priced foreign charts coming). It was also easy to search for harbor information, even to add updates, and the planned evolution of ACM includes Web tracking and route sharing. ActiveCaptain is also working with various PC charting and plotter developers to facilitate alternate access to the community POI site, which is promised to be forever without charge.
This article originally appeared in the June 2008 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.