Sailing Smarts

Even cheap smartphones pack thousands of times more computing power than the machine behind the Apollo 11 moon landing, so it’s hardly surprising that their use has crept into every corner of sailing. Many sailors use smartphones to get weather and tide information afloat, but they are also a gateway to a host of other functions.

“I think most boatowners want the same online experience that they have at home and in the office, on their boat,” says Paul Sumpner of Digital Yacht. “It is incredible how dependent we have all become, in such a short space of time, on the internet.”


There are a ton of apps designed to display nautical charts, and many give you all the same planning tools as a top-line multifunction display (MFD) from the likes of Raymarine or B&G. Naturally, you’re better off doing this on a data-enabled tablet than a phone, simply because of the screen size, but the system is the same in either case.

If you have the storage space on your phone, download charts to use off-line. flat’s because even when your smartphone is out of range of a cell tower, it can still get a satellite fix that will and are the market leaders, and both work entirely independently of your MFD. You can also get free NOAA charts via the app. Even without a charting app, your phone makes a useful emergency GPS, providing coordinates which you can plot onto paper charts. Just remember, it’ll be in digital format, not familiar degrees, minutes and seconds.

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