Category Archives: Android Apps

Andriod Tablet/Smart Phone apps for Cruisers

As of December, 2013, all of the following apps but one (I think one) are freebies on Google “Play.”  The Android marketplace is better about free apps than Apple’s iTunes business model.  I started out with an Android tablet because of Android’s better flexibility, but the tablet died a pink-screen death.  When it died, I changed to the iPad because it has a wider following of app developers and greater diversity of apps of interest to cruising boaters.  I do still have a Droid X Motorola smartphone.  Here’s what I have found to be the most useful apps on the Android platform:

Nutichart Lite” has the ActiveCaptain database built into it.  EarthNC for navigation is easier to see where you are.  Neither in their free versions are feature-rich as chart plotter apps.  Several “full-feature” chart plotter apps are available for the Android platform.  Most app developers make the apps available free but charge for the charts.  In most cases, the total-cost-of-ownership of the app and chart paks are quite expensive.  This is a place where SEAiq USA on the iPad, for $10 and free NOAA/USACE charts, has it hands down and sideways over anything else.

ActiveCaptain “Companion” was released in 4Q2013.  The initial release is somewhat limited, but offers hints of good things to come.  In general, there are far too many hazard markers in the ActiveCaptain database, and far too many that are not real hazards, so I found it to be of limited usefulness in it’s current iteration.  That said, it has great potential usefulness as features roll out in the future.

Marine Traffic” is a passable AIS monitor for boaters located in or near population centers.  It relies on ground stations that receive AIS messages and forward that information to their web servers.  It works well and is reliable in NY Harbor and on the upper Chesapeake Bay; that is, locales where many forwarding stations are located.  It is unreliable/inadequate for the St. Lawrence Seaway and less populated areas, including many miles on the Great Loop.  Use it only with a situational-awareness of your locale and the apps limitations.

Marine Weather” by Bluefin is pretty good for an easy-to-use app that presents the familiar, comfortable NOAA Marine Zone forecasts in plain English text.

Raindar” by Gerrit Van Doorn is the best weather RADAR solution I’ve found for realtime display of nasty approaching Weather.  It does a good job of projecting storm cell future tracks and of highlighting cells that contain rotating upper air components.

Anchor Watch Pro” and “Drag Queen” are anchor-drag monitors/alarms.  “Anchor Watch Pro” features a graphic presentation of the boats position relative to the anchor, but in order to get the audible alarm, I did have to invest $6 bucks in it.  Jeff Siegel says he has a plan for “Drag King,” which will have the graphics position presentation when it arrives, but he has plenty on his plate right now.

Currents” by Yoyana is A SUPERB SOLUTION for cruisers.  It gives an easy to use, visually excellent, display of tidal currents.  It is by far the most useful app I have on an Android platform.  I wish this little Jewel was available on iOS!

There are several Tide and Current prediction apps around; several.  I am not a big fan of any of them because they almost all require the user to know the names of tide stations.  That might work in ones home area, but it’s generally useless when away from home area local knowledge, as when on the great loop or other long range cruise.  I finally settled on “Tides and Currents” by FlyToMap.  It requires the user to know the names of tide stations, but at least it uses the smart phone’s GPS to sort by distance to nearby stations.

Sanctuary subscribes to BoatUS on-water towing insurance, and I set up the “BoatUS” app. as soon as I became aware of it.  We used it once a year ago, at 07h00, on an early November morning.  We’d had a sudden engine shutdown, could not re-light, and could not raise BoatUS by VHF.  The app worked flawlessly.  I was most impressed…  And relieved, too!

SeaTow has a similar app.

Cardinal Marks” is a rather simplistic app, but could be useful for US boaters in Canada, where the ILS Cardinal buoyage system is used.

iKitesurf” is an app that graphically presents surface wind speeds and directions.  The app is free, simple and reasonably functional.

PredictWind” is an app that graphically presents and forecasts surface wind speeds and direction.  The free version is severely restricted.  It has tiered subscription services that provide more function, but seem to me to be quite pricey.  For me, it does not offer a good value equation at the price-point.

Marine Compass”  is a…    hand-bearing Compass for your smart phone.

Finally, there are several good knot tying apps and a couple of “toy” apps worth mentioning.  When passing those huge tows on the Inland Rivers, perhaps wondering what they might be carrying, an app that will scare the daylights out of you is “Cargo Decoder,” by Software Strategies.  Enter the four-digit DOT Chemical Code and the app translates it into semi-understandable chemical names.  They are all hazardous materials (HAZMAT); you know, stuff like nitrates, biologicals, explosives, toxins, etc.  Of course, just the act of having this app on your smart phone proves you’re a terrorist, but hey…

FlagBag” by Digiburo is a fun app if you have kids (or an Admiral) onboard.

Flags Of The World” is also fun for kids and Admirals, particularly in large seaports with a presence of Foreign Flagged vessels.

Marine Wind Calculator” is a wind-speed scale converter; it converts back-and-forth between Beaufort, knots, mph, kph, and meters-per-second.  It only converts; there is no functionality to determine or measure wind speed.