Ten essential iPhone apps for the mariner

The iPhone has become the perfect mobile tool for many of us, myself included.  Having just concluded a trip abroad, I was amazed at the access I had while traveling, even if limiting myself to using only free wifi hotspots to avoid roaming charges.   With over 150,000 apps, the iPhone still has an advantage over even its newest competitors and with a number like that, there are sure to be a few apps that can benefit those in the merchant marine.  Here are 10 apps that I think might just be worth a download.

Title 46 CFR ($11.99)

A must have app for any Master, Chief Mate, or Chief Engineer.  This is a very functional app, and allows you to browse and search the 46 CFR without connectivity!

The producer of this app has all of the CFRs for sale as well. Leave the heavy books at home and download it now.


  • Current as of September 2009.
  • Complete offline access.
  • All tables and images included.
  • Lightning fast browsing.
  • Full-text or header search options.
  • Search history.
  • Search highlighting.

Linguo – Multilingual Translator ($2.99)

This app is great for trying to get your point across in a foreign port, or perhaps a stubborn foreign pilot.  Unlike most other translation apps out there, this one does not require you to have connectivity.

Emergency Response Guidebook ($0.99)

Derived from the DOT Emergency Response Guidebook, this app is great for those working on ships carrying hazmat.  Easily displays the information needed to respond to a hazmat spill or release.  It also includes placard and container diagrams for easy identification.

Navigation Rules ($2.99)

Navigation Rules contains a complete copy of the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, 1972 (COLREGS), including amendments and the Inland Navigation Rules, in effect for all inland waters, including the Great Lakes.  This is a great app for sailors on both vessels large and small.  Also great when studying for license!

gTrax ($4.99)

gTrax is one of the latest apps out there for mariners from the great people at gCaptain.  This is their first app, and appears to be a solid app built with quality in mind.  Unlike some of the other ship tracking apps out there, gTrax uses a secure and redundant data source to retrieve AIS information.  This makes the data in the app more reliable and accurate than apps that use open source or voluntary data feeds and recievers.  The reliable data does come at a price though, besides the price of the app, you will also need to pay a subscription fee of $9.99/month for live data, otherwise you will only get position updates once a day.  For those who need it though, this is the app.

Locations currently supported include:
– San Francisco, Calif.
– New York City, N.Y.
– Baltimore, Md.
– Beaumont, Texas
– Boston, Mass.
– The Great Lakes
– Miami, Fla.
– Seattle, Wash.
– Shanghai, China
– Tampa, Fla.

Skype (Free)

Although I’m not a fan of using Skype on a regular basis at home (I’ve tried), Skype can be a huge help to those traveling abroad.  Calling rates are much better than most international mobile cell phone plans, and if you have a wifi connection, you can avoid roaming charges and make a call to your loved one.  Its also great for text messaging without extra charges.  Best of all, the app is free!

Kindle (Free)

This is one of my favorite apps.  Although I do admit when I first pondered reading an entire book in my cell phone, I thought it would be a futile effort not worth my time.  I just finished my first book read entirely on the iPhone Kindle app and it blew me away.  In fact, I think I like the app better than the actual Kindle.  The real benefit for the app is the portability  of it.  The ability to read a book anytime, anywhere, without actually carring a book with you is amazing and very useful to those who frequently travel.  Best of all, its free!  There is also a selection of free books that you can download, but most of them are classics, known for putting even the smartest folks to sleep, but hey, they’re free.

iNA Digital Nautical Almanac ($29.99)

Who doesn’t need a Nautical Almanac on their phone that is good until 2800 AD?

iNA computes all ephemeris data available in the daily pages of the USNO Nautical Almanac.  The program computes GHA, Dec, SHA, SD, HP, magnitudes, sunrise, sunset, LAN, twilight times, moonrise, moonset, moon age and phase for sun, moon, 5 planets, and 173 stars. INA also computes addition useful information not included in the Nautical Almanac such as ephemeris for Mercury, Hc at LAN, bearing of sunrise and sunset (amplitudes), and the GHA of Aries midway between civil and nautical twilights for star planning.

NOAA National Weather Service ($1.99)

This is a great little app for quickly accessing weather forecasts and current conditions directly from NOAA prediction centers.  Although the app is not directly associated with NOAA, it accesses all of its data.  For marine weather, it includes the following

  • Coastal Outlook
  • “Wave Height” Map
  • Composite Radar [*animation requires OS 3.0 and above]
  • Offshore Outlook
  • High Seas Outlook/Hurricane Center Map

NOAA Buoy Data Reader ($2.99)

This is a great little app for small boaters and big boaters alike.  The ability to quickly access buoy data from the National Data Buoy Center (NDBC) is a very handy tool to plan arrivals and departures, and other aspects of voyage planning.  NOAA Buoy Data Reader retrieves your current location and presents a list of NOAA Weather Buoy locations near you. You can then click on a specific buoy to retrieve sea condition data available from that buoy. Data can include wind speed, gusts, and direction as well as pressure and other relevant marine data. You can further choose to go the buoys web site for further information.

iPilot (Free)

I know this makes the 11th app, but I included it because it appears to be a potentially powerful app for the mariner, but I haven’t been able to actually witness it in operation.  This is really an app that seems to be designed specifically for maritime pilots and masters of large vessels engaging in mooring operations.  The app can be used in two different modes.  The first mode uses data received the Marimatech E-Sea Fix GPS module installed on a vessel or laptop.  The second mode says that it uses data from the iPhone internal GPS/Position fixing function.  I didn’t seem to get much functionality using the later mode, and have been unable to test the other mode.   From the appearance of the app, it looks like it could be really great if linked up to the E-Sea Fix GPS module.  If anybody has any experience using this app, let me know!

The current version supports the following functionality:
Overview screen:
– Own vessels position and motion data: Latitude, longitude, heading, course over ground, speed over ground, rate of turn, data source, and precision.
– Overview of other vessels nearby (using AIS) and their position relative to own vessel.
– Detailed view of each nearby vessel, showing e.g. name, MMSI, type, position, heading, speed, size, destination, ETA…

Docking screen:
– Bow and stern speeds towards fenders and vessel forward speed.
– Distances to fenders bow and stern.
– Vessel heading and rate of turn.

10 Comment

  1. […] Menefee has this item over at The Maritime Blog. It’s directed at professional mariners. Still, some useful items for […]

  2. Anonymous says: Reply

    are there any apps that have wreck positions for the Connecticut/New England waters?

  3. […] Please find list here! […]

  4. Anonymous says: Reply

    Marine Instrument Display is also a nice and simple app for sailing:

  5. Frank says: Reply

    The MID is nice but there is more advanced version MID WiFI (http://www.veerasolutions.com/midwifi)  that can show NMEA data over the WiFi. Works nicely at least with Raymarine C80 and DY iAIS.

  6. Dollaropath says: Reply

    Check AnchorApp to make offshore anchoring safer…


    Can help to check anchor drags during long-time anchorage.

  7. Nay Aung says: Reply

    just informations for my O:-)

  8. heinz says: Reply

    Maybe better to see this http://www.fleetmon.com/products/fleetmon_mobile

  9. Mark says: Reply

    Great list of apps on this site too! http://i-marineapps.blogspot.com/

  10. Try the new Aqua Map, it is really nice with the Planning feature and the online Planner at http://www.globalterramaps.com/AquaViewerEditing.html

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