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10 essential sailing apps

A list of essential sailing apps used by professional sailors to navigate their way across the seas.

During my recent tall ship sailing adventure, I picked the skipper’s brains about the essential sailing apps he uses for navigation, ship tracking, weather and tides.

Stefan, the owner and skipper of the Lady of Avenel, stands at the helm with his tablet mounted nearby. “Is this the future of sailing?” I asked him. “Never mind the future of sailing, this is the here and the now,” he responded wryly.

Stefan says that the development of navigation apps has advanced so much, that tablets (in addition to traditional systems) are now used by many sailors as the primary means of navigation on board. He spent some time telling me about the essential sailing apps he uses at sea – listed below for budding sailors.

essential sailing apps

essential sailing apps navionics Navionics
iPhone, iPad, Android
Price: $4.99 – $64.99 depending on location
Best for: Navigation
Navionics is the most popular navigation app among cruisers, sailors, fishermen and divers. Reviews focus on the great presentation, range of measuring tools available and the ability to create and store sonar charts.
essential sailing apps marine traffic Marine Traffic
Platforms: iPhoneiPadAndroid
Price: $4.99
Best for: Ship tracking
Marine Traffic displays near real-time positions of ships and yachts across the globe. It is connected to the largest network of AIS receivers, and covers most major ports and shipping routes.
essential sailing apps tides planner Tides Planner
Platforms: iOS
Price: $3.99 – $5.99 depending on requirements
Best for: Tides
A full-featured tidal app that provides tidal data, tables, curves, moon/sun phases and rise/set times for over 8,000 ports worldwide. It has the option to download an offline ‘zoomable’ world map showing flow direction. Currently, no Android version available.
essential sailing apps tides near me Tides Near Me
Platforms: iPhoneiPadAndroid
Price: Free
Best for: Tides
A more localised tidal app focusing on over 5,500 tidal stations in the US, UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and India. Not as extensive as Tides Planner above but is available on Android.
 essential sailing apps ayetides AyeTides
Platforms: iOS
Price: $7.99
Best for: Tides
Perhaps the most comprehensive tidal app covers over 10,000 worldwide destinations. The simple to use interface has proved popular with users as have the interactive tide graphs. Currently, no Android version available.
 essential sailing apps windfinder Windfinder Pro
Platforms: iPhone, iPad, Android
Best for: 
A popular weather app focusing on wind and waves for over 40,000 locations worldwide drawing on data from over 20,000 weather stations. The pro version is without adverts and includes high resolution forecast models and maps.
 essential sailing apps windy 2 Windy
Platforms: iOS, Android
Price: $4.99 – $29.99 depending on requirements
Best for: Weather
A popular wind forecasting app. The makers pride themselves on the fact that the app and website is used by governments to forecast hurricanes and storms. It is used and recommended widely by a range of professionals.
essential sailing apps isailor Transas iSailor
Platforms: iOS, Android
Price: $14.99 + in-app purchases
Best for: Navigation
iSailor is an award-winning and easy-to-use marine and river navigation system developed for amateur seafarers. Intended for use on boats and yachts, iSailor provides clear presentation of navigation information and electronic charts as well as additional content.
 essential sailing apps boat beacon Boat Beacon
Platforms: iOS, Android
Price: $12.99
Best for: Ship tracking
A localised ship tracking app that keeps a watchful eye on boats nearby and alerts others to your location to help avoid collisions. It uses AIS systems via the web but does not require an external AIS receiver or transponder equipment.
Knot Guide
Platforms: iPhone, iPad, Android
Price: $1.99 – $2.99
Best for: Knot tying
A simple reference app for learning over 100 knots. There is a free version if you feel you don’t need to know over 100 knots, but that includes adverts which makes following the tutorials trickier.
Lead image: Dreamstime

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