Sam Goodchild | My Favourite Sailing Apps

Having spent 2 weeks on standby in New York with a bunch of sailors waiting for a weather window, we had plenty of time to play with our iPads and compare apps we use for sailing. I thought I would run through some of the best apps that we use on a regular basis, both on land and at sea…

1. Navionics

I have used this chart-plotting app more than anything else. Primarily on the Figaro and when browsing charts and distances ashore. I have been told that there are other apps that have more tools, but for me Navionics is so simple and contains all the necessities. I’d say that no other app does the basics better. There are some places where the vectored charts are less detailed then Raster or paper charts, but I have yet to have this cause me a problem in the channel and around the French coasts.

Otherwise, it gives position, bearing, speed, measures distances and has a basic waypoint function – what more do you need? As for the GPS accuracy in the iPad, compared to the one on my Figaro, I have never found a significant difference which is very impressive. For this reason my iPad has become invaluable on-board which has meant I’ve really been putting my Lifedge case to the test.

2. Splash Top

We use this to connect the Boat Computer to the iPad, like this we can control the primary navigation software (Adrena in my case) from anywhere on the boat. I mostly use it for checking the AIS. When you actually want to look at weather and routing, it will never replace a dry mouse and keyboard. But with Adrena now containing a touch screen option I have been using my iPad more and more on Deck.

3. Pocket Grib

This is my first quick call for weather, it downloads a GFS (American model) weather file, with wind and pressure for anywhere in the world. I primarily use this on my iPhone to get a quick overview of the weather situation and an idea as to whether or not it’s going to be windy. The screen is a bit too small for much detail, but it’s a good starting point. As a guide the wind forecast on this model generally under reads, especially the gusts. The app does include a great Meteogram function to see the wind over the week in one spot.

4. ISAF RRS

The racing rules of sailing in electronic format – ideal for having to hand on your iPhone or iPad for clarifying debates about the rules on the water and in the pub.

5. WX Charts Europe

The best place for general synoptic charts for an overall view– even better than on the computer a lot of the time. Synoptic charts might be old-school, but they are an irreplaceable starting point for understanding what’s happening.

6. Skype Wifi

This is entirely unrelated to sailing, but a fantastic app that I am regularly surprised people don’t know about. For people that travel a lot abroad, trying to connect to the Internet is often a pain, even if you’re happy to pay for it. Skype Wifi means you don’t have to fill out all the forms and pay the monthly, weekly, hourly memberships for a lot the public wifi scattered around airports and public places. For around 10p a minute and no forms you can sign in, download email and sign out in no time – all through your skype account.

Hopefully some of these can be helpful to you and I look forward to discovering more. The limits are endless.

All for now,
Sam