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7 Best Boating Apps

Today your smart phone or tablet may be as vital on your boat as your compass, chart, VHF, GPS and weather fax combined because there are dozens of handy apps to assist with these functions and hundreds more. Many provide instant access to vast sources of marine-related reference material on navigation, regulations, weather, seamanship, safety, medical, astronomy, and more.

There are nautical apps for every type of boat and sailor from knot tying instruction to signal flag identification, cruising guides and racing rules, tide and star charts to name just a few. We’ve waded through the overwhelming offerings in both the App and GooglePlay stores to compile this short list of top-rated (4+stars), FREE or inexpensive (< $2.99) boating apps for you. For our list we’ve selected only those apps available for both Apple and Android devices, but the US Power Squadron has prepared comprehensive lists for each platform here: http://www.usps.org/eddept/misc/apps.htm

And don’t forget your phone or tablet charger—better yet, have a spare to leave on your boat!

The U.S. Coast Guard app provides 24/7 access to the most commonly requested information and resources for the recreational boater. With this app you can:

  • Identify safety laws, requirements and resources by state
  • Request a vessel safety check from the USCG Auxiliary
  • Determine specific safety equipment required on your vessel
  • File your float plan with a responsible party —if you should go missing, they can provide search and rescue coordinators with important information
  • Review the most commonly sought out navigational “rules of the road”

  • Access weather information from the closest NOAA buoys
  • Report a navigational hazard, suspicious activity or pollution

This App is FREE with a 4.5 (of 5) star rating, download here:


The BoatUS app connects you to the nation’s largest network of on-water towers with more than 300 ports nationwide. With this app you can:

  • Call for a tow and BoatUS will know your location
  • View your latitude & longitude (even out of cell range)
  • Display your Membership card for discounts at marinas
  • View current tide charts and weather forecasts
  • Share your location via Facebook, text or email

This App is FREE with a 4 (of 5) star rating, download here:


First Aid by American Red Cross app puts expert advice for emergencies in your hand with simple step-by-step advice. Preloaded content means you have instant access to all information without reception or an Internet connection.

This App is FREE with a 4.5 (of 5) star rating, download here:


The ColRegs Rules of the Road app provides quick, easy-to-use access to the IRPCS ColRegs Rules of The Road “Steering and Sailing Rules” and “Sound and Light Signals” sections. No Internet connection is required as preloaded content includes illustrations and clear, concise descriptions of all the rules.

This App is $2.99 with a 4 (of 5) star rating, download here:


The Weather Underground App is powered by a network of 180,000+ personal weather stations and provides hyper-local forecasts and current conditions, interactive radar, customizable alerts, and much more to ensure you’re always prepared for whatever the weather brings.

This App is FREE with a 4 (of 5) star rating, download here:


Dag Pike’s Boat Checklists Appfor skippers of power boats and sailing yachts is packed with checklists – from Passage Planning to Safety Briefing, Navigation to Equipment. This easy-to-use app covers the wide range of things that skippers must consider both in harbor before sailing and once at sea. Work through the items on the lists and you can cast off with confidence.

This App is $1.99 and not yet rated, (previous versions have received high marks) download here:


The DragQueen App is a simple anchor alarm that provides distance and GPS accuracy alarms along with an alarm delay. The app will waken you at night if it detects anchor dragging to your specifications.

This App is FREE with 4 (of 5) star rating, download here:

Before you cast off for your first sail of the season, give D.F. Dwyer a call at 401-846-9629. Let them make sure that you are covered for whatever comes your way on the water. They’re here to help!

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Ryan M. Belmore

Ryan M. Belmore is the Owner & Publisher of What's Up Newp. Ryan is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers and serves on the Board of Directors for Fort Adams Trust and Lucy's Hearth. Send questions, tips, and story ideas to Ryan@whatsupnewp.com.