Boating is about as timeless an activity in which man has ever engaged. The practice has sustained whole communites via fishing and more than a few explorers have made some of the greatest discoveries known to man utilizing nothing more than a wooden boat and the night sky. Therefore, it is ironic that such an ancient activity is as enhanced by modern technology as it is today. And forget for a moment about radar and other onboard gear; mobile apps can actually be an invaluable asset to the avid boater as well.

In fact, these modern mobile apps actually eliminate the need for certain pieces of onboard equipment by providing the boater with crucial information. With that in mind, here are six apps divided by category that can put a world of electronic navigation, weather information and marine data all in the palm of the hand.

Navigation apps

iNavX — ($49.99)

Yes, it comes with a hefty price tag, but it also provides the user with a host of free charts, including a good number of NOAA charts. It also comes with a highly intuitive interface best experienced via a tablet. As for features, iNavX allows the user to purchase and download many charts from X-Traverse, and the app allows for the standard chart-plotting functions. These include distance and bearing, waypoints, routes track and compass, among others. And the best part is that all the instrument data is displayed at the top of the chart in a convenient banner.

Navigator App — $42.99

An app that provides a quality navigator and award-winning rastor charts for the standard seven regions: Western Mediterranean, Atlantic Europe, North Sea, West UK & Ireland, English Channel, Eastern Caribbean The Netherlands. The app also includes waypoint management, shared routes via email, compass overlay and even aerial photographs.

Weather apps

Weather 4D Pro — $30.99

This easy-to-use and visually stunning app is one of the best ways to download and view GRIB charts. In fact, this data is displayed via satellite photos of Earth. Those relatively new to the world of weather apps will find the controls straightforward in how they allow users to quickly copy and paste GRIB files as well as send them via email. One of the most useful features is the ability for the user to overlay many charts and set them to play out over a specified length of time. Those who don’t want to drop the cash for all the features included in the $30.99 version can opt for the $5.99 non-pro version.

Pocket GRIB — $5.99

Those who aren’t interested in lots of bells and whistles can opt for this simple GRIB viewer with a straightforward interface that anyone should be able to use. Users can navigate across five different weather models via five simple controls at the bottom of the page and the weather data is even overlaid onto Google Maps.

Marine data apps

MarineTraffic — $3.99

MarineTraffic takes AIS data broadcast over the Internet and displays it via the app. Indeed, boaters can retrieve the same info via, but this app allows for much more convenience. Users of this app can also peruse the library of more than 700,000 photos of ports, lighthouses and vessels.

Digital Yacht AIS – free

This app display the users AIS info, but the user must have the Digital Yacht WiFi device installed on their handheld or tablet in order to do it.

Downloading even just one of these apps should improve efficiency and free the boater up to focus on other aspects of the job at hand. And if the boater utilizes one app from each category; he or she should be ready to set sail and never look back.

Amy Walters writes for The Boating Hub, the first stop for anyone who wants to learn to sail. Amy loves travel, boating and adventure almost as much as she loves writing about it.

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