Ma­rine tech­nol­ogy is mak­ing wa­ter ad­ven­tures safer, eas­ier to find stopovers and tides

Ma­rine tech­nol­ogy is mak­ing wa­ter ad­ven­tures safer, eas­ier to find stopovers and tides

RSWLiving - - Features - BY ED BROTAK Ed Brotak is a re­tired me­te­o­rol­ogy pro­fes­sor turned stay-at-home dad. He and his fam­ily live in west­ern North Carolina.

There’s an app in to­day’s world for just about ev­ery­thing. An app, of course, is an ap­pli­ca­tion, a spe­cial­ized pro­gram or piece of soft­ware de­signed for one par­tic­u­lar purpose. It can be down­loaded eas­ily to a mo­bile de­vice such as a smart­phone or tablet. For many who spend time on the wa­ter, ei­ther for fun or busi­ness, apps have be­come in­dis­pens­able. There are apps to help you lo­cate mari­nas, boat re­pair shops and even restau­rants. The choice is wide and ex­per­i­ment­ing with the ex­act app fit­ting your needs is rec­om­mended.

Safety is a top con­cern for those on the wa­ter. Fog, high winds and es­pe­cially thun­der­storms are real threats. There are many weather apps avail­able. Walt Cheatham, a guide with Ad­ven­tures Kayak­ing in Bonita Springs, says: “I will use The Weather Chan­nel app for dou­ble-check­ing the fore­cast. Most im­por­tantly, you can check the lat­est radar to see if there are any storms out there.”

“I count on my radar app to stay out of harm’s way,” says Capt. Glenn Smith, who pilots Ad­ven­tures in Par­adise tour boats in Fort My­ers.

Steve Col­gate, co-founder of the Off­shore Sail­ing School in Fort My­ers with a lo­ca­tion at the South Seas Is­land Re­sort on Cap­tiva, con­curs: “One app that many sailors use is MyRadar,” which de­ter­mines lo­ca­tion us­ing an an­i­mated, high-def­i­ni­tion radar dis­play (from gov­ern­ment radar sites). The dis­play is eas­ily scrolled and zoomed. You also get ba­sic weather de­tails. A se­vere weather warn­ing op­tion is also avail­able. For sail­ing weather, Col­gate says he also uses Wind Alert and SailFlow.

Tide in­for­ma­tion and nav­i­ga­tion charts are cru­cial for a suc­cess­ful day on the wa­ter. Cheatham says: “I use Tides Near Me ev­ery sin­gle day I am on the wa­ter,” which is free and pro­vides tide re­ports, charts and pre­dic­tions, so­lar/lu­nar de­tails and is

au­to­mat­i­cally set to your lo­ca­tion. Col­gate also uses the pop­u­lar Navion­ics Boat­ing app that com­bines NOAA Raster Navigational Charts with its own prod­ucts, in­clud­ing sonar charts of the sea bot­tom and up­dated tides. The sys­tem plots a safe course to your des­ti­na­tion based on boat specs and can also track and store jour­ney de­tails. Chris­tine Fay, with the Ma­rine Trad­ing Post in North Fort My­ers, says: “Ev­ery fish­er­man I know has tide and nav­i­ga­tion apps.”

For other safety con­cerns there is ABYC Boat Es­sen­tials, which has the U.S. Coast Guard manda­tory on­board safety rules and also tracks main­te­nance alerts and sup­ply lists. Although not just for ma­rine use, the SPOT App is rec­om­mended by Fay. Us­ing GPS tech­nol­ogy, the SPOT de­ter­mines ex­act lo­ca­tion. This in­for­ma­tion can be sent to friends or rel­a­tives or through an SOS de­vice; emer­gency per­son­nel if nec­es­sary.

Need to find a ma­rina or a boat­yard? Ma­rina Guide by Mo­joso gives in­for­ma­tion on nearby mari­nas. Water­way Guide Mari­nas boasts of more than 3,600 list­ings for mari­nas and boat­yards. This free app will do the search for dis­tances of 5 to 100 miles. It also gives ser­vice and amenity de­tails.

For a more com­plete mariner’s guide, there is the Water­way Guide south­ern edi­tion that cov­ers the Florida coast­line and along the Gulf coast­line to Brownsville, Texas. Up­dated each year, the guide in­cludes nav­i­ga­tion charts and in­for­ma­tion, ma­rina list­ings and in­for­ma­tion about places to visit shore­side. It’s avail­able for the iPhone or iPad, if you have the iNavX app. Navion­ics Boat­ing also pro­vides in­for­ma­tion on lo­cal mari­nas, fu­el­ing lo­ca­tions (with prices) and boat re­pair shops. BlueChart Mo­bile from Garmin in­cludes typ­i­cal nav­i­ga­tion func­tions and up-to-date weather. The Active Cap­tain func­tion al­lows in­ter­ac­tion with other mariners, es­pe­cially for ma­rine ser­vices such as mari­nas and fuel docks.

How im­por­tant are ma­rine apps? Col­gate says: “Apps are widely used in sail­ing.”

Capt. Glenn Smith adds, “I wouldn’t say they re­place sys­tems I use ev­ery day, but I use them all the time.”

And per­haps if the Skip­per had had a radar app, there wouldn’t have been a “Gil­li­gan’s Is­land.”

The Weather Chan­nel MyRadar SailFlow

Wind Alert Ma­rina Guide Tides Near Me

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