April 18, 2022

5 Mobile Phone Apps Every Professional Captain Should Download

Apps on your mobile device can help you navigate, gather essential information about waterways and weather, and interact with other boaters on the water. Check out a few of our favorites!

By Alexandra Yingst

There are dozens of apps at a seafarer's fingertips. Apps on your mobile device can help you navigate, gather essential information about waterways and weather, and interact with other boaters on the water. 

Although these are some of our top choices, we encourage you to check out the many other apps that are also out there. You might find some that are more suited for your individual situation. We also suggest trying out any app on land before taking it to sea. This gives you a chance to learn how to use it and to discover which features you like best.

It is important to remember that these apps are not a replacement for paper charts, radar, GPS and/or other resources that you should have handy onboard. While apps can prove to be useful tools, it is not prudent to rely on them completely.


This is a great, free app similar to a GPS app like Waze that you might use in your car. Boaters across North America and other parts of the world use this app in real-time, both in coastal and inland waterways. It provides information that is beneficial to know about waterfront locations, from food to fuel and more. You can also access this app offline and can share your location with your friends. With point to point routing, it is easy to save and share your track. Other important information can be found in this app such as speed, distance, depth, wind speed, temperature, swell height, and tide height. 

2. Windy.app

This app is well-loved by boaters across the world for its accurate weather forecasts. Although Windy.app is free, the highly recommended Pro mode can be purchased to give you access to more weather models and personalized settings. Additionally, this app provides you with information about past weather, which can be helpful in predicting a future forecast. Other information on this app includes tides, swell, current, sea temperature, wind speed, wind direction, wind gusts, and more. The community feature allows users to share photos and local information about favorite spots. 

3. Tide Alert (NOAA)

An easy-to-use app that includes tidal information from NOAA stations throughout the coastal United States. In addition to tidal information, Tide Alert provides you with the times for sunrise, sunset, moonrise, and moonset. You can even set up alerts for high and low tide events so you don’t miss them, and you can use this app offline. However, it is important to remember that rain and other factors can influence tides, which this app will not pick up on. This app does require a subscription after its free trial ($11.99 for 1 year, $3.99 for 3 months). 

4. Navionics

With charts that you can download and use offline, Navionics Boating Marine & Lakes app is a popular navigation app. Although the app is free to download, use of the charts requires a subscription (free two-week trial and then $14.99 for 1 year in the US). It has dock-to-dock auto-routing, which uses navigation aids and your boat’s draft to guide you where you need to go. There is also a function called SonarChart Live which creates maps of the ocean floor as you go over it. With a community function, your fellow boaters can give you pointers, as well. 

5. Dockwa

If you take your boat on trips where you stay elsewhere overnight, you definitely need to check out Dockwa. This free app is an easy way to reserve a spot at marinas, yacht clubs, and boatyards. Not only does it save you time in booking, but you can also read about all of the services and amenities offered at the marina and can browse photos, which is helpful in deciding where you want to spend the night.