Modern marine navigation
A powerful navigation tool that fits in your pocket, the smartphone has changed the way all boat operators approach marine navigation.
Our options used to be a paper chart or cruising area charts—plus a compass, timer, speed indicator and a charted object or two plotted bearings to find where we were on the chart. Now, you can determine latitude and longitude in seconds using any smartphone. Paired with a charting app like OpenCPN, Aqua Map, iNavX, Argo and i-Boating, your smartphone can instantly display your location and all navigational data.
How it works
Most every smartphone, as well as tablets and laptop computers, have full GPS receivers as well as the radios—receivers and transmitters—for the cellular and Wi-Fi network areas we live in. Most phones also have other sensors and radios. As a result, many new recreational boaters use phones or tablets instead of the pricey chartplotters found on larger recreational vessels. Many boaters with chartplotters will also mount a tablet with a charting app to get different views of the chart while underway.
Newer or updated navigation equipment is also moving to a new NMEA 2000 networking standard, so all instruments on your boat will communicate over Wi-Fi, including the chartplotter and any phone or tablet logged into the network. This means your chart apps and programs can grab data and display navigation information that the chartplotter has (AIS, engine data, radar, anemometer, speed meter). Other functions like remote auto helm control accompany this capability.
Mounting your tools
Mounting smartphones and tablets on a boat is easy. Sailboats with a binnacle have a large variety of rail mounts to choose from. To find one, search for “rail mounts for cellphones and tablets” to find a variety to choose from. On boats with a flat surface, many people Velcro-mount their devices to the bulkhead. When mounting phones and tablets, choose a location that makes viewing them easy while you are underway.
A free open-source app, OpenCPN shows how the new screen environment of chartplotters and GPS-enabled applications work along with building an understanding of charts. OpenCPN demonstrates waypoints and waypoint navigation for trip planning.
Because OpenCPN is free, it runs on Windows, Macintosh OS, Android, and Linux systems. It does not run on iPhone or iPad. All charting apps operate similiarly, so knowing one gives you the skill needed to adapt to other GPS charting apps. –Mike Maszczynski of Annapolis Sail & Power Squadron; Assistant Chair of America’s Boating Club’s Navigation Committee
Reach your destination safely
Avoid obstacles and get where you want to go on the water. Get the skills you need with Marine Navigation from America’s Boating Club.