Navionics: Navigation for the Technologically Challenged

As a rule I prefer to leave the technology at home when I head out on the water or on a bushwalk. For me, the allure of 3 days at sea on a yacht race is being unreachable by phone and email, left to my own ponderings whilst gazing out to sea. I’ve never been particularly tech savvy, demonstrated by the fact that I have had an iphone for a year and only have three apps (applications) on it, all of which were installed in the last 6 weeks!

Pittwater Road Test

But I may have to change this habit as a result of recent purchase from iTunes. Navionics is an iphone app that provides interactive coastal nautical charts for Australia. Here’s an excerpt from the description on the iTunes store;

Ideal for boaters, fishermen and water sports enthusiasts of all kinds. You can plan your on the water adventures anytime, anywhere…check tides, set routes and markers, and search for marinas. While on the water track your navigation, capture geotagged pictures, and create a virtual travelogue of your entire trip that you can share with your friends and family via email, facebook and the Navionics community.”

It gets some pretty good reviews on the app store with some people having tested it in parallel with their expensive GPS and navigation equipment. The charts are offline too so you don’t need network coverage for it to work as it works off satellite*. I particularly like the photo geotagging feature as supervising a two year old and trying to take photos with a decent camera is quite tricky; much easier to have your iphone in your pocket. However I will be buying a transparent waterproof pouch to put it in to be on the safe side! Here’s a quick summary (although not exhaustive) of what you can do with this application:

  • Track your route along a waterway
  • Take photos along the way which are geotagged and attached to the relevant location on your plot
  • Click on points of interest such as marinas and access local information including direct click through to marina phone number
  • Save up to 100 of your tracks
  • Create up to 100 routes
  • Digitally mark favourite spots
  • Email tracks and photos to yourself, friends etc and view them through Google Earth
  • Check tides, currents, depths etc.

For $14.99 I think it is pretty good value if you have an open boat such as a tinny which you are using on inshore waters. We road tested Navionics last weekend up at Pittwater, see snapshot of the track we recorded above.

Navionics also offer applications for ski and lake locations as well as charts for other countries. However I would not recommend relying solely on your iphone as a navigational tool. Always plan your trip in advance, take hardcopy charts and check the marine forecast before setting off. We’ll be using this application to record future trips in more detail and share information with you about great places to explore. If you decide to download this application feel free to send in your travelogues and recommendations; just be sure to switch the phone to silent if you want to remain unreachable!

Do you have any useful mobile applications for the outdoors?

*3G version of iPhone and later.

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  1. Hi Charley, Tess, Chris and Rhubarb

    We love your new blog, especially the latest on navionics – how cool is that? I’m wondering if they do a ‘granionics’ version for gran Fran and other directionally challenged people. Also looking forward to days out tips with little ones for this summer, I’m desperate to getout on the Kyacks. Must go, Winnie the Pooh is on the phone. Han, Lotta, Matt and Rox the dog (woof) x.

    1. Granionics is a great idea! Lets patent it and sell it to itunes!

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