Mariners in the olden days may have had to rely only on charts and celestial navigation, and more recently, on charts and GPS, but modern boaters have what they did not: smartphones. Though they can sometimes be a distraction, smartphones offer a huge variety of apps, many of which have the potential to be quite helpful for planning and executing a voyage. Many boating apps are completely free, too - so it doesn’t cost you anything to use these awesome tools to enhance and plan your boat day.

Some of the most useful are listed below, divided by category. Unless otherwise noted, they are available through either iTunes (for iPhones and Apple devices) or Google Play store (for Android phones and devices).

The Best Boating Apps: Planning a Boat Trip

GetMyBoat

Yes, we have our own app! If you want to get out on the water but do not own a boat yourself, our app lets you find and rent kayaks, catamarans, 150-foot yachts, and anything in between. We have boat listings all over the globe, so it is handy anywhere you go.

Available for Apple and Android devices.

Price: Free

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( Photo credit: Apple App Store )

KnowWake

Users of this app out on the water use it to mark down any potential hazards or other things to note for other boaters to be aware of. KnowWake can help connect you to your local boating community, reach out for help if needed, and be mindful of any obstacles or points of interest (like dolphin and whale sightings) when you are out on the water.

Available for iOS and Android.

Price: Free

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( Photo credit: Apple App Store )

Navionics

Navionics has been making electronic charts for GPS devices since the start of the technology’s existence. Their app is stocked with highly interactive charts, along with route planning tools that can be easily shared on social media. When purchasing the app, make sure you buy the correct one — Navionics releases the app by region.

Available for Apple and Android devices.

Price: Dependent on Location

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( Photo credit: Apple App Store )

i-Boating

i-Boating provides marine navigation charts and lake depth maps for iPhone, Android, Windows & MacOS.

Apps for Boating Terms, Education, and Reference

The Practical Encyclopedia of Boating

This app is exactly what its name says it is — an encyclopedic guide to the essentials of boating that you can hold in your hand. From weather patterns to knots to navigation, it covers all boating areas. This is a great all-around guide, though it does have a price tag.

Available for Android devices.

Price: $18.99

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( Photo Credit: Google Play Store )

United States Coast Guard

This app is your one-stop-shop to everything you need to know about recreational boating - boating safety laws, requirements, and resources broken down by each state, weather updates, etc. There’s a feature that allows users to report suspicious circumstances or emergencies. The Coast Guard will immediately send a boat to your location to help.

Available for iOS and Android devices.

Price: Free

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( Photo credit: Apple App Store )

Nautical Signals and Nautical Flags

Both of these apps cover the uses and meanings of nautical signal flags. If you want to learn semaphore (an alphabet signaling system based on flags and hand gestures), either of these apps will give you the knowledge you need to immerse yourself in the flag language of the sea.

ICS Academy: Nautical Signals are available for Apple devices

Nautical Flags available for Android devices.

Price: Free

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Animated Knots by Grog

There are plenty of references for how to tie knots, but sometimes the written or illustrated diagrams can be challenging to follow. Animated Knots by Grog makes it much easier by animating the tying of each knot so that you can clearly see where each loop and weave goes. Its extensive dictionary makes it useful for beginners and experienced boaters alike.

Available for Apple and Android devices.

Price: $4.99

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( Photo credit: Apple App Store )

The Best Fishing Apps

ANGLR

This app is essential for serious anglers who want to track their entire fishing trip. By connecting to your smart devices, it will take your GPS coordinates throughout your fishing day, log your performance, and records fishing information for you to store and use again at a later date. You can compete with friends, share live information, and broadcast your fishing trip.

Available for iOS and Android.

Price: Free

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( Photo Cred: App Store )

FishBrain

This is the world’s most popular fishing app, and it provides you with data from over 13 million users worldwide to help you make great catches and develop your skills as an angler. It offers a personal fishing log, access to a vast online store, a database with fishing information, forecasting tools, and more.

Download for iOS and Android

Price: Free

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( Photo credit: Apple App Store )

RiverFlows

This app is extremely useful not only for river fishing but also if you’re boating on a river. It compiles data from USGS, NOAA, the US Army Corps of Engineers, the Colorado Department of Water Resources, and the California Data Exchange to provide users with information about the water levels and river conditions where they are boating and fishing. Stay safe and find the best fishing spots on the river with RiverFlows.

Download for iOS and Android.

Price: Free

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( Photo credit: Apple App Store )

The Best Boating Weather Apps

NOAA Buoy and Tide Data

This handy app allows you to see the data from the NOAA buoys scattered all around the waterways of the US. It also provides tidal predictions — basic and beneficial information.

Available for Apple and Android devices

Price: Free

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( Photo credit: Apple App Store )

NOAA Weather Free

An app that has weather forecasting and radar based on the best possible information, this is a must-have app for predicting and anticipating weather patterns.

Available for Apple and Android devices.

Price: Free

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( Photo credit: Apple App Store )

More Apps for Boating

Clinometer

Want to see exactly how far you are heeling over? This app by Peter Breitling provides exact measurements of a sailboat’s tilt. In addition, it has a bubble level and slope finder, so if you need to do any construction projects on your boat (or elsewhere!), it has many uses.

Available for Apple and Android devices.

Price: $1.99

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( Photo credit: Apple App Store )

BoatUS

BoatUS is a network of on-water towers that will come and fetch you should you run into trouble on the water. With their app, you can check your latitude and longitude even when you are out of cell phone range and call for a tow should you run into distress.

Available for Apple and Android devices.

Price: Free

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( Photo credit: Apple App Store )

Flashlight

There are several flashlight apps for both the iPhone and Android so that you can have your pick. Make sure to install one that has both a red and white light. You will need the white light for strong illumination, and the red will save your night vision, so you do not blind yourself looking for something after dark.

Available for Apple and Android devices.

Price: Free

While these are convenient and useful apps, it is essential to note that phones are prone to damage or loss at sea. A protective cover for your smartphone or a simple plastic bag is a good investment if you want to keep your phone safe. In addition, keep in mind that though these apps can be very helpful, your battery can die. Use these apps whenever they help you out, but do not make the mistake of relying on them for everything.

Keep all your boating senses sharp, and enjoy what technology has to offer. Check out more boating safety tips and boating resources from GetMyBoat to stay safe on the water.