“Navionics Mobile” – Navionics plays hard in the app universe, with constant updates and comprehensive offerings — and they claim Mobile is now the world’s best-selling marine and lakes nav-app. It won the 2010 Innovation and Design award at the Marine Electronics and Trade Show, and was voted the Best Boating App by Laptop World magazine. Mobile turns iPhones, iPads, and Androids into mini but fully functional chartplotters. The latest version not only adds extra features such as wind forecasts, terrain overlays, panoramic pictures, and chartography updates, it also includes a unique “community layer” of data, which is user-generated. In other words, boaters can add to the database as they discover changes in the real world that aren’t reflected on the charts. A channel marker was moved by drifting ice? A sandbar shifted after a storm? A boat sunk in the middle of the channel? You can add info like this to the database and so can other boaters, making navigation safer for everyone. Mobile also includes the social networking aspects of cell-equipped lifestyles, adding the ability to share tracks, routes, and pictures on Facebook and Twitter. Price: Varies greatly depending on version and charts; http://www.navionics.com/
“Pro Knot” – You feel like a buffoon when you try to tie a bowline? The fisherman’s knot has you flummoxed? Then check out this app for iPhones, which gives you step-by-step instructions with large illustrations, on how to tie over 30 different knots. There’s also an animated version available, which covers 17 knots. Price: $0.99 to $1.99 depending on the version; www.proknots.com
“SailSim” – You want to be the talk of the yacht club? Then you’ll have to start winning those races, and SailSim can help. You can use this sailing simulator while you’re on dry land, to discover how changes in boat heading, the set of the sails, centerboard, and boat speed relate to wind direction. As you turn your boat (just turn your smart phone), wind direction stays constant relative to the boat but the sails adjust and change shape as they would in real life. It’s available for both Apple and Android products. Price: $0.99; www.thedigitalforce.com.