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Author Topic:   iNavX Marine Navigation Application For Smart Phones
elaelap posted 02-24-2011 12:52 AM ET (US)   Profile for elaelap   Send Email to elaelap  
Has anyone had experience with the iNavX Marine Navigation app for the iPhone? If so, what do you think? How about other, hopefully less expensive iPhone marine navigation apps? Recommendations please.

Thanks, Tony

Kanawha1 posted 02-24-2011 06:01 AM ET (US)     Profile for Kanawha1  Send Email to Kanawha1     
No experience with iNavx, though it looks like cool application. I bought the Navionics Marine and Lake's version for $14.99, looking at the screen shots, it doesn't look as feature filled as the iNavx. One problem with the Navionics, it requires cell phone service for real time use, the maps are not pre-loaded on the iPhone.
Tom Hemphill posted 02-24-2011 06:43 AM ET (US)     Profile for Tom Hemphill    
One problem with the Navionics, it requires cell phone service for real time use, the maps are not pre-loaded on the iPhone.

The charts still display absent cell phone service.
ceshaw posted 02-24-2011 07:24 AM ET (US)     Profile for ceshaw  Send Email to ceshaw     
Some GPS iPhone apps allow you to download your route or area first while you're in a cell coverage area. Does this app allow you to do so??
Kanawha1 posted 02-24-2011 08:17 AM ET (US)     Profile for Kanawha1  Send Email to Kanawha1     
I stand corrected, Tom is correct. I just turned off the WiFi and 3G service and am still able to use maps all over the eastern portion of the U.S. So it evidently does load the maps on the iPhone.
Jeff posted 02-24-2011 09:45 AM ET (US)     Profile for Jeff  Send Email to Jeff     
I have been using the Navionics Chartplotting apps on my iPhone for 2 years now and love them. They are two of the only things I really like about my phone. Anyway, all of the maps are loaded onto your phone and the apps can take up a lot of storage but, unless you carry TONS of music and video's on you phone that should not be a problem.
elaelap posted 02-24-2011 12:20 PM ET (US)     Profile for elaelap  Send Email to elaelap     
Thanks for the info, guys. I went ahead and bought the Navionics USA Marine & Lakes app (only $9.99!), and it looks pretty good. The screen quality of my iPhone 4 is much better than that of my handheld Garmin back-up GPS, and the screen is slightly larger, so if all the functions work decently I'll be very pleased indeed. You can choose the size chart to download to your phone, so initially I only downloaded a 24 mb rectangular block of the California coast from Pt Mendocino down to Santa Cruz, including of course the SF Bay. Thus the thing doesn't really take up that much space at all. So far so good...I'll report when I've put some sea miles under it.


Pretty cool that you can instantly jump back and forth from a plain chart to one with a Google Earth overlay, plus all kinds of other goodies I don't have on my older chartplotters. Ten bucks! Can't go too far wrong ;-)

meridian posted 02-24-2011 12:45 PM ET (US)     Profile for meridian  Send Email to meridian     
Navionics is also available for android phones.
SJUAE posted 02-24-2011 05:37 PM ET (US)     Profile for SJUAE  Send Email to SJUAE     
The Andriod version of Navionics also has some additional features like wind

I have both versions one on my Iphone and one on my Samsung Galaxy Tab

It's an excelent app for the price considering how much the chart is for our plotters


WT posted 02-24-2011 05:56 PM ET (US)     Profile for WT  Send Email to WT     
I have the Navionics for PC for $25. My old eyeballs get to look at the charts on my 27 inch monitor. :-)

I highly recommend the PC/Mac Navionics program.


pcrussell50 posted 02-24-2011 07:14 PM ET (US)     Profile for pcrussell50  Send Email to pcrussell50     
Warren, please excuse my newbie mariner insight here, but what good do the marine charts do you on a desktop computer with no GPS? Or even, what good do they do you on a laptop with no GPS, if you are brave enough to bring one out on the ocean in a Montauk?


K Albus posted 02-24-2011 07:21 PM ET (US)     Profile for K Albus  Send Email to K Albus     
Warren, where did you get Navionics for PC? I just checked their website and didn't see it.
WT posted 02-24-2011 07:31 PM ET (US)     Profile for WT  Send Email to WT     
I have a Navionics chip in my mounted GPS on my 170 Montauk. I also always have my Garmin gps as a back up on the console. Plus in my ditch bag, I have another Garmin ETREX and handheld VHF just in case I capsize my boat. So I carry 3 GPSs on my 170 Montauk most of the time in the ocean.

I like my desktop Navionics chart to "cruise around" looking for shoals and depth changes for fishing. It also has tide and current charts that I can read at the comfort of my home office rather than bouncing around on the water.

Just today, I was checking out Tomales Bay on the PC version. I also looked around Seattle and Bimini Island in Florida. All on a big screen with fast refresh rates.

All for $25.


WT posted 02-24-2011 07:32 PM ET (US)     Profile for WT  Send Email to WT     
K Albus, go to the Web Store.


tomol posted 02-24-2011 07:56 PM ET (US)     Profile for tomol  Send Email to tomol     
For those using the Navionics package on your iPhone, be sure to bring your cigarette lighter charging cord. It sucks the juice out of your phone in a hurry.
K Albus posted 02-24-2011 10:14 PM ET (US)     Profile for K Albus  Send Email to K Albus     
Ah, that explains it. I tried to visit the Navionics webstore with my iPad, but site runs on Adobe Flash and would nit load, so I couldn't see the Navionics for PC product.

By the way, I have the Navionics app on my iPad and I love it.

eriks posted 02-25-2011 01:11 AM ET (US)     Profile for eriks  Send Email to eriks     
Best app on my iPhone, does a fantastic job of tides too.
FISHNFF posted 02-25-2011 01:49 AM ET (US)     Profile for FISHNFF  Send Email to FISHNFF     
Talked me into it!

App store, here I come!


GreatBayNH posted 02-25-2011 08:46 AM ET (US)     Profile for GreatBayNH  Send Email to GreatBayNH     
I downloaded the Android Navionics app last night - 13.99 USD. Very cool.
towboater posted 02-25-2011 12:24 PM ET (US)     Profile for towboater  Send Email to towboater     
AIS ap would be nice as well.

Cell phones mounted on small boat consoles or helms have HIGH risk to fall, get wet. Refs avail.

Tuco only asks about the apps but the question implies and leanging towards a cell phone becoming a inexpencive Marine GPS. Beware, this is a recipe for disaster when you "really" need a GPS to navigate.

Warren has the right idea, cell phones are a GREAT backup in case you loose 12v power on your primary GPS.

Normally I would suggest ANY navigation aid is an asset but in this case, I fear a cell phone as a primary GPS will lead to a false sense of security. Was this paragraph redundant?


elaelap posted 02-25-2011 12:55 PM ET (US)     Profile for elaelap  Send Email to elaelap     
Mike, you're right of course. My iPhone/Navionics chart now becomes the back-up to my handheld back-up to my console mounted chartplotter, all of which are backed up when I'm boating in unfamiliar waters by paper charts which get a good reading before I head out.

We get fog where I boat -- thick, miserable fog at any time of the year, sometimes without much warning at all -- and I've limped home on several occasions via GPS. No fun at all, but consider the alternative...


towboater posted 02-25-2011 01:51 PM ET (US)     Profile for towboater  Send Email to towboater     
Yo Tuco.

Not sure what you mean by consider the alternative?

My reply isnt directed at you or the experianced members who comment/advise and totally understand where I am coming from.

In fact, my logic is inspired by your post about the guy who lost his life crabbing near Bodega Bay last week. Obvioulsy this guy had a false sense of security, lack of good judgement.

I read 10 times more threads than I comment on so Ive gotta believe lots of others do too. So here we have a young boater who buys into the unsinkable Whaler hype...yes it is unsinkable but only an asset if you are still alive and physically able to hold on...LIFE JACKETS are unsinkable. Anyway, this guy now reading CW threads, I am concerned this inexperianced person might consider a GPS cell phone in the same context as a unsinkable hull, which is better than a hull that will sink, just as a cell phone GPS is probably better than none at all but they BOTH imply a false sense of security.

If you and I are so called CW advisors based on our many years of experiance, we need to keep priorities in line.
Keep up the good work Tuco, thanks again for all of your interesting topics and photo's. Days are getting longer, Im getting anxious as hell to spash my sport boats.

SJUAE posted 02-25-2011 03:55 PM ET (US)     Profile for SJUAE  Send Email to SJUAE     

AIS ap would be nice as well

There is "ship finder" :) but need a continuous network web access, not very reliable normally port/coastal only, but intresting.


elaelap posted 02-25-2011 04:13 PM ET (US)     Profile for elaelap  Send Email to elaelap     
As I said above, Mike, we're on exactly the same page about this stuff, and I certainly DO NOT recommend relying on an iPhone app as a principal GPS get-home device (at least if you venture out of sight of land or boat in a potentially fog-bound location). When I said "consider the alternative" I was referring the my earlier comment about "limping" home --I meant to imply that I wasn't really complaining, but instead was pleased that I could make it at all ;-)


towboater posted 02-25-2011 07:41 PM ET (US)     Profile for towboater  Send Email to towboater     
THx Steve.


I use this site to track Ships and Tows ETA's on my home/office desktop. Now that Sprint offers unlimited data plans I can afford, soon to have a smart phone that is hot spot enabled to use laptop or Ipad on the tug, pickup, whaler...wherever. A helm mounted AIS wont cover as many bases.


David Jenkins posted 02-25-2011 10:59 PM ET (US)     Profile for David Jenkins  Send Email to David Jenkins     
I just spent eight days on a 60' motor yacht in the British Virgin Islands. We had several GPS devices on board, but the navigation device that everyone grew to like the most was my iPad with the Navionics application (Caribbean version).

My iPad is the G3 version but I had "Enable G3" turned OFF as I did not want to risk paying international roaming charges. The iPad's internal GPS always had us located within a few seconds of starting the application. And we used the application throughout the BVIs.

If I had not purchased the G3 model then the iPad would not have an internal GPS and would have relied on wifi hot spots to determine location. That would not have helped us at all.

So if you are considering the purchase of an iPad, make sure that you get the G3 version as you can then use it as a GPS, even if you never enable the G3 capability.

Also, if you take the iPad and Navionics application to the Caribbean, make sure that you download all of the charts that you need before you leave a wifi hot spot. Just purchasing the application does not put all of the charts on your phone or iPad—you have to download the charts after purchasing the application. Just start the application, zoom out, select an area, click on Menu, then click on download chart. There is no additional charge, but you do have to take the time to download the areas you want. I suppose that you could download all of the charts if needed.

SJUAE posted 02-26-2011 08:58 AM ET (US)     Profile for SJUAE  Send Email to SJUAE     

Or even, what good do they do you on a laptop with no GPS

What makes you think laptops etc don't have GPS ?

Long before GPS was integrated into smartphones and PDA's small bluetooth and compact flash units etc were available many of these would work with laptops providing you had the map software to read these devices :)

Of course Navionics laptop/PC software is a planning tool only so no GPS interface

I still have a little bluetooth one by Nokia that also had a magnetic base for extrnal mounting


jimh posted 02-26-2011 09:47 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
jimh posted 02-26-2011 09:50 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
A GPS receiver with a USB output only costs about $35. I recommend the GLOBALSAT BU-353 GPS receiver. The BU-353 is a very advanced GPS receiver. I have used it with my Apple MacBook Pro laptop. See

SJUAE posted 02-26-2011 02:22 PM ET (US)     Profile for SJUAE  Send Email to SJUAE     
Those are nice units it's years since I looked
elaelap posted 02-26-2011 06:55 PM ET (US)     Profile for elaelap  Send Email to elaelap     
So let me get this straight -- I hook one of those GPS 'dongles' up via a USB2 port to an old laptop on which I've downloaded Warren's $25.00 Navionics package, and I've got a 15 inch screen color chartplotter?! Man oh man...what am I missing here?


K Albus posted 02-26-2011 10:01 PM ET (US)     Profile for K Albus  Send Email to K Albus     
What you're missing is that a laptop is not waterproof, probably doesn't have a sunlight readable screen, and is generally quite large compared to most chart plotters. In other words, using a laptop as a chart plotter is not a good idea on a small open boat.
WT posted 02-26-2011 10:19 PM ET (US)     Profile for WT  Send Email to WT
WT posted 02-26-2011 11:41 PM ET (US)     Profile for WT  Send Email to WT     
"So let me get this straight -- I hook one of those GPS 'dongles' up via a USB2 port to an old laptop on which I've downloaded Warren's $25.00 Navionics package, and I've got a 15 inch screen color chartplotter?!"

The answer is no. I believe Steve is correct, the $25 cheapo Navionics PC package does not interface with a gps.

But for $25, I have charts of the entire USA including Alaska, Hawaii and the Bahamas, Great Lakes, Mississippi River that I can scan with my 27 inch monitor. :-)

Isn't technology cool?


WT posted 02-27-2011 02:42 AM ET (US)     Profile for WT  Send Email to WT     
Mike and Steve:

AIS is just too cool. That is great info especially in and out of San Francisco Bay where there is lots of traffic.

Standard Horizon has a VHF radio with AIS built in. ProdCatID=83&encProdID=A2C2F4EB2A092075389DC4199A79B6C1&DivisionID=3& isArchived=0

I want one!


jimh posted 02-27-2011 01:43 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Typically you can get free charts from your government. You can get low-cost chart applications, too. Check out


This is a laptop application, not a smart phone application.

SJUAE posted 02-27-2011 04:45 PM ET (US)     Profile for SJUAE  Send Email to SJUAE     

I have one :) is the good news the bad news I can get it to talk to my Lorwance HDS-5's as my one is the original GX2100 from last year that needs a 200USD multiplexer or a HDS8 or 10 with dual NMEA ports

The new GX2150 has the multiplexer built in so if you need a good deal on a nearly new white GX2100 drop me a line :)


There is a really good website with lots of resources

There is some good free PC software out there that even allows you to scan or use free maps and digitise the scale etc


K Albus posted 02-27-2011 05:37 PM ET (US)     Profile for K Albus  Send Email to K Albus     
In the Navionics for PC app, the U.S.A. charts only include the U.S. portions of the Great Lakes. If you want the entire Great Lakes you need to buy the Canada charts instead, which cost an additional $5.

I was disappointed recently when I discovered that the Garmin g2 U.S.A. chart chip that I bought for my handheld GPS does not have complete coverage for the Great Lakes. It only includes the U.S. portion plus some basic information for the Canadian portion of the Great Lakes. If I want full Great Lakes coverage, I will have to spend another $160 and get the Canadian chart card.

If you plan on using a laptop for a chart plotter, and you plan to stay primarily in U.S. waters, there is free chart plotting software available online (such as Sea Clear II), and you can get free vector charts from NOAA. These will work with the GPS dongle, and will show your current position on the chart, just like any standard chart plotter.

elaelap posted 02-28-2011 12:59 PM ET (US)     Profile for elaelap  Send Email to elaelap     
I was actually thinking about the laptop/GPS for my sailboat, where it would stay below. Albus is correct -- a laptop would be way too big to use on a Montauk, and I hadn't even thought about the possible trouble viewing the screen in sunlight. Great information, guys. I've read about many passage-making sailors using laptops as navigation tools, but always thought that the cost would be prohibitive.

BTW, I just had my first chance to test the iPhone Navionics set-up yesterday, and it performed well. I cruised down the Petaluma River into San Pablo Bay (the upper west arm of the San Francisco Bay) down as far as the Pump House, and matched the performance of the iPhone with my Lawrence chartplotter. Spot on, and easier to read in the sunlight than my Garmin handheld. Very pleased (and still very cold the next day...though clear, calm and sunny yesterday, it was in the low 40s; considering the dreaded wind chill factor from my 25-30 mph cruise ~40 statute mile roundtrip cruise, brrrr!).


20dauntless posted 02-28-2011 06:51 PM ET (US)     Profile for 20dauntless    
Tony, I've used laptops (Macs and PC's) for navigation occasionally and carry one with me on longer trips for backup or clarification. I use them in a C-Dory 22, inside a pilothouse, and sun (do we have any in the PNW?) isn't really a problem. I would suspect that the cabin on a sailboat would be even better since there are fewer windows.

A few thoughts on computer navigation, though. Power can be an issue. I run mine off an inverter, which is great when the engine is running. If you were sailing, power might be a bigger concern. The other issue is user interface. Frankly, my Raymarine C80 is easier to use when underway, especially when bouncing around in rough seas. It's also more durable and I don't have to worry about breaking it if it falls off the dash or table.

towboater posted 03-04-2011 05:47 AM ET (US)     Profile for towboater  Send Email to towboater     
Just finished watching a interesting program that showed the [problems] a Mersk Panamax Container ship faces passing through the Panama Canal. Although this huge ship has every concievable navigation aid on the bridge, the pilot was using a personal laptop to navigate the ship. [The program] only showed him standing off to the side of the helm, looking ahead, and at the laptop for 30 seconds, did not mention which progams or apps he was using, but [the laptop] looked very similar to my Panasonic Semi-Toughbook which is about the same price as a big [iPad]. Semi-tough has aluminum case, covered ports, HD handle, water resistant, warranteed not to break with three-foot drop, wi-fi enabled, great customer service. The outfit I purchased from online was Arizona based. Price has gone up since I purchased mine two years ago. Looks like nice upgrades since. LINK to vendor of laptop
jimh posted 03-04-2011 09:44 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
The greatest problems with using a laptop at the helm of a small boat are:

--display visibility in sun light

--user input using keyboard and mouse or touchpad

--damage to laptop from water splashing

--convenient operation from 12-volt power

The linked Panasonic laptop mentioned above has a price of about $1,600, which is much greater than an iPad. Adding the daylight viewable display option raises the price almost $800 more to $2,400.

SJUAE posted 03-04-2011 02:51 PM ET (US)     Profile for SJUAE  Send Email to SJUAE     

Your comments apply equally to any non marinised laptop/Ipad/Tablet/Smartphone.

Most good laptop OEM provide what was commonly called an airplane adapter kit for running from 12/24v supply reducing the requiremnts of an inverter for 110/240V laptop chargers.

The connectivity and availability of commercial marine products for laptops/macbooks for those with a bigger budget makes them an invaluable tool that our little mobile platforms cannot even get close.

Of course most of these are outside BW user requirements or budgets.


jimh posted 03-05-2011 12:51 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I know it is possible to operate a laptop that needs a power supply of, say, 19-volts, from a power source that provides 12-volts by using a special convertor or power adaptor, but my point in mentioning this problem was to contrast this with modern marine electronics which are designed to run on 12-volts.

I cannot imagine that someone would make a marine GPS receiver and chart plotter product that needed 19-volts to run, and then suggest the buyer also buy a convertor or adaptor to run it from 12-volts. A truly marine-ready computer should be built to run from 12-volts directly.

The power drain of these iPad or iPhone devices is rather low, and their native power supply voltage is probably 5-volts. It is generally easier to get 5-volts from 12-volts than it is to get 19-volts from 12-volts, and running the iPad or iPod type devices from 12-volts will not be very complicated.

WT posted 03-05-2011 01:57 AM ET (US)     Profile for WT  Send Email to WT     
Here is my backup [GPS receiver] for my 170 Montauk that I have on my console in addition to my fixed mounted GPS and fish finder: portable, marine charts, street maps, street navigation, 12 volt, upgradeable chips, viewable in sunlight.

You might be able to find one for less than $500.


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