Maritime apps for your next vacation by the sea

Of all summertime pleasures, few are quite as irresistible as a waterfront getaway, be it an ocean, a lake or a city port. You can swim, sail, fish and partake in the age-old tradition of lazing around.

But a seaside holiday is also an opportunity for discovery. Maybe you want to learn how to tie fishing and boat knots? Or decipher the colorful signal flags Do you see on ships and in shops by the sea? With the right app, you can intensify your holiday on the water: identify the fish you just caught or the ship passing by, find out about the shell you have discovered or the lake you are diving into, explore, watch shark migrations nearby and study the rhythms of the moon and tides while keeping your toes in the sand.

One evening, as I watched a ship slip into a harbor, I wondered aloud where it might have been. “Let’s find out,” said a friend, who then pulled out his phone and opened MarineTraffic – Ship Tracking, an app that can identify ships near and far.

The app’s live map lets you zoom in and out of major ports and shipping routes around the world to see ships, their details and itineraries. Each ship is represented by a colored icon, including dark blue for passenger ships, orange for fishing vessels, and purple for yachts and pleasure craft. For example, when I was looking at a Norwegian cruise ship on the Hudson River in New York, I opened the map (there is a desktop version at MarineTraffic.com), tapped the icon and was immediately presented with a photo of the ship with information such as name , flag, last known port (it had been at Kings Wharf, Bermuda two days earlier), speed and status (it was moored as opposed to, say, underway, with a motor). Later, as the ship departed, I opened the app and saw at a glance that it was now on its way to Norfolk, Virginia. (You can also search for a specific ship by name.)

For free; $9.99 per year for a “starter” subscription with more ship and port information and features like an augmented reality tool to identify ships with your smartphone camera. Note: The app uses a network of coastal AIS (Automatic Identification System) receivers to display vessel positions. It costs extra to unlock details for a ship that is out of its AIS range.

Planning boat trips, fishing or camping this summer? Knots 3D uses color animations to teach you how to tie more than 150 knots, from those that could help you catch a fish to those that could help save your life. Read about the uses and history of the knots, adjust the speed of the animations or pause them, rotate a knot for a different perspective, and use your finger to tie and untie it. There are several ways to search for knots to master, including by category (e.g. boating, fishing, and camping) or knot type (e.g. anchor hitch, bowline, and fisherman’s eye). Also, the app doesn’t require internet service, so you can practice in the backcountry, too.

Cost: $5.99.

You never know what creatures will share the water with you on your summer vacation. or do you

This app from Ocearch, a non-profit organization that facilitates marine and fish research worldwide, allows users to track the migrations of sharks (and some other sea creatures, like turtles) tagged with satellite tracking technology. For example, in July, I was able to see on the app’s map that an 883-pound great white shark, more than 11 feet long, was in the Atlantic Ocean off a nearby beach. The app allows you to follow such sharks as they travel thousands of miles (select “All Pings” on the app’s map to see both historical and current tracking activity). In the meantime, data collected through tracking is helping scientists to understand shark migration patterns and life cycle to better protect them and ultimately the oceans.

For free.

Open Earth 3D – World Atlas for a virtual globe that rotates with a swipe of your finger and allows you to explore wherever you are – or want to be. On a Great Lakes vacation in Wisconsin? Tap Lake Superior to learn about the first humans to arrive in the region thousands of years ago. On the South Carolina coast? Tap the Atlantic Ocean to find out how big it is. Or touch the Caribbean Current to discover where it flows. Holiday in a big city? Tap a monument or landmark like the Key West Lighthouse in Florida to learn more about it.

The information about the places comes from Wikipedia, which is easily accessible on the Internet. And Earth 3D lacks the granularity of, say, that Google Earth apartment Nonetheless, it’s a charming, eye-pleasing way to sparkle Interest in geography and history, especially among young people.

Cost: $2.99.

(For a more whimsical compendium, try this Atlas Obscura Travel Guide App that allows you to discover lesser-known attractions in your area or elsewhere in the world on an interactive map. And you can’t beat the price: free.)

Let’s say you are walking along the shore when you spot an unfamiliar object. Whether it’s a shell, a piece of coral, a plant, or a bug, try consulting Google Lens. Just point your smartphone camera at what you want to know, and Lens will search the web for visual matches and information. For example, when it aimed for a clam recently, it found pages of photos showing it was probably a lunar snail.

You can also point your camera at a building or statue to discover its history. And you don’t have to do it in real-time either: Lens works with images in photos too. Some objects produce more useful results than others, but Lens is undoubtedly a powerful tool. Available as an app for Android; iOS users can download the Google app that allows you to search for images using Lens.

For free.

This digital reference guide for boaters provides information on essential topics such as collision avoidance. But myself Beachgoers who have never set foot on board can use Navigation Rules Pro to decipher the sights and sounds of a seaside vacation. You can find out what those colorful flags and pennants mean (and how they each correspond to a letter) with, for example, the app guide to the International Code of Signals, a system ships use to communicate. Simply enter “ICS” in the search function to learn how signals can be sent and to view flag images, their meaning, associated letters and phonetic letters of the alphabet.

Or maybe you want to learn international Morse code using the app’s dot and line charts (just search for “morse”), or learn more about the earth and its coordinates by selecting the “Naval Charts” section. Much of this information can be found online for free, although the app has it all in one place. So you can sit at a bar on the harbor and read things that interest you with one hand while sipping a beer with the other, e.g. B. how waves form at sea. For iOS only.

Cost: $4.99.

Keeping track of time may not be necessary on every type of vacation, but if you’re hoping to catch sunrise or cross a sandbar before high tide, a little planning is in order. Tides Near Me makes it easy to check currents and get the time of the next high tide, sunset or moonrise. Look further ahead by tapping the Week tab. For free.

For a more sophisticated experience, consider shelling out a few dollars Tide Warning (NOAA) – United States, which has an inviting, interactive user interface and uses tide forecast data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. A chart with a wavy line represents the ebb and flow. A yellow dot on the line indicates the current time and tide height. You can drag the yellow dot forward or backward with your finger, virtually traveling back in time to see the tides, or forward to see what they’re forecasting. Moon and sun symbols on the chart show you the times of sunrise, sunset, moonrise and moonset. You can also see this information at a glance by tapping Rise & Set. Touch the calendar icon to view monthly moon phase calendars. iOS only. Cost: Free trial, then $3.99 for three months; $11.99 per year.

Surfers might also want to take a look at those MSW surf forecast App by Magicseaweed for forecasts that include surf and wave height. For free. An ad-free pro version with features like live Surf cams from around the world are available for $12.99 per month; $99.99 per year (Free Pro trial available).

And if you plan to go fishing, check this out fishangler App to explore fishing spots and view tide phase and barometric pressure charts, weather and wind conditions, sun and moon states, and a “fish forecast” that suggests the best times to fish based on solunar charts (as the moon and sun can). concern anglers). Even if you can’t catch anything, you can use the app to find out about top species in your area, whether it’s an American monkfish or a yellowtail snapper. For free.

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