Posts Tagged ‘Navigation’

From: Boat US News:

It’s over 70 years old, a thin magenta-colored line appearing on over 50 different navigational charts covering the Atlantic Coast and Gulf, snaking along the route of the Intracoastal Waterway. Now, thanks to NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey and a public-private partnership with Active Captain, an interactive cruising guidebook, NOAA will be updating the “magenta line” on all of its newly-issued navigational charts to help keep boaters in safe waters. Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) submitted comments on the proposal to NOAA, who had initially proposed removing the line entirely. However, responding to BoatUS’ and other boaters’ comments, NOAA will tap into users of Active Captain to update the route in an on-going effort that will benefit the boating community.


The thin magenta colored line marking the Intracoastal Waterway is like a yellow brick road for boaters transiting the East and Gulf Coasts. Credit: Boat US

“Some boaters had assumed the magenta line, which was last updated in 1935, was a precise route through safe waters,” said BoatUS Government Affairs Senior Program Coordinator David Kennedy. “However, over time the forces of nature made the line inaccurate as shoals shifted and underwater topography changed, leading some boats into shallows, over dangerous obstructions, or even into land. We thank NOAA for a change of course in keeping the magenta line, listening to boaters and coming up with a creative public-private partnership that recognizes the value of this important guide to navigation.”
The magenta line appears in charts covering all Intracoastal waters, and is essentially two distinct routes along the eastern US and Gulf Coasts totaling about 3,000 miles in length. Said Captain Shep Smith, chief of NOAA’s Coast Survey’s Marine Chart Division, “Today’s decision to reinstate the magenta line is not a quick fix. It will take at least three years to fix problems that were 70 years in the making.”

Boaters may contribute to the updating effort by joining Active Captain at www.activecaptain.com.

Jeffrey Siegel, owner of ActiveCaptain said in his recent newsletter, “In September 2013, US/NOAA began asking boaters for feedback on the “magenta line” – the magenta colored overlay on US charts showing the recommended route of travel for the various US intracoastal waterways: New Jersey, Atlantic, Dismal Swamp, Florida West Coast, Gulf West, Gulf East, Okeechobee Lake, and Okeechobee Rim. The line first appeared in 1912, saw a major update in 1935, with only rare updates since then. This has caused many tense moments as the real channel has shifted away from the marked channel leaving boaters confused about the correct path. ActiveCaptain hazard markers have helped with those, “what do I do here?” moments.

The feedback from boaters was heard loud and clear by NOAA. They claim that 99.9% requested that NOAA maintain the magenta line rather than remove it.

How will they go about fixing the magenta line?

That was part 2 of the NOAA Coast Survey announcement. They have added ActiveCaptain to their “cartographic toolkit in the chart evaluation system.” Last year NOAA licensed the ActiveCaptain data for internal use. We wrote some custom software to make it easier for the cartographers to use the hazard data you provide to help update charts and fix the magenta line. The first part of the software has been delivered to NOAA for their use.

NOAA approached us because they were already using the hazard data to locate problems but had to manually search on areas of interest to see what needed attention. Now hazard changes are automatically presented to them so they can quickly go through the changes and determine whether additional surveys or chart changes are needed.”



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Choosing the right navigation app is no easy feat. Some cost a few precious boat bucks just to download, and “free” doesn’t necessarily mean activecapt-screenshot“less” when it comes to features. With the recent news that NOAA will stop printing paper charts this April, iPads are fast replacing chart plotters on the bridge or in the cockpit.

As a former cruiser, I often relied on print cruising guides to learn about a new port or cruising area. As we all know, this kind of information is always in flux. And there’s the rub: How do we get the latest information, preferably from other cruisers? The answer: AC.

For the past few years ActiveCaptain (AC) has grown and expanded to include over 100,000 boaters who write reviews and updates on anchorages, ports, hazards, facilities and more, all around the world.

Sail with confidence with any of the five navigation apps below. They all include ActiveCaptain data as an overlay for members. (AC membership is free).

SKIPPER (Ver 1.2)
Trailerbehind, Inc. – Free

skipper-app-iconThe newest offering in the Apps Store is Skipper and the free version isn’t just a trial; it includes a handy NOAA online chart viewer for onshore planning and satellite imagery on shore. For the Pro version you pay an annual fee of $12/year and you don’t have to pay extra for the charts you’ve already paid the Government for in taxes. NOAA Charts are auto-updated (or choose Google Earth or Topo maps, including historic topos. What fun!). All is cached and displayed offline very seamlessly, except weather and Google Earth requires an online connection. It also does routes/waypoints and real-time navigation (which Garmin’s app doesn’t do). Your subscription syncs your personal data and routes, waypoints, tracks, etc. between your multiple devices. Raster charts (the best!) load fast and look great since they are mosaic-ed together and are only 1.8GB each for the smallest possible download size. Skipper’s creator, Andrew Johnson says that Inland Rivers Charts including all NOAA vector charts will be added soon and he is working on ways to integrate Open Street Map technology. Perhaps my dream of having one app that shows both Charts and Maps may soon become real!

garmin-iconGarmin BlueChart Mobile (Ver 1.4)
Garmin International – Free (Charts are available via in-app purchase and range from $30 -$70).

BlueChart uses vector charts with features such as search, routes, waypoints, weather stations (choose conditions overlay showing dew points, temperatures, wind direction and speed, water temp, visibility) GRIB weather with wave heights and period, celestial data, measuring feature, real-time tracking. Each icon gives great details when tapped. Lots of overlay features can clutter up the chart but choosing which ones to view is easy using the cool “radial chart object menu”.


Charts & Tides (Ver 4.7)
Navimatics  – $19.99 *

The first full resolution, seamless charting iPad app. Charts&Tides uses NOAA and CHS vector cartography. Covers all of U.S. and Canada and cost $20-$40. New features include AIS support, Closest Point of Approach (CPA) computations and alerts, more connectivity options for GPS (WiFi, GPSD), new Dead Reckoning Mode and interface improvements.

*This just in… Now you don’t have to open a different app to chart a new area of the world. Navimatics has just added a newly developed chart engine to Charts & Tides for iOS and for Mac computers. Now the app is free and you can add  these two options:
– The entire US NOAA collection of charts: $19.99
– The entire US NOAA collection + CHS Canadian charts: $39.99


PolarView MX (Ver 1.2.4)
PolarNavy – $3.99

From the folks who brought you affordable PC and MacOS charting. Their PolarView MX app for iPhone or iPad offers both vector and raster chart viewing combined with extensive instrument support that many mariners are seeking. Chart coverage includes U.S. and U.K. and world-wide charts are available.

SEAiq (Ver 3.4.0)
Sakhalin, LLC – $9.99

SEAiq-Open_iconDeveloped by software engineer/live aboard world cruiser, Mark Hayden. SEAiq uses free NOAA vector charts. Try SEAiq Free first, then upgrade to SEAiq USA or Open for $9.99 with in app purchase to enable all features. SEAiq Open allows you to use your own vector charts. (S-57, S-63, CM93, iENC, BSB, and KAP) or you can purchase charts for anywhere in the world from ChartWorld. Also, with Inland ENC support, you can download hundreds for free charts for many rivers in Europe. Other features: Import/export waypoints and routes. NMEA data, AIS, Track recording, GRIB weather downloads, anchor alarm, instrument data, TCP/IP WiFi NEMA data.

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Out with the old?

In a press release issued yesterday, October 22, NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey, which creates and maintains the nation’s suite of thousands of nautical charts, announced that it will no longer print traditional lithographic (paper) nautical charts. The release went on to say that NOAA will continue to provide other forms of nautical charts, including print on demand (POD) and for electronic charting systems.

“Like most other mariners, I grew up on NOAA lithographic charts and have used them for years,” said Rear Admiral Gerd Glang, director of NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey. “We know that changing chart formats and availability will be a difficult change for some mariners who love their traditional paper charts, but we’re still going to provide other forms of our official charts.”


Plotting on paper

Since 1862, those lithographic nautical charts — available in marine shops and other stores — have been printed by the U.S. government and sold to the public by commercial vendors. The decision to stop production is based on several factors, including the declining demand for lithographic charts, the increasing use of digital and electronic charts, and federal budget realities.

“With the end of traditional paper charts, our primary concern continues to be making sure that boaters, fishing vessels, and commercial mariners have access to the most accurate, up-to-date nautical chart in a format that works well for them,” said Capt. Shep Smith, chief of Coast Survey’s Marine Chart Division. “Fortunately, advancements in computing and mobile technologies give us many more options than was possible years ago.”


Is it best to have both?

NOAA will continue to create and maintain other forms of nautical charts, including the increasingly popularPrint on Demand (POD) charts, updated paper charts available from NOAA-certified printers. NOAAelectronic navigational charts (NOAA ENC®) and raster navigational charts (NOAA RNC®), used in a variety of electronic charting systems, are also updated weekly and are available for free download from the Coast Survey website.

The world of navigation is benefiting from advances in technology, Smith explained. He said that NOAA will consult with chart users and private businesses about the future of U.S. navigation, especially exploring the use of NOAA charts as the basis for new products.

The Bottom Line


Electronic navigation is increasingly popular with recreational boaters.

It seems clear that NOAA isn’t making enough income off of paper. So they are moving towards more lucrative delivery systems.

This is good news for trailblazers like ActiveCaptain, the first to market with a crowd-sourced, electronic navigation product and the only Interactive Cruising Guidebook online. Since then, ActiveCaptain has been integrated with top e-nav systems across all platforms, like Garmin’s BlueChart Mobile, Navimatics Charts & Tides, Polarview, SEAiq, Jeppesen’s C-MAP, MaxSea, Nobeltec, and more.

Stop the Presses!

With all these choices available to everyone’s price-range, it’s no wonder NOAA has made the decision to stop the presses.

Paper charts will ultimately go the way of the Newspaper. As the developer of ActiveCaptain put it, ” I think that’s a big announcement and is just one more of a series of nails in the coffin of paper charts. It acknowledges what has happened in every other industry which has experienced similar technology changes. In this case, it’s the chart image, not the media, that’s important.”

It probably bodes well for cruising guide publishers like On The Water ChartGuides. Publisher Mark Doyle learned early on that if you’re going to compete in the digital navigation market, you’ll need to update often. His Intracoastal Waterway CruiseGuide and other guides come with free daily updates and alerts via Facebook, Twitter, RSS, and even text or email. As people find it too expensive to purchase charts Printed On Demand, they will want to turn to these comfortable chart books for detailed information and charts of US waterways.


PDF Chart of San Francisco Bay from NOAA.

FREE CHARTS! (For a Limited Time)

For a limited time, NOAA is offering its entire suite of charts in PDF file format. For the three-month trial period, you can download about a thousand high-resolution printable nautical charts – almost the entire suite of charts. These PDFs are exact images of the traditional charts we have come to love, currently printed by lithography. They are available now! Go to: http://www.nauticalcharts.noaa.gov/pdfcharts/ for info and to download the PDF charts. You’ll need to have their Chart Viewer to choose which numbers you want.

So whether you decide to give up your paper charts and go solely digital or hold out for another year, keep in mind that if you are using paper, you’ll have to check Local Notice to Mariners for updates – a time-consuming job, for sure!

Check out the discussion (it’s a lively one!) on ActiveCaptains eBoatCards Discussion Group. It’s free to join.


Lastly, if you’re thinking about tossing your paper charts, consider giving them a second life by donating them to a local sailing group. Or send them to me and I will up cycle them into something very cool!


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12 Apps – On 12:12:12 – to Make Your Time on the Water Great! 

(Just updated!)

By Nancy Birnbaum

best of apps-screen

It seems like there are five times as many apps for boating enthusiasts than there were when I wrote my first annual “Best Boating Apps” review, back in 2009.

Boaters are catching the wave and diving into the App Store for everything from navigation & charting to basic communications apps for their iPads, and Apple says that they’ve sold over 100 million of them since they first hit the market. With over 12,175,900 registered vessels in the U.S. alone, I wouldn’t be surprised to find that a few million boaters now use a mobile device of some kind. Fortunately for those who have climbed onboard the mobile tech boat, there are some terrific new apps ready to make boating even more fun and safe.

The biggest change over the past year for handheld devices is the number of apps now available that connect to NMEA data via WiFi and TCIP.  Which reminds me of the top question readers ask me, “How can I interface my boats’ systems to my iPad?” Some great news for the techie-types who want to virtually “run” their boat from the palm of their hand.

Many developers like Digital Yachts, Zapf, Ocean Equipment and ShipModul, have brought this capability to the world of iOS, thereby allowing data from instruments like wind and speed, as well as AIS and radar to be streamed to a laptop over WLAN or over WiFi to an iOS device. Note: You must have a device (such as Digital Yacht’s iAIS or SeaMate1A) that will get your NMEA data from your boat’s network to your various i-devices. But the good news is that it’s getting easier to integrate and the new apps are really well designed.

Here are a few for your consideration:


Garmin BlueChart Mobilegarmin-icon
Garmin International
Free (Charts are available via in-app purchase and range from $29.99 -$69.99)

Just released in November 2012, BlueChart Mobile is the next level of Charting for boaters with iPads. It does what most of the top Nav apps do, like use the same BlueChart data available for Garmin chartplotters right on your iPad, but that’s where the similarities end and the amazing design takes you on a whole new voyage to charting heaven. The first big new element is the download interface. With BlueChart Mobile, once you’ve got your chart (via the easy in-app purchase), you’re offered a large-scale view of the area (say North America), with a simple grid overlay. By clicking on a specific box you can choose which areas to download—a great space-saver for your device. Zoom into to see chart features and overlays for weather conditions, (temps, wind direction/speed) grib info and ActiveCaptain content overlaid on the chart data.

One drawback: The new Garmin app does not support NMEA or AIS or any of the WiFi units mentioned here. Plus, you’ll have to buy iPad charts even though you may already have charts for your Garmin chart plotter.

BlueChart Mobile has ActiveCaptain inside! For those of you not already using it, ActiveCaptain is a web community that provides real-time content generated by mariners, for mariners. It’s a virtual cruising guide that never goes out of date. Read and write reviews about marinas, local boating knowledge, anchorages and hazards. More than 100,000 boaters write reviews and update the information on ActiveCaptain—with more users joining all the time. Best Feature: It’s seriously difficult to pick just one favorite feature on this terrific app, but it may just be the cool info wheels that pop-up when you click on any icon from the ActiveCaptain overlay or hazard. It’s just a really fun interface!


Raymarine UK

If you’re lucky enough to have Raymarine electronics onboard you’ll want to have this handy app on your iPad that lets you display everything from you e-Series or c-Series Multi-function Display (v 315 or later).

Even better than RayView, RayControl puts your iPad in the driver’s seat. Use it just as you would your Multi-function Display, with touch screen interaction and a virtual slide-out MFD keypad. Chart plotting, depth/Fishfinder, engine systems, radar, even view video from any installed cameras. Uses onboard WiFi network.


SEAiq Open/ SEAiq USASeaiqUSA-icon
Sakhalin, LLC
Free (Charts are available via in-app purchase). The USA version is $9.99 with free charts from NOAA

What makes one Nav app stand apart from all the others? In the case of the new SEAiq, it’s the ability to view always up-to-date vector charts of the USA; however the free versions do limit you to only displaying charts of scales greater than 1:50,000 until you purchase the upgrade.  Vector charts offer more detail and faster scrolling than Raster.  SEAiq Open is unique for allowing users to install their own charts, including S-57, S-63, and CM93 charts, which means that you don’t have to purchase the same charts you’ve already bought a few times over. Though the interface is less than ideal (transfer chart files via iTunes), it is another great benefit not found in other nav apps.

You’ll need a fast connection to set it up the first time. SEAiq Free and SEAiq Open are among the few navigation apps with a useful free version. All the versions offer some good bells & whistles including ActiveCaptain, WiFi NMEA, AIS, and night color modes. You’ll need a fast connection for the set up. I found it took quite some time to download charts or transfer ActiveCaptain data and wished that it could have done it in the background while I went on with other things.  Best Feature: ActiveCaptain interface and support of external NMEA/AIS over WiFi. In fact, according to the creator of SEAiq Mark Hayden (a sailor and delivery captain), it is the ONLY charting app of those reviewed here that supports NMEA and AIS over WiFi and TCP. “The SEAiq AIS is good enough that professional pilots that board 1000ft freighters use it,” says Mark.



On-BoardOnBoard Icon
ONboard Solutions

It used to be that your ship’s library held all your various manuals, cruising guides and any “fun” reading took up whatever space remained. Thank goodness that ONboard came to the rescue with a great app that organizes all your boating-related reading into one really small digital space. On-Board gives you the ability to integrate and display your boat’s documents, photos, videos- both personal and from your yacht’s manufacturer, dealer or mechanic.

Get real time info from your boat’s manufacturer. Need to search for how to prime your fuel system? You can search your manuals and find it fast. Manage all your important records like maintenance, registration, insurance, financing, warranties and claims. Plus you can even manage your online subscriptions to your favorite boating pub right from the app. Best Feature: Getting your own unique email address at yourname@yacht.com!



Digital Yacht

This is the newest AIS plotter in the App Store and it’s by a UK company that seems to be putting out some pretty good onboard interface apps. AIS is great for anyone boating in crowded areas or for those curious about who’s out there. Any vessel that has a registered AIS device will show up with their name, vessel details, course, speed and direction which can be helpful when you’re in high-traffic anchorages or bays. Best Feature: iAIS also can be used as an overlay with iNavX. Now that’s handy!



Float Planfloatplan-icon
Big Tuna Apps

Everyone responsible boater knows that it’s always prudent to file a Float Plan before you depart on your trip no matter how long you expect to be out. This new app, which runs on most Apple & Android devices, will save you time due to the easy interface and ability to email a pre-filled plan to anyone you choose. Though, I found it a little clumsy in my test of the app, specifically when trying to check off selections in lists like Safety gear. One improvement would be to have a default save New Trip, so you don’t have to check that (something I didn’t see until it was too late!).


A sample floatplan that can be sent via email to your list.



Nicko Brennan

It’s one thing to be able to get good weather info while you’re out there on your boat, but knowing how to interpret that info is an entirely different thing. With PocketGrib you can access, view and analyze global weather data (with a connection of course) and then display that info even when you’re offline.

See wind speed, direction, precip, air temp, waves, current, and forecasts. Grib data is supplied by NOAA’s GFS model and is updated 4 times per day or every 6 hours. Best feature: GRIB files can be downloaded to your PC via iTunes, which means that if you’re cruising with a personal forecaster service, you can view your Gribs using PocketGrib! Best Feature: This app is very well designed, easy to use and super fast.




Intellicast Boating for iPadintellicast-icon
WSI Corporation

It now easy to get the best weather info right on your chart with Intellicasts’ Boating for iPhone/iPad. Integrates NOAA nav charts with advanced meteorological data just like their website offers. Lots of overlay options from Radar to Satellite, Wind Speed to Temps, and NWS Marine Forecasts (Offshore) and Tides. Even track Hurricanes. Best Feature: Very handy and easy to see on the iPad’s retina display. Note: a cellular or WiFi connection is needed.



Dropbox, Inc.

Not too many years ago, you either had to take your laptop with you ashore to send or receive email or better yet, take a tiny thumb drive, like we did in remote ports in Baja. Now there’s Dropbox. This handy app runs on any device and allows you to keep files of any kind in the “cloud.” That way you can access them from anywhere, either via the app or via your account on their website. The free account comes with 2GB of storage which you can add to by inviting others to join by sharing your files with them. The more you share, the more free space they give you. Or you can get a Pro plan starting at $9.99 for 100MB. Once you download those files, your space is freed up for more!


America’s Cup/America’s Cup HD (for iPad)AC-icon
America’s Cup Event Authority, LLC

Just in time for the 2013 finals! The app gives you the latest news, event schedules and great videos. Enjoy the races anytime using the Virtual Eye 3D viewer including historical races. Listen to live commentary and onboard audio feeds streamed directly from the racing yachts when the finals start up in August/September. In the meantime, you can follow along as the teams wreck (er, I mean – race!) their yachts in practice events.


Caramba Apps

Easily measure the distance from your stern to that yacht that anchored right on top of you! Uses your iPhone’s camera to measure with a great 3D grid overlay. Just set up once (an easy task) and measure away! (Also a great golf aid).


Whale Alert – Ship Strike Reduction for Right Whaleswhalealert-icon

You may have noticed more news about whales trying to jump on boats or boats running into whales. As more of us venture out into their world, chances of running into them increase. Now there’s even an app for avoiding whales by the good folks at EarthNC (makers of Marine Charts with ActiveCaptain!).

Whale Alert was designed to assist in the management of right whale conservation areas and to help reporting in shipping lanes in and around Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. Whale Alert can help reduce the likelihood of ships colliding with these endangered whales, which can injure or kill them. It is not meant to be used alone but to compliment existing protective measures. Whale Alert is the first mobile application to take advantage of the transmission of environmental data over the AIS protocol. The system takes DMA and real-time right whale observations and displays that data graphically, directly within the app.


Happy Holidays!

Tell us your favorite Boating App! Like us on Twitter.

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Easy-to-use & Affordable Navigation for America’s Boaters


ORLANDO, Fla. – Aug. 27, 2012Derek Trauger & Associates, LLC (DTA), announced the release of their updated boating app – Simple Charts, now the easiest marine navigation app available to the nation’s more than 12.5 million registered boaters.

First released in August of 2011, Simple Charts provides seamless high resolution marine charting on either the iPhone or iPad without advertisements. The new version includes popular user-requested upgrades such as access to current NOAA Weather data; Aids to Navigation including obstructions based on both NOAA and USCG data; Current track export to Google Earth and Google Maps; plus additional charts for Mexico (Sea of Cortez) provided by Blue Latitude Press) and Social Media Integration.

Simple Charts combines an always-available mobile chart plotting solution, regardless of whether you have an Internet connection (charts must first be pre-cached), with a truly clutter-free interface. This handy navigation app offers full resolution seamless marine charting and is compatible with both the iPhone and iPad. With just a few simple screen taps, boaters can view all NOAA Raster Navigational Charts (RNCs) that automatically load no matter where you are in the U.S. Using the handy in-app purchase users can now add charts of Brazil, with more areas to be added.

Simple Charts is available as an iPhone/iPad app download for just $9.99, still the most affordable, full-featured charting app currently offered. Now available for Android phones! Simple Charts can be downloaded through iTunes at http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/simple-charts/id451093694?mt=8#



About Derek Trauger & Associates, LLC


Derek Trauger & Associates is an Orlando-based design and development company specializing in the development, customization and implementation of custom software applications. Derek Trauger & Associates believe that their products should be easy to use, natural and create an intuitive experience that help people accomplish those everyday tasks easily. They have produced many well-known boating apps including Dive Spots, the BoatUS “find me” app, and Boat Ramps, which received the Boating Industry’s prestigious Innovation Award.

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ActiveCaptain, the world’s first interactive, user-supported, cruising guide, has announced a new partnership with Garmin International.

In a press release dated February 15, 2012, Jeffrey Siegel, Owner/Co-Founder of ActiveCaptain, announced that Garmin has become the first officially -licensed company to integrate ActiveCaptain into their BlueChart Mobile app for iPad and iPhone.

Siegel wrote, “As the first major marine electronics manufacturer to publicly license ActiveCaptain, the stage is set for another doubling of AC users to over 200,000 members.”

Engelhard (Al) Sundoro, Garmin’s Senior Director, Marine Sales and Marketing said, “We’re proud to partner with ActiveCaptain to make the boating experience even more pleasurable. The content provided by the ActiveCaptain community is a great complement to Garmin’s BlueChart Mobile application – now, not only will mariners have the latest charts and service data from Garmin, but they’ll also have access to a wealth of information directly from other captains.”

Garmin’s new app isn’t available yet, but will be after the formal announcement at the Miami International Boat Show, this weekend – Feb. 16-20. It will debut at the Garmin booth (#1689) and ActiveCaptain support will be demonstrated with live data.

BlueChart will be free of charge through the iTunes App Store, but users will pay to download various charts regions as needed. It provides integration for route planning and totally integrates with the real-time, synchronized data from the ActiveCaptain servers. It does not require Garmin chartplotters but has extra capabilities if you also have other Garmin hardware.

Up-To-Date Cruising Information… In the palm of your hand

Most cruisers would agree that having a member-updated cruising guide is the best way to get the most accurate, useful information about anchorages, ports and even hazards.

“Bringing more boaters to the ActiveCaptain community is a huge win for the entire boating community, especially outside the U.S., where Garmin’s support for international chart data will merge perfectly with our international content.”

Currently the scope of the data is focused primarily on the U.S., but that will surely change quickly as more international users come onboard. As more boaters share their local knowledge and cruising experiences with others in the boating community, everyone benefits. One of my favorite aspects of ActiveCaptain is the ratings system where cruisers can share their knowledge of any particular anchorage by assessing aspects like holding, wind protection, wake protection, shopping and access to shore – all important to those visiting for the first time. Printed cruising guides tend to become inaccurate as soon as they hit the stores, so interactive guides like ActiveCaptain are more useful whether one is out for a daysail or cruising the world.

Anyone can become a member of the ActiveCaptain community. It’s free to join and begin posting information. There’s also incentives to contribute. Members earn points for entering information on marinas and fuel pricing and then exchange those points for logo-wear, products and occasional special promotions by marinas.

ActiveCaptain is also available as an overlay on another charting app for the iPhone/iPad, namely Charts&Tides by Navimatics.

ActiveCaptain’s press release:

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4thofjulyThere’s no better place to watch a spectacular fireworks display light up the summer sky then from your boat! Your Cruising Editor has scoured the net to bring you this comprehensive list of firework celebrations that can be viewed by boat (Keep in mind that all of these displays are weather dependent -just like boating!).

Also, please take a look at the end of the list for some important safety tips to having a safe Fourth on the water. Enjoy!

New York Fireworks

Fireworks at Coney Island | When: 9:30 every Friday night during the summer season. Where: The Cyclone Roller Coaster and Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park sponsor fireworks. Fireworks generally start the last weekend in June and conclude the Friday before Labor Day.  Note: View by boat off the beach in the ocean. For specific questions about the fireworks, please contact The Cyclone (718-265-2100) or Deno’s (718-449-8836) directly.

July 1 & 3

North Sea Fire Department Fireworks Carnival & Celebration |When: Dusk | Where: 149 Noyac Road, Southampton, 631-283-3629 By Bay Fireworks | Note: Anchor in Little Peconic Bay.

July 3 – City of Glen Cove July 4th Spectacular | When: Dusk | Where: Morgan Park, end of McCaughlin Street, Glen Cove, 516-676-2006 | Note: Anchor in Hempstead Harbor.

Peconic Riverfront Park Fireworks | When: 9:00 pm | Where: Peconic Riverfront Park, behind Main Street. Sponsored by Riverhead B.I.D. Management Association, 631-727-0048 | Note: Boaters are permitted to tie up at the Riverhead waterfront all day without a permit.  To spend the evening, a permit must be purchased at the Recreation Department.

Go 4th On The Bay | When: Dusk | Where: Point O’ Woods, Fire Island. Fireworks by Grucci | Note: Good viewing from most of the Fire Island bay fronts and shorelines of the bay from Smith Point to Bay Shore.

July 4

Stars over Montauk |  When: 9:00 pm | Where: Umbrella Beach, Montauk, 631-668-2428  www.montaukchamber.com  Fireworks by Grucci | Note: Anchor in Fort Pond Bay.

Go 4th On The Bay |  When: Dusk | Where: Patchogue, 631-286-0088 Fireworks by Grucci | Note: Good viewing from most of the Fire Island bay fronts and shorelines of the bay from Smith Point to Bay Shore.

Asharoken Village Fireworks | Where: Good viewing from LI Sound east and west of Asharoken and from Northport Bay, 631-261-7098

Macy’s 4th of July Spectacular | When: 9:00 pm | Where: Hudson River between 24th and 50th Streets, 212-494-4495 | Note: Anchorage varies; contact USCG Sector New York 718-354-403.

From BoatingTimes Long Island 

fireworks_over_biscayne-bayFlorida Fireworks

Hollywood – When: 9:00pm and 9:30pm | Where: The City of Hollywood 4th of July Celebration Fireworks will be held July 4, 2011, in the Atlantic Ocean offshore of Hollywood Beach. Fireworks are launched from a barge.

Key Biscayne – When: 4th of July, 2011, 8:30pm and 9:30pm | Where: The Village of Key Biscayne  in Miami, Fl on the ocean off Key Biscayne Beach front.

Key Largo – When: Monday, July 4, at 9 p.m. | Where: Blackwater Sound, fitting its name, provides the perfect nighttime mirror-like surface to make the annual fireworks display seem like a 3D viewing experience designed to dazzle, either by land or sea. | Note: The best seating is at Sundowners and Senior Frijoles Restaurants, Caribbean Club and Marriott Key Largo Bay Resort, all located around mile marker (MM) 104 bayside. Reservations are suggested because seating fills up early. www.keylargofireworks.com.

Palm Beach –  Where: The new West Palm Beach waterfront – the bike path along Palm Beach – and the southern causeway park on Palm Beach.

Stuart – When: starting at 4 pm. | Where: Flagler Park ‘Family Fun with Live Country Music Children’s activity area, vendors, plenty of good All American food. Stuart Community Band will be performing patriotic music beginning around 7 pm. Fireworks begin At 9 pm. Note: Boaters can view the fireworks while anchored in the river or dock at the City of Stuart courtesy dock and enjoy the activities in Flagler Park. More: July 4th Celebration & Fireworks.  Local Information: It is on the St. Lucie River downstream from the Roosevelt bridge just off the hospital. Many boats usually show up for the display.

West Palm Beach –  4th on Flagler boasts the region’s biggest and best 4th of July celebration and features three stages of non-stop entertainment, a kid’s area, food and refreshments, the unfurling of a giant American Flag, the Firefighters’ Splash and Dash and a spectacular fireworks extravaganza. Residents and visitors can enjoy the fireworks, food, concerts and much more along our City’s stunning waterfront. 4th on Flagler will be held on Monday, July 4th from 5:00 to 10:00 p.m. along Flagler Drive in Downtown West Palm Beach, with the National City Fireworks Show taking place at 9:00 p.m. This FREE event is produced by the City of West Palm Beach Mayor’s Office, Division of Community Events.  For more information on the event, visit wpb.org/4th or call 561-822-2222.

Sarasota/Manatee – Where: Longboat Key’s “Boom-Boom on the Bay” fireworks show | When: July 2nd just after dark, around 9pm. Boom-Boom On The Bay is sponsored by: The Mar Vista Dockside Restaurant and Pub, Moore’s Stone Crab Restaurant, the Longboat Observer, Cannons Marina, Longboat Key Club and the Longbeach Village Association. Note: Cannons Marina co-sponsors the fireworks event on July 2nd that will be displayed over North Sarasota Bay just after dark. For those in the boating community, this presents an excellent opportunity to have a BOAT-A-BRATION! Anchor your boat around the Intercoastal Waterway’s mile marker 39 and watch the sky light up! Seeing the colors dazzle over the water is a stunning experience you won’t want to miss.

Note: Check your current charts, and get there early to ensure a good spot to anchor. As you’ll obviously be enjoying these displays after the sun goes down, make sure you are comfortable operating your vessel at night. Keep a keen eye out for other boaters, stay at least ¼ mile away and up-wind from where the fireworks are being discharged, don’t anchor in a channel, and keep clear of any Coast Guard designated security/safety zones. Be safe and enjoy the show!


Courtesy of VisitAnnapolis.com

Maryland Fireworks and Notice to Mariners

Baltimore, Md. — Mariners are advised that the Coast Guard Captain of the Port Baltimore has received notice of the following fireworks displays, scheduled to occur on or near navigable waters during the 2011 Independence Day holiday period:

1. Chester River, Town of Chestertown, Maryland, mariners are urged to remain at least 300 yards from the fireworks discharge site located on shore near the mouth of Radcliffe Creek on July 4, 2011 (no rain date) for a display scheduled at dusk. Chart 12272.2. Fairlee Creek, Great Oak Landing Marina, Maryland, mariners are urged to remain at least 200 yards from the fireworks discharge site located on shore at Shell Point on July 2, 2011 (rain date of September 3, 2011) for a display scheduled at 9:25 p.m. Chart 12274.3. Herring Bay, Herrington Harbour South Marina, Friendship, Maryland, mariners are urged to remain at least 150 yards from the fireworks discharge site located on the south jetty on July 2, 2011 (rain date of July 3, 2011) for a display scheduled at 9:30 p.m. Chart 12266.

4. Miles River, St. Michaels, Maryland, within a 200-yard radius of the fireworks barge in approximate position 38°47′41″ N, 076°12′53″ W, located on a point of land at the mouth of Long Haul Creek on July 3, 2011 (rain date of July 4, 2011) for a fireworks display scheduled for 9 p.m. Chart 12263.

5. Patuxent River, Golden Beach/Patuxent Knolls Civic Association, Maryland, mariners are urged to remain at least 200 yards from the fireworks discharge site located on shore near Long Point on June 25, 2011 (rain date of June 26, 2011) for a display scheduled at 9 p.m. Chart 12284.

6. Potomac River, Town of Colonial Beach, Virginia, mariners are urged to remain at least 150 yards from the fireworks discharge site located at the end of the Town Pier on July 4, 2011 (rain date of July 9, 2011) for a display scheduled at 9:30 p.m. Chart 12286.

7. Rock Hall Harbor, Rock Hall, Maryland, mariners are urged to remain at least 150 yards from the fireworks discharge site located on shore on July 3, 2011 (rain date of July 4, 2011) for a display scheduled at 9 p.m. Chart 12278.

8. Sassafras River, Georgetown, Maryland, mariners are urged to remain at least 150 yards from the fireworks discharge site located on shore west of the mouth of Dyer Creek on July 4, 2011 (no rain date) for a display scheduled at 9:15 p.m. Chart 12274

9. Severn River, Sherwood Forest, Maryland, mariners are urged to remain at least 150 yards from the fireworks discharge site located at the end of the Sherwood Forest Club’s Main Pier on July 3, 2011 (rain date of July 9, 2011) for a display scheduled at 9 p.m. Chart 12282.

10. Severn River, Epping Forest, Maryland, mariners are urged to remain at least 100 yards from the fireworks discharge barge located at the mouth of Clements Creek on July 2, 2011 (no rain date) for a display scheduled at 9 p.m. Chart 12282.

11. Somers Cove, Crisfield, Maryland, mariners are urged to remain at least 100 yards from the fireworks discharge site located on shore at Jersey Island on July 3, 2011 (no rain date) for a display scheduled at 9:15 p.m. Chart 12231

12. Susquehanna River, Havre de Grace, Maryland, mariners are urged to remain at least 300 yards from the fireworks discharge site located on shore at Park Island on July 3, 2011 (no rain date) for a display scheduled at 9:30 p.m. Chart 12277

Mariners are urged to transit these areas with caution, to keep a sharp lookout for other watercraft in these areas, and are reminded to heed the directions of patrolling law enforcement and public safety officials. Absent specific guidance, mariners should remain 300 yards from any fireworks discharge site. For any comments or questions, contact Coast Guard Sector Baltimore Waterways Management Division at telephone number (410) 576-2674, (410) 576-2693 or email Ronald.L.Houck@uscg.mil.

From: Chesapeake Maritime News

Other Firework Festivities for Boaters Around the Country:

  • Boston – Charles River Boston Pops Esplanade
  • Bainbridge Island, WA –  Fireworks start at dusk on Eagle Harbor. Boaters are advised to be mindful of rocks and sandbar at the harbor entrance. Low tide is at 11 p.m. July 4. During the day, the island hosts its Bainbridge Grand Old Fourth of July from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., with a street fair, live music, an antique car show and a parade. All events are in Winslow, a short walk from Eagle Harbor Marina and The Harbour Marina.
  • Anacortes, WA – Fireworks start at dusk over Fidalgo Bay. The display will be staged just south of Anacortes Marina and will be visible from there, as well as from Cap Sante Marina. The day also includes the annual Fourth of July Parade and Patriotic Program, which starts with an 11 a.m. parade, followed by kids’ games and food at Causland Memorial Park, 710 N. Ave.
  • Friday Harbor, San Juan Islands, WA – Fireworks start at 10:15 p.m. over Friday Harbor Marina. Other July 4th events include a parade at 10:30 a.m., a Pig War picnic, firehall lunch, an antique fire equipment and car show and a “rock the dock” street dance.
  • Lake Tahoe, California – July 4, 9:30 p.m., Edgewood and Lakeside Beach
  • Dana Point 4th of July Fireworks – Monday, July 4 8:00p | Dana Point, California. Come aboard one of our beautiful boats for a special 4th of July Fireworks Display Cruise. Enjoy a unique evening of fun on the water, complete with a live Fireworks demonstration.
  • San Diego – Shelter Island, Harbor Island and the North Embarcadero area – launch fireworks simultaneously for 20 minutes.
  • July 4th Celebration & Themed Boat Parade /Fireworks – Green Lake, Wisconsin
  • Chicago – Independence Day Fireworks 2010…a Triple Play.
    This year, the City of Chicago is spreading out its fireworks spectacular. Instead of one big show at Grant Park, fireworks will be lighting up 26 miles of Chicago’s lake front with a triple play of pyrotechnics. The City has also changed the date of the celebration from July 3 to July 4.
    The simultaneous shows will fire off in the following locations:
    Mid-point: Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand Ave.
    North side: Fireworks will be set off near Montrose Beach with best viewing from Foster to Montrose near the lakefront.
    South side:  Fireworks will be set off near the 63rd St. Beach with best viewing between 63rd. St. and Promontory Point.
    Sunday, July 4th.
    All displays will begin at 9:00p.m. and last approximately 15 minutes.

It can get quite crowded out there. Please be safe!

Safety Tips Courtesy of YachtPals.com

  • Before heading out, make sure your running, steaming and anchor lights are working properly, and that you have all the necessary safety equipment aboard. Authorities will almost always be on the water with you at these events, so make sure you’re safe and legal. Also, pack some earplugs for the fireworks show if you are sensitive to noise.
  • Leave the pets at home or with friends/family.  Fireworks absolutely terrify most animals, and “S/he hates to be left out of the fun” is no excuse for torturing your beloved pet’s ears and nerves.
  • Get to your desired anchorage early, upwind of the show if possible, and set your anchor well before reducing scope. You don’t want to be jockeying for a good position at the last minute, or have your anchor lose grip in the middle of the show. Make sure you are in a safe position, and are clearly outside the restricted area of the fireworks barge.  Nothing worse than waiting all day and then being forced to move 15 minutes before the first mortar.
  • Keep libations, at least for the skipper and vital crew, to a minimum.  There will be plenty of drunks on the water, unfortunately, and you will have to keep an eye on your anchor and topsides while latecomers barrel in.  Relax, have a nice dinner, and watch the comedic “bumper boats show” while you wait for the sun to go down.
  • If you use your dinghy with an outboard in the anchorage, keep your wake down, as boats will be anchored or rafted closely.  In most jurisdictions, you are responsible for damage you cause from your wake, even on the tender.  Plus, it’s just plain rude to subject others to your need for speed.  Rule of thumb:  unless there’s an emergency, never motor in an anchorage faster than you can row.
  • Turn off mast lights (when safe and legal), deck lights, and all bright lights inside the boat before the fireworks start, as this provides a better view for everyone. Resist the urge to add your old flares to the show, don’t let the kids/grandkids/landlubbers play with flashlights, and don’t use your spotlight to “see if that’s Bob’s boat over there.”  Also turn off any music – unless of course the fireworks are set to music via the radio, and you have good speakers, in which case crank it up!
  • Sit back and enjoy the show, and don’t forget to ooh and aah!  Don’t watch the fireworks through a camera lens – you’ll miss it, and unless you have a lot of night-shooting experience, the photos are almost always disappointingly blurry when shot from a boat.
  • Take your time leaving.  Many of the boating accidents at these events happen as everyone hurries to get back to dock, often with a few beers in their bellies. Wait an hour, and you’ll usually have the water to yourself.  If you’re in a protected spot, consider spending the night.  Hey, you’re already out after dark, your hook is set, and the work’s all done.  Why not stay out and enjoy a night under the stars?

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