When my family and I went out to visit family in northern Washington, we were treated to the sight of many boats and ships sailing across Puget Sound and surrounding waterways, something of a novelty for us Midwestern landlubbers. In fact, we were able to take advantage of the ferry system at Mukilteo (and lunch at Ivar’s right next to the ferry landing) to help get us to our destination. During this same visit, I was semi-press-ganged into rowing on the Erica with the Old Anacortes Rowing and Sailing Society, and let me tell you, being in a small wooden rowboat with four other crewmen while carefully dodging all sorts of much larger work ships and pleasure craft made for occasionally exciting maneuvers. I did wonder, what are some of the ships names, and where are they going? “Is there an app for that?” I couldn’t help but wonder, as I was borrowing Dan’s iPhone 3GS at the time. Well actually there is, as Pocketmariner has just released its free Boat Watch for iOS.
Boat Watch taps into the Automatic Identification System, essentially a special type of shipboard GPS/tracking system to aid maritime authorities and other ship in monitoring sea traffic. By using this service, Boat Watch can locate ships in the area and project the ship type, name and destination on a map, so users can discover what ships are in their area and where they are going, whether spotting from land or sea. Users can also tap a boat on the map and tap the star icon next to the ship’s name to track the ship on Boat Watch’s map, keeping tabs on the boat of interest’s progress.
Boat Watch permits boat enthusiasts to search for boats and places, lock onto their current location to see what might be sailing the ocean or freshwater body blue close by, and lock onto the “favorite” boat being tracked. Users can thus grab quite a bit of info about worldwide nautical traffic in real-time.
While the base app is free, Boat Watch has a $2.99 in-app upgrade option to deliver more precise information about ship traffic, such as flagged country, speed, ship course, and even provide notifications when a “favorite” boat arrives or departs. Friends and relatives can for example track loved ones on a cruise ship and find out where at sea the ship is and what ports of call it will make, or make sure their commute ferry doesn’t depart without them! Boat Watch is compatible with both iPhone, iPod and iPad devices.
Boat Watch (Free, $2.99 Enhanced Feature Upgrade Available)