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Aqua Map | The Boat Galley

Aqua Map is a fantastic app for route planning and navigation, with excellent (and affordable) charts. Learn all the features that make it a winner.

Aqua Map is, fairly merely, one of the best route-planning and navigation app that I’ve discovered, a minimum of for the east coast of the US and the Bahamas. I might assume that it’s equally good somewhere else however I can’t converse from first-hand expertise.


Planning our journey to the Bahamas, I knew that I needed a option to get Lively Captain knowledge overlaid onto our charts. And final week I wrote about how I’d found out tips on how to do it. 

Now, one cause that I’ve appreciated our Garmin charts is that they use Explorer chart knowledge for the Bahamas. Nicely, Garmin simply purchased out Navionics and shall be utilizing Navionics chart knowledge for the Bahamas sooner or later. Proper now, they are saying that it’s with the g3 charts and g2 are nonetheless Explorer chart knowledge. Most cruisers will agree that Explorer charts are extra correct than Navionics for the Bahamas. 

I discovered about Garmin switching to Navionics a few day after I posted that article about learn how to get Lively Captain onto Garmin charts. And whereas we’re nonetheless okay as we’ve a g2 chart, I’m utterly satisfied that Navionics knowledge gained’t ultimately be used on them and I’ll lose the Explorer Charts knowledge once I replace my Garmin charts..

The identical day I discovered all that, I additionally discovered about an ideal various. Giorgio Ghiggini, the CEO of Aqua Map, learn my article and contacted me to inform me about his product. I additionally heard about Aqua Map from one other cruiser at a gathering we needed to talk about journey to the Bahamas.

Aqua Map is an Android/IOS app that you should use on a telephone or, ideally, a pill reminiscent of an iPad. The app itself is free however it’s a must to purchase the charts for the world(s) you’re cruising. Chart costs are within the very affordable vary — extra on this under. Should you’re looking for it, be sure you search for Aqua Map and never Aqua Maps.

Aqua Map Advantages

Aqua Map has a number of advantages over utilizing both the Lively Captain app or Garmin House Port for boats within the US and/or Bahamas:

  • The Bahamas Charts are Explorer Charts. The actual, true factor. (US Charts are NOAA charts)
  • Lively Captain knowledge overlaid proper on the chart. I discover Lively Captain info to be extraordinarily worthwhile as to present circumstances. Within the Bahamas, issues change quicker than cruising guides are revealed. Lively Captain advised us what shops have been nonetheless open or had just lately opened, the place we might truly get propane and the place channels had been closed by hurricanes. I by no means need to depend on only one supply of data and thus think about AC one software in planning our cruising, however an essential one.
  • AlsoWaterway Information info overlaid proper on the chart. This consists of navigation alerts, gasoline costs, marina and anchorage information, plus bridge and lock information. An exquisite function is that telephone numbers and hailing channels are included as are the date of the final replace to the data (very good for gasoline costs). The nav alerts are extremely worthwhile as most of us don’t verify the Notices to Mariners, regardless that we all know we should always.
  • Present tide state proper on the chart. Click on on the image and you may see when slack tide will happen in addition to state of tide any day and time sooner or later. Dawn, sundown and moon rise/set are additionally included. (There aren’t many tide stations within the Bahamas and thus not a lot knowledge there.)
  • Free chart updates so long as you might have present rights to the chart (both one-year or perpetually).
  • When you have an web connection, you will get on-line satellite tv for pc maps of a chart space. No extra having to flip to Google Maps to see less-surveyed areas!
Aqua Map is a fantastic app for route planning and navigation, with excellent (and affordable) charts. Learn all the features that make it a winner.

Aqua Map Chart Value

Aqua Map’s charts value lower than many different apps they usually inform you precisely the place the charts come from. There’s one worth if you need entry to the charts for one yr (good should you’re simply transiting an space) and one other for “ceaselessly” entry (good in case you’re in an space kind of completely).

Aqua Map has charts for a lot of the world, though it doesn’t but cowl Pacific Mexico and Central America (a lot of the Caribbean aspect is roofed in Caribbean South). A lot of Cuba is included as are most areas of Europe, Australia and New Zealand. In case you are fascinated about a specific space, you’ll be able to obtain the app totally free after which go to Settings/Chart Retailer to see if the charts you need can be found. New chart areas are being added continuously. For instance, the Bahamas Explorer charts have been added simply final week!

As of February 10, 2019, chart costs for the US, Canada, Bahamas and Caribbean are as follows:

Location One yr Endlessly
US (NOAA) 14.99 39.99
Bahamas (Explorer) 35.99 69.99
Caribbean South 14.99 na
Canada (CHS) 9.99 24.99
US + Canada 14.99 39.99

The one-year charts are literally subscriptions so you’ll want to flip off the auto-renew earlier than the yr is up if you don’t want that chart for the next yr.

Lively Captain, Waterway Information and tide information (the place obtainable) don’t value additional, nor do you want an Lively Captain or Waterway Information account to view their information.

You possibly can select what areas of your bought charts you need to obtain, so that you would not have to take up space for storing for charts you’ll by no means use (for instance, I downloaded solely charts for southern Florida, not your complete United States). Chart areas might be deleted when you move out of an space after which re-downloaded as soon as you come back (useful for conserving space for storing when you’re doing the Nice Loop, say). You do not want an web connection besides if you find yourself downloading charts.

If chart tiles that you simply beforehand downloaded are up to date, you possibly can see this as a badge on the Obtain Charts icon. You’ll be able to obtain updates to any charts you personal at no cost — and sure, in case you bought “eternally” charts, you possibly can up to date them yr after yr with no additional payment. I don’t find out about different charts, however Garmin solely provides you one free replace of their charts.

My Expertise

I downloaded the app plus the US and Bahamas charts to my iPad after which began exploring all the knowledge that I had at my fingertips. Full disclosure: Aqua Map gave me the charts without spending a dime in order that I might check out the app and evaluate it. Don’t inform them, however having checked it out, I might fortunately pay for his or her charts although I’d already found out how one can get Lively Captain onto my Garmin Charts. Having each Lively Captain and Waterway Information information and the true Explorer Charts is simply that a lot better. With the ability to entry satellite tv for pc maps within the app is icing on the cake.

Route Plotting

I subsequent determined to plot a route that we’ll use to cross to the Bahamas in Might. I’ve by no means earlier than plotted a route on my iPad as an alternative of utilizing a mouse on my laptop computer and there was a little bit of a studying curve. The Aqua Map very brief tutorial, web site assist and a few experimenting taught me every thing I wanted to know.

I might extremely advocate plotting a route or two when you have web entry so as to discuss with their web site assist when you want it, though the offline assist coated the whole lot I wanted.

Watch out for Altering Models When Altering Chart Areas

The one potential drawback that I famous is if you change from a vector to raster chart space — akin to when going from the US to the Bahamas. I had set my choice to point out depth in ft and the chart did simply that for the US. However the Bahamas have been nonetheless in meters.There’s a easy purpose for this — the Explorer charts are raster charts, which suggests they’re primarily scans of paper charts. And Aqua Map does inform you of this limitation if you set your choice. Both it’s a must to keep in mind that the models change whenever you change from one set of charts to the opposite or you possibly can set your choice to meters after which the US charts will present in meters and no less than the models shall be constant.


Like most nav apps and chartplotters, you’ll be able to set your common cruising velocity and gasoline consumption. There’s an anchor alarm proper within the app — my minimal testing exhibits it to work nicely. Faucet two factors with two fingers will inform the space between them.

One function that appears good however I haven’t but had an opportunity to make use of for actual is what Aqua Map calls mapXpan — primarily the middle of the chart is at no matter zoom degree you choose, and the sides go to a decrease scale so as to see 64 occasions the world. I feel this shall be useful when making an attempt to orient the place an anchorage is in relation to different locations or take a look at the route forward to see the place you’re in relation to issues like bridges. So many occasions with different packages it’s a must to zoom out and in and I, no less than, lose monitor of the place I’m.

Moreover, you can’t solely identify your route (unsure what the character restrict is, however it’s significantly longer than the 10 characters that Garmin provides me) however you’ll be able to add a route description. This final could be very helpful in case you’re creating a number of variations on a route.

Navigating with Aqua Map

Aqua Map is designed with the intention to use it on the helm whereas navigating a route. I haven’t but used it on this approach nevertheless it appears very simple. Tapping on the route information button will inform you time between every waypoint and out of your present place to all of the waypoints forward. My chartplotter solely tells me the time to the subsequent waypoint and the ultimate vacation spot. So many occasions I need to find out about an intermediate level, comparable to a bridge that solely opens at sure occasions. Aqua Map appears to know what sort of data is most helpful on the helm!

Aqua Map is a fantastic app for route planning and navigation, with excellent (and affordable) charts. Learn all the features that make it a winner.

As with most chartplotters and nav apps, you possibly can navigate a route both within the path you entered the waypoints or within the reverse order.

Transferring Path to Garmin Chartplotter

I’m a belt and suspenders sort of woman. Regardless that I can navigate utilizing the iPad, I need to additionally be capable of switch the path to our chartplotter and use it there in order that I’ve a completely redundant backup in case both one fails.

Let’s face it, Garmin doesn’t precisely play good with non-Garmin apps and Apple doesn’t like anybody however Apple. And everybody expects you to have web on a regular basis, all over the place.

So the problem was on: might I switch a route from Aqua Map on the iPad to the Garmin chartplotter when in a location the place I didn’t have web (and my chartplotter isn’t wifi-enabled so it’s not even on an area community)?

The reply is considerably convoluted, however sure, it may be completed. Aqua Map will export a route in .gpx format, utilized by Garmin. Right here’s how I did it:

  1. You have to have Garmin House Port on a laptop computer, and arrange iTunes to sync information between the iPad and laptop computer.
  2. From Aqua Map, click on on the route you need to switch after which on the Route Information button.
  3. Within the popup display, click on on the Save/Share button within the decrease left.
  4. Click on Save to Information after which select a location (it should be in another program that has a folder in information; I made a subfolder in Phrase). Faucet the folder you need and click on Add within the higher proper nook.
  5. Use iTunes and the lightning-usb cable to switch the path to a folder on the laptop computer.
  6. Launch Garmin Residence Port on the laptop computer.
  7. In Residence Port, press Cntl+i to import a route. Choose the route from the folder you set it in and import it to House Port.
  8. Put your House Port to chartplotter SD card within the laptop computer (see extra about this in my article on utilizing Residence Port).
  9. In Residence Port, proper click on on the route you need to switch. Select “Ship To”
  10. Select the system you need to ship the file to (click on on the gadget identify, not the folder identify)
  11. Both select an present ADM folder or create a brand new one. I all the time use the prevailing one. Click on okay and your new route will probably be added to the SD card.
  12. After the route is saved, take away the SD card and take it over to the chartplotter and cargo the route as described in my article on utilizing House Port.

It does NOT work to place the .gpx file straight from the iPad to the SD card within the laptop computer. It have to be imported into Residence Port after which saved to the SD card utilizing House Port.

Backside Line

Every week in the past I’d by no means heard of Aqua Map. Now I adore it and pore over charts daily to study what I can about locations and routes we’d go within the Bahamas. There’s a little bit of a studying curve, as with each nav program I’ve used. After utilizing each it and Garmin’s Lively Captain app, Aqua Map is the hands-down winner for the quantity of data it accommodates.

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