Based in Italy, Navionics is the premier maker of electronic charts designed to help boaters of all backgrounds have an easier time navigating their time on the water.
The company was founded in 1984, and two men by the name of Fosco Bianchetti and Giuseppe Carnevali introduced the world to the first marine electronic chart plotter in the history of the world.
Their invention was called the Geonav. They later sold this product line over 20 years later in 2007, so they could focus all efforts on the creation of electronic charts.
Ten years after, Garmin, the legendary GPS company, acquired the brand.
Today, the company is a worldwide operation and has subsidiaries in major cities such as Hyderabad, India, New South Wales, Australia, Wareham, MA (USA), and Plymouth, UK.
Their technology keeps getting bigger and better each year, and this includes their mobile app, which users can put onto their favorite devices such as a tablet, mobile phone, iPad, and more. It provides lake and marine cartography all in the palm of your hand.
This review centers upon providing you an overview of the Navionics app and its good and bad points – all to make your boating experience that much more enjoyable.
If Your Time Is Limited…
…This section is devoted to providing you a fast overview of what the Boating app can do.
The user-friendliness and functionality of this Navionics app is very refined and pleasant. Scrolling and touching are fast and responsive on Apple devices. A friend tested the app on their Android device and found it to be a bit slower.
The app also includes valuable info such as tidal wave data, and it is displayed in the form of tide bars as well as current arrows.
The arrows will become animated if you touch them, and play forward as time moves on. The tide bars will do the same thing, but you notice that the depths located on the chart below will go up and down as the tide changes.
You also have the chance to customize your app. It takes just a single touch to go between the SONAR charts and the normal mode, and there are many different shading choices to help you discern depth contours. There’s also easy view mode, which increases the size of the main navigational functions so that they are visible even if you zoom out of your chart.
When you first buy the app, you get the charts of Navionics+ for a year from purchase. After that year is up, it costs each year to keep these features going- the price comes in at about $30 USD. You also need this subscription to download the updates and features for your charts.
Even without Navionics+, you still have the ability to create routes and place markers on the map, but you won’t have the ability to follow a route or activate one at that.
Thus, it’s worth it to get Navionics+ because you get that complete navigation window that gives you everything you need and wants when it’s time to follow a route, plus the chance to make and back up your own SONAR logs with compatible tools.
Autorouting is also part of Navionics+, and a good reason to make the investment. Autorouting will help you make a plan for passage between a chosen starting point and ending point. It takes into account one’s draught and helps you to avoid obstructions in your path.
Upon testing out this feature, the team was floored at how perfectly and beautifully the app sketched out the route that we would have picked in just mere seconds.
The plotter sync feature is another great part of this app – it allows you to share waypoints and routes between other users on the app and Raymarine plotters compatible with the app.
That being said, nothing is perfect, not even this app. I don’t have the ability to hide marks I’ve created, so the screen gets clogged up fast with those. I also can’t see the names of the marks I’ve created.
Another user attempted to plan a race route and found it wasn’t a possibility to return to the same marker two times- he could not place dual waypoints in precisely the same spot.
The bottom line? This is an easy to use, an all-around app that is totally worth it in terms of price. The SONAR chart is jam-packed with data, which was my favorite part.
Pros and Cons
- Charts are updated monthly
- Navigation window is complete, comprehensive, and full
- Tidal representation is second to none
- Good tool for measurement
- Basic app comes with free sonar charts
- Depth layers are customizable
- Great presentation and app design
- No hiding marker layers
- Routes can’t be created which go back to the same waypoint
Chart Layers of Navionics App
One thing our team loved about the app was the many chart layers featured in the app. I’d like to take you through and show you each one, as I find them to be quite useful.
This is, without a doubt, the one all boaters should have. It is the most essential cartographic reference for boaters around the world- and that’s what Navionics themself suggests!
This provides you an accurate, up to the minute map of marine zones, lakes, and more. You simply have to have this when you set sail.
It helps you learn about safety depth contours, study and create port plans, find and plan for currents and tides, locates navigational aids, and even helps you find marine services near you. Even if you are far from home, this chart can be like having a good friend to keep you safe.
The data from this chart is derived from private and public sources, such as surveys conducted by Navionics themself, user-reported data, and Notices to Mariners. It’s been over 30 years in the making, so you get ALL the info you could ever want with this chart.
And this is no small fry in the world of navigation. This chart is an award-winner. It’s been given awards and praised with recognition by boaters big and small, from the smallest sailboat to the biggest luxury yacht.
Best of all, you can get this great chart on all your devices. Yes, that means mobile too. So, take your iPad or tablet, or phone, install the Boating App and get started today feeling safe and secure as you enjoy your time on the water.
This is the HD Bathymetry map as created by Navionics. It offers out of this world bottom contour details for lakes, marine areas, and more. This helps boaters know about and plan for shallow waters.
They can also locate fishing spots at many depth levels, which is great for the enjoyment of everyone on the boat, especially if you run a fishing charter vessel!
SonarChart has enhanced every moment thanks to boaters, big and small. Millions of SONAR logs are submitted each year, which helps everyone out. Navionics will take SONAR logs that are recorded with almost all mobile devices and plotter/SONAR brands.
This accepted data is then integrated in with existing data, and SonarChart is updated as a means of reflecting the constantly changing conditions of lakes, rivers, and seas.
It’s great for many purposes, even fishing and diving.
But don’t just take our word for it. Consider the experience of Eric Sauvage, an avid fisherman, and diver.
Using the plotter touch screen, Eric was able to move the map and zoom closely to the area he was most interested in exploring, located in the Glenans Islands, located off the French coast.
Once he had identified the zone, he used the cursor to bring up the fishing map, which made it easy for him to view the seabed and also enjoy high-accuracy bathymetry. He was able to see a drop-off, an overhang, and an ascending seabed complete with level curves that are widely spaced.
This overhang, says Eric, is created in rocky areas and these areas are prone to currents, which are great places for fish to congregate.
This story does not end here. I encourage you to see what else Eric did with this amazing chart simply by clicking here and checking the story out (when you are done with our review, of course)!
You, too, can connect your own SONAR logs. On mobile, simply use the Boating App! Connect your device to your Sonar/plotter via WI-FI or connection via a router that has Wi-Fi. This will automatically share your logs.
Or, you may use Raymarine. Just use a plotter that has built-in Wi-Fi connectivity. Using this, you can create SonarChart info right on your screen, record your sonar logs right on the plotter, and then upload them using PlotterSync.
Indeed, there’s so much to enjoy about SonarChart. I dare say it might be my favorite of the charts.
The great thing about the world today is that because we are all online, we can share ideas, findings, ask for help, and so much more. This has transcended into the boating world, too. It shows in the Community Edits chart of the Boating app.
You get the input of millions of users who are always on the water. They can tell you about buoys, boat ramps, rocks, lights, and even dockside restaurants or provisions stores.
Imagine the confidence you will feel as you get ready to set sail on waters you’ve never seen before as you start up your app. You can help, too. You can absolutely share your data with others to help them have an enjoyable and safe time, and it feels good to return the favor. It’s like getting advice from a local.
You can become an author, too- just leave behind any info you feel could be helpful to others by registering yourself from the app and then choosing the icon that represents the data you’d like to show others.
For example, the app has icons that represent boat ramps, sailing schools, yacht clubs, and public docks, and many more!
It really pays to have this, and you will know exactly what we mean once you use it yourself.
This particular chart is great because it is very much like the Community Edits chart, but different. It works in the same way: Fellow boaters bring their experiences and share them, including everything from essential information all the way to places to find entertainment on the docks.
You can update points of interest using the knowledge you have and read about POIs you are interested in. It’s very useful to know what’s open and what’s closed, especially as we navigate the current world pandemic.
US Government Charts
The app allows boaters to make use of unaltered US Government Charts. These charts include NOAA Electronic Navigational Charts for navigable and coastal waterways of the United States and offer info on lakes, rivers, and shorelines.
There is a caveat. In February 2019, the update for the Boating app made it so these charts will only be included in coverage areas of the following subscriptions: Caribbean and South America, USA, Canada, Pacific Islands, Africa, and Asia.
To display these charts in your Boating app, click on the map, click the round button at the lower-left hand corner of your screen, and choose “Govt. Chart.”
Aside from the great charts included, there are some other great features our team enjoyed during the use of this app. Let’s go over some of those features right now.
Here, you can map uncharted waters yourself. Is your favorite place to boat missing from the Boating App maps? Get on the water and help out! It’s a personal bathymetry device that develops in real-time as your vessel goes along the waters.
It will appear as a layer over your current map, which you can come back to later.
Any depth data you gather can be stored and shared with Navionics to help other boaters enhance their experience. Navionics will accept your sonar logs that have been recorded from most all plotter and sonar brands/devices.
You can plan out your route using the app on your device and away you go. You can use it to pick out fishing spots and use Dock to Dock Autorouting before finally transferring it all to your plotter.
Be sure to check Navionics’ site to make sure your plotter is compatible.
You can use this feature to share your tracks, markers, and routes you’ve stored in your boating app- in the .gpx format.
If you have friends that enjoy boating, use this app to archive your favorite spots with one another and share them. You can view them on your plotter, too.
It’s very easy to transfer waypoints and routes to your GPS plotter, even if they lack WIFI connectivity. You can also send the info to GPS devices, too.
If your Boating App memory gets full of all the fun places you’ve been shown, simply export them to your laptop or desktop.
Part of being a responsible boater is being aware of what’s around you. This feature makes it easier to do just that. This increases your awareness of what’s on the water, helps you stay alert when traffic is heavy and helps you stay focused when visibility is low.
It does this by displaying navigational aids and other vessels that are nearby.
To use this, you connect your Boating App to a Wi-Fi AIS receiver.
From there, you can see A and B class vessels and ATON (aids to navigation) overlaid on your current chart.
Target info is also displayed, moving targets are opaque and transparent vessels are standing still. You can select the target of your choice to see vital info like their name, call sign, status, distance from your location, and IMO, plus more.
My favorite part of this is the collision alarm. One of my boating nightmares is to be in the fog and accidentally collide with someone else, leading to a fatal injury. We can set a Safe Range using this feature, and this will sound an alarm that someone is approaching.
Weather and Tides
Is today a good day for boating? This will help you answer this question by providing you forecasts in great detail about water conditions.
You can save your favorite boating spots and see hourly and daily forecasts. You can see wind forecasts for up to three days ahead. Tide and current info is also displayed, and you will be able to see hourly tide changes plus low and high tides.
When it comes to currents, you can learn about changes on the hour for their speed and direction. Moon phases, sunset, and sunrise are also included.
And for USA users, you can see where NOAA weather buoys are located. They will offer data such as wave height, water temp, air pressure, and wind direction and speed.
Advanced Map Options
Here, you have the chance to boost your maps’ detail. For example, you can highlight shallow spots on the map or make adjustments to contour density. There is even the chance for you to select a fishing range – if you are aware that fish hang out over certain depths, you can highlight that range and identify other places to investigate.
Dock To Dock Autorouting
This helps you create a route from point A to point B, using navigational aids and chart data.
It’s perfect if you are in a cramped or busy waterway but would like to find an efficient way to get where you are going. It will help you safely navigate that water and get where you need to be.
Simply pick your destination by picking a point of interest, or enter a latitude/longitude. The route will then be suggested and provides you with ETA, fuel consumption, and the distance you will travel.
Hazards such as shallow water or other vessels will also be highlighted for you, as will points of interest.
Helpful Basic Features
This is a list of the helpful features you will enjoy that create the basic foundation for this app.
- Sharing Location – Offer your location to other boaters using coordinates and info.
- Photos/videos – You can share videos and photos with others on the map
- Sync My Data – You can sync routes, markers, and tracks on all your mobile devices
- Distance – Helps you measure the distance between two points
- Markers – You can drop markers to select spots, or even mark your location with just a tap of the app.
- Routes – Create and edit your own route. You can see how much fuel will be used, and the time it will take you.
About Your Subscription
Your subscription is good for a year and offers you the chance to:
- Download daily updates for charts and make use of advanced features
- Download chart layers that stay on your device even after your subscription expires
You can renew your subscription after it expires by either going to the Navionics website and renewing by logging into your account, or by going into the app and renewing there.
Even if you do not renew, you can still use the chart layers and download the remainder of your coverage area.
Any advanced features you want, download of chart updates, or chart overlays can only be downloaded if you have an active subscription.
In summary, I would highly recommend the Navionics Boating app if you love boating, fishing, diving, or all three. It makes the experience so much more convenient, and you can go anywhere with the knowledge that you will keep yourself and your passengers safe.
My only advice is to make sure your mobile device is protected using a waterproof case or cover as you use the app. Now that we’ve got that out of the way get this app get out there and hit the water with confidence!