Marine & RVs

Save Money on a Boat GPS and Download This Handy App Instead

When a boat comes equipped with navigation equipment and GPS, expensive bells and whistles often come to mind. But today’s innovation carries through to the boating industry, making boating easier and more convenient year after year. And in a world where the world is stored in your phone, that includes the water. The next time you think you need to spend a fortune on a good boat GPS, don’t. There may just be an app for that.

Do you need a GPS for your boat? There’s an app for that

Navionics, a Garmin brand, developed a boat GPS app that can be downloaded to any compatible Apple or Android smart device. According to Angler’s Channel, the app provides detailed nautical charts in whatever region you’re in. These detailed charts provide data and GPS mapping for fishing, diving, sailing, and any other water-related activity. The water charts provide the same high-quality as the best boating GPS plotters, as well as boasts additional advanced features. 

The app’s chart layers are designed to be downloaded and used offline, so you won’t need your phone’s service. These layers include nautical charts, HD bathymetry maps (sonar), and more. SonarChart Shading and satellite overlays give detailed renderings of the bottom and provide visual data.

And as things in the marine life are changing daily, the Navionics app automatically updates itself daily. The Navionics app goes beyond the standard boat GPS by offering dock-to-dock auto-routing, customizable chart views, fish range targeting, real-time weather/tide data, and even the ability to share your charts/GPS information with friends.

Is the Navionics app worth the money?

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The Navionics app may be considered pricey in the world of apps, especially since you’ll have to pay a yearly subscription fee in order to use it. According to Navionics’ website, the price of a yearly subscription for the Boating Marine and Lakes app depends on the type of coverage area you wish to use. For GPS water mapping of the U.S. and Canada, you’ll pay $21.99 for a yearly subscription to the app.

It costs $14.99 per year for just the U.S., $28.99 for regions from Mexico, Caribbean, to Brazil, and $35.99 to access maps of Greenland and Iceland. But that’s just a few of the regions you can purchase coverage for. Navionics’ subscription coverage essentially spans the entire globe. 

Although subscription services seem like a lot of commitment, $20 isn’t much to pay for a year’s subscription for anything. Garmin and the Navionics app also offer a free trial to all new customers, allowing you to try the app for free for two weeks before being charged. You can also choose to cancel any subscription at any time after purchase. A high-quality boat GPS for $20 a year? Is it too good to be true?

Is there anything the Navionics boat GPS can’t do?

One of the unfortunate aspects of the Navionics subscription service is that there isn’t an all-access fee that provides you global charts. If you want access to more than one region, you’ll have to purchase a subscription for each region. Fortunately for most boaters, this isn’t a deal-breaker. In fact, GPS access to Canadian and U.S. waters for around $20 per year is a pretty good deal.

The Navionics app also doesn’t allow you to hide any marks you’ve created or returned to the same mark twice. There is also no true navigation function and some functions may not work once you lose phone service on the water. According to Discover Boating, the Navionics boat GPS app is “comprehensive” and “offers many features that some modern chart plotters can’t match.”