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iPhone aboard: download charts and other apps affordably.

No question a cellphone comes in handy on your boat for discrete communications with your fishing partners. Now if your cellphone happens to be an Apple iPhone--with its gobs of computing power, 3.6-inch high-resolution color screen, and loads of useful applications--you can get more than communications from it--much more.

We found a number of free or inexpensive iPhone apps that do good things for boaters and fishermen. The most powerful app we found was the Navionics Mobile charting program. For only $9.99 you can download Navionics Mobile, including area coverage Gold charts directly from the Apple iTunes Store, to iTunes, then into your iPhone.

We had a look at the latest version of the software, 3.1, using the USA East chart coverage. A number of other chart coverage areas are also available. USA East fills your iPhone with charts covering the entire U.S. East Coast, portions of the Canadian Maritimes, Bahamas, and much of the central Caribbean. Detailed Florida coverage extends along the Gulf Coast up to the Pepperfish Keys. The marine charts carry all the details you'd expect to see including depth contours, navigation aids and harbor details.

The Navionics Mobile package interacts with GPS onboard the latest 3G iPhone to turn the unit into a mini chart-plotter. You can locate your present position, add a waypoint, build routes, and track your passage. You can also change your safety depth, depth units, and distance units. The safety depth can be set from off to 60 feet. We set it at 6 feet so that all water deeper than that depth is shown in white while shallower water is blue. The chart view can be zoomed in or out with onscreen buttons.

A search function lets you find tide stations, marina and even waterfront restaurants, and search your own waypoints and routes. The iPhone will store up to 99 waypoints and 100 routes. The latest version of the search function will search your favorites, by category, name, or latitude/longitude. Tide and current data are shown graphically with a second detail page listing the same data in tabular format.

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An easy to access distance measuring feature makes planning easy. You simply turn it on with the press of the distance field, then move the purple position pins that mark each end of the line as needed. Distance and bearing are clearly readable on the task bar. The starting position pin turns red when you use your current GPS position as the starting point.

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Weather Apps

We found a pair of weather apps from two different reliable weather sources that you can download for free. The app from Accuweather.com lets you enter a number of city choices and scroll easily among them. Each city's weather report gives you current and forecast weather including hourly forecasts. At the push of a button you can also see local area radar. This last one can be a real boon to boaters when thunderstorms are in the forecast but not visible or nearby at departure time. Remember, though, that to receive up-to-date data you'll need to be in a cellphone coverage area. The Weather Channel iPhone app also lets you store city locations, see local radar, and view current, hourly and long-term forecasts.

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Fishing Logbook

Keeping track when and where a hot bite took place can be next to impossible when you're not on the water every day. Now a couple new iPhone apps let you enter myriad data about your fishing day, then search your list at a later date to pick the best place and time to fish. AnglersLog lets you enter date, location, fishing method and more to keep track of your success. Fishbook and Fishbook Lite are another pair of angler logbook type packages available at the iTunes Store. The latter is a free app.

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Boat Ramps

For $1, you can get a boat ramps application which identifies the closest boat ramps and/or marinas, sending icons to satellite, standard and hybrid maps. Find it on the App Store or iTunes using the key words "Boat Ramps."

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Title Annotation:ELECTRONICS
Author:Herum, Al
Publication:Florida Sportsman
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 1, 2010
Words:695
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