Tablets on the Water

Technology and Our Sport

Tablets on the Water

By Conner Erwin

I’m sure there is some legal language I should start this article with. Something to the effect of:  Use your brain and common sense. Don’t rely on electronics to navigate. This article is for reference only…

Disclaimers aside, looking back at our last few articles we have learned how to use Google Earth to our advantage in waypoint management and for trip planning. Now that your waypoint information is organized and visual, what is the most effective way to use it? For me, that answer is taking it mobile; I want to take Google Earth with me on the boat. 

Problem is: The Google Earth app and several others either won’t store waypoints locally, or limit the amount of waypoints imported to your device, or have some other technical setback. I have tried most of the apps available, so if you would like to save some time and $$ in the app store, read this. Don’t waste your time with the following apps: Google Earth, Navionics Marine, EarthNC, KML Map, MotionX , or INavX

Buy: GPS Kit by Garafa (sorry no android version) “GPS Kit is a full-featured GPS tracking system for the iPhone / iPad that combines all the functionality of expensive handheld units with the power of wireless technology.”

GPS Kit is by far the best app available for folks who need to manage thousands of waypoints. Install the app, configure the settings (lat/long formatting for example) then look to start importing your numbers. To do this, you will need to save your numbers (or separate books of numbers) from Google Earth into a KMZ file. Do this by selecting the book of numbers you want to export, then “save place as” and choose KMZ, then save the file to your desktop. Now open an email on your computer and email the file to yourself. Pick up your tablet or smartphone, and open the email there. Tap on the KMZ file and select “Open in GPS Kit” this will import your book of numbers into GPS Kit (be patient it will take a few minutes). Once complete, GPS Kit will have saved your KMZ file into a data set that you can rename to your liking. From the data screen in GPS Kit, select your new data set and turn visual to ON. Now when you go back to the Map screen all your waypoints will be visible, use the “three finger tap” method to make all of your waypoint names visible.

This app will: give you waypoint information should you need to add to your chartplotter, allow you to measure distances, give you distance and heading, and even has a little navigation screen with an arrow. It does not limit the number of data sets you import. I have it installed on my iPhone and iPad (which I can both wipe remotely if they are lost or stolen) and both come in useful. On a planned trip, I always have my iPad, and on other short notice outings I always have my iPhone, which comes in handy if your friends don’t have good numbers.

TIP: when traveling offshore, turn “cellular data” OFF on your phone or tablet. This will force your app to use the internal GPS chip as opposed to triangulation off cell phone towers (there are no towers in range after a few miles anyway) and will result in far more accurate results. My iPad, using GPS Kit is accurate within 15 feet, which is better than some chartplotters. 

Other accessories to consider are a 9v charger, a dry case, and RAM mounts.


Written by Kyle Howard
Find similar articles

More stories

The SUP Evolution

The SUP Evolution For many spearfishermen, owning a boat is either not a plausible option or not an important desire. Many have access to great spo...

Life Proof

Product Highlight: LifeProof   LifeProof, the award-winning maker of all-protective, everyday cases for smartphones and tablets, this year announce...