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Sailing Apps for iPhones in 2010

The 21st century is a great time to be a sailor. Even though every prudent sailor still should have a VHF, paper nautical charts, compass, etc., sailors nowadays have a lot more tools available to assist them while they sail our oceans safely and efficiently.

The other day a friend and fellow sailor asked my opinion on the iPad and whether I or anyone at home had an iPod. I counted in my mind and the answer was … yes, we do. Seven iPods: three Shuffles, a Classic, two iTouch and an iPhone! My friend was amazed.

Regarding the iPad, I added, I don't know what to say but the iPhone is great, so the iPad must be awesome given the much larger screen size! His questions got me intrigued so I sailed right into the "weblands" to see what the iPhone and iPad can do for us sailors.

This is what I found. After loading iTunes and doing a quick search on the AppStore using the keyword "sail," over 100 applications showed up. Using the keyword "yacht," we got over 75 apps, and finally "boat" gave us over 150 apps! Just amazing.

If you take the time to read the comments and reviews, you'll find there are apps for learning to sail, learning sailing lingo, trimming your sails, navigating, checking weather, checking tides and currents, learning sailboat racing rules, tying knots, cruising guides, yachting services directories, sailing games, etc., etc.

Some of our favorites are Navionics for Caribbean charts and GPS functionality on your iPhone for $19.99, WindFinder and WindGuru for weather info and Sailboat Championships. That's a game where you can go from rookie to Gold Cup sailor while racing around the buoys in one afternoon. It is like that old saying, if you can think of it then there is probably an app for that!

Navionics nautical charts are available for the USA East, USA West, USA Central, USA Great Lakes, Caribbean and Central America, as well as Gold Mediterranean and UK/Holland.

For the price of a hand-held monochrome GPS, you can now have an iPhone to plot where you are on land or at sea, listen to music, play games and even make some phone calls! So what are you waiting for?

Although right now the iPhone (3.5-inch diagonal) apps outnumber the iPad (9.7-inch diagonal) apps about 10 to one, it is only a matter of time before the developers upgrade their apps to take advantage of all that extra screen real estate.

If you think this Apple technology is not amazing enough to invest in right now, then wait a few years … when "skinput" technology becomes available, which will make your entire body a touch interface … how cool is that?

Capt. Tony Miró is a life-long sailor, photographer and web developer who lives in Puerto Rico and sails aboard a Hunter 376 ¡Nada Mas! He runs various sailing web sites incl. sailboatspecs.com, caribesailingadventures.com and tonymiro.com

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