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An article written by our staff and featured in The Charter Connection

Ed - July 2009

Everyone enjoys new gadgets and the iPhone continues to amaze us. With Caribbean charts now added to the range of Navionics downloads available through Apple, you can use your iPhone as a second GPS on charter. These are the same charts used in many chart plotters and while we wouldn't consider the iPhone a substitute for the boat's system, we find it useful as a back up or if you want to go ashore. Take it with you in the dinghy!

Unlike many systems, these Navionics charts are completely downloaded to the iPhone so there is no wait time while the phone accesses the internet to load. All charts from Bermuda to Venezuela and from Southern California to The Bahamas are permanently on your phone, for an amazing price of $9.99!

The iPhone scrolls by sliding your fingers on the screen, which makes it really easy to move around and change scales, but we particularly like how the detail of each chart smoothly adjusts when zooming in. The first picture shows the entrance into North Sound, Virgin Gorda, while the second is a more detailed shot of the anchorage behind the Colquhoun reef (the green area in the first picture). Tide and current information is included and you can take bearings on objects and calculate ranges. For the more gimmick minded, you can take a picture using the iPhone, which records the location on the chart. You can then email both to your friends back home, along with your route so far!

If you happen to lose your phone, in most areas you can go to any computer and using your .me account, see your phone's location on a map. You can also send a message (or a loud signal) to anyone who might find it, which displays even when the phone is turned off.

While these charts work with all iPhones, the earlier model uses cell towers rather than a built in GPS, so is not sufficiently accurate to pinpoint a position, although the charts are useful. Updates to the charts are automatic when you synchronize your phone.

And to think, our first bareboats had lead lines we tossed over the side instead of depth sounders! Incidentally, our company was the first to add depthsounders to our bareboats in the BVI, in 1976, before Moorings, CSY, West Indies Yachts and Fleet Indigo! We fitted the venerable British 'Seafarer' which used an often ambiguous flickering neon light to indicate depth. We really were there from the very early days!

Chartering has come a long way!

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Ed Hamilton & Company
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