Apple Watch boat applets, Pocket Mariner is raring to go


I find the Apple Watch fascinating, even if I have no plans to own one myself, and I encourage anyone else with an interest to read David Pierce’s Iphone Killer: The secret history of the Apple Watch at for a deep look at what the obsessed designers were up to. The first hands-on reviews are coming out now, pre-orders start late tonight, and at least one boating apps developer will be ready to go when the watches release to the public on April 24…


Pocket Mariner has developed many apps for iPhones, iPads, and Macs — as well as Android devices — and three of the AIS-related ones that run on iPhones will soon have free Watch extensions. Above and below, for instance, are screens you’ll be able to access on your wrist if your iPhone is running the Boat Watch app, which seems designed for watching vessel traffic from ashore…


Boat Watch is essentially an AIS viewer, and on the watch you’ll be able to see up to five vessels on a miniature map — that’s an Apple Watch interface limitation — as well as scroll a list of nearby targets, drill down for typical AIS info like speed and heading, and swipe to a photo, if available. It could be fun for checking out a harbor from a tiki bar or to see the whereabouts of a ferry you’re about to board, but who will be the first high roller to show off his megayacht on his $15,000 42mm 18-Karat Yellow Gold Watch Edition?


By contrast, Boat Beacon was designed for use on the water — early Panbo review here — and thus, the watch applet includes some navigation screens. Like the main app, the watch extension can also alarm you about a potential AIS collision — i.e. a vessel that gets within CPA/TCPA parameters you set — or if a live AIS man overboard beacon is detected. Boat Beacon users will also be able to access AIS vessel info and photos on their Watch just like with Boat Watch above, and the same will be true with the SeaNav app…


SeaNav can provide vector chart navigation for some regions and can also integrate with Boat Beacon’s AIS resources. The charts can’t go to the Watch, but that waypoint steering screen will. And both onboard applets include a couple of special watch features like a count down timer and a flashlight mode. SeaNav, incidentally, was the first marine app that extended itself to my Pebble smart watch, and I’m signed up for the new color Pebble Time, which I hope to receive in June. The Garmin vívoactive also looks interesting, and it’s easy to imagine the marine electronics integration they could add to it or another version.

But now is the time of the Apple Watch. Besides the Wired article, I appreciated Nilay Patel’s review at The Verge and Farhad Manjoo’s take at the Times. This watch may be a really big deal, and perhaps especially useful on a boat where you often don’t want to reach for your iPhone. Tip of the Panbo cap to Pocket Mariner for being on the case from day one. Be warned, though, that Apple expects to sell out the first batch tomorrow.


Ben Ellison

Ben Ellison

Panbo editor, publisher & chief bottlewasher from 4/2005 until 8/2018, and now pleased to have Ben Stein as a very able publisher, webmaster, and editing colleague. Please don't regard him as an "expert"; he's getting quite old and thinks that "fadiddling fumble-putz" is a more accurate description.

9 Responses

  1. Dan Corcoran (b393capt) says:

    I see a potential MOB application for this!
    A twice a minute ping between the iphone and apple watch, and in the circumstance there is no reply, sound an alarm on the iphone, show a location on a chart, and a steer by arrow for your crew to come back to you?
    If there are multiple apple watches running simultaneously, then the alarm and direction to turn back to an MOB could appear on all the remaining watches.
    No reason it couldn’t support a Android phone, table, or PC instead.
    Also on the apple watch watch, in the circumstance it doesn’t here the iphone pinging it anymore, sound a watch alarm asking the wearer to PLEASE RETURN THIS WATCH TO THE BOAT. (presumably the highest likelyhood of no ping from the iphone would be that the wearer of the watch left the boat without returning watch to the boat owner).
    Many other ideas come to mind. Maybe add capability for the apple watch to remember where the boat is parked when you depart in a dinghy, e.g. lat/long.
    How about, for sailboat race committee’s, support the efforts of the lead and chase boats to position themselves for each race with an on screen application while their owners smartphones stay safety in their jackets.

  2. Itzmann says:

    Biggest problem from a marine standpoint is that the watch is not waterproof.
    Apple executives anecdotally say one can take showers with i (easy to test and say when you didn’t pay for the thing)t, but product literature clarifies one cannot swim with it.

  3. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    The Apple Watch is rate IPx7, which means it can “withstand immersion in water up to 1 meter for up to 30 minutes.” I guess that’s why many are calling it waterproof, though even Apple cautions against swimming with it:

  4. Richard Howard says:

    I suppose no one cares that only young eyes can see the thing without glasses or a magnifying glass. This seems to be the biggest limiting factor that no one has mentioned.

  5. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Richard, I’m close to needing reading glasses a lot (instead of just at night) but find my Pebble quite readable:
    Also, the initial supply of Apple Watches sold out quickly, sort of:
    And Pocket Mariner put info on their Watch apps:

  6. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Incidentally, the original Pebble watch I’ve been enjoying for 2 years ( ) is on sale for $90, though just through tomorrow:
    I’ve worn it constantly, even swimming (though that’s rare), and its firmware and apps have evolved quite nicely. It works with both Apple or Android phones. I usually get about a week between charges (take that Apple).

  7. Steve says:

    Hi Ben,
    I got my Apple Watch yesterday and have written up some top tips from my experience of using our SeaNav and Boat Beacon Watch apps on it. Here is a link to the article in case anyone is interested.
    I really like it.
    Lots of new ideas too.

  8. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Thanks, Steve!
    And while you were learning to use The Watch, some other folks were taking one apart to see what’s inside:

  9. Alex says:

    Ironic that I had to come to a boating and electronics blog to read one of the most informative and to the point articles on the Apple iWatch!
    Thanks for sharing that link to wired as well – interesting stuff indeed

Join the conversation

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *