Aqua Map confirms new ActiveCaptain API integration!

Aqua Map‘s Giorgio Ghiggini confirmed via email today that his company will modify their apps to support the new Garmin ActiveCaptain Community application program interface (API): “Yes, we are going to integrate the new ActiveCaptain APIs soon. At a first look it does not seem to be a huge rework.”

This certainly seems like good news for those who rely on Active Captain overlays for awareness while underway.  Since Garmin pulled BlueCharts Mobile from the Apple App Store, many cruisers have been looking for a good alternative with some assurance that ActiveCaptain Community data would remain available.

This has been a contentious story and here’s a quick rundown of the twisting plot: In May of 2017 Garmin bought ActiveCaptain, and almost immediately there was concern about what this would mean for the ActiveCaptain partners who had integrated AC into their applications and hardware.  In November of 2017, Garmin discontinued BlueCharts Mobile (BCM) and brought out the ActiveCaptain application.  This app is focused on owners of Garmin hardware and left those who relied on BCM looking for a mobile solution capable of displaying AC POI and serving as a secondary (or in some cases primary) chart plotter.

Then in early March of 2018, as if there wasn’t enough intrigue in our little world, Polar Navy posted what turned out to be a partial quote from an email Garmin sent to AC partners indicating the data API would be discontinued on 5/23/18.  A little further digging revealed that there was more to the story and Garmin was bringing out a new API to be released by 4/1/18.

The ActiveCaptain developer’s page remains blank but Giorgio’s email indicates that the API is out there somewhere and AC partner developers are getting their hands on it.  I’ve emailed Garmin trying to figure out what the story is with the AC developer page, but haven’t heard back yet.

Robert Sherer did an excellent review and comparison of 14 navigation apps for Waterway Guide, and he spoke highly of Aqua Map; in fact, it’s the app he uses at the helm when he’s underway.

PS 4/4: Ken Cirillo — Garmin’s Lead Product Manager for Marine Cartography & Content — reports that the AC developers page  will soon read:

Unlock the ActiveCaptain Community for your users by contacting [email protected].
As a developer you will get free access to our POI data and getting started with us is easy with our online API documentation.

Ken added that,  “All is moving along as discussed on our call. All but one API has been released, (which should be released shortly) and we’ve been actively working with all of our App developers to help them along as needed.”

Ben Stein

Ben Stein

Publisher of, passionate marine electronics enthusiast, 100-ton USCG master.

15 Responses

  1. Tom Hale says:

    Bob did a thorough comparison of tablet navigation apps. But curiously, he did not discuss crowd sourced bathymetry. So far as I know, only Navionics has this feature. I have used 6 navigation apps over the past 5 years. I have Aqua Map which I use for access to AC content. I have a PC running coastal explorer, and a chart plotter with Navionics charts. I have been using Navionics sonar charts for 4 years and this year they have proven to by so reliable that I now have a tablet mounted at the helm and I have sonar charts displayed all the time. If you are in the ICW they are the best charts available. I do not know why Bob did not mention this. I know he does refer to sonar charts at times

    • Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

      Thanks, Tom. I’ve really appreciated your navigation tips on the “SAIL Magazine Secrets of the ICW” Facebook page.
      While I note that Bob Sherer wrote “I also use Navionics for their SonarChart feature. It helps navigate some of the shallows of the ICW, but you must be careful in some shallow areas…” at the end of his review, I tend to agree with you that he did not give them (or Dock-to-dock autorouting) the attention they deserve.

      On the other hand — and I really appreciate this — Bob presented his work as somewhat subjective, as in the subhead “Basic Functions I Believe are Important.” I get uncomfortable when I see a publication or author attempting to define what’s important for everyone.

      • Ben,

        I just discovered your reference to my evaluation of 14 iPad apps. I publish a daily blog for 200 to 300 daily readers with a listing on the side of popular topics such as GPX routes I’ve confirmed through various ICW shallow areas, free for downloading. A 12 MLLW route through Fernandina and a 8 MLLW route through Dawho east entrance are also popular.

        The apps had many features, too many to cover in detail but they are all listed in the spreadsheet as I said in the report,:
        “I am including the spreadsheet of all 82 features so you can do your own selection based on what’s important to you and create your own list. “

        That does not satisfy most readers, I’m always asked, “Well, what do you recommend?” So I feel compelled to cover that too.

        My intention is to update the spreadsheet and review as apps add capabilities or to correct errors. The spreadsheet has already seen three revisions after publication. I still have all 14 apps loaded with their own charts on my iPad.

        Thanks for your comment! I’ll see what I can do to expand the review.
        Your site looks fascinating, I need to look through the past posts.

  2. I predict whining from the ‘Droids because Aqua Map is iOS-only 🙂 It does look pretty good, however, and I may get it just for the AC integration – much easier than trying to manage the web interface while underway.
    WRT Navionics “Sonar Charts”, we’ve had decidedly mixed results with them, albeit NOT on the ICW, because we’re too tall for the ICW, and seldom move along it. I’ve decided that Sonar Charts are only useful in areas where mariners regularly traverse the shallows – in places that everyone avoids (usually because of shoals or other “dragons”), they can be very deceiving. The area I usually point to as an example is the entrance to Jackson Creek – Deltaville, VA off the Piankatank River (just S of the Rappahannock River). If you look at the regular Navionics chart or the NOAA chart, you see a narrow channel leading into the creek past the buoys (confirmed by the satellite view currently showing on AC!) – but the “Sonar Chart” of this entrance is highly misleading, showing the channel much wider and deeper than it really is.

  3. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    A big question for many (me included) is whether Coastal Explorer will continue to support ActiveCaptain Community info, and the news from Jeff Hummel of Rose Point sounds good, though tentative:

    “Garmin has been very responsive in our discussions and is clearly invested in making sure companies like ours continue to support Active Captain… We want to continue support but are waiting for some details from Garmin.”

    Jeff says he’ll let us know when the decision is made and he’s also posting on the CE Forum:

  4. Pat Anderson Pat Anderson says:

    I too am anxious to hear how Coastal Explorer makes out with Garmin and AC. I have a CE PC, an iPad and an old Raymarine C80 at the helm of Daydream. The iPad was mainly running BCM for our 2017 Great Loop, but I have now switched to Aqua Map, and am very happy with it. The iPad also serves as a the PC display for CE using the Duet Display app. Since my AIS receiver is connected to the PC, I will continue with CE as well. AC was really vital on our Loop.

  5. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Another AC developer heard from: SEAiq is going to “to let the dust settle at Garmin before considering again whether to make the required changes for their new server,” but in a separate development have added free Waterway Guide info markers even to their free charting app:

    I had not tried SEAiq in a while and am quite impressed with how it has evolved. I also notice that the WG marina info is pretty good and their hazard marks are arguably better than AC (where they exist).

  6. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    The new ActiveCaptain site is up and it was fairly easy to open a new account that merged with the old one. You just have to know your old AC user name and email.

    And once you realize that the new AC online map opens in Kansas, and you get to some saltwater via zoom/pan or search, all the familiar data seems to be there but with more categories and what seems like easier editing.

    Unfortunately, though, the “ActiveCaptain Community is navigation products” link only takes you to Garmin’s own ActiveCaptain app. I’m hoping the lack of third-party nav products is just temporary.

  7. Ben Stein Ben Stein says:

    I used an existing Garmin account. I had to type my name and supply unit information but I wasn’t given the opportunity to merge my account with my existing AC account. Did you have to initiate that or were you prompted?

    • Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

      Yes, prompted. I too used an existing Garmin account, but the prompt was separate. To merge, your AC user name (not account name) has to be the user name from your old AC account and then you verify it with the email that old AC account was associated with.

      • Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

        I found the screenshot. So first thing I saw after logging in with Garmin account was this:

        “Please complete your ActiveCaptain account

        ActiveCaptain Name

        {fill in box}

        This will be the name other boaters will see for reviews and comments. If you want to merge your old account, please enter the captain name associated with it.”

  1. April 20, 2018

    […] API before the May 23rd deadline, when apps with the old API will no longer get data updates.  We’ve heard from mixed reports, but May 23rd is just over a month away, so one way or another we will have some answers pretty […]

  2. June 26, 2018

    […] I wanted, ACC POIs and a second flavor of cartography.  With BCM gone I’m really liking Aqua Map and looking forward to cruising with it this […]

Join the conversation

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