For Miah Dixon, planning is just as much a part of the trip as actually fishing...
Whether I’m planning a big gamefishing adventure, or just a quick trip out for a dive, I like to know where I’m going, what the weather is doing, what route I’ll take and therefore how much fuel I’ll use, and how long it will take me to get out – especially if I’m trying to get to the spot by bite time!
When I first began taking the helm on my own, sourcing all of this information meant visiting multiple sites, and researching for up to an hour to find all the data I needed, until I found an app that did almost everything in one go…
A few years ago, Navico released an updated C-Map app that offered marine charts in the palm of your hand. The quality of the NZ charts was great, it was easy to use and the app worked without fault. Now, C-Map has an upgraded Premium option, which gives users a raft of new functions that further enhance the app’s practicality.
The base app allows you to do all the things that a conventional chartplotter does – track your movements, plot waypoints, plan routes, and if you’re a Premium user, you can even track other vessels with AIS on. Premium users can also turn on their own location, making them visible to others using C-Map Premium. For solo fishers or those fishing or diving in a group on separate boats, it’s a great way to keep tabs on your mates (or keep an eye on their fishing spots!).
The app tracks your movements and plots a trail in the same way a chartplotter would. Vessels with AIS are also shown, such as the Auckland ferry, Kekeno.
If you’re a Premium subscriber, you’ll also get access to offline maps meaning you can download maps for specific areas (you choose exactly where) to take out of data range and still use.
For the weather conscious (hopefully all of us!), there are rolling forecasts for all across the country, with the app defaulting to following wherever you are. These cover temperature, rain, wind speed and direction, sea state, tides and moon phases.
Local weather forecasts mean it's easy to check in both before you leave and while you're on the water.
While there are a number of online services that assist boaties in planning trips, I appreciate that C-Map has brought them into the app arena. My favourite, and probably the most simple function is the distance planner – I can quickly plot points on my phone, with the app measuring this distance between them. From there I can quickly calculate both the fuel I’ll use and the time it’ll take me to travel.
Planning routes is simple in the measurement mode. Simply select points and the distance between them is calculated.
If you’re using the latest Simrad gear, your C-Map account can be connected to your MFD, carrying over any of your logged notes or waypoints. It’s perfect if you’ve been shared a spot – you can quickly put it into your phone, and it will then appear on your sounder – magic!
On a more serious note, as a safety aid, I appreciate having the app as a backup to my usual GPS, in the same way that my phone is also a backup for my VHF. There are small safety minded features throughout – for example, the large, easy to find GPS coordinates are ideal should you find yourself in a pickle and are required to give your position for assistance.
I don’t have a radar on my vessel, so when navigating at night or in restricted visibility, the AIS tracking is an extra set of eyes on any AIS-enabled vessels around me. This is definitely great for peace of mind when navigating busy harbours with lots of commercial vessels.
Pick a point and the app will navigate a safe route to your destination for you, accounting for your vessel’s draft and height. Range rings also give you an idea of distance to various landmarks.
With all my other apps closed, I found that running C-MAP wasn’t much of a battery drain on my 2017 model iPhone X, but that is a variable which will depend on each person’s smartphone. With a powerbank or charger on board, it’s even less of an issue.
If I had to summarise this app in one phrase it would be ‘boating made easy’ – it has almost everything you need to plan and execute a successful fishing trip in the palm of your hand. Run alongside the likes of the Coastguard app (for lodging trip reports and finding VHF channels), it provides a comprehensive set of navigation and safety tools that should be a welcome addition to any boatie’s toolkit.
Download the C-Map app for free from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.
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