Thanks to the constant improvements in mobile technology, cellphones and PDAs are now among the first things many sailors pack before they set sail. Not only are they useful for relieving boredom and loneliness, but the powerful software available for them these days means that they can even save lives on the high seas.
If you’re planning a trip on the open water then it’s a good idea to use a device with built-in GPS, or buy a GPS receiver for your existing handset. There are many GPS utilities out there that can help you put your satellite connection to best use. Try GPSXC, which is a specialised reader for adventure sports. The program allows you to download maps and satellite imagery and display your current position and set a waypoint from your location and GPSXC even includes a speedometer with time and distance tracking.
Other decent GPS tools worth trying include CellPos, AFTrack, and Compass, which could prove essential if anything happens to your on-board direction finder. If you have a Pocket PC, then give Pocket Sailor a try. This software system allows you to view Transas charts and navigate using a Pocket PC connected to a GPS. Pocket Sailor is an add-on to the Navigator system and allows charts and routes to be downloaded on to a palm top PC.
The weather is a key factor in sailing of course, and there are plenty of decent forecasting tools for mobile phones out there. Handy Weather provides live weather news and you can check conditions for an arbitrary location based on co-ordinates. WorldMate is also pretty good and besides live weather forecasts, it offers a World map, World clocks and a measurements converter.