Boat Beacon now supports AIS direct from a VHF AIS receiver.

Boat Beacon now allows you to use AIS data directly from an AIS receiver on-board your boat via WiFi (over UDP or TCP). Boat Beacon seamlessly combines this with the AIS information it receives over the internete. If  you travel outside mobile internet coverage or in an area where we don’t have good coverage from a local shore station, Boat Beacon can now continue to work displaying live ship data, calculating Closest Point of Approach (CPA) with alarms etc. from your VHF AIS receiver or AIS enabled VHF radio. On Android you can connect  the  NMEA  serial  or usb output from an AIS receiver or connect via WiFi. On iPhone you need to use WiFi. Here are some of the AIS receivers we have tested with  Lowrance, Simrad, B&G, Digital Yacht, Comar NMEA-w2-Wifi, Weatherdock EasyAIS, Chetco Digital SeaSmart , Navico GoFree etc. More information on how to hook all this up is given below.

 iPhone and Android AIS over WiFi.

If you already have AIS data available over Wifi on board then just enter the UDP port number (or ip address and port number for TCP) for the source and Boat Beacon will start using the data. With Navico GoFree and iPhone/iPad this is even more simple as there is a “GoFree” connect button in settings – just press and go.  If you only have a usb or nmea output available you will also need a serial or usb to internet or Wifi adaptor. They range in price from $50 to $200. This is one example we have tested with at the $70 level - USR-TCP232-400 that we hook into our on-board WiFi hub.

Android AIS NMEA 0183 over USB or serial

Boat Beacon will automatically launch and use local AIS data when a USB cable is plugged in between the AIS receiver and your Android device. You can set the USB mode on or off in settings in Boat Beacon.

For an Android NMEA 0183 connection you will need the following:-

1. An Android device that supports USB host mode (typically OS3 or later)
2. If your receiver doesn’t have a USB output you can simply convert the NMEA 0183 2 wire  output to USB for a few dollars more using an RS232 to USB cable. Typically $7 or so.  The most common USB to RS232 cables use the Prolific 2303 driver which we support. The cable we tested with is this one :-
We also support many other serial usb drivers (see below).
3. You will also need an Android OTG micro usb adaptor which only cost a couple of dollars. Here are a couple of links to the type of OTG micro usb adapter you will need:-
and this one allows you to charge your device at the same time:-
20 cm Micro USB OTG Y-Cable + extra power supply via @amazon

More information.

You can get Boat Beacon from the iTunes or Android stores - Boat Beacon

If you have a problem connecting with Android over usb you can run this free simple serial usb tester program on your Android device once you have an OTG adaptor to report and test what driver is required and let us know :- (just click on the link on your tablet to download the app).
Please email us if you have any questions or suggestions at
There is also a great article here about hooking up NMEA to serial :-



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Improved Live AIS coverage in Australia for Boat Beacon and Boat Watch

Thanks to the help of the Australian Volunteer Coastguard (AVCG) and Australian Navigation and Communications company, Electrotech we now have much improved real-time AIS coverage in Australia.

9 new stations are feeding us AIS data live directly from Sydney, Brisbane (3), Gladstone, Melbourne, Karratha, Cairns and Darwin.

The AVCG in Mooloolaba, Brisbane are recommending Boat Beacon for use with their leading computer based Radio logging service (click the link to see the video about it). Boat Beacon allows users to automatically “login” their boat and trip details including MMSI, Destination, ETA and Persons on board when they start a trip and “logout” again when they arrive by simply tapping the Boat Beacon Sailboat icon at the bottom left to start and stop sailing mode.


Here’s a screenshot from Boat Beacon showing the Alexander Passenger ship right now in  Sydney, last update 20s ago!





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Win B&G Zeus Touch 7, iPad Mini, Pebble Watch and SeaNav

Your chance to win an awesome package we have put together with our SeaNav app and B&G.  SeaNav automatically hooks up with the B&G Zeus Touch over WiFi and uses the navigation data from their system (gps, course, wind, speed, lay lines, depth, AIS etc.) to display in SeaNav and on the Pebble SmartWatch with our free Pebble SeaNav app. Check out the competition details here



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Android Boat Watch Now Available

Our Boat Watch team has been busy this past few weeks - Boat Watch app is now available for Android smartphone and tablets! – Boat Watch is a free app, which you can download from the Google Play Store – there is an optional in-app purchase, which gives you richer information on each boat, and lets you receive an alert when your favourite ship departs and arrives. We invite you to download the free app from the Google Play Store today!

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Boat Watch now on Mac

Our popular Boat Watch app is now available for Mac OSX Mavericks – so you can spot and track boats and ships directly from your Mac desktop. Boat Watch is a free app, which you can download from the Mac App Store – there is an optional in-app purchase, which gives you richer information on each boat, and lets you receive an alert when your favourite ship departs and arrives. We invite you to use the free app by downloading it from the Mac App Store today!

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SeaNav and Simrad,Lowrance and B&G GoFree at METS.

SeaNav now hooks up with Simrad, Lowrance and B&G MFD’s via WiFi GoFree  and can use all the live navigation data including Position, AIS, Wind and Depth to display on your iPhone , iPad or Pebble Smartwatch wherever you are on your boat. We’ll be at the METS trade show in Amsterdam November 19th -21st . Come and see for yourself and try out the Pebble Smartwatch too - METS 2013 – stand(s):01.120, 01.147


















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Pocket Mariner at METS 2013


We’ll be at the METS trade show in Amsterdam next week – November 19th -21st . Come and meet us, see our apps and try out the Pebble Smartwatch too - METS 2013 – Stand(s):01.120, 01.147

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SeaNav 2.0 brings unique Augmented Reality live view

Augmented Reality View


Our unique AR view mode allows you to view buoys, lights, ships, waypoints and track overlaid on your iPhone or iPad live camera view. With “AR LockOn” you can select a target on the chart and then be guided to it in the AR camera view.

  • Find that ship on the horizon and instantly see its name, range and bearing.

  • Spot the next marker buoy.

  • See your route and next waypoint


Tap the “eye” icon at the top left to switch AR mode on, then tilt your device up to see a live camera of the scene and boats around you. As you turn round and view buoys and ships, their name, range and bearing will popup when they are in the center of the view. You can also tap on them to get more information. Tilt back down to see the map view. Tapping the “eye” icon again turns AR mode off. You can pinch to zoom the map or camera views.

In AR mode our unique “AR Lock On” feature lets you select a ship or buoy on the map view and then easily locate it in the Camera view using a grey arrow to tell you which way to turn to spot it when its not directly in view. Your course (yellow line) and route to next waypoint (blue line) will also be visible overlayed on the camera view.

Ships are color coded based on their type e.g. Sailing boats are white, Pleasure Craft magenta, etc. See the Map Legend for full details. A vector points forward showing where each boat will be in 2 minutes time based on its current Speed and Course. Ships move in real time across the map and in the AR view. Tap on a ship or buoy to get more information and tap on the right arrow to get even more including speed, course, distance, bearing, picture etc. The horizon is set by the zoom scale of the chart view – e.g. zoom out on the chart view to see further out in the Augmented reality view.

AR photo from the Isle of Wight ferry.

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SeaNav Free Pebble Smartwatch navigation app

Speed, Course and time


SeaNav now hooks up with the amazing Pebble Smartwatch to provide live navigation data on your wrist wherever you are on your boat. Check Speed, Course, Waypoint, Wind, AIS radar, SailSteer and times and get Collision(CPA), Waypoint and Countdown timer alarms. The SeaNav Pebble Smartwatch app is free. Read more in the SeaNav Pebble user guide and get the free App via the Pebble Watch setting in SeaNav.

Next Waypoint, distance, bearing and time

AIS Radar including CPA

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Improved real time AIS Coverage for the Solent and English Channel

Our network of AIS coverage around the world  is amongst the best in the industry. However we are always looking to add new areas and improve existing ones.

Thanks to John Ambler on the Isle of Wight sharing his AIS data directly to our servers our users now have greatly improved real time coverage around the Solent and English Channel.

Here’s a screenshot showing the range of ships his receiver is picking up from an aerial 200 feet above sea level on the island.


Coverage around the Isle of Wight

You can check the live coverage on John’s web page and in real time on Boat Beacon and SeaNav too.

A big thank you to John and complimentary copies of all our marine apps.

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