Real-time internet AIS Sharing to Navionics, iNavX, OpenCPN etc. with Boat Beacon

Boat Beacon can now share its real time AIS feed from our global AIS aerial network via NMEA with other apps on the same device or on the same Wifi Network. Boat Beacon acts as a “Virtual AIS Receiver” with over the horizon coverage and is the first and currently only app out there that offers this.
Boat Beacon’s global realtime AIS coverage.
 We hope this will prove popular with folks who already have other Marine Navigation apps/charts like Navionics, OpenCPN, iNavX and Aqua Map etc. which support an external NMEA AIS feed but don’t have their own Internet based AIS network or feed available.
Navionics have worked closely with us on this with their Boating app  AIS feature and recommend Boat Beacon in its own category in their  Boating app – AIS Devices Compatibility Guide.
The new Boat Beacon AIS Share feature is free to trial.  If you find it useful you can use it any time when you are out boating for a small monthly or annual subscription via IAP.
You can get the latest version of Boat Beacon from the Apple App Store here and Google PlayStore here.
By the way, our own top selling marine charts navigation app SeaNav already has AIS built in as standard and if you haven’t tried SeaNav why don’t you give it a spin for free first, you can download it from here now https://apps.apple.com/app/seanav/id857841271 .
Here are some screenshots from Navionics, iNavX and OpenCPN using it.

Navionics connected to Boat Beacon on TCP port 5353

On iOS

On Android
 iNavX on same  device ( using TCP port 5353 )

OpenCPN running on a Mac via Wifi to Boat Beacon running on an iPhone ( TCP to port 5353).


There are some simple step by step instructions on how to set up Boat Beacon AIS Sharing with the Navionics Boating app here:-  https://pocketmariner.com/setup-boat-beacon-share-ais-navionics/

and here is the description in our user guide:-

AIS Sharing

Share Boat Beacon’s real time internet AIS feed via NMEA with other apps on your device and on the same Wifi network, like Navionics, OpenCPN on your Mac, iNavX etc. so you can see live ship positions around you on their charts as well. Pocket Mariner’s AIS service is fed by one of the largest network of AIS shore receivers world-wide covering most major ports, harbours and popular coastal areas with over 60,000 live ship positions at any time. Boat Beacon acts like a virtual AIS receiver and can also share your live position via Internet AIS with other users and internet based AIS services like MarineTraffic. After purchasing the Boat Beacon AIS Sharing IAP (monthly or yearly subscriptions available) just set your other apps NMEA TCP settings to connect to the IP address and TCP port (default is 5353) shown in Boat Beacon’s AIS Share setting. If you are sharing with an app on the same device you should use as the IP address to connect to instead of the actual device IP address so you never have to change the setting when you are on a different network. Boat Beacon must be in sailing mode when sharing with other apps on the same device so it can track your position and continually update the live AIS data around you in the background. Tap the SailBoat icon  bottom left to enable Sailing mode. In the unlikely event that you need to change the TCP port number in Boat Beacon to another number, tap on the AIS Share setting row and enter it. 

On iOS you can try it out at home when there are no boats around your location by putting Boat Beacon into Demo mode ( Settings/Demo mode) first and then set sailing mode. Make sure the other app is showing the same map location as the demo mode is. Make sure to turn sailing and demo mode off when you are done. If Boat Beacon is not displaying any ships around your location then no ships will appear in the other apps either.

On Android get a 3 day free trial to try it out when you sign up for one of the subscription options. You can cancel the subscription at any time and will not be charged anything if you cancel before the end of free trial period.

Get the latest version of Boat Beacon from the App Store from here now and Google PlayStore here.

SeaNav – Portuguese charts

SeaNav now has vector charts available for Portugal, The Azores and the Madeira islands based on the latest official Hydrographic Office data. These work seamlessly together with the existing charts for Spain and France. The charts include the full range of scales down to harbour approaches.

You can download the new Portuguese charts now by going to Settings in SeaNav and selecting SeaNav Chart Store/Portuguese Charts.

Lisbon Harbour entrance

SeaNav – Export and import routes via email

The simplest way to share a route with one of your other devices is to export a route via email to an email address you can read on the other device. The other way is to use Dropbox if you have a Dropbox account. Dropbox is bit more “automatic” once you have logged in and lets you browse your saved routes.

This article explains how to do it via email.

Tap the “zigzag” routes icon on the bottom toolbar and select Manage routes. Select the route you want to export by tapping the i button on its right. Then tap the share icon on the left toolbar ( square with arrow pointing out of it). Select Email as kmz and then fill out the email address to send to.

Open the email on your other device. When you open the email there will be a kmz file attached at the bottom of the email. Tap the kmz file image to download it

and then tap the share button bottom left to open it (2) .

Choose what you want to open the download with – scroll along or tap more if you can’t see SeaNav in the initial list of icons – choose SeaNav and it will import it and open SeaNav on the new route.

“Hey Siri, Man Overboard”

As the new boating season starts we have added a new, unique and useful feature for our popular Boat Beacon app – “Hey Siri, Man Overboard”

Boat Beacon now supports several Siri voice commands which you can use with your device or on your Apple Watch (requires iOS 12 or later and WatchOS7 or later). This lets you use Boat Beacon’s features hands free. The current list of voice commands are:-

  1. “Man Overboard “- Toggles Marking and tracking a man overboard position with Boat Beacon
  2. “Start Sailing” – put Boat Beacon into “On boat” mode. Same as tapping the Sailboat icon bottom left 
  3. “Finish Sailing” –  Turn off Boat Beacon “On boat” mode.
  4. “Drop Anchor” – Mark your anchor position and set a drift zone around it.
  5. “Up Anchor”- removes the Anchor watch.
  6. “Navigation status” – report current speed, course and heading.

You can add the commands to Siri from the Boat Beacon app in settings or directly in the Siri App itself. They work directly with Siri without having to mention “Boat Beacon” in the command. You can also customise the commands to respond to your own preferred phrases or language.

Tap the Add to Siri button in Boat Beacon settings to see the list of commands that are active and more that you can add. “Drop anchor” and “Start sailing” have been added in the screenshot. To add another command just tap its “Add to Siri” button. Once added you can ask Siri to do them at any time on your device or your Apple Watch.

You can also edit the commands that have been added by tapping the “Added to Siri” button next to them and add additional speech commands to launch them. For instance add “On board” as an addition/alternative to “Start sailing. You can type the phrase or enable dictation and speak it. Useful also for setting phrases in other languages or using alternative phrases that Siri finds it easier to understand.

You can view and delete the commands in the Siri Shortcuts app on your phone. Once added the commands work automatically on your Apple Watch, no more set up required. If you want to see them in the actual Siri app on your Apple Watch as well then you can set “Show on Apple Watch” in the Shortcut settings in the Siri app on your phone.

Try it now. Add “Man Overboard” and then say “Hey Siri, Man Overboard” to your iPhone/iPad or your watch. It will sound an alert,  mark the position and start tracking it for you.

Say “Man Overboard” again to clear the alert. N.B. This will still leave Boat Beacon in sailing mode.

There is a User guide in the app and online here:-


Pocket Mariner live AIS Coverage

Our ship tracking network uses a global network of shore and ship-based radio stations, which receive signals from the AIS system that ships use to broadcast their positions as they travel. Our receiver stations share the ship positions with our cloud-based data server, which pushes them onwards and out to our apps and web services.

We are continuously working on increasing the coverage of our real-time AIS receiver station network. During the last three months we have added more than 100 new AIS stations across 5 continents bringing our live ship coverage to over 80,000 ships. We have supplied the AIS receiver for free for many of these sites. New volunteers are always welcome to join our AIS Network.

Here is a  list of the most recent stations we have set up  and a snapshot of our global coverage Q1 2022


Hudson Bay, NJ
Sakonnet River in Rhode Island
St Lawrence Seaway
British Columbia
Miami, Florida, US (2 new stations)
Antioch, CA.
St Bartholomew (Caribbean)
Dominian Republic.
Buenaventura, Colombia.
Lake Erie
Several stations in Uruguay
Several stations in Mexico


The whole of Norway
The whole of Denmark
The whole of Finland
Scicily, Italy
Turku, Finland
Maasbracht, Netherlands
Ijsselmeer, Nethrlands
Ust-Luga, Russia
St Petersburgh, Russia
Edinburgh, Scotland
Over 30 new stations in and around Sweden.
Eastbourne, UK
Scilly Isles, UK
Isle of Man, UK
Lowestoft, UK
Alicante, SP
Faro, Portugal


Port Harcourt, Nigeria.
Canary Islands
Dakar, Senegal

Middle East



Perth, Adelaide, Darwin, Australia
Nagoya, Osaka, Inland Seas, Japan
Ho Chi Min City, Vitenam
Sihanoukville, Cambodia.

If you are interested in adding coverage for your area, please read our Cover Your Area information – we can often provide the equipment free of charge.

Improving Compass accuracy on iOS devices

The internal compass of your iPhone is a very useful tool. Unfortunately, it is very easy for the compass to become unaligned, particularly when indoors. The following are a few solutions to help improve the compass accuracy of your iPhone or iPad device.

Remove all Magnetic Material from your device

Your iPhone contains a Magnetometer that is used by the internal compass. Any interference from a nearby magnetic source may affect the compass readings. Make sure to remove any nearby magnets. Keep in mind iPhone cases and pop sockets often have magnetic parts built in. If your device becomes unaligned due to the magnet then removing the source will help but you may need to restart your device.

Rotate Your Phone in a Figure 8 Motion

One of the calibration methods your compass utilizes includes motion over time, whether you are walking around or pulling your phone out of your pocket. One trick to help re-align the compass is to shake your phone or rotate it in a large figure eight motion. For a small misalignment this will often help fine-tune the accuracy of your compass.

Enable Compass Calibration in the settings app

In iOS 13 and later there is a privacy setting to allow your compass to use location services to help calibrate your devices compass. By default, this setting is disabled. Enabling this feature is highly recommended for good compass accuracy.

  1. Open the “Settings” app
  2. Tap “Privacy”
  3. Tap “Location Services”
  4. Tap “System Services”
  5. Enable “Compass Calibration”

Disable and Re-enable Location Services

Refreshing Location Services can help your device clear any GPS errors from previous readings. Another trick to improve compass accuracy is to simple disable and re-enable Location Services.

  1. Open the “Settings” app
  2. Tap “Privacy”
  3. Tap “Location Services”
  4. Disable and Re-enable “Location Services”

Restart your iPhone

When your compass becomes misaligned sometimes the fastest method of realignment is to simple restart your device. This may seem tedious, but it is the quickest and most reliable method for restoring your compass to provide optimal readings.

How to Restart Your iPhone

Disable True North in the settings app

By default, your device will utilize True North for all compass readings. Depending on the compass reading you are trying to get it may make sense to temporarily disable True North and use Magnetic North for a while.

  1. Open the “Settings” app
  2. Scroll down and tap on the “Compass” app
  3. Disable “Use True North”

Hopefully some of these tips help you attain accurate compass readings from your device. If your device continues to have issues, there may be an additional software or hardware problems with the phone itself. Please contact Apple Support for any questions about calibrating your compass or to determine if your device may need repair.

SeaNav and an autonomous boat

We have downsized the Pocket Mariner test boat from a catamaran cruiser to a catamaran dinghy (Dart 18) and are doing our bit for Net Zero and our ears with an electric outboard.

We chose the Torqeedo 1103C which has slightly more power than an e-Propulsion and also had the benefit of being available rather than on a 6 month back order. It is a revolution compared to a petrol outboard. Totally silent apart from the sound of water flowing past the hull, instant start, no oil or smelly petrol and fumes. A real joy, here is it in action on the river Wye:-

As well as using the test boat for testing our marine navigation apps we got inspired to take the boat to the next level and see if we could automate it and ultimately use SeaNav to control it to follow a SeaNav route.

Two steps:-

  1. A bluetooth LE enabled autohelm attachment to control the outboard direction
  2. Add the bluetooth driver capability to SeaNav and get it to maintain course and change course at Waypoints.

A possible 3rd step is to add a remote throttle control too so we can go fully autonomous!

This article covers step 1.

Step 1. Bluetooth iOS remote for Navico TP5000

Autohelm units are very expensive ( over £400) and none offer remote bluetooth control. We couldn’t find one that supported remote NMEA0183 control either. So we bought a second hand Navico TP5000 unit off eBay and adapted it to support Bluetooth using an Arduino BLE nano33 board and 3 relays attached inside the housing to the switches. The project design, instructions and code is here https://github.com/electricpocket/autopilot. This could also be adapted to control a Raymarine Autohelm unit.

Here is the Navico TP5000 in manual mode attached to the boat and Torqeedo outboard:-

and here is the TP50000 controlled with our iPhone autopilot app:-

Next is to test this on the water and then move on to Step 2…..

Please contact help@pocketmariner.com if you have any questions or suggestions.

How to setup Boat Beacon AIS Sharing to OpenCPN

Get live AIS ship positions around you in the OpenCPN app on Windows, Mac, Android and RPi without the need for an AIS receiver.   Boat Beacon can now share its real time AIS feed from our global AIS aerial network via NMEA with OpenCPN on the same device or on the same Wifi Network. Boat Beacon acts as a “Virtual AIS Receiver” and is the first and currently only app out there that offers this .  The Boat Beacon AIS Share feature is free to try.  If you find it useful you can use it any time when you are out boating for a small monthly or annual subscription via IAP.   You can get the latest version of Boat Beacon from the Apple App Store here and Google PlayStore here.   This is a step by step guide on how to configure Boat Beacon AIS Sharing on iOS (Android guide here) with OpenCPN running on a Windows PC or Mac. Boat Beacon and OpenCPN must be running on the same Wifi network or device. The guide uses Boat Beacon’s demo mode so you can try for free at home away from the coast and without having to purchase an AIS sharing subscription.  

1. Launch Boat Beacon and go into Boat Beacon settings and turn on “Demo Mode”, then turn on AIS Sharing. It will show the IP address ( in this case) and default TCP port number to use 5353 and will be orange ( not connected). Remember the IP address for use later in OpenCPN. N.B. If you are not in the UK the demo mode will be centred on San Francisco bay in the US.  

  2. Tap Done top left and go back to the chart view. This will position the map on a virtual boat in the Solent ( or San Francisco Bay). All the other boats in view are real and live. Tap the sailboat icon bottom left to start sailing the demo route.

  3. Now switch to the OpenCPN app on your PC ( or Mac) and position the map on the same demo location as Boat Beacon, Solent ( or San Francisco Bay).

On windows click the Spanner icon to open the Options Dialog which has 6 tabs, as seen below. On Mac click Preferences under OpenCPN top left in the toolbar.

Tap Connections, Add ConnectionScreenshot 2021-08-02 at 16.00.09.png

Select Network, select TPC for the protocol, enter the Address ( and DataPort number (5353) from Boat Beacon. You can enter a User Comment (e.g. Boat Beacon AIS) so you can distinguish this connection from any other connections you add. Leave everything else as default for now.

Screenshot 2021-08-02 at 15.51.32.png

Tap Apply to save and create the new connection and you should see this with the new Boat Beacon connection enabled:-

Screenshot 2021-08-02 at 15.53.40.png

The Settings are persistent, meaning that settings entered in one session will still be there on restart. The live AIS data from Boat Beacon will then display in OpenCPN.

Please note Boat Beacon will use your GPS position ( in non demo mode) to fetch and share the AIS data from (not the displayed map position) so OpenCPN will need to be centred on your GPS location too.


  • Boat Beacon must be in Sailing mode to maintain the AIS feed when it is in the background ( e.g. when you are viewing the Navionics Boating app) on your device.
  • Make sure you have Location sharing for Boat Beacon set to “Always” in your device Privacy/Location settings. Please note Boat Beacon will only use your location when it is running ( foreground) or in Sailing mode. It will not “Always” use your location – it’s just an unfortunate terminology from Apple.
  • You must have an internet connection though (e.g. Cellular/Mobile) for Boat Beacon to receive the AIS data.
  • iOS14 has introduced a new privacy permission if apps want to use local network resources which both Boat Beacon  and Navionics need to have set to yes. The OS will prompt you the first time either app tries to use a connection. You can manually set/change the permission in your device’s Settings/Privacy/Local network. See screenshot below for how we have it set.
  • Might sound obvious, but it has caught a couple of people out. You need to subscribe to the monthly or yearly AIS Sharing feature via IAP ( tap the AIS Sharing row in Settings to bring up the IAP screen) to use Boat Beacon with Navionics when not in demo mode.
  • If you have any questions or problems getting it working please email us at help@pocketmariner.com


Setting up club race courses with SeaNav

You can use SeaNav to enter and edit race courses, share these with others and navigate the course. Typically a club will have several race marker buoys and on any particular day set up a course using a subset of them plus possibly other fixed buoys in a particular order to best suit the conditions. This article shows you how easy and useful it is to do this using SeaNav in three easy steps:-

  • Ready. Enter all the race markers as POIs ( and use the SeaNav yellow flag race marker style). Typically you only need to do this once a year or less.
  • Set. Create a route from the ones you want to use as the course.
  • Go. Start racing the course.

First step – Ready. Set up all the club’s race markers as POIs in SeaNav. For this example we will have 5 race marker buoys labelled A through E. Create each one by long pressing on the chart and tapping “Add POI here”

You can enter the buoy name in the edit screen that pops up and also choose the marker type (icon on left above the name field) e.g a yellow flag for a race marker). You can edit the Position Lat/Long if you want to make it more precise/accurate. You can also import the markers from kmz files.

After adding all the race markers, which you typically only need to do once a season, the next step is to set up the course for the day.

Second Step – Set: Enter the course as a New Route.

Tap the route/poi symbol on the bottom toolbar and then tap “New route”

Enter a race start Waypoint or tap the POI race marker you want to be the start of the race and select “Add Waypoint for POI”. “A” in this example. Cycle through the rest of the markers in the order you want them adding them as waypoints . Here we are adding C and D and then ending back up at A.

You can end back at the start or at a different marker. You can set a race start/end line using a start and end waypoint markers. Enter a name for the course/route now or later in Manage Routes. Tap Done when you have finished. You can now share the route with others via email or dropbox and also send it to your own email as a back up. In Route details you can see the overall route length and distances between waypoints.

Final Step – Go: To start sailing the course just tap the Sailboat icon bottom left. It will mark the first course mark of the race with a star and show you the distance, bearing and ETA to it. When you reach it, SeaNav will automatically set the next race waypoint for you. You can manually choose the next waypoint in the route using the forward and back tab arrows in the navigation HUD at the top of the screen.

Get racing and good luck!

AIS coverage additions for Spring 2021

We are constantly working to increase our real time AIS coverage for our apps and services. Over the last month we have added over 30 new areas adding an additional 5000 live AIS targets to our global total of over 75,000 per hour.

Number of ShipsArea
30Firth of Clyde, UK
50Faroes, UK
20SE Ireland
20SW Ireland
100Aegean Sea, Greece
100Valencia, Spain
200Gibraltar and Southern Spain
100Antwerp, Belgium
200Caspian Sea
300Persian Gulf
600Japan, multiple areas.
200River Plate, S.America
150Sao Paulo, S.America
20Salvador, S.America
31SE Australia
30Avalon Beach,Australia
27Sutherland, Australia
21Gulf of Mexico – Matamoros

Tidal Streams for SeaNav

You can now view the current and predicted tidal flow rates and directions live on SeaNav’s UK and IE vector charts.

We use the official chart Tidal diamond symbol, rotating it to point in the flow direction. Blue means the rate is decreasing, red and its increasing. The diamonds update in real time on the chart. For planning tap on a tidal diamond to see the rate and direction, tap i for more information and see the rate and direction for the next 3 days on a graph at the bottom of the screen. Slide the time cursor ( or just tap at the time you want ) and all the tidal diamonds in view on the chart update as you adjust it (not just the one you have selected). You can zoom in and out of the graph timeline using pinch gestures. The Tidal Stream information is cached for up to 7 days so will work when you are out. of internet coverage as well.

The new Tidal Stream feature requires SeaNav 5.3 or later and uses official data from the UK Hydrographic Office, updated annually. A current UK & IE chart subscription is required to view the data. We hope to add Tidal Streams for other areas where available if they prove popular ( FR, NL & BE, DE… ). Please email us and let us know.