“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:-


Boat Beacon and SeaNav Apple Watch App tips

Here are some tips/pointers from our initial experience of using the Apple Watch with our Boat Beacon app.

1. By default the Apple Watch shows a watch face when you raise your wrist to look at it. If you want to see your nav data on Boat Beacon you have to press the crown and select Boat Beacon. This is really annoying when you want to see your navigation information at the flick of your wrist. Fortunately there is an option in the Apple Watch app on your iPhone to ensure the Boat Beacon app (or whichever app you were using last ) stays on top – its in My Watch/General/Activate on Wrist Raise/Resume Previous Activity  – make sure this is ticked.

2. You need Boat Beacon on your iPhone/iPad to be in Sailing mode (Sailing button bottom left selected) to get  SOG, COG , Heading and CPA/AIS information on Boat Beacon’s watch app display. The same applies to our SeaNav Watch app which also has a Waypoints display.

3. iPhone Battery is draining much faster when SeaNav or Boat Beacon app has been run on  my watch even though it is no longer being displayed on the watch and I am not running the apps on my phone/iPad.

The problem is that when you launch the SeaNav or Boat Beacon watch app (or in fact any app that needs gps) on your watch it stays running even when its not showing on the watch face and/or another app (e.g. the clock) is showing. As it is running it will keep asking the iPhone for gps info which will eat battery on your iPhone. The solution is to “Force stop” the SeaNav app on your Watch when you have finished using it. Here’s how to do this:-

With the SeaNav/Boat Beacon app showing on your Watch screen press and hold the side button below the Digital Crown for a few seconds. The next screen you see features buttons for Power Off, Power Reserve and Lock Device. When you see this screen press and hold the side button again until you see SeaNav disappear and be replaced by the home screen.  There are more instructions for how to do a force stop here

We need a way to exit the SeaNav app on the watch more easily – either from the iPhone or more directly from within the SeaNav app running on the watch. This appears to be a mistake/oversight by Apple (a lot of folks with fitness and cycling apps are complaining to Apple about battery drain) and hopefully they will address it in a future release.

Just remember to force quit it on your Watch when you don’t need it running.

4. The wrist torch mode doesn’t work – looks like Apple won’t let the watch show a blank white screen (it worked in the simulator). We will take a look at how to get this working. For now you can use the AIS Map display to shed some light in the dark.

5. The watch screen is polarised to reduce glare and visibility is good on a bright day.  Apple have got the polarisation right – just like on instrument displays on aircraft –  it works fine with Polarised sunglasses. We tested with a pair of my son’s Ray-Ban Aviators and we could see the watch face fine. seanav-watch