What to think about when using an iPad on board for navigation. Matthew Sheahan and Elaine Bunting report

Using iPad apps for navigation is becoming a popular option and we tested seven chartplotting apps for a feature in Yachting World. But what about using an iPad on board?  Here are our top tips:


Whatever you do, don’t risk using your iPad on deck without a waterproof case.

Griffin make a Survivor case (£30) and, while they claim it has been tested by the US military and will certainly protect from knocks and falls, we wouldn’t be sure about its performance in water. It’s fine for showers if perfectly sealed, but too many rubber flaps that could come undone.

LifeEdge waterproof case for iPads

LifeEdge waterproof case for iPads

Our favourite is the Life Edge case, which, so long as you’ve done it correctly, will seal your iPad from the elements. You’ll know when that’s done because your wrists will ache and you won’t manage it without the tyre levers supplied with the case. The downside is that it is fiddly to plug the charger in, but worth the battle for the peace of mind. Ther iPad 2 case, is compatible with the iPad 2/3/4.

It costs £99; expensive, but well worth it compared with a replacement iPad.

(Update: The latest Life Edge case has a remodelled fit, making it far easier to get a good seal on your iPad. They have also updated the charging port. We’re impressed. YW)

When choosing

It is worth considering what you already have on board with an existing chartplotter. The chances are you won’t be able to save money by using existing charts, but you will be able to recognise and compare features more readily. This might count for more than you think when you are tired, wet and a touch stressed.


Plug-in GPS

If you only have a wi-fi (non-3G) iPad, it may still be possible to run these chartplotting programs using a plug-in GPS. There are several on the market, but the one we keep reading about is the Bad Elf GPS. We haven’t tested it, so can’t vouch for how well it does the job. However, there are plenty of comments online from those who have.

See what Elaine Bunting had to say in her blog





  • Andrew Holder

    I use the fantastic iNavX charts on the iPad, along with the Life Edge case, although a splashproof case is fine if it’s mainly going to be in the cabin. I haven’t got rid of my paper charts but I never use them now. I also don’t subscribe to the old fashioned “what if the batteries run out” school of thought. I always have 3 GPS systems on board, fixed chart plotter, iPad and iPhone, so the chances of the whole thing going pear shaped are very, very remote indeed.

  • Richard Scott

    I can’t believe that this article, with the headline “top tips for using iPad apps for navigation” basically states that a waterproof case is a good idea and that it is better to have a GPS iPad.