How to Turn Your Phone Into a Boating Safety Kit

When planning a trip out on the water, most typically start their checklist with the basics: fishing license, spinning rod, bait-casting rod, back-up rod, bait, snacks, sunscreen, nautical maps, tide chart, GPS, lucky ball cap and life jackets. Then, grab the kids, keys, wallet and you’re off!

A great way to spend time with family and enjoy nature, boating and fishing are thought of as an escape, a way to de-stress. Disconnecting from a busy lifestyle often means leaving technology off the boat packing list. But, consider perhaps, packing your phone as its apps can be valuable, or lifesaving, in an emergency.While apps can’t replace a VHF or save a sinking boat, they can help you prepare for a day on the water or help you react if something goes wrong. Consider adding these apps before your next outing:


  • Boat Ramp App: The Take Me Fishing Boat Ramp App features more than 35,000 boat ramps and marinas. Locate a boat ramp to launch your boat or locate the nearest boat ramp in case you need to get off the water quickly to meet emergency personnel.

  • Float Plan for Your Boat: This Float Plan app stores information about your vessel, such as who is on board and your planned trip destination, then packages it together for a quick and easy send to a trusted friend or family member.

  • Boater's Checklist and GPS: The Boater’s Checklist and GPS allows users to prepare for a trip, as well as document locations along the way using GPS location tracking. It also provides contact information for your nearest governing boating agency.

  • Boating Weather: Know the weather before you head out on the water. This app provides wind and tide forecasts and notes when small crafts should exercise caution on the water.

  • Marine Navigation: With thousands of charts and maps, this app will help you navigate the water from your boat.


  • Towing Dispatch: Accidents happen, so make sure to have the BoatU.S. Towing Services App handy. BoatU.S. offers 24-hour assistance on the water when it comes to jumpstarts, fuel drops or towing.

  • Pocket First Aid and CPR: Filled with detailed videos, step-by-step illustrations and emergency contacts, this app can come in handy in case of an emergency on the water (or on land while docking!).

  • Ship Finder: On a sunny Saturday, you may not be the only boat on the water. Know where other boats (especially big boats) are located and who is on boat in case you need to contact them or steer clear.

  • S-O-S Signal Flashlight: If you like night fishing, you may be out on the water in the wee hours. A flashlight app with an S-O-S function is helpful if you need to signal other boats or someone on land for help.

This not a comprehensive list of all the helpful boating and fishing apps available, but it should get you started. Be sure to search for others that may provide important boating safety information before you set out on your next trip.

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Stephanie Vatalaro

Stephanie Vatalaro

Stephanie Vatalaro is vice president of communications for the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation and its Take Me Fishing and Vamos A Pescar campaigns where she works to recruit newcomers to recreational fishing and boating and increase awareness of aquatic conservation. Stephanie grew up in the Florida Keys as the daughter of a flats fishing guide. Outside of work, you can find her fishing and boating with her family on the Potomac River in the Northern Neck of Virginia.