Of all the pleasures of summer, few are as irresistible as an escape to the water’s edge, whether it’s an ocean, lake or urban port. You can swim, sail, fish and participate in the age-old tradition of idleness.
But a holiday on the coast is also an opportunity for discovery. Maybe you would like to learn how to tie fishing and boating knots? Or decipher these colorful signal flags do you see on the boats and in the seaside shops? With the right app, you can turn a vacation on the water into something deeper: identify the fish you just caught or the passing boat, discover the seashell you spotted or the lake you’re diving into, explore nearby shark migrations and study the rhythms of the moon and tides, all while keeping your toes in the sand.
Track ships on the horizon
Watching a ship glide through a harbor one evening, I wondered aloud where it might have been. “Let’s find out,” said a friend, who then pulled out his phone and opened MarineTraffic — Vessel Trackingan application that can identify near and far vessels.
The app’s live map lets you zoom in and out of major ports and shipping routes around the world to see ships, their details, and voyage routes. Each ship is represented by a colored icon, including dark blue for passenger ships, orange for fishing vessels, and purple for yachts and pleasure boats. For example, looking at a Norwegian cruise ship on the Hudson River in New York, I opened the map (there’s a desktop version on MarineTraffic.com), pressed the corresponding icon, and a photo of the ship was immediately shown with information such as its name, its flag, its last known port (it had been in Kings Wharf in Bermuda two days earlier), its speed and its status (it was docked as opposed to, say, underway, using a motor). Later, when the ship was leaving, I opened the app and saw at a glance that it was now on its way to Norfolk, Virginia. (You can also search for a specific ship by name.)
No cost; $9.99 per year for a “starter” subscription with more ship and port information, and features like an augmented reality tool to identify ships using your smartphone camera. Note: The application uses a network of coast stations. Automatic identification system receivers (AIS) to display vessel positions. It costs extra to unlock the details of a vessel that is out of its AIS range.
Try your hand at boating and knots
Planning to go boating, fishing or camping this summer? 3D nodes uses full-color animations to teach you how to tie over 150 knots, from those that could help you catch a fish to those that could save your life. See knot usage and history, adjust the speed of animations or pause them, rotate a knot for a different perspective, and use your finger to tie and untie it. There are several ways to find the nodes you want to master, including by category (like boating, fishing and camping) or node type (like anchor hitch, bowline and fisherman’s eye). Plus, the app doesn’t require internet service, so you can train even when you’re in the backcountry.
Follow sharks from your beach chair
You never know what creatures might share the waters with you on your summer vacation. Or you ?
This application of ocarch, a nonprofit that facilitates ocean and fish research around the world, lets users track the migrations of sharks (and some other marine animals, like turtles) that have been tagged with technology. satellite tracking. For example, in July, I could see on the app’s map that an 883-pound white shark over 11 feet long was in the Atlantic Ocean off a nearby beach. The app allows you to track these sharks as they travel thousands of miles (select “all pings” on the app map to view historical and recent tracking activity). Meanwhile, data collected from the tracker is helping scientists understand the migration patterns and life cycle of sharks to better protect them and, ultimately, the oceans too.
Immerse yourself in the history of oceans and lakes
Open 3D Earth — World Atlas for a virtual globe that rotates with the swipe of a finger, allowing you to investigate wherever you are – or for long. Vacationing in the Wisconsin Great Lakes? Tap on Lake Superior to learn about the first people who came to the area thousands of years ago. On the South Carolina coast? Tap the Atlantic Ocean to find out just how big it is. Or touch the Caribbean Current to find out where it flows. On vacation in a big city? Tap a monument or landmark, like the Key West Lighthouse in Florida, to learn more.
Location information is sourced from Wikipedia, which is easily accessible on the web. And Earth 3D doesn’t have the granularity of, say, the Google Earth application. Nonetheless, it’s a charming and enjoyable way to trigger interest in geography and history, especially among young people.
(For a more eccentric collection, try the Atlas Obscura Travel Guide application where you can discover lesser-known points of interest around you or elsewhere in the world on an interactive map. And you can’t beat the price: free.)
Identify seashells and other discoveries by the sea
Let’s say you are walking along the shore when you spot an unknown object. Whether it’s a seashell, a piece of coral, a plant or an insect, try to consult Google Lens. Simply point your smartphone camera at anything you want to know and Lens will search the internet for visual matches and information. When he recently aimed a shell, for example, he found pages with photos that revealed it was probably a moon snail.
You can also point your camera at a building or statue to learn about its history. And you don’t have to do it in real time either: Lens also works on images in photos. Some objects give more useful results than others, but Lens is definitely a powerful tool. Available in An application For Android; iOS users can download the Google appwhich allows you to search for images using Lens.
Decode port sights and sounds
This digital reference manual for boaters offers information on essential topics like collision avoidance. But even bathers who have never set foot on board can use Pro Browsing Rules to decode the sights and sounds of vacations by the sea. For example, you can find out what those colorful flags and pennants mean (and how each corresponds to a letter) with the app’s guide to the International Code of Signals, a system that ships use to communicate. Simply type “ICS” into the search function to learn more about the ways signals can be sent and to see images of the flags, their meanings, associated letters and phonetic alphabet letters.
Or maybe you want to study international Morse code using the app’s dot and dash charts (just search for ‘Morse’), or find out more about the earth and its coordinates by selecting the ‘nautical charts’ section. “. Much of this information can be found for free online, although the app houses it all in one place. So you can sit in a harbor bar and browse the things that interest you – like the formation of waves at sea – with one hand while drinking a beer with the other. For iOS only.
Be in tune with the moon and the tides
Keeping track of the weather may not be necessary for all types of vacations, but if you’re hoping to catch the sunrise or cross a sandbar before high tide, a little planning is in order. Nearby tides allows you to check currents and get the time of the next tide, sunset or moonrise at a glance. Take a closer look by tapping on the “week” tab. No cost.
For a more polished experience, consider spending a few dollars on Tide alert (NOAA) – United States, which has an attractive interactive interface and uses tide prediction data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. A map with a wavy line represents high and low tides. A yellow dot on the line indicates the current time and tide height. You can use your finger to drag the yellow dot forward or backward, virtually traveling back in time to see what the tides were, or forward to see what they are predicted. The moon and sun icons on the chart tell you the times of sunrise, sunset, moonrise and moonset. You can also see this information at a glance by tapping “mount and set”. To view monthly moon phase calendars, tap the calendar icon. iOS only. Cost: Free trial, then $3.99 for three months; $11.99 per year.
Surfers might also want to take a look at the MSW Surf Forecast app by Magicseaweed for forecasts that include wave and swell heights. No cost. An ad-free pro version with features like Direct worldwide surf cams are available for $12.99 per month; $99.99 per year (free professional trial available).
And if you’re planning on going fishing, check out the Fisherman app to explore fishing spots and see tide and barometric pressure phase graphs, weather and wind conditions, sun and moon states, plus a “fish forecast” that suggests the best times to fish according to the Solunar tables (how the moon and the sun May affect fishermen). Even if you can’t manage to catch anything, you can use the app to learn more about the main species in your area, whether it’s an American Monkfish or a Yellowtail Snapper. . No cost.