How to Use Google Maps for a Boat Route

Use online tools such as Earth NC and Sea-Seek to see boat navigational information on a Google Map on your phone or computer. You can also use a tool from Boatbookings to estimate your sailing time and cost.

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Navigating with Google Maps

Google Maps itself doesn't offer features explicitly for boaters, but some third-party apps and websites use Google Maps to display navigational information.

Some sailors also use Google Earth, a Google geography app available for smartphones, tablets and Windows and Mac computers, to estimate distances and keep track of Global Positioning System coordinates.

Using EarthNC

EarthNC offers interactive navigational charts based on Google Maps, with weekly updated charts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and live radar information.

On phones and tablets, EarthNC's paid app for iPhone and Android lets you access saved navigational data and charts even when you're not connected to the Internet. It uses your device's GPS feed to track your position and route even when you're offline.

When you are connected to the Internet, or using a desktop or laptop, you can access the service's charts for free and plan a route on a Google Map through its Web-based Chart Viewer.

Use the toggle buttons to control the map.

Use the toggle buttons on the Chart Viewer website to control whether marinas, anchorages and other types of points of interest appear on your map.

Click the router button to plot a route.

Click the Router button to plot a route on the map.

Click the Router icon, then draw your route.

In Router mode, click the Router icon to start and then draw your route by clicking points along the map. When you're done, use the links to export the route in Google Earth format, in the GPS Exchange Format used by many navigational tools, or as a Portable Document Format file you can open on your computer or phone.

Using Sea-Seek

You can use Sea-Seek's mobile or desktop navigational site to find user-curated nautical points of interest on a Google Map.

Touch or click a place.

Touch or click a point of interest on Sea-Seek's Google map or list to see more information about that place.

Sea-Seek location page

Sea-Seek displays icons listing amenities at the location, a close-up map and, in some cases, additional comments from other users.

Computing Distances with Google Maps Using Boatbookings

The charter yacht booking site Boatbookings provides a tool to calculate sailing distances, time and costs using a Google Map.

Enter your starting port.

Visit the Distance and Cost Calculator and enter your starting port, then click Search.

Click along your route on the map.

Draw your approximate sailing route on the map by clicking point by point.

Enter data about your boat and fuel costs.

When you've plotted your route, enter your vessel's approximate speed, fuel consumption rate and the approximate cost you expect to pay for fuel per gallon. The tool then estimates your total travel time and the amount you can expect to spend on fuel.

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