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How to use Google Maps for boats?

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  • 3 min read

Google Maps is a widely used tool for finding directions for cars, trains, and walking, but it doesn’t have direct instructions for boat routes. However, you can still use Google Maps to get a general idea of your boating journey or use other tools based on Google Maps to plan your route and estimate distances. Sometimes, it might be better to use a different map specifically made for boaters, either online or on paper, which provides details like water depths.

In this article, we have discussed the steps to use Google Maps for boats and the limitations of using Google Maps for boats.

Also read: How to stop navigation in Google Maps?

Steps to get a general idea for your boating journey through Google Maps

Google Maps doesn’t offer detailed step-by-step directions for boats as it does for drivers, transit users, and pedestrians, except for some commercial ferries. However, it can still be helpful for rough planning and mapping out a sailing or boating route.

Step 1: Open the Google Maps.

Step 2: One of the most crucial tools is the Satellite View option, which provides high-resolution imagery of coastlines, bays, and water bodies. This feature lets you visualise the waterways and identify potential hazards or navigational aids.

Step 3: Identify and mark your boating journey’s starting and end points on the map. If there is any route for ferries, then Google Maps will show you that route, as shown in the picture above. Also, You can use Google’s My Maps feature to draw a route on a Google Map roughly. Afterwards, you can either print it out or save it on your smartphone or computer to take it with you.

Also read: What is ‘restricted usage road’ on Google Maps?

Limitations of using Google Maps for boating journey

Below we have explained a few limitations of using Google Maps for boating journeys.

  • Insufficient nautical information: Google Maps lacks important details found on nautical charts, like water depths, currents, tides, buoys, markers, lights, bridges, locks, regulations, and other aids for navigation. This means you might miss crucial information that affects your safety and efficiency on the water.
  • No offline access: Google Maps requires an internet connection to function properly. If you lose the signal or go offline, you won’t be able to access your map or receive directions.
  • Lack of accuracy: Google Maps isn’t always accurate or up-to-date. The satellite images may be outdated, blurry, or distorted. The suggested routes might not reflect actual conditions or recent changes in the water. The distances and times provided may not be precise or realistic.

Alternatives to Google Maps

To plan your boating route, you can get official nautical charts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration specific to your boating area. These charts can be obtained for free in paper format or as downloadable files online. Additionally, you can use a free service called OpenSeaMap to access certain navigational information.

Modern boats often have GPS devices that provide navigational map data. Some smartphone apps like Navionics also offer nautical charts alongwith other useful information like weather updates, fishing spots, and suggested boating routes.

Also read: Google Maps no sound: 9 Fixes

Akash Singh

Akash Singh

Akash is a law graduate who likes to go for bike rides on the weekends soul-searching for answers to his many existential questions. You can contact him here:

  • GeoGarage, «Pathfinder of the Seas»
    the cloud-based nautical charts streaming platform
    just the marine mapping apps for the 70% of the world that Google Maps doesn’t cover..

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