Boat Beacon User Guide

Using Boat Beacon

Boat Beacon lets you keep a watch on boats near you and others keep a watch on you using Boat Beacon maps and Global AIS systems. You can start watching other boats and sharing your position with other Boat Beacon users and friends via the web straight out of the box, no configuration needed. Just tap the "Sail Boat" button at the bottom left to start sharing your location.

Marine Charts

NOAA Raster Marine charts are available in Boat Beacon version 3.9 and later via an in app purchase for the whole of the US including the Great Lakes. Tap the NOAA button in settings to learn more. For full route planning and waypoint tracking features including vector charts please take a look at Boat Beacon's companion app, SeaNav HD covering the US and Canada and other countries like UK, Ireland, France, Germany, NL etc..


Ships are color coded based on their type e.g. Sailing boats are white, Pleasure Craft magenta. See the Map Legend for full details. A vector points forward showing where each boat will be in 2 minutes time based on its current Speed and Course. Ships move in real time across the map. Tap on a ship to get more information and tap on the right arrow to get even more including speed, course, CPA, distance, bearing etc. Ships will flash if you are on a potential collision course (CPA) with them.

Help and Settings

Enter your Boat and Trip details in Settings to provide more information - e.g. its name, mmsi, length, destination, eta and email address for alarms etc.

N.B. AIS uses a restricted character set for Boat name, Destination and Group - only Capital Letters, Numbers, Space and the following punctuation @[\]^_!$%&()*+-,#.:;?'<=>" are allowed.

Groups, Flotillas, Races and Fleets

Groups let you highlight all the other boats in the same group with a flag so you can easily see, follow and chat with them. You can send a message to everyone in the group using the group name. Folks back at base can also watch the Group in real time on Boat Beacon's Group web pages.

Joining or creating a group is easy, just enter its name under Trip Details. You can use any name you like, a bit like a hashtag. If you want to give it a try, join the BOATBEACON group. You can also view the boats in the BOATBEACON group on the web here. To remove yourself from a group just delete the name in Trip Details.

We have advanced group management tools available for Race and Flotilla leaders and officials, please contact us at


Collision Alarm will notify you with a loud ships horn sound if a boat is going to pass within 0.1NM of you within the next 10 minutes. The target boat will start flashing. This will continue running when the app is closed and the screen is off (background)if "On my Boat" is set. The alarm will show the CPA distance, time and relative bearing. The relative bearing lets you know if the boat is going to pass to Port, Starboard, Ahead or Astern of you. If you need a larger alarm guard you can modify the collision alarm settings, distance (CPA - default 0.1NM) and time (TCPA - default 10 min), under "My Boat Details". N.B. Setting these to zero disables the CPA Alarm.

Man Overboard will mark your current position on the map and give a continous bearing and distance to the point.

Anchor Alarm will sound an alarm if your boat moves further than a set distance (see Anchor radius in Boat details). If you have an email address set it will also send an email to that address with a map showing the anchor and current boat positions. The alarm will repeat every 5 minutes until it is cleared or the boat returns to the Anchor circle.

Theft Alarm The Anchor Alarm can also be used as a theft alarm. Set an email address to be notified on in Ship Details. The email will contain details of your boats current position including a map.

Email Alarms If you enter an email address in Boat Details, Boat Beacon will also forward a copy of any alarm including a map to your email address. This is great for remote monitoring of alarms at home or even below decks and making doubly sure you get them.

Battery Alarm will remind you with a gentle notification after 30 minutes and when the battery power falls below 65% and every 10% after that if the App is running in the background and the Device is on battery power only. If you have set your email address in Ship Details you will also see an email alert with the current battery charge level and status. When enabled, AIS Transmit and the Alarms will continue working even when the App is closed and the screen is off (Background mode). The GPS system uses a lot of power. It will typically use about 20% of battery an hour.

Location sharing

When enabled, Boat Beacon will share your current position, status and ship details for other Boat Beacon users to view. If you have an MMSI number set then your boat will also be visible on global interent AIS systems like Marine Traffic, ShipFinder and AIS Hub. An indicator light at the bottom right of the screen shows the status - Green is on and transmitting successfully, Amber shows if it is waiting or there is a communication failure and Red when it's off or failed. Tapping on the status light will show more details about the current status. When "On My Boat" is set, your position will also continue to be shared when the app is closed (background).

If you have an MMSI but only want to share with other Boat Beacon users you can disable sharing to other internet AIS systems in Advanced settings

If you dont have an MMSI for your boat you can normally get one for free. In the US you can obtain a free one in a couple of minutes by visiting the USCG approved agent BoatUS and using their online form. In the UK visit Ofcom.

 On my Boat

Tap this to set whether you are on or away from your boat. When on (white boat icon), your position will show on the maps as a boat icon with heading and speed vectors. Collision detection, alarms and location sharing will be active (if enabled in settings). Collision detection, alarms and location sharing will continue to run in the background when the app is closed if this is on.

When not set (boat with cross), your position shows as a blue dot and is only visible to you. Location sharing will be disabled and the app will not run in the background when you close it (e.g. collision detection and alarms will not be active in background and no battery power will be used).

If you have a valid MMSI set for your boat, Onboard is set on and you have Location sharing enbabled, you will also appear on internet based AIS systems like Marine Traffic and ShipFinder. When Location sharing is on, Boat Beacon will continue to send your GPS position when the app is closed and the screen is off.

N.B. GPS uses a lot of battery. Boat Beacon will run for upto 5 hours on a full charge. The App Icon will show a 1 next to it to remind you if the app is running in the background. If there is a potential Collision detected this changes to 111 and if there is a communication error it changes to the error code (e.g. 900). If running on battery only, battery status reminders will be sent when the battert gets low.


Boat positions and details are refreshed automatically every minute and 3 seconds after any change in map zoom or position. Tap this button to get an immediate refresh. There is a small timer clock at the bottom left of the screen to indicate how long since the last refresh and when the next automatic refresh will occur.


You can share a map of your position and track with your friends instantly via Email, Twitter, Facebook and Glympse. They will also be able to follow your progress if you have transmit turned on.

 Go to my Position

Re-center the map to your current location.


A compass rose shows the direction your device is pointing and the map is rotated accordingly. It also displays the range in NM from your position to the compass ring under the heading reading. Useful for looking in the right direction to spot boats that appear on the map from your own boat or position and check their bearing and distance. You can lock the Compass Rose to North up if you want the compass overlay and GPS info but don't want the map to rotate.

When compass is off, the map aligns to True North up.


Search for boats by name, MMSI or BBSI and search for a port or place by name. Near option limits the search to your map region. Clicking on a boat or place when it is found takes you to its position on the map and highlights it.

If searching for a boat by its Boat Beacon ID (BBSI) then you need to enter the full number including the BB at the beginning.

Getting Help

How do I contact you with Suggestions and Questions?

We're always happy to hear your ideas on how we should improve our products - please send an email to

Are you on Twitter?

We sure are - follow @boatbeaconapp to get our latest news.

Anything Else?

Pocket Mariner have other great apps for iPhone and Android- if you're a fan of Boat Beacon you are sure to enjoy apps like Compass Eye the first fully Gimballed iPhone Bearing compass with zoom and overlaid gps information.

And finally, you may like to know that Pocket Mariner can develop mobile applications for your company - if you have a project you'd like to discuss, please email us at

Third Party Licenses

Boat Beacon contains elements which are Copyright 2007-2012 Glympse, Inc. Glympse and the Glympse logos are registered trademarks of Glympse, Inc. All rights reserved. Patents pending.


Boat Beacon has been licensed to you under the Apple End User License Agreement (EULA)

Please note this program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but with NO WARRANTY. It is for basic navigational purposes only and is not intended to be relied upon in situations where precise location information is needed or where erroneous, inaccurate or incomplete location data may lead to death, personal injury, property or environmental damage. Neither the Application Provider, nor any of its content providers, guarantees the availability, accuracy, completeness, reliability, or timeliness of information or location data displayed by any Services.

N.B. This is not an AIS transponder. You will not be visible to other ships on their AIS systems unless they also use data from the same land based AIS networks.

The accuracy of digital compass headings can be affected by magnetic or other environmental interference, including interference caused by proximity to the magnets contained in the earbuds. The compass may need to be calibrated from time to time. When the device displays the calibration alert, move the device in a figure 8 motion until the calibration screen disappears. See Apple support for more information.