Using Coastal Explorer on your iPad or iPhone Without the Internet

While internet access is becoming easier to find nearly everywhere, some of the most interesting places to explore still don’t have it, and even if you are in an area with internet coverage, you don’t want to depend on it for your charts, so it’s important to prepare your devices before you might lose your connection.

The first step is to make sure you have a Coastal Explorer Chart Subscription and that it isn’t going to expire while you’re away. Use Settings > Charts and Add-Ons > Charts and Add-Ons Store to check on your subscription or purchase a new one.

Not only does a subscription let you download charts, tide/current predictions, and guide book information, but it adds many other features that turn Coastal Explorer into a full navigation system. See our product info page for more information. (If you participated in our beta program, then you have free access to these features for a limited time.)

If you’d prefer a quick video introduction, check out Downloading Vector Charts for Offline Use (iPad and iPhone Only).


The next step is to select the area you will be exploring and the map layers you will need while you are there. The Settings > Charts and Add-Ons page will show you a map with the current download area highlighted in a blue box. Below the map you’ll see a list of the layers that will be downloaded and the last time the layers were updated. Use the Edit button if you would like to make any changes to the area or the layers.

When you are editing the area, you can either enter the coordinates of the South-West and North-East corners of the area, or use the main map to drag the corners of the area box to the right locations.

The layers you can choose from include:

  • Vector Charts (based on which chart subscriptions you have)
  • Tide and Current Predictions
  • Active Captain
  • US Coast Pilot (if you have a US Coastal Charts subscription)

You will definitely want the vector charts for the the area you will be in and the other options should be selected based on your specific needs.

Larger areas will involve more data that needs to be downloaded, stored, and maintained than smaller areas, so it can be best to only select the area that you are really going to need while underway.

Once you’ve made your selections, tap the Save button. Now you’re ready to start downloading. You can do that with the Start Update button on the Settings > Charts and Add-Ons page.


After you’ve installed some charts and layers, it is important to make sure they remain up-to-date. You should periodically go back to Settings > Charts and Add-Ons to make sure you have the right options set and that the data is current.

If you usually need the same options and have already set them up, you can use a shortcut to keep your data up-to-date. The top of the Settings page has a box labeled Chart and Data Synchronization. This box shows two dates, the one labeled “Your Data Updated” is the last time your custom instrument panels, routes, marks, tracks, and other navigation objects were synchronized with the Rose Point cloud, and the one labeled “Offline Data Updated” is the last time your chart and add-on layers were downloaded.

Use the Update Now button to check for new data to download. You should use this button every week or so to keep your charts up-to-date. Using it that often tends to be fairly quick as only new or changed data is downloaded.

We will add options to make updating data more automatic in a future update. Updating your instruments and navigation objects is already automatic.

If you see a number of errors in red text in the Chart and Data Synchronization box, that refers to problems downloading parts of the selected area. If this happens, press the Update Now button again to have Coastal Explorer retry downloading the problem bits.

If you have any comments or questions, please post a new topic in the Problems and Support or Everything Else categories.

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