GPS/Workout Tracking Apps

Thread starter #1
For the past several years I have been using Motion-X GPS tracker for the iPhone to track my sailing and for the most part it is a good app. I tried others but continued with Motion-X. The Apple Watch version was a nice addition but it requires the app on the phone to be running. Not a problem sailing our S2 8.0, but I wasn't setup to take my phone with me out on the Sunfish.

Last year I ran across an iPhone/Apple watch app called WorkOutDoors. Specifically this is an AppleWatch app for tracking workouts that includes mapping capabilities. What caught my eye was the 'Sailing' workout. The developer released a new version a couple of weeks ago with a lot of improvements and new options. Took it out sailing yesterday on the Sunfish and I was very pleased with the data that came back. It won't track specific courses or waypoints, but if you're interested in a recreation of your sail without taking your phone with you, this works really well.

IMG_0412.png IMG_0429.png

The map is off as it shows me sailing through a jetty that was extended several years ago. This an error in the map data and not the GPS tracker. It shows up correctly in Google Maps. I'm not using it for navigation so not a huge deal. Although, you can load routes into the app. Haven't explored that yet and probably won't. BTW, you can export GPX files to import into your favorite tracker application and can include a lot of data in the export.

IMG_0436.jpg Screen Shot 2018-09-03 at 10.05.54 AM.png

It is interesting tracking my heart rate while out sailing. It will do split/lap timings which is fun to mess with.

IMG_0433.jpg IMG_0434.jpg

You can also customize the screens for each workout and what is displayed. I mainly used the 2nd (Custom) screen. All screens can be adjusted to your tastes. There are a lot of parameters to customize.


I haven't used it enough to know the impact of battery life while using the app. I suspect on epic sailing days the watch battery will run out before the day ends. Eventually when the novelty wears off, I won't be raising my wrist to continually look at the data. That should help with power conservation. I'll need to get a portable power charging bank to charge the watch while taking a break on the beach.

The iPhone app is basically used to setup the Apple Watch app and to review the workouts. It is not required for tracking workouts. The Apple Watch does all the tracking. For $5 you get all the features so don't worry about paying extra for add-ons or yearly subscription services.

What trackers do others use while sailing?
that looks like a pretty nice setup. I've usually just put my iPhone in a dry bag and sailed with it, and then use the Runkeeper app or I've also used the Motion-X GPS app. last time out on Lake Michigan, the Runkeeper app didn't work well at all, so maybe the cell service dropped off in the middle of my sail?

does the WorkOutDoors app work well without an Apple Watch? I don't have one of those...
Thread starter #4
does the WorkOutDoors app work well without an Apple Watch? I don't have one of those...
Yes, tracking is only through the Apple Watch only. The phone app doesn't do any tracking. Just the setup and review of the workouts.

Ghost Rider

Planing into eternity...
Amazing what all that newfangled technology will do... and for some racers & tacticians, I suppose it's essential, but I'm an old-fashioned seat-of-the-pants sailor who relies upon instinct rather than technology. Knowledge of the tides & currents, yeah, I'm all for that, as well as the latest NOAA weather forecasts, but I'm behind the times with all that new technology... an old rogue dinosaur, to be sure. But I go sailing for spiritual reasons, I deal with enough competition ashore in everyday life to skip racing altogether, though I like watching Cup Races and whatnot on ESPN, best seat in the house with the 65" curved screen, LOL. To each his own, I reckon... I'd rather focus upon sailing itself and meeting friendly creatures of the sea, I don't need to know exactly how much time I spent on one tack, down to the last nanosecond. But if this technology helps other sailors, more power to them... makes me wonder how Vasco da Gama, Magellan, Columbus, Captain Cook, Sir Francis Drake et al ever made it without this technology. I can hear 'em now telling their sponsors:


LOL... :rolleyes:
This tracking is very interesting Dickhogg. About how long are you out on these runs? And this is a bay or the ocean if I remember your posts (?).
Between one and two hours. The left two are about one hour. The other is a little over two. It's the Ocean (The English Channel) I wish it was a bay! we are pretty exposed here.
Last edited:
Ghost Rider. I get what you are saying and I am actually quite a bit that way inclined myself. I started wearing the thing because I have a health issue that means it is a good idea to keep an eye on my heart rate when sailing. I didn't even know it did all this GPS stuff! Once you realise that you are getting all this other information about your sailing it is kind of hard not to be interested in it.
Another example, the other week I realised that it also shows you your speed while you sail. I found this really interesting in the context of light-winds sailing because I could see how small changes to my sheet or body position were effecting my speed. It really improved my sailing!

Where do you stand on burgees and tell-tales? These are also a technology that can be distracting from pure sailing. :^)


Active Member
I have been bugging Ghost about his ocean experience, tides etc -he's got a lot of knowledge there! I looked up Hastings and saw you are on the Channel there ( lots of history too, 1066 comes to mind ). I tend to not use technology for activities like hiking, biking, camping and now sailing but the tracking and speed you mention is really interesting and could be useful for technique and safety. If I read correctly, it stays kind of cool where you are -wetsuit required? And it looks like you get pretty far off the coast.

Ghost Rider

Planing into eternity...
Tell-tales are great for keeping sails properly trimmed... they're not essential, but quite helpful. Burgees I can take or leave, I suppose if you belong to a club and wanna identify other members, they come in handy. Might hafta come up with my very own burgee: I'm thinking there'll be a beer bottle and a shot glass involved, maybe a naked gal, and RYC for Redneck Yacht Club, LOL. Norcalsail, there are plenty of ocean sailors with far more experience, but I do like working the tides and have decades of experience in that regard... I also used to love sailing out to Los Coronados, islands off northern Baja which are designated wildlife sanctuaries. One is supposed to have permission from the Mexican gubmint to land there, and I'm not sure one could pull stealth voyages there anymore without risking boat confiscation & Mexican jail time. I know that tensions between the countries have ratcheted up in recent years, and not due solely to Trump either, "La Armada de Mexico" began checking for permits and visas and whatnot in Obama's time. Even those craft simply sailing down the coast with no intention of landing in Mexico were being stopped and checked in transit for the necessary documentation... as long as they were in Mexican waters. Meh, no longer my problem, I'm just glad I pulled those voyages when I did, I wouldn't wanna sail out there now, only to face a Mexican gunboat with a .50-cal. machinegun on the bow, and a trigger-happy gringo-hating "marinero" itching to blast the Laser or Fish, maybe ventilate the American skipper, LOL. :eek:
Last edited:


Active Member
After reading more carefully on Klemsaba's post, I find this information pretty interesting. For years, I just use my phone as a phone and not much more. Just recently, I have been taking more pictures and am getting better at transferring them. I have a Samsung phone that went with me last sail and came back dry, safe and sound. May look into some kind of similar app for my phone-pretty cool data. Thanks for the info Klemsaba!

signal charlie

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Garmin Forerunner 25 watch has some potential, it captures gps track and shows elpased time, distance and pace on the watch. Later you can upload it into Garmin Connect or bluetooth it to your phone to see the track, time and pace, overlaid on a satellite map. A fun way to keep a record. A heart monitor chest band can be added if desired.
Klemsaba: thanks for sharing - pretty cool. I have two questions:
- #1: Which version Apple Watch are you using? I sail a Catalina 22, and use my phone to measure speed. Just bought a Sunfish, and am getting ready for our first sail on it this weekend. Thinking that I’ll be leaving the iPhone ashore. But, the idea of sailing with ONLY the watch - no phone - is intriguing. Which version watch are you using - I think only the later two versions are waterproof.

- #2: I like to view my Speed Over Ground - it helps me tell whether sail trim changes are effective or not. Does the app give you an easy-to-read SOG in knots?

Thanks again. - Bob
Thread starter #15
I have the non-cellular Series 3 Apple Watch. It doesn't actually specifically say SOG but it does figure your speed based on GPS data in knots same as your phone does. The different screens shows MPH when setting up the stats you want to see. You can change text sizes as well. You can also preload a map of the area you will be sailing as well. The app on the iPhone sets up all the options.


Well-Known Member
I haven't used anything like this, but have an Android Smartphone.

Are there free Apps for this sort of thing? (I only use "MyRadar" for wind direction and strength).
Thread starter #17
Took the Apple Watch app WorkOutdoors sailing today. Wasn't on a Sunfish but on our other boat. Sailed about 6 hours and ended with 32% battery on the watch tonight. Pleased with the power usage. I used the built in map display quite a bit as well.

I do question my max speed of 7.2 knots. I don't feel like I was sailing that fast. But we did do some different sail trim options and the boat was sailing smoother than usual so maybe we did hit those speeds during various wind gusts. Headed out tomorrow and will run a different tacker on my phone at the same time and compare.

IMG_0490.png IMG_0491.png IMG_0492.png