Garmin ActiveCaptain™ Smart Boat


By Tom Burden, Last updated: 12/4/2020

Garmin calls their ActiveCaptain™ app an “all-in-one app for the ultimate connected boating experience.” 

Stay On Top Of Your Boat, Everywhere

Garmin’s OnDeck™ Hub uses your subscription to the ActiveCaptain™ app to help you monitor and manage your boat, whether on board or across the world. This big step toward a completely wireless boating experience gives you the power to check up on and control up to five systems by installing separate sensors, including bilge and battery conditions, security, ice makers and more. These sensors are sold separately so you can customize what you see. Once installed, you’ll be able to receive text alerts to your smartphone or tablet through the ActiveCaptain™ app and make changes directly from your device. The OnDeck™ Hub has a built-in GPS sensor, which updates every 15 or 30 minutes, depending on its power status, so you will always know excactly where your boat is. With this and other Garmin products being made compatible with the ActiveCaptain™ app, including their first ever trolling motor, boaters are closer than ever to controlling all aspects of boating on a single, wireless device.

Phone screen with voltage readouts.

When you install the OnDeck™ Hub on your boat, you can monitor your systems from the app on your phone.

A Big Online Community

ActiveCaptain™ started as a website in 2007, and grew over the years into an online boating community that now includes hundreds of thousands of members across more than 17,800 marinas and 12,800 anchorages. Members of the community can post user-created info about anchorages, harbors, hazards to navigation and local points of interest. Garmin bought ActiveCaptain™ in 2017. “There is really nothing else out there that compares to the depth and breadth of the ActiveCaptain™ database,” said Cliff Pemble, Garmin president and CEO. “Mariners rely on ActiveCaptain™ to make their voyages better informed and more enjoyable, and we are delighted to add this technology to the Garmin portfolio.” Want to know the top rated marinas, as judged by hundreds of boaters? Local attractions that you can visit? Uncharted hazards and improvements to outdated charts? The ActiveCaptain™ community connects you to up-to-date feedback from fellow boaters about marinas and other boating points of interest.

Boaters create their own “Boat Card”, their digital identity and passport to social networking, finding friends, posting reviews of marinas or joining online groups. There are lists of marinas and fuel docks (with pricing), and a lot more.

Functions Included With the ActiveCaptain™ Application

  • It lets you view and control your chartplotter from your smartphone or tablet.
  • A OneChart™ feature lets you access and update all your charts and maps from your mobile device and purchase new charts for use on your chartplotter.
  • Pre-plan your boating trips. In the app, you can easily plan a trip or pre-fish a lake, and ActiveCaptain™ will automatically sync with your chartplotter. Any marked waypoints and routes will seamlessly transfer between your chartplotter and the app, so you can access them anywhere.
  • text message notification on a garmin display

    You can receive notifications and text messages on your chartplotter screen with ActiveCaptain™.

  • ActiveCaptain™ automatically keeps your charts up to date. After you pair your chartplotter with the app, you won’t have to bring an SD™ card to the boat and back again. With the wireless connection, your chartplotter receives notifications and updates directly from the app.
  • It includes programs for operators of marinas, including a weekly one-minute-to-read newsletter called the Marina Minute. You can upload and edit info about your marina, including slip and fuel prices.
  • ActiveCaptain™ 1st Choice program is available to marina partners who have consistently met high standards as judged by the boating community. Only marinas averaging 4.0 stars or greater with five or more reviews qualify.

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