This review was written for Boat Fishing Monthly magazine and can be found in the October issue.
Previously if you required information and especially GPS numbers on specific wrecks you had to write with your request to the United Kingdom Hydrographic Office (UKHO).
With effect from December 13th 2011 the UKHO have been unable to provide a Wreck Information Service to the general public.
In line with government policy, UKHO now grants permission to 3rd parties to re- use the data contained in its Wrecks Database and therefore enquirers are requested to make use of a number of the many 3rd party web based services.
The Wreckfinder app has been designed to easily help both the recreational boat owner and charter boat skipper to easily locate wreckage on our sea bed.
There are over 10,000 known wrecks around UK and Irish coastal waters and Wreckfinder is crammed with the GPS coordinates on them all.
Furthermore this application gives you details on the distance to the wreck site, its depth, size of the wreckage and where-ever possible further information on what caused the sinking.
The GPS data given by the app is in degrees and decimal minutes using the WGS84 datum, the standard format for most GPS units worldwide.
Wreckfinder is currently available for IPhone and IPad with an Android version due soon and by making use of the in-built GPS unit on your device, a mobile signal is not required when using the Wreckfinder app.
Once downloaded all the information relating to the 10,000 wrecks is stored on your device. Allowing GPS access you then have an exact distance from your current location to any wreck site of interest.
Wreckfinder though is not a navigational aid, it simply lists the relevant information pertaining to a particular piece of wreckage, you then need to enter the GPS latitude and longitude provided via the app into your GPS Navigation unit and proceed as you would normally to a saved waypoint.
Wreckfinder really is simple and easy to use and takes only a matter of minutes to download. All the wrecks are displayed on a Google map background and using your devices in-built GPS signal will automatically display wrecks near to your location with your location being shown as a blue dot.
Initially the wrecks are grouped together and displayed as a quantity in any specific area. As you zoom down a level the group is than broken up to show each individual wreck as a red pin point at its relevant location on the map.
By selecting a certain wreck you can view full GPS latitude & longitude data. You are also supplied with the distance to the wreck from your current location, with this figure updating continuously as your location changes. Where possible you are also given the depth of the wreck, date sunk, length of the wreckage and any information about its history. You are also able to change between metric and imperial.
Any particular wreck site that you visit often can be stored in the favourites section of the Wreckfinder app for easy access the next time. It is also possible to search the Wreckfinder database for a particular wreck; your spelling though has to be exact as no possible wrecks are suggested from incorrectly spelt names.
Wreckfinder is an extremely easy to use application and will with no doubt become a very useful tool for any boating enthusiasts that have an interest in the many wrecks that litter the seas of the UK and Ireland.
Charter boat skippers for example may have a few wrecks in their area that they have yet to obtain number for having simply never got around to searching for them, one of them tomorrow jobs that never quite happens! This application puts the wrecks a few easy clicks away. Similar for recreational anglers, close inshore wrecks can provide a haven for small bait fish and conger with occasional pollack and codling frequenting the wreckage at certain times in the year. Having scouted the area unsuccessfully in the past, the Wreckfinder app combined with a GPS navigator and safe seamanship can see the anglers fishing upon the wreckage without fail. Dive enthusiasts are also another interested party that will be eager to make use of the information contained within the Wreckfinder application.
On the flip side I can see this causing the odd problem with boat owners from both a professional or recreational background that have had the solitude of one particular wreck site to themselves for a numbers of years.
But now as technology improves and data becomes more easily accessible there is a fair chance of that party being gatecrashed! It is though a simple fact that we need to embrace these changes and move on, the wreck data has always been available; it is now just easier to get a hold of!
The information supplied by Wreckfinder is of great interest to many and at £3.99 for a fully supported application an amazing deal.