Chesapeake Lights article – Winter 2014 by Cory Talbott
Your smartphone may have the answer for the best way to enhance your lighthouse viewing excursions. Lighthouse apps can be a quick way to have the current information on your lighthouse quest at your fingertips, whether you are in your car, planning a weekend trip, or simply answering a question for a curious coworker.
The app, U.S. Lighthouses, is the ideal Lighthouse helper. It can be purchased for both Android phones (on GooglePlay) and iPhones (on iTunes), or on www.lighthousefriends.com.
The apps have a slightly different functionality as noted by developer Kraig Anderson, “The Android version allows users to record visits and personal notes and keep track of how many lighthouses they have seen”.
I tested this app on our visit to the Choptank Replica Lighthouse. I have mine set to automatically pop up on the Maryland Lights page. I can see immediately from my alphabetized checklist that I have yet to see Bethel Bridge and Blackistone Island Replica, but as they are nowhere near Choptank (as I could easily verify by the main map of all the Maryland Lights), they were off the daily excursion list. The app pulled up a beautiful picture of the lighthouse as well as a map. The icons show me that it is accessible by car, and a short, easy walk; that it is open for climbing, and that it has the interior open or a museum on site. I have an option to star it, and to check mark it once we see it. (I save the stars for Lights where I have volunteered.) From this screen I can access written directions, make my phone recite its history, access additional pictures (check out Choptank’s gorgeous stairway!), and even record notes and the date I visit. When I click on the map, I am automatically shown how many miles it is from my house.
From the main map screen, I was able to see what other lighthouses were nearby, and we were able to include Hooper Island in our lighthouse exploration (only 16 more to go on the 40+3!). While we opted to view this light by land, the handy app told us it is best viewed by water as well as who offers tours that pass by the lighthouse. The detailed description of the inside, written in the history section, provided a mental picture leaving us longing to go inside.
The U.S. Lights app is a fun tool to assist the lighthouse aficionado as well as the beginning lighthouse explorer. This app can enhance the lighthouse experience as well as save time and money when planning your excursions.
Related apps include Destination Lighthouse – North America (by Exploration Guides, LLC). This app connects you with links to information on individual lighthouses as well as provides a map with nearby lights. It has the corresponding longitude and latitude markings, which can be helpful for in-the-bay lights that do not have an address to plug into your GPS. It also has a feature that allows you to take and add pictures to the map via your phone.
Michigan Lighthouses (by Sutro Media) is similar to U.S. Lighthouses, but Michigan-specific. HLPS (which currently is free) is an app specific to the Hillsboro Lighthouse Preservation Society providing virtual tours, pictures, and history of the Florida Lighthouse. IALA Buoys & Lights (by iGlimpse Ltd) is a fun way to test your knowledge about navigational markings. It has a graphic reference guide to buoy types, and different types of light markers and their characteristics. It contains the full reproduction of the International Association of Lighthouse Authorities (IALA) rules. iGlimpse also has apps for the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea entitled Nav Lights and Shapes, and Rules of the Road (for boats), both of which are available through Google Play.