Cruise Planning with Google Earth

Google services change rapidly, and this may be out of date already! Use the links at the bottom of the page for current details.

A lot of people seem to use Google Maps for planning car trips, but did you know that Google Earth can be used to plan a boat trip? If your tablet or mobile apps are a little frustrating, go back to a home computer for this type of planning - it just works better.

To use Google Earth with it's amazing 3D satelite maps, you need to install Google Earth Desktop software.

After you start Google Earth, locate the starting point for your cruise. You can enter a street address to locate a marina. Click on the ruler icon from the top toolbar (looks like a tall blue bar with lines on it). Select the Path tab, then select nautical miles to match nautical charts and plotters.

Click the Path icon from the toolbar to add a new path. Create a course line by using your mouse to click sequential points along the planned course from the starting point to the destination. A line will connect the point on the path. Or you may also simply draw a line with your mouse and waypoints will be created automatically where you will change course.

The latitude and longitude are displayed for the current location of your mouse cursor and the length of the course line is added to the Ruler box.

When you are done, you can adjust the location of any intermediate point by dragging it to the correct location.

Google Earth?s Layers menu allows you to turn off the display of things like borders and labels. The Ocean submenu controls display of shipwrecks, marine protected areas, animal tracking, dive sites, and weather buoy data.

Google Earth makes a great navigation planning tool, but once your cruising route is planned you should continue with good navigation tools such as charts or an electronic map-plotter.

Ok, be honest here – Have you ever needed a tow?
Captain Robert Cox (tubboat 'Mink Isle'): Yep, I sure have and I did as any respectable tow captain would do – I waited for nightfall then called my buddy to come tow me in while it was still dark!