The free SAR Tools App I created in 2014 continues to grow in popularity with marine SAR organizations around the world. As of the end of 2018 there are 1878 active installs on Android and IOS devices. In the last five years there have been more than 6000 Android installs, with the United States accounting for the largest percentage of users.
Core App Features
- Sector Search Timer and Calculator
- Expanding Square Search Timer and Calculator
- Speed, Distance, Time Calculator
- Find Lat / Long with Google Map View and Distance Calculator
- Automatic Logging
- Night Mode (to preserve night vision while searching)
What’s New in version 2.0
At the beginning of November, SAR Tools for iPhone was finally moved into its own App and was removed from its previous home in the iPhone Safe Boating App. There are a number of subtle improvements under the hood which most users won’t notice. One is that previously entered data is now saved which makes it quicker if you have to switch out of the App and continue later. Both the Android and iPhone versions are now identical which makes group training a lot easier.
A very noticeable improvement is the new automatic logging feature. Whenever you run a search, all the data associated with the search including the GPS coordinates are automatically saved to the log. If you pause and re-start a search, the App will save the location where you paused. At the end of a search the log can be emailed with a simple button press. The email feature is really handy to prove a training exercise, or for Coxswains to attach to a mission report.
Power User Tips
One common question is how to stop and re- start a search when you see an object, investigate, and then go back to searching? This is very easy with the sector search calculator because the App automatically stops timing at datum until you press the datum button again. After veering off your search line to check something, proceed back to the datum point to re-orient the search. Now push the datum button to continue. Most sector searches are within a fairly small search radius so you shouldn’t miss much by doing this. If you run a second circuit with a 30 degree offset to the first, then you should visually overlap what you might have missed by skipping a couple of search legs.
Remember that while accurate search patterns are good practice, the better practice is to thoroughly investigate anything you can’t easily identify – even if you miss a few search legs.
With an expanding square search it’s more difficult to re-start from a defined reference point. The easiest solution is to make sure you have the track feature activated on the boat’s Raymarine multi-function display. Now imagine that you are in the middle of your expanding square search and you break away to investigate something. First press the pause button in the App. When you are done the investigation go back to the last right angle turn shown on the active track on your boat’s display. Now press continue in the App and the time will automatically re-start from where you are. Simple right?
The most recent feature requests have come from New Zealand. It seems that the Kiwis aren’t completely happy with cables as base units for track spacing. I’m told that the metric system is preferred! One of these days I might get around to a unit settings section in the App. Ninety nine percent of users seem to to be fine with cables (1/10 of a nautical mile) as the base unit. The App aims to make data entry as fast as possible when time is of the essence. Not having to enter long numbers or decimals helps speed things up.
I suggest you try the App out at home first and then bug your Coxswain to run mock searches on your training night. You will be pleasantly surprised how much more efficiently SAR Tools helps versus the old stopwatch method. Safe searching!
Please download our Apps, play around with them and help get the word out. Good App ratings on the Google Play and iTunes stores are also appreciated!