Md. Boater Creates Crowd-sourced Bay Navigation App

An upper Bay businessman has developed a social media app just for Chesapeake Bay boaters, offering navigation, crowd-sourced reviews for boating destinations, and a Facebook-like “feed” to see what your cruising buddies are up to on the Bay.

The free Argo Navigation app, which launched in early September, aims to “connect the boating community by helping them safely navigate the waters to little known fun places, plan trips with friends and share information with fellow boaters,” according to the app’s creator, Jeff Foulk.

Foulk, CEO of Harford County, Maryland-based defense contracting company SURVICE Engineering and founder of Argo Navigation, , has been boating on the Bay in a series of Grady-Whites over the past 40 years. He realized the best hidden anchorages and dockside restaurants come by word of mouth, and was inspired to create an app that allows boaters to share insider knowledge with each other.

Bytelion LLC, a custom software development company in Baltimore County, helped design the app to allow boaters to share information in real time both from the water and at home. Before going out, users can enter a destination and the app will calculate the shortest course, based on your boat’s required water depth. It draws from NOAA chart data. During a trip, the app will track your speed, show water depths at your location and give you an estimated time of arrival, akin to an on-land driving directions app like WAZE. Users can then save their route for later, adding comments and photos.

Argo also has the ability to add and see friends, and will soon include other social features like messaging and newsfeeds (think Facebook just for boaters). It will also allow for reviews and recommendations from fellow users, like Yelp.

The app is available now in the App Store (for iOS) and Play Store (for Android), and its users are growing in number. Foulk started with 50 boaters signed up and despite launching at the end of the summer season, is already up to 300 users.

“Argo is still in the early stages so the more users download and use the app, the more robust it will be over time,” he says.

Foulk is eager for feedback from boaters who try the app, hoping to develop features based on what local boaters want and need. He envisions that with success on the Bay, Argo could be used on other waterways nationwide.

“I’m very anxious to make this begin at the Bay,” he says.

To learn more about the app, click here.

-Meg Walburn Viviano