Category Archives: Yacht GPS Tracker

Find a boat using GPS

Sometimes we get requests from people who would like to find a yacht or boat.

There is the misconception that you can find boats just by using a GPS. No, you can’t. When people say “GPS” they refer to GPS receivers, and what that means is that the GPS receive data from various satellites and compute it to provide the user with an accurate position. But these devices, GPS receivers, do NOT send any information outbound. So there is no way that anybody knows about the position of the boat.


Now, the question then is, how can you know the position of a boat from elsewhere?

By using a GPS tracker with broadcasting capabilities. This means that the GPS is using some transmission technology in order to share the position. The solution may use the celular telecommunications network (GSM, CDMA, 3G, 4G…), other radio communication technology (VHF with AIS), or even Satellite technology to track the GPS position.

ships and yacht gps tracking solutions

When I talk to people about what we do in Atlantic Source with different tracking technologies, they normally say “ah, ok, so it is like a GPS”. I normally make a point saying, “well, yes, GPS let’s you know where you are, but it does not send your information anywhere, since this info stays with you. We do provide the means to send that information elsewhere, then you decide to keep it either privately or share it with others”.

So, what solutions are there available to track ships, yachts, and other marine assets?

Some of the key issues to consider:

- Coverage
- Autonomy
- Size
- Frequency of messages
- Price (acquisition and operation)
- Ability to receive others’ positions
- Privacy
- Regulation

Most of these items will be related to the technology use use to send out our GPS position. We are going to focus in three:

- Cellular phone network (GSM/GPRS/EDGE/3G/…)
- Satellite communications (Inmarsat, Globalstar, Iridium,…)
- VHF radio using AIS (Automatic Identification System) standard

Cellular phone network

This is probably the cheapest for acquisition, since any smartphone will do the work, and can also be very cheap for operation because you can make use of your regular data plan. Position messages are small messages so you should be able to fit a lot of them in your monthly data bundle.

The major drawback of this solution is coverage. If you are planning to leave the coast out of sight, or even, just go off more than 10 miles, you may start losing coverage so your device will not send any additional data.

Besides, if you change country in your trip, you will have to face roaming charges to your data, and this is likely to be outrageously expensive.

So, altogether, the cellular phone network can be a good solution for inland waters or sailing within a bay or close to the coast, but not if you are planning a long journey.

Satellite communications

Aimed at providing global coverage, satellite communications are the best option if you are navigating in open seas.

Besides, when compared to mobile network communications, satellite offers a nice advantage: it has no roaming charges. On the other hand, data transmission is more expensive, so with satellite you should reduce the amount of position messages that you send to what is really needed. Maybe a message every 3/4 hours?

VHF radio using AIS

AIS, Automatic Identification System, was designed to improve safety-at-sea. It is a bidirectional tracking solution, meaning that you can transmit your position and see the position of other boats. This is a major difference with the other two options that we discussed above. We can say that this system is valuable as long as most of the vessels use it, and it is based on publicly sharing the position.

So why have we put it here? because if you are doing coastal navigation, you will find that there are plenty of base stations, many of them amateur, that cover the coast and share the received information thanks to great software like ShipPlotter or AIS Dispatcher. You can see examples of AIS maritime traffic here.

AIS transponders and receivers use the VHF designated AIS frequencies, so transmission and reception are both free. On the other hand, the information you transmit is available to anyone with a receiver, there is no possibility to encrypt it (unless you are in the military).

New AtPosition website

The new website let’s our users control completely where they want their boats to show up. Besides, with their own web access, they can control a historic file of all the position messages and demand a remote position message of their transponder from the web, especially useful for private users willing to control their boats remotely and charter companies.
Many more features will be available soon and we just can’t wait to show you!!

New satellite tracking

You can follow in localizatodo in “Barcos satélite” or “Satellite boats” new journeys:

1) A new boating tourism project in Morocco has been launched from La Taberna del Puerto and you can track its journey in localizatodo with the name “Flotilla de la amistad” or “Friendship Fleet”.

2) Also Consorci el Far, dedicated to the promotion and teaching of sailing, has joined our team of tracking enthusiasts by installing one of our transponders on board in its ship currently traveling in the Med, at this moment at the island of Sardinia.

We wish them the very best journey :)

Tracking in your blog

Some of our customers of the satellite tracking service have included a tracking map in their blogs or sites, to share their real time tracks with friends and family, so that they can be followed along their trips.

We’ll update some more very soon. You can visit some of these sites and blogs here:



It happens!! We had no notice of such a thing in any case, but apparently stealing boats happens in charter companies. We don’t mean jumping on board and stealing money, or a plotter, but the whole boat!!

From here we wish all the best to the guys at sunwind, that in this chat at the forum of La Taberna are asking for help in case anybody sees the boat

JEANNEAU SUN ODYSSEY 39i del 2006 white hull.
Plate 6º-CT-1-6-06
Name Manu&Manu————-Sun Wind
No radar.
In large letters: and a phone number.

do you have a blog or website?

We’ve created an easy code that you can place anywhere on your site or blog, with the location of your boat via satellite. We got many more things ready to be released. Stay tuned!

You can see an example down here from the boat Gran Azul, a charter boat sailing around the world.

The html code you should place is:

<iframe width=”600″ height=”464″ frameborder=”0″ scrolling=”no” marginheight=”0″ marginwidth=”0″ src=”″></iframe><br />

You only need to change the mmsi for the code we would provide you for your transponder.

And the result would be something like: