Thursday, March 31, 2016

Voyaging the House-Charts and Maps

Paper charts.  Analoge.  In the land-house, we have maps showing topography for hiking or rivers for rowing, etc.  Of course, we still use big road maps when planning trips.  Digital information, GPS and map software/apps are very handy for automobile travel.  On the water, paper charts still rule for planning and even detail.  We can draw on them, annotate with notes.  We use digital charting in many ways.

Voyaging?  Maybe the best way to spend part of an evening with other sailors is with a large area chart spread out and the dream machine running full speed.  Which charts?

Start with the Pilot Charts.  Then move over to the various large area charts.  I have pictures below.  These aren't fancy images of never-been-folded charts.  My charts are marked up and well loved.

The pilot charts show statistical information about expected winds, current, sea temperatures, barometric pressure, ice, and wave heights for a give month on a given ocean.  Planning to sail from Newport, RI to Antigua?  You can get an overview of the conditions at sea for the month you plan to sail.  Invaluable.

These charts came from Chase Levitt in Portland, Maine.  Other sources known to me are Landfall Navigation in Greenwich, CT and Bluewater Books and Charts in Ft Lauderdale, FL.

True story:  Planning a trip to St Maarten in 2004.  Local guy asks if I am going down the coast from Massachusetts to Florida before crossing over to the Caribbean.  I said, "No."  He asked why and I took out the pilot chart, showed him the distances and wind directions.  He asked, "So why do so many people do it that way?"  "Dunno?"  Maybe a long offshore trip is unpleasant.  Maybe they just never looked at a pilot chart.

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