Mail Buoy – February 2020

Another Lesson for Lee?

photo via Sailboat Owners forum.

After reading Lee Brubacher’s story about anchoring with two anchors (“Twice Hooked,” The Dogwatch, January 2019), I think that, in addition to his conclusion about when to use two anchors, an important lesson would be to not use a bow roller as a chock for the anchor rode once the anchor is set. Most boats, and I assume this includes his Luger 26, have bow chocks meant as fairleads for the anchor line. Typically, a bow roller should only be used to stow, launch and recover the anchor.

—Dave Sharp, Newport, Rhode Island

Thanks for the feedback, Dave. We think this really depends on the boat and rode.

We sailed a 1978 Newport 16 for years that came with neither an anchor roller nor chocks. We didn’t anchor often, and the ground tackle was light enough that we didn’t need an anchor roller, but we did install a single chock to run the rode through.

We spent even longer with a 1980 Newport 27 that we anchored often. She had an anchor roller (without a bale) and no chocks. Our ground tackle consisted of a 22# Bruce anchor attached to 125 feet of half-inch chain attached to 200 feet of half-inch 3-strand. For four years, we regularly anchored with all the chain out, along with whatever rope portion of the rode conditions warranted. The rope portion of the rode absorbed all shock loads, so we had no need for a snubber. We always used the anchor roller as a chock for the rode—until that fateful day anchored off the coast of Maria la Gorda, Cuba, when a storm kicked up waves and the bow pitched so much that the taut rode jumped off the roller and quickly chaffed through. We lost the Bruce and our chain, but we were aboard and were able to save the boat.

Aboard our 1978 Fuji 40, we dropped the hook roughly 300 times. She had a windlass, chocks, and an anchor roller with a bale. Our ground tackle consisted of a 66# Bruce and 350 feet of 3/8-inch chain. About 95% of the time, we used a bridle/snubber that ran through the chocks and took the load off the roller. We never experienced any problems.

Our experience aboard the Newport 27 would seem to support your assertion that it’s best to not use the bow roller as a chock, but with the rode we were using, we can’t imagine how (or why) we’d deploy on the roller and then move the rode to a chock given that on this boat and most, there is usually a pulpit and the pulpit is usually between the bow roller and any chocks. We think in our case, having a bale on the roller would have been the better solution. And even if we endeavored to remove the rode from the roller post-deployment, and run it through a chock, that adds a step to anchor retrieval that we would consider dangerous, such as in a situation like Lee found himself in, in which being able to quickly retrieve the anchor is necessary.

If we were to offer a going-forward remedy to Lee, it would be to replace the existing roller with a more robust one that includes cheeks and a bale, and deploy from and swing from that, assuming his rode includes line (all-chain rode is another story, but uncommon in a boat that size). –Eds.

Starboard, Larboard, Tribord, Bâbord

Regarding the Nautical Trivia in January’s The Dogwatch, the French words for port and starboard are bâbord and tribord, respectively. I read somewhere, a long while ago, that the origin of these terms came from warships. Aboard these ships, batterie (pronounced batuhree) indicated where the guns were. One side of the ship was the “ba” side and the other was the “terrie” side. Verbally, this came out as the “ba” side and “tri” side. In French, side is “bord.” Maybe you can get validation of this!

—David Salter, Bath, Ontario

Thanks David, we love it. We don’t have validation, but maybe some other readers do. We suppose this theory for the French terms, and the English-terms theory we presented in January, are not mutually exclusive. Does anyone have insight on the Spanish- or Japanese- or Russian-language terms for port and starboard? –Eds.

Charts No More?

Last month, I put it to the readers about charts, about the oft-heard, oft-repeated sentiment that prudent sailors wouldn’t sail without back-up (or primary) paper charts aboard. I asked for your stand on the question of whether it’s important, whether it’s good seamanship, to have paper charts aboard for navigation, or whether you’ve concluded that paper charts are no longer necessary. I mentioned that my asking was prompted by NOAA’s recent call for public comment on their plan to stop—after 200 years—creating/updating even the data currently used by third parties to print nautical charts. 

I’m not going to share my personal thoughts on carrying paper charts aboard (I’m going to save that for my editorial in the May issue of Good Old Boat), but I do want to make something clear about the NOAA announcement.

I got it wrong. (And thank you to readers Marilyn Johnson and Barry Stompe for first letting me know this.) And other reporting media outlets got it wrong. SAIL magazine’s headline was, “A Farewell to Paper Charts,” and included a subheading, “NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey is currently working out plans to completely phase out the production of paper charts and associated products within the next few years.”

To be fair, NOAA’s press release was equally misleading: “NOAA is initiating a five-year process to end all traditional paper nautical chart production.”

This isn’t clear. I’ll tell you what’s true.

Traditional NOAA paper charts, as you know them, are going away. NOAA paper charts are not going away. Here’s what this means.

Traditional NOAA paper charts have long been numbered and titled and each has covered a defined area at a defined scale with a specific publication date. For example, NOAA chart 16204 is titled Port Clarence and Approaches and covers that defined area at a scale of 1:100,000. It looks like this:

Over the next 5 years, NOAA is going to stop producing the rastorized data used to print pre-defined charts like this. Your children (assuming they’re young or unborn) will not know a paper chart as a fixed, defined, titled, dated thing. But your children will still retain the option of using a paper chart. How will that look for all of us?

It’s pretty cool, and a good next step. The future paper chart consumer will decide how large a chart they want to print, where they want it centered, and the scale to which they want it printed. All the data used to produce the chart will be current as of the time of printing. Every chart will be custom and unique. Chart notes and other marginalia will not be printed on the chart, but on a separate page. It’s akin to zooming in on exactly the area you want to see on your chart plotter, and then printing that view on whatever size paper you like. Here’s how the new NOAA chart would look, covering roughly the same area as above, but at 1:80,000 scale:

We don’t see anything to complain about. Onward, NOAA!

And I’m sorry for contributing to the misinformation. But enough about this, let’s hear what you think about the imperative of sailing with paper charts aboard. We’ll give Alfred Poor the first word because he has an idea we’re surprised hasn’t been implemented…

—Michael Robertson, Editor

***

NOAA is planning to stop updating chart data? I didn’t know that they were still doing that. On the Chesapeake (where we sail out of the Bohemia River) the NOAA charts appear to be using soundings that are 40 years old (unless you’re in the shipping channels).

I had the idea to crowd-source depth data. Lots of boats are now equipped with digital radios connected to their GPS and navigation systems. Couldn’t we have a system that would report time, date, location, and depth on a voluntary basis as boats moved around the navigable waters? A little artificial intelligence and clever algorithms could adjust for different placements of the depth transducers and tidal changes, and probably come up with an accurate mapping of the waters in a relatively short time. (Certainly, no less accurate than what we’re dealing with now.) Maybe it will take a private mapping company such as Garmin to make this work.

I know our home waters well, but I still insist on having paper charts on board. In the event of a nighttime power failure, I’ll still be able to identify the lighted marks and find my way to safety. Cheap insurance, even if I never use it.

Alfred Poor, 1973 Tartan 34C Jambalaya

I recently took a Power Squadron course in Ontario, where the instructors insisted that the law requires paper charts. This is not the case, and when I quoted chapter and verse, they maintained the “better safe than sorry argument.” The law says you need a backup, so I have a small Garmin handheld with marine maps on it, which I also use for an anchor alarm.

[Carrying paper charts as back-up] is too expensive, and frankly, the risk of error inherent in plotting manually on paper are greater than the risks/errors using GPS. Paper charts tell you where you are. GPS tells you how to get somewhere easily without hitting anything.

If something causes the entire GPS constellation to fail, I have a bigger problem to worry about.

Martin

I use paper charts. I have a handheld GPS that I use for position, as a track follower, and for speed over ground. Other than that, I use paper charts all the time. Even when I’m in home waters, I have the local charts out (Thousand Islands in the St. Lawrence River), comparing my position to what’s on shore and the bottom. I don’t think I would buy a chart plotter as I like being able to read small-scale charts in one pass, and I don’t want the battery drain.

I have extensive charts for my voyages, including chart books and NOAA and Canadian Hydrographic charts. Some of my old charts of the Thousand Islands (the large scale charts) give me more information than the current NOAA charts. They moved away from issuing the large scale charts, and the ones they currently issue leave out detail. Charts are also a nice way to remember a trip and the adventures along the way.

Mark Fontaine, Lady, 1947 40-foot Owens Cutter

We sail (mostly) on Lake Ontario and have a chart plotter and laptop on board. It has been a long time since I had a real paper chart on board, but I have been using the next best thing: Richardson Chartbooks for the Great Lakes. I use the chartbook for two purposes: first, for planning and getting an overall picture prior to going to unfamiliar places, and second, as we often used to sail non-stop from Bronte to Kingston when heading to the Thousand Islands, I would mark our position every hour in order to keep track of where we are.

The bottom line is that although we don’t use actual paper charts, the chartbooks are based on them. Technology is a wonderful thing (as a CPA, my business is built on technology), but in addition to our electronic back-ups we still have paper back-ups for everything. We cannot let ourselves be seduced into becoming entirely dependent on computer chips. I am almost 65 and, being the luddite I am, I want my paper chart books and NOAA charts when the apocalypse comes, the satellites come down, and the lights go out! (Hopefully I’ll be in the Caribbean, South Pacific or some other suitably warm and sunny place at that point!)

Brian Miller, Oakville, Ontario

I applaud this NOAA decision, and I always have paper charts aboard. My multifunction display is too small to give me the overview I want when I am approaching an unknown or tricky area. I study the paper chart before the approach, and then decide how I will use the electronic chart during the tricky navigation. For example, do I need to draw a course through reefs and rocks? Do I need to highlight navigation risks better than the ENC currently does? Do I want to drop a mark in the best anchoring area?

With NOAA’s new custom chart creator app, I can print just the area of interest, at any scale I want (presumably within the limits of the available bathometric data). Since I decide the boundaries of the region to print, I can choose to avoid splitting an area into 2 charts, or skip printing big areas of open water in preference for printed charts of areas with navigational complexity.

Marilyn Johnson

I am 70 years old and grew up with paper charts. I never cruised without them—even got the Admiralty charts for Mexico and Central America when we went there. We cruise summers in British Columbia and always have paper aboard.

But then I went to Polynesia and acquiring and storing detailed paper charts looked less appealing and less affordable. So, I got Garmin BluCharts for my plotter and backed those up with Navionics charts loaded on my iPad (on which I could also run iNavX). I had only small scale charts of chunks of the Pacific Basin on which I could track progress on long passages.

So, I guess I have succumbed to the convenience of electronics, [I’m happy] as long as I have two electronic charts of everywhere I travel. But I still prefer paper spread out on the chart table when I can.

Terry Thatcher, Adavida, Morgan 382

I think paper charts should perpetually be available at every ship chandler and marina. I plot my courses on paper charts with traditional tools and mark them with graphite pencils. Every fix gets plotted to make course corrections. I only use GPS to confirm my own findings.

I especially use GPS data to back up my sextant readings and calculations, just so I know I got it right; or if I was way off, figure out why (I’m still learning, and it’s complicated).

Screen devices are not great when in a pinch, like a stormy approach in a narrow channel and an accidental screen swipe moves the view to an unknown place and you can’t find yourself before you hit a jetty; a paper chart will never move with a paper swipe. I also don’t have radar, but I wish I did (with a C-MAP overlay and GPS and MNEA0183 Autopilot integration), but even if I had all that, I would still start with the paper chart, plot my course, waypoints, turns, etc. In bad weather, I fold the chart to fit in a gallon Zip-Loc bag and use a grease pencil to mark changes on the bag.

Ray Ihnot

As a Coast Guard Licensed 100-ton Master, and a Florida-state-licensed yacht broker, and a taxpayer, and an avid recreational boater, I think the idea of doing away with paper charts is idiotic. Would you set sail without an anchor? Do you really believe that electronic forms of data delivery are 100 percent reliable? (The U.S. Navy doesn’t think so, which is why it is requiring Academy grads and ship watchstanders to learn about sextants again.) The sea will not forgive such foolishness.

David Hipschman, Fort Myers, Florida

Regarding paper charts, I’m with you. For years I faithfully kept my paper charts on board until I noticed they were never used and getting moldy. Between a dedicated chartplotter and a portable phone or tablet with electronic charts, I feel very safe. Oh yes, plus eyes on deck!

Andy Vine, Cortes Island, British Columbia

Do I carry paper charts for the waters I sail? Of course I do! But then I’m of that age where I don’t trust electronics in a marine environment. I’ve seen them fail too many times. Most of my paper charts are from the early 90’s (1991 to be precise, the first circumnavigation of Vancouver Island) and hopelessly out of date regarding navigational aids. But the rocks, reefs and/or headlands have yet to be moved, so I think I’m good to go. Back in 1991, electronic aids were minimal and expensive. I paid close to $2,000 (in 1991 dollars) for a top-of-the-line Loran set that seemed to crash every time we approached a dangerous area. The old paper charts and Mark I eyeball had to take over! Lots of things have changed since then and the reliability of marine electronics has improved many times over. However, I carry two chart plotters, one at the helm, and the one it replaced below deck in storage. Both are multifunction (chart/depth/speed/AIS) and use the same sensors. I replaced the old one because of the occasional screen freeze (turn it off, turn it on again). So far so good.

But coastal navigation is more than just following the cursor or plotted line on electronic charts. A skipper needs to be able to visually translate observed terrain and headlands into the vessel’s position. GPS isn’t always right. I think skippers should learn basic navigation from paper charts and become proficient in identifying their position using eyeball navigation. Once the skipper understands coastal navigation, I can see leaving detailed charts at home. I don’t think I’ll ever get away from having at least the small-scale paper charts on board, but that may be just me. In Canada, the carrying of the actual paper charts is not a requirement, so long as Canadian Hydrographic Charts are carried in an electronic format. (https://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/regulations/SOR-95-149/page-1.html#h-6)

Bert Vermeer, Natasha, Sidney British Columbia

I just finished a circumnavigation. I have several boat buddies that are circumnavigators, or soon to be. Fairly consistently, we each carried rudimentary small-scale charts. These were insufficient to explore an area, but sufficient for plotting our way to a safe landfall.

Two of the circumnavigators I know experienced lightning strikes last year, in both cases taking out every bit of electronics onboard, shy of whatever anyone thought to stick in the microwave ahead of time. In one case, the sailors were on their last leg back to England from the Azores, the GPS and IridiumGO worked perfectly to get them to port. The other vessel was docked and had no immediate navigation issues.

I’ve spent a couple nervous nights at sea watching nearby lightning storms, stuffing the microwave, and considering fallback options. Paper charts always gave me that ultimate, zero-electronics back up.

The potential to lose electronic navigation aids is very real. I never pulled the paper charts out, but I never climbed into my liferaft either. I carried both.

Norm Facey, Dream Catcher, currently Campbell River, British Columbia

I like the changes being made in this great magazine. I’ve been a subscriber since almost the beginning. I was turned onto the magazine by an old salt who was teaching a celestial course for US Power Squadrons.

I am on the downhill side of coastal sailing in that I’m about to turn 77 and we are building a new home on a lake in western New Hampshire where my trusty Catalina 30 would be a bit too much boat. Having said that and having learned my boating skills in the 50’s (long before GPS or even affordable LORAN), paper charts are a requirement for me.

Paper charts allow the sailor to view the bigger picture easily so that markers, shoals, and other hazards can be visualized. It’s hard to keep several steps ahead when you can’t easily see what’s coming up. Not that a chart plotter can’t do some of that, but most sailors don’t have 24-inch monitors and/or the ability to quickly change the view.

I wonder how many boating accidents take place while a sailor is struggling with the electronics?

My current chart plotter is a 4-inch Garmin, terrific for close-in work, such as following a 30-mile narrow channel. But I still use paper charts to help me see what’s coming, despite however many times I’ve made the same trip. I also carry two spare handheld GPS units, just in case. I wouldn’t consider entering an unfamiliar harbor in broad daylight without paper backup, let alone in the dark or tough weather.

If one had a very big monitor, and could instantly change the scale from small to large and back again, without fail, had insurance, and was willing to take chances with their boat and their lives, then more power to them. Not for me.

I suspect that there are a lot more older sailors who feel as I do, that having every navigational tool available is the correct course of action. We were always taught not to put ourselves and our boats at risk by depending on a single navigation method.

I had one of the early handheld LORANs on a trip from Boston to Narragansett Bay on a new-to-me good old boat. I also had paper charts which came in handy when the LORAN got stuck in an electronic loop just as darkness fell with rising wind and already sporty seas and the sea bouy at the Sakonnet River nowhere in sight. Paper charts and the compass kept us out of serious trouble (barely). Without the charts I would likely have ended that trip on the rocks.

Bill Crosby, Tranquility, Tolland, Connecticut

I love a good old discussion about the meaning of life.

First, we will have paper charts aboard when we are cruising away from our most intimate sailing grounds. Second, is it imperative for everyone to have paper charts? Our thought is a strong “probably,” especially if you want the ability to get to safety when everything fails.

This issue is a personal and hotly debated topic in our area. Older sailors will likely have paper charts aboard and newer sailors may not. But it’s each sailor’s choice. With the current trend to boats being more complex and more “condo” styled, a question to ask is: You have everything on your boat including a trash compactor, why not spare a little space and money for some basic paper charts? (Of course, that would require the captain having the ability to read the charts!)

A good reason to have paper charts is that they are a much more user-friendly tool for route planning than a small device screen.

Jim Shell

I depend heavily on paper charts. There have been too many times when the chartplotter has been misleading for one reason or another and paper charts have saved the day (along with the magnetic compass).

John Littlefield

The only time I don’t refer to paper charts is when I’m out on day sails from Guilford, Connecticut, where I’ve sailed for 15 years. But I always have aboard a full complement of paper charts, as well as both a helm-mounted and handheld GPS. When I sail out of that area, I always navigate using paper charts, backed up by my two GPS units. I can’t imagine not having paper charts to refer to as they give overall perspective of an area and provide harbor detail when required. I embrace technology, but paper charting should never be discarded.

Dave, 1978 Bristol 35.5 CB, Guilford, Connecticut

Should keep paper charts.

Bill Cullen

I’ve started using electronics. I like them for speeds and distances and general up-to-dateness. But paper charts I can take into the cockpit, see even in bright sunlight, and they are not dependent on power.

Charles Harris

GPS is wonderful, until it is not. There are times when GPS is off by some margin and other times intentionally off due to adjustments the US Government makes during war time. This creates a navigational problem for recreational sailors as they are not informed of these offsets. Paper charts and radar make it easy to confirm a vessel’s location when close to shore. In the case of electronic failures, paper charts provide insurance to navigate back to land safely. Years ago, the maritime schools stopped teaching celestial navigation due to reliance on GPS. Celestial navigation is back, and one needs paper charts to administer and use celestial navigation successfully. Paper charts are critical for proper route planning.

Captain Richard Frankhuizen

My vote is for having paper charts onboard as back-up.

Many years ago, around 1981, I left Bermuda as crew aboard a 33-foot ultralight with two other sailors headed for Newport, Rhode Island. We never checked for a forecast, we just decided it was time to go (youthful ignorance). About halfway across, we hit a serious Gulf Stream storm that broke the boom in half, took out the main, and destroyed the one small battery we used for powering the LORAN. Only one person onboard knew how to use the plastic sextant. With that sextant and a paper chart, we made our way to just south of Montauk Light. The experience has stayed with me all these years. Today I have multiple GPSs, a chartplotter, and a computer to navigate with. But, one lightning strike or GPS spoofing event, and the GPS signal can be history. If that happened, a paper chart would be very nice to have aboard. I guess you can always just turn east or west and sail until you hit land, but my preference is to have paper, even old paper charts will do.

Richard Cassano, Gray Eagle, Tashiba 40, Annapolis, Maryland

It is foolish to sail without paper charts. GPS is fine until batteries die, electronics fail, or the satellite signal is scrambled (as it was after 9/11). Also, there is no GPS that can give the big picture to help with trip planning. That said, I almost exclusively rely on GPS, but I know how to dead reckon if all else fails.

Hooper Brooks

My wife and I race and cruise our S&S designed, Hughes 48 yawl, home base San Francisco Bay. We’ve cruised the west coast from Canada to Panama, French Polynesia, and Hawaii. We love our Garmin chart plotter, we are quite aware of some of its drawbacks, and we wouldn’t think of going anywhere without paper charts. On passage, we use paper charts to plot our position every hour, because you never know when the power might go out.

Barry Stompe, Iolani

Thanks for the link to NOAA. I wrote a couple of points in favor of physical charts with the display presentation of the old-style charts. Coastal charts, especially, should have representations of shore features, including topography, as a matter of assisting pilotage. Of course, all the points regarding redundancy are also relevant.

Stefan Berlinski, Hamachi, Santana 22

I’m an old timer and I feel paper charts for backup are essential. Even when the data on those charts is from the 1800s.

Ernest Binz

When I left New York to move to the west coast of Florida, I bought a Garmin GPS. It was extremely helpful finding the dock I had rented for my 30-foot Hunter. During the first year I lived in paradise, I sailed around Charlotte Harbor, up to Venice, and down to Ft. Meyers. On one trip, late in that first year, on my way back to Charlotte Harbor, the Garmin died. It just stopped working. Luckily, I had sailed this stretch of water before, but had this happened during an earlier trip, I would have been lost. As soon as I returned to the dock, I drove to West Marine and bought maps for the entire Florida west coast. I’ve never relied fully on GPS since.

Jeff Ellis

I’m for the continuance of paper charts. Plotting and marking waypoints and headings on my GPS screen is scratching the heck out of it!

Brad Brenner

All my sailing thus far has been aboard a dinghy without paper charts. This year, aboard my new-to-me Paceship 23, I’m looking forward to setting off with second-hand paper charts. That said, my wee portion of Georgian Bay is deep and easy to navigate without charts, but if I venture further from home, such as a two-week cruise across the bay, I’ll do so with current paper charts.

Tom van Aalst

I keep paper charts for the same reason I have a manual bilge pump: electrical things fail. I’ve been sailing off and on for 56 years, most of it long before GPS was practical and affordable. I’ve always understood that I sail with the wind, on the water, but near land. I need to know something about all three. All three times I’ve gotten lost—disoriented, really—were within a couple miles of my home port, waters I knew like the back of my hand. Once it was due to fog; I could hear a bell and the paper chart told me the characteristics of the bell off the entrance to Seattle. Once it was on Suttons Bay, a little notch in West Traverse Bay, Michigan. The chart let me figure out which lights were which from their various colors and flashing and figure out where I was, where safe harbor was. Once was coming into Baltimore Harbor when I’d stayed out too long and again, I needed to not just see the lights, but to know which one was which to make safe landfall.

I use an iPad and an iPhone with iSailor and iNavx with good charts. But I’ve seen the iPad overheat in the sun. I’ve seen the iPhone run out of power just when I needed it most. So even day sailing on Curtis Bay, my home waters, the paper chart is out, on the chart table, and I note my position on it from time to time.

Safe sailing is taking care of the just-in-case things. Paper charts are needed because they are the last line of defense in case the power fails, the satellites don’t speak, or the pixels don’t shine. Paper charts are the life preservers of navigation.

James Eaton, Pendragon, Baltimore, Maryland

We use both paper and our chart plotter. The paper charts give the better overview/big picture and make planning a course easier, as well as provide a very functional back up if we lose power.

Jeffrey Boneham, Pegu Club

I believe the paper charts should still be printed and updated. Electronics can fail or be rendered useless. It is good to have a way to navigate an area if all else fails.

David Graham

I’m in the camp of wanting to have paper charts as backup. I sail a Catalina 30 and use an iPad with navigation software as my primary chart plotter, and basically love it. That said, it could fall in the drink, or lightning, or whatever else. So, I also have a waterproof paper chart book in the nav station. The book mostly doesn’t see light of day, but it’s there just in case.

David W. Cory

My answer may be different in remote areas of the world (Pacific islands, Indonesia, etc.) However, given the reliability of modern electronics and the ability to obtain replacements in the Mediterranean and Caribbean, for example, I am comfortable relying on electronic charts, so long as I have the following:

  • A mounted chartplotter (connected to a NMEA network) with an integrated GPS antenna and Wi-Fi module
  • A mounted GPS antenna serving the AIS, and connected to the NMEA network as a backup antenna for the chartplotter
  • An iPad with integrated GPS antenna that can be synced through Wi-Fi with the chartplotter OR operate stand-alone
  • All combinations exercised regularly to ensure crew familiarity and to test equipment/connections

However this investment anticipates a fairly large sailboat. For a smaller daysailer, an iPad and basic paper charts may be better. The key principle in all cases: more than one source of location/charting information.

Ashley Wesch

Please place me in the YES category for carrying paper charts. I’m old-school on this one and would rather rely on them than the GPS. Traditional skills rule. Thanks for asking!

Gregg Bruff

Regarding setting sail without paper charts, the following might be useful to consider:

  • the better one knows the waters, the less the need for charts (paper or digital)
  • the shorter the trip, the less the need for paper charts

Perhaps the real danger is the loss of electrical power resulting in a loss of all non-paper charts. One might have charts on a MFD, a handheld GPS device, a tablet, and a mobile phone. Loss of power aboard would leave one dependent upon the batteries in the handheld devices. Once those batteries are depleted, all charting is lost. Depletion depends upon amount of charge at the start and rate of use. Longer-duration trips mean that there is more opportunity for mishap, including loss of power, and more time to deplete the batteries.

I often day sail and race out of Annapolis. Aboard is a Garmin chartplotter connected to the house bank, a mobile phone with iNavX and NOAA charts, and charts from MapTech (water resistant. water proof?). I have no wish to be caught out without charting capability. Despite having sailed for years out of Annapolis, I do not know every shoal, and the location all along the Severn where enough water becomes too little as one approaches either bank. Furthermore, the water is too opaque to see the bottom. The depth sounder reports depth under the keel, is not forward looking, and needs electrical power (house bank), so it is of no use to avoid running aground suddenly.

Jonathan M Bresler, Constance, Alberg 30, Annapolis/Eastport Maryland

Join Our Sailing Community. Subscribe Now!

Complimentary monthly supplement

  • featured articles
  • news from the helm
  • mail buoy
  • book reviews
  • sailor photos
  • and much more

Good Old Boat News Flash!

Our website is getting some long overdue improvements! Audioseastories.com has merged with Goodoldboat.com.

Thanks for your patience while our website is under construction.