Posted by: tflana | November 18, 2014

Charting our course

One of the responsibilities on the boat that has fallen on my shoulders is the navigation.  I kind of like it and if you know me at all, it helps my type A personality (yep, I am a control freak).  Scout does not have all of the bells and whistles some boats have, we still rely on paper charts and a handheld GPS.  When you are sailing, you don’t get the option to pull over to a gas station for directions!  If we take a wrong turn, we could go aground (yes, this has happened twice so far) or miss an anchorage we had planned to stop at to only scramble to find a better spot a few more miles down the road.

This trip down the ICW has put me on edge for many reasons, but the primary one is that our depth sounder can’t decide to work on a regular basis.  It has been replaced in Hampton, VA and it works about 40% of the time and usually quits when we need it the most.  We have spent many hours following other boats hoping they know where to go down the channel to only see them go aground in front of us!  The past 3 days, we have been on our own down the waterway without a problem.  It feels pretty good to make the journey with our brains and luck on our side, okay and a whole lot of preparation the night before.

The one luxury we have is Navionics on our iPad, this is great for the most part.  The unfortunate part of relying on this program is that the chart may be older than the most recent shoaling.  When we think we are in deep water, mother nature may have had another plan in mind. Also, there are times where the GPS doesn’t show us in the water but on land, very confusing.

The best part of our adventure is having the forethought to sign up for the Sail Magazine Snowbird Rally.  We have had greater leaders giving us navigation briefings during the week to get us to point A to point B with minimal headaches.  Our biggest and most helpful aid are the guides written by Mark and Diana Doyle.  The CruiseGuide for the Intracoastal Waterway which gives us mile by mile information about trouble spots, anchorages, bridges, and marinas.  This is an invaluable tool that is always on our bridge deck when traveling.  They also have published AnchorGuides for the Intracoastal Waterway, we use them lightly now but when we are on our own, this will most likely become a bible to follow.  If anyone is planning this journey, invest in the above guides before leaving.

Wally Moran who sails Gypsy Wind is also a very knowledgeable leader with much first hand knowledge, with a combination of this group we have been set up to succeed!

Okay, so with all of that said, how do I create our daily course?

Paper Chart to give us the big picture of our day's trip.  It also gives us the preset waypoints which are more helpful in the bigger bodies of water, not so much in the narrower channels.

Paper Chart to give us the big picture of our day’s trip. It also gives us the preset waypoints which are more helpful in the bigger bodies of water, not so much in the narrower channels.

This is where the planning session takes place, the dinette table usually after dinner and our nightly briefing from either Wally or Mark.

This is where the planning session takes place, the dinette table usually after dinner and our nightly briefing from either Wally or Mark.

My steno book with all of the day's notes.  I still am a paper and pencil kind of girl.  This actually has come in handy when the iPad batteries died.

My steno book with all of the day’s notes. I still am a paper and pencil kind of girl. This actually has come in handy when the iPad batteries died.

First, the paper chart comes out to determine the overall course for the day.  Figuring out Point A to Point B is essential.  We also have to keep our journey no more than about 50 miles due to the speed of Scout and wanting to be in port before sunset.  Next comes the highlighter, I am sure the rest of the world would freak out how I mark the charts, but I need to see our route quickly when Brian asks a question.  Next comes the steno pad, most of my managing life has been with a steno pad by my side.  This is where I list my waypoints or bridges or any other trouble areas.  This has become a major resource for me to set up bridge openings to make the journey a little less painful.  In fact, we did a trip a few days ago that had us time our bridge openings to near perfection.  I also am constantly referring to Mark Doyle’s Cruise Guide and checking off where we are at any given time so I can judge when we are arriving to a trouble spot or bridge.  It is a lot of work but it pays off every night when we make a new port.

Our tried and true Garmin handheld GPS.  I spend a lot of time entering our waypoints for the day's route.

Our tried and true Garmin handheld GPS. I spend a lot of time entering our waypoints for the day’s route.

A combination of resources to plan the trip, steno book, anchorage guide, and iPad with Navionics.  Also on the iPad are a few other apps that make the trips a little easier.

A combination of resources to plan the trip, steno book, anchorage guide, and iPad with Navionics. Also on the iPad are a few other apps that make the trips a little easier.

In the next 2 days, we have 100 miles to travel to get to Charleston, SC.  In the 100 miles we will face a fairly straight forward course, 4 bridges and finding a suitable anchorage for Wednesday night with no published ICW trouble spots (YEAH!).

Tara


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