Nautical Charts and Cruising Guides
by Sail World on 23 Nov 2005
The name of the smart game in sailing is redundancy. While electronic charts are definitely the way to go for the future, very convenient, and as accurate as the charts they originate from. But if you lose your electrics or worse still are hit by lightning and lose ALL power, the paper chart still has a great value. In addition, it takes power to run the computer, and it depends on the setup of your boat whether that’s an unacceptable drain or not. Our recommendation is to have paper charts on board at all times for the areas you are visiting.
Nautical Charts are available at your local marine outlet, chandlery or marine bookshop, or contact http://www.boatbooks-aust.com.au!Boat_Books!same
Charts are expensive, of course, particularly if you need to buy in quantity. We think the best site for discounted charts worldwide is http://www.tidesend.com!Bellinghams!same, who have a great range of products, and excellent service.
Electronic Charting Systems:
The most widely used electronic charting system in the world is http://www.c-map.com.au/c-map_current!Cmap!same. For all electronics for your boat, don't forget to check with Ocean Talk, who have a wide range of electronics, including the Raymarine range.
The only catch with using electronic charts is that you can be lulled into believing that you are where the chart says you are. Many a sailing boat has been lost because they failed to look out the window. As a paper chart does NOT tell you where it thinks you are, you are more likely to take care.
One day in very misty weather entering the Crookhaven River in New South Wales, I was tracking our progress on Cmap and heatedly telling a more and more horrified helmsman to 'go straight, yes you're going fine - don't turn yet, you're not on the marker yet' when the coastguard shouted at us in sign language to 'TURN! TURN!' as we were headed into the surf. Coming up on deck, seeing with horror the surf lines just ahead, I could only add lamely to the helmsman 'Why didn't you tell me?'
After entering Crookhaven, we looked at the trail that our boat made on Cmap, and found that we had sailed across a rock wall and over a pontoon before arriving in the river. As for places in the world like the Red Sea, our recommendation is to give Cmap a 2 mile margin for error during the day, and 5 miles at night. This is of course, I repeat, not the fault of any electronic charting system, but the charts that the information is derived from.
There are good cruising guides for almost all the coast of Australia now. However, some of them are difficult to obtain, so leave yourself plenty of time.
Click HERE for an Australia-wide List of Cruising Guides
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