Friday, May 16, 2008

Aids (ATN's)
One of the great "luxuries" I had while sailing was the ability to spread out a chart and use tools such as parallel rulers and dividers. It was important, with my 6-foot draft, to always know my position, especially when sailing near the shore line. Another challenge was coming into a new harbor at night.

At such times it could be hard to pick out navigation lights on entrances because of all the city lights in the background. On a few occasions the headlights of cars making U-turns near shore have looked an awful lot like light houses. In any event, it was always the aids to navigation that got me safely into port.

Kayakers, on the other hand, have no room for a chart table. Heck, we don't have enough room for a full sized chart. Many of us laminate small pieces of a chart (always including a compass rose or reference to north) and keep them on the fore deck just ahead of the cockpit. Generally, we point our boat at something in order to take a bearing with our deck mounted compasses. Triangulation is roughly done as we seldom have a straight edge, let alone parallel rulers with which to "walk" a compass reading.I am often surprised at the lack of navigation knowledge amongst our brethren. Depending on line of site observations and alignments of known objects may work most of the time but, eventually, we will find ourselves in a confusion of small islands and inlets.
Observing a numbered buoy at such times (and knowing what they mean) can be a life saver at such times. I encourage folks to get one of the many small books available on navigation. There are even a few aimed explicitly at paddlers. And, by the way; if you ever see a navigation light out or an aid to navigation out of position, call the Coast Guard immediately. They tell me that it is appropriate to use channel 16 at such times (they will then probably direct you to 22).

Paddle safe...

1 comment:

DaveO said...

As I'm sure I've mentioned before, the gps will never replace my map and compass. Never had to 'reboot' the deck map. I use a clear compass rose I made with a piece of dental floss in the middle to help with bearings. Low tech but very effective.