Tom Neale, the author of All In The Same
Boat (McGraw Hill), has owned, cruised, and
maintained boats since the age of 9.
WHERE TO GET YOUR
NOAA announced in October 2013 that
the government was getting out of the
printing business. For the first time in
150 years, it no longer will print traditional large-scale paper charts. But
that doesn’t mean there aren’t other
options. You can purchase printed
charts through private companies. You
can also go to www.nauticalcharts.
noaa.gov/staff/BookletChart to download for free a full chart in printable
booklet form; if you just want a small
section, view charts for free at www.
print a simple chart view of your
choice. Even in a small boat or PWC,
you can keep paper charts safe in a
large resealable plastic bag.
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Using a straightedge, make a light pencil
mark where the lines intersect. For a better,
more versatile tool, get a Weems & Plath No.
104 Protractor Triangle (about $20).
After you’ve plotted three or four positions, wait 15 minutes or so, then turn off
the chartplotter, paying close attention to the
compass heading as you do so. Now try to
keep track of your position without it. You
may not know where you are at that moment,
but you’ll know where you were 15 minutes
ago, and that’ll be a pretty good clue. If you
know this, you can “dead reckon,” which
comes from the phrase “deduced reckoning”
and means steering by your compass while
taking note of your speed and passing time
to determine distance traveled. You’ll likely
find your way to where you want to go, or at
least be close. You can also use landmarks,
seamarks, and Aids to Navigation to verify
and adjust your dead-reckoning position.
Unlocking the navigational clues scattered
across your chart won’t only add to your
onboard fun – it will keep you safer should
something knock out your electronics.