How to Read a Nautical Chart

This is the title of one of the best books I’ve ever read. It’s the sort of thing that Suart Brand would’ve given rave reviews in the Whole Earth Catalogue if the book had been written then. You know, technical savvy meets universal interest. Before we had listserves dishing up readings in areas of interest we’re supposed to be keeping up with. In fact, this is a book that was crying to be written before a sharp editor begged Nigel Calder to write it.

This book is for everybody, especially anybody with the slightest curiosity about cartography. Or risk assessment. Or exploration. Or hydrographic methods. Or international cooperation. Or epistemology. In fact, if you’re in Portlamd, you should trot right down to Powell’s Technical Books, get yourself a cup of coffee and read the section entitled “The Limits of Accuracy.”

Now if you’re a navigator, this will be an adrenalin rush. It’s pretty great to read stuff it’s esential to know and have it be thrilling at the same time. I happened to read it at anchor in Laura Cove sitting on on deck with a tremendous view across the entrance into the Desolation Sound. And lo and behold there immeidately in front of me was a perfectly good rock that had varied in height with the tide between one and 11 feet! And it wasn’t even on our large scale ie. small area official Canadian Map that you legally have to have on board! Yikes.

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