Navigation Notes: Central Coast

 

Navigation Notes:  Central Coast 
Rule of Thumb for Cape Caution:  We found our “window” thanks to Waggoner Cruising Guide authors Bob and Marilyn Hale.  These inveterate writer/cruisers report crossing Queen Charlotte Sound on 24 occasions but especially remember the one that left them “wet and uncomfortable” on the “corkscrewing motion caused by swells and rough water”.  Then, with the help of the tug boat skipper who had to get rafts of logs around Cape Caution, they came up with this rule of thumb: Monitor Environment Canada’s continuous marine broadcast and wait for the West Sea Otter Buoy to report 1.5 meters or less.  That’s what we did. 
Daily Planning Routine: Jack the Skipper charts a feasible course the evening before.  Then he gets up at 5 am and brings me coffee in bed, along with the day’s charts and cruising guides.  I study them independently to confirm or question his judgement.  Likewise, when we’re moving, if we momentarily lose our place on the chart, each of us figures out where we are independently before comparing notes.   When you’re navigating rocks and narrow passages, groupthink is not a good thing.
Charts: With a view to mariner safety and to recover some of their costs,  Canada requires boaters to have a complete set of paper charts on board.  British Columbia must have a hundred miles of shoreline for every inhabitant if you count every inlet and island in a province which is still 90% government owned “Crown Lands”.  So even if you have an idea of your preferred route that is A LOT of charts.  We are literally awash in them. Most of the time they live in long plastic tubes in a nice port-side locker.  Then when needed, they move to the nav station desk.
Taming Charts: So how do you find the chart you need?   We finally figured it out and spent a half day at anchor organizing them in sequence by lattitude.  All the 51º charts.  All the 52º charts, the 53º charts and the 54º charts.  So today, for instance, Jack has put away the 51ºs and pulled out the relevant 52ºs.  Then, following the excellent suggestion of The Armchair Sailor, we fold them in half and put them in enormous plastic Hefty bags with zip locks for use on deck.
The Peculiar Chart 3921:   Large scale, small area 1:20,000 charts for Allison Harbour and Fish Egg Inlet are combined on this chart.  This is sort of screwy because Allison Harbor is the nearest safe haven south of Cape Caution while Fish Egg Inlet is considerably to the north off Fitz Hugh Sound.  
Meters or Fathoms?   Be sure to check because the older current charts are in fathoms and the more recent ones in meters.  The otherwise very pretty older charts also tend to be large area/small scale, use letters with serifs and do not use blue to indicate sea depths.  
True and Magnetic North:  We’re so far north now that the variation between the two has grown from 19 to 23 degrees!  So here you add 23º to whatever the compass says.  That’s M+23=T.   If you’re reading those lines of longitude on the chart, it’s T-23º=M, or what you see on the compass. 
GPS: In addition to old fashioned charts and compasses, we also have GPS.  In fact lots of it.   There’s the Furono???? with the readout screen at the nav station.  Also on the table is a 17″ laptop with  MacENC installed. All the US and Canadian charts appear here in brilliant color and accept AIS https://baggywrinkles.wordpress.com/2007/09/18/jack-the-skipper-on-ais/ data, which shows us any large vessels in the area.   Then for use up on deck we have a couple of handheld Garmin chart plotters.  But the best of all is the iPhone with the Navionics app. Knows exactly where you are and quickly picks up the satellites.  No roaming charges.   Beautiful charts you can zoom into by running two fingers across the screen.   Superb tide graphs that show exactly where in the cycle you are for wherever you find yourself.  All it takes is the $49 Navionics app on the iPhone.   So much better than Garmin.  
Skipper’s Log:  Jack is keeping a daily log with headings, departure and arrival times, engine hours, sail plan, and other data in a notebook and will post it here at the end of the trip.  See also Navigation Notes https://baggywrinkles.wordpress.com/2008/08/26/navigation-notes/ for Port Townsend to the Broughtons, which we posted last summer. 

Rule of Thumb for Cape Caution:  We found our “window” thanks to Waggoner Cruising Guide authors Bob and Marilyn Hale.  These inveterate writer/cruisers report crossing Queen Charlotte Sound on 24 occasions but especially remember the one that left them “wet and uncomfortable” on the “corkscrewing motion caused by swells and rough water”.  Then, with the help of the tug boat skipper who had to get rafts of logs around Cape Caution, they came up with this rule of thumb: Monitor Environment Canada’s continuous marine broadcast and wait for the West Sea Otter Buoy to report 1.5 meters or less.  That’s what we did. 

Daily Planning Routine:  Jack the Skipper charts a feasible course the evening before.  Then he gets up at 5 am and brings me coffee in bed, along with the day’s charts and cruising guides.  I study them independently to confirm or question his judgement.  Likewise, when we’re moving, if we momentarily lose our place on the chart, each of us figures out where we are independently before comparing notes.   When you’re navigating rocks and narrow passages, groupthink is not a good thing.

Charts: With a view to mariner safety and to recover some of the costs,  Canada requires boaters to have a complete set of paper charts on board.  British Columbia must have a hundred miles of shoreline for every inhabitant if you count every inlet and island in a province which is still 90% government owned “Crown Lands”.  So even if you have an idea of your preferred route that is A LOT of charts.  We are literally awash in them. Most of the time they live in long plastic tubes in a nice port-side locker.  Then when needed, they move to the nav station desk.

IMG_7444Organizing Charts: So how do you find the chart you need?   We finally figured it out and spent a half day at anchor organizing them in sequence by lattitude.  All the 51º charts.  All the 52º charts, the 53º charts and the 54º charts.  So today, for instance, Jack has put away the 51ºs and pulled out the relevant 52ºs we’ll need over the next couple of days.  Then, following the excellent suggestion of The Armchair Sailor, we fold them in half and put them in enormous plastic Hefty bags with zip locks for use on deck.

The Peculiar Chart 3921:   Large scale, small area 1:20,000 charts for Allison Harbour and Fish Egg Inlet are combined on this chart.  This is sort of screwy because Allison Harbor is the nearest safe haven south of Cape Caution while Fish Egg Inlet is considerably to the north off Fitz Hugh Sound.  

Meters or Fathoms?   It’s really important to check because the older current charts indicate depths in fathoms and the more recent ones in meters.  These very pretty older charts also tend to be large area/small scale, use letters with serifs,  do not use blue to indicate water, and include land heights in feet.  

True and Magnetic North:  We’re so far north now that the variation between the two has grown from 19 to 23 degrees!  So here you add 23 to whatever the compass says.  That’s M+23º=T.   If you’re reading those lines of longitude on the chart, it’s T-23º=M, or what you see on the compass. 

GPS:   In addition to old fashioned charts and compasses, we also have lots of GPS.    There’s the Furono with the readout screen at the nav station.  Also on the table is a 17″ laptop with  MacENC installed.  All the US and Canadian charts appear here in brilliant color and accept AIS data, which shows us any large vessels in the area.   Then for use up on deck we have a couple of handheld Garmin chart plotters.  But the best of all is the iPhone with the Navionics app. Knows exactly where you are and quickly picks up the satellites.  No roaming charges.   Beautiful charts you can zoom into by running two fingers across the screen.   Superb tide graphs that show exactly where in the cycle you are for wherever you find yourself.  All it takes is the $49 Navionics app on the iPhone.   So much better than Garmin.  

Skipper’s Log:  Jack is keeping a daily log with headings, departure and arrival times, engine hours, sail plan, and other data in a notebook and will post it here at the end of the trip. Navigation Notes  for the segment from Port Townsend to the Broughtons were posted last summer.

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1 Response to “Navigation Notes: Central Coast”


  1. 1 Helene July 2, 2009 at 10:04 am

    Piers went to Powells to look at the “how to read nautical charts” book, but came home a little overwhelmed. Is there some specific guidance on WHAT he needs to study and learn?? Very excited now!


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