I love charts.
No, even more than that: I love paper charts – the kind you can hold, fold, feel, smell, cuddle with…
Well maybe not cuddle with, I guess, but I really enjoy the process – the experience – of working with charts on paper. Maybe I’m getting in touch with my inner Ferdinand Magellan, or Lewis & Clark. From the time as a child that I started noticing where we were driving, I’ve had a fascination with maps and charts. The first thing my parents taught me was how to fold a road map properly. Once I had that down, I was allowed to take the map out and follow the roads with my fingertip as we traveled, and I’ve never lost that love of cartographic instruments.
So naturally I view with some uneasiness the popularity of electronic charts and GPS. Not that they aren’t wonderful tools and all, which of course they are. But I just don’t feel comfortable trusting them completely. I mean, this is my life we’re talking about here.
Yet many people do trust those electronic marvels absolutely. To the point where they don’t bother to have a paper chart onboard “just in case”.
But you know, I’ve seen what a nearby lightning strike can do to a cordless phone. And I’ve considered that if there’s an electrical storm happening over the water, the only thing within 25 miles that looks like a lightning rod is sticking straight up, 40′ above my boat.
It may not happen – the gear may work flawlessly, the military may never need to turn off the GPS system for their own reasons, storms may never strike.
But I’d feel pretty naked out there without a way to locate our position without any help from anybody.
Paper. That’s the ticket.