'Til the butter melts

Pursuing the cruising dream in 32' of sailing ketch

“Navigation” – the A to Z Challenge


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.


Author: s/v sionna

Living the dream in 32'. We left Maine on August 18th, 2016, and have gradually worked our way south until we felt warm enough. After spending the summer in Maine, working to replenish the cruising kitty, we’re back on the boat, with plans to visit the Bahamas later in the winter. Follow our blog here, and follow our progress in map form by joining www.Farkwar.com!

4 thoughts on ““Navigation” – the A to Z Challenge

  1. I also feel more comfortable having paper back-up charts, but at some point we may have to weigh up the costs of electronic vs. paper in certain areas. I’m glad to know that you don’t actually cuddle your charts. Paper isn’t all that cuddly, not in the way that small kittens are. Maybe you need some small kittens instead?

    Cheers – Ellen | http://thecynicalsailor.blogspot.com/2016/04/n-is-for-nautical-miles-nancy-drew.html

    Liked by 1 person

  2. We have always had paper charts on board and we love them. I like to see a much bigger picture than what is available on the comparatively small GPS screen. Last year some lovely chart fairy left a bunch of chart books for Vancouver Island, and other places I can’t remember, in our cockpit for us. We never did find out who the person was who did that for us but we really appreciated it. I am hopeful we can buy a used set of charts from someone who has returned from heading south from here. It’s a lot of money to buy new ones and we are like you: paper is a must.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s paper for us as well (though we do use chart plotters primarily) and we were disappoint to read that electronic charts now fulfill the chart carriage requirement in US waters.



  4. I love maps too and I wouldn’t totally reply on any technical gadgets. Would always have the paper back-up. Great post!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s