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Old 25-07-2010, 16:06   #1
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Charts to Cross Atantic from Canary Islands to Caribbean

Hello Forum:

I am making my first east to west passage across the Atlantic soon. I am seeking input from old salts regarding the necessity of paper charts for the crossing.

Our primary form of navigation is electronic using a Raymarine E80 with Navionic Gold Chart chips. We have paper charts of the Canary Islands. We have paper charts of the British and US Virgin Islands (final destination). Our electronic charts show excellent detail. The electronic charts extend out from Europe to 36W and resume again at 44W when the Caribbean chip takes over. However, the navigation system is fully functional for the entire course. We also have a paper chart of the North Atlantic Ocean (Southern Sheet) covering 5N to 50N. We have two Raymarine E 80, one at the nav station and one at the helm. They are linked together but can function independently, so if one went down, the other will continue to work.

Do I need more than this to be safe? What have others done? How much detail do you need in a paper chart for the mid-Atlantic?

I look forward to your response.


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Old 25-07-2010, 16:28   #2
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Do I need more than this to be safe? What have others done? How much detail do you need in a paper chart for the mid-Atlantic?
There is a host of information contained in "Pilot Charts" You can find them on the NOAA website for most of the planet. You'll also find all the books and guides draw heavily from them even if they spell it out for you. They map out general wind / current patterns based on the month of the year by percentages. It's the Vegas way to plan a long passage aside from choosing the best time to take off. It's less about the exact line you intend than it is about the idea that the shortest time between two points is almost never a straight line when doing ocean passages. Prevailing winds and currents can make the difference of easy vs hard knowing a storm might trash all your plans anytime.

Being safe includes a great many things and charts are just one part. Knowing how to use them to your advantage would be better. Knowing position is good but knowing how to get some place you desire is navigation.

Paul Blais
s/v Bright Eyes Gozzard 36
37 15.7 N 76 28.9 W
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Old 25-07-2010, 16:37   #3
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If you are leaving from Gibraltar the I'd probably just get this Imray North Atlantic Passage Chart If you are heading down to the Canarias then you may want to add No. 0863 from here Admiralty Charts Bay Of Biscay, Liberian Peninsula, Morocco, Islas Canarias, Madeira And Arquipelago Dos Acores E 53

And wot Paul said

The message is the journey, we are sure the answer lies in the destination. But in reality, there is no station, no place to arrive at once and for all. The joy of life is the trip, and the station is a dream that constantly out distances us”. Robert Hastings, The Station
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Old 25-07-2010, 17:45   #4
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There is a balance between storage, safety and money; however, I would never undertake a passage without a paper sailing chart for the wide spaces, charts of alternative ports of safety should repairs or weather require, and a back up hand held GPS or two with a bunch of batteries. I was on my way to the BVI last November and in stormy weather took a wave that caused one large trickle of water to fall from a hatch in my pilothouse directly onto -- guess what?-- my computer keyboard, promptly taking it out of action. Although I had the charts, I couldn't get the computer to open up the program because of a shorted out keyboard. Kind of made my Nobeltec less than useful. When I did get within sight of land, the paper charts and the other working gps on board were real handy.
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Old 25-07-2010, 18:38   #5
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Originally Posted by P Milo View Post
Hello Forum:

I am making my first east to west passage across the Atlantic soon. I am seeking input from old salts regarding the necessity of paper charts for the crossing.
We have pretty much stopped carrying passage charts. I make up graph paper with the lat/longs and track the weather patterns (three days per piece of paper with three different color pens). That also given me a possition track, and Beth keeps a proper log book with positions.

I do carry a paper chart (or two) for the intended landfall and for a back-up landfall or two. I really do that more because I like to have the chart out in the cockpit when we are closing on the land than out of fear of losing the e-charts.
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Old 26-07-2010, 15:27   #6
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Hello Forum:

Many thanks for taking the time to respond with your insightful comments. Let me respond by identifying pertinent points.

Paul - Spent a good while on the NOAA site. They do have extensive detail in charts along the coast, but I could not find anything that addresses my concern, i.e. the open Atalantic - the stretch of water away from the Canaries and before I reach the Caribbean. I have paper charts of the land I am leaving and the land I am going to. I have redunancy built into my navigation plan including two separate chart plotters and two hand held GPS units. I am familiar with their use and the use of paper charts.

Fishwife - As it turns out, I have those two charts (actually their equivalents, but close enough to the same), but thank you for the suggestion.

Tee - I will make sure I have adequate batteries for the handhelds and I do have the one chart of the entire Atlantic. Cool.

Estarzinger - Your comment I found the most unusual and also the most enlightening. It was your answer that had me thinking the most, though all had me thinking. I believe I will invest in graph paper! Great idea.

I intend to follow the textbook route - leave the Canary Islands and go south-west towards the Cape Verde Is. Once I am confident I am into the Trade Winds, turn more westerly toward the Caribbean. After Cape Verde Is there are no ports of call before landfall on the other side. It will be a matter of turn back or press on. I just don't see the value of a chart anymore detailed that the one I already have of the North Atlantic (5N to 50N). Does anyone strongly disagree?


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Old 29-07-2010, 01:10   #7
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Hello, has anyone a manual for the "Visual Passage Planner" please. Regards.

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