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Old 17-03-2007, 16:37   #1
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Post Paper Nautical Charts

The advantages of paper nautical charts.

I truly love to open a paper nautical chart, spread it out on the chart table (2'x3' preferred) and enjoy a cup of coffee while planning a sail. I even like doing that at home on our lanai table picking out water depths in exotic places and imagining the anchoring and diving and what the places and people look like. Requires no power or computer to do it.

I've had a fascination with charts and navigation ever since pulling my first watch as a "deck ape" on the bridge of a destroyer in the early 60s. I was mesmerized by what the Quartermaster (Navy Navigator) and his strikers were doing and how they could determine exactly where we were. Amazing how quick and good they were without electronic navigation.

I like paper charts as a backup to electronic navigation and have collected charts of the West Coast to the Horn, South Pacific, Indian Ocean to the East side of Africa, Australia and New Zealand. I have kept one of each to use when I circumnavigate. From time to time I pull them out from their hiding place (an old trunk) and look at them. Something I can hold in my hand and place on a table.

Disadvantages:

Get out of date. Nav aids move or change. I think the newest I have is 1989.

They get moldy and mildewed if not kept in a dry place. A stack of charts 3 feet high weighs a lot and takes up a lot of space.

Summary:

I will continue to carry even the old charts with me as a backup to electronics. They don't require power or a computer and never need new batteries or recharging. If they get splashed with seawater or get stepped on or thrown off the chart table they don't go belly up on me. I can always update them with a notice to mariners.

Besides, for me there is a great deal of nostalgia and memories of a lot of hours on the bridge of the many ships I served aboard. Some good and some not but always fascinating.

So, how do you as cruisers and liveaboard sailors feel about having and saving those old charts?

JohnL
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Old 18-03-2007, 10:01   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SkiprJohn
So, how do you as cruisers and liveaboard sailors feel about having and saving those old charts?
I can't say I would ever find a reason to bin any paper charts, "archive" them in the loft at home maybe, but not bin them

I have only used / experianced Electronic charts on other people's boats and whilst I will no doubt buy a Chartplotter in due course because they do make life more conveniant, I do kinda worry about the degree of certainty they project - but maybe that is down to a lack of first hand experiance................

But I do love a paper chart marked with progress in pencil to a destination against the predicted course (albeit updated from a GPS .....although double checked by good old DR)......IMO no quicker way to take in a mass of information at a glance. I am not sure I would even want a chart sized chartplotter screen
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Old 18-03-2007, 12:35   #3
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It seems that the chart plotter has a couple of benefits. First it is really easy to plot where you are instantly, a great advantage when single handing. But also it seems that old charts are now about a dollar each at the flea. I buy any I can find if I think I might end up going to that location. They are great for route planning, daydreaming and as backup (along with a sextant and a slide rule for hose who remember how to use them.) When I rebuilt the head I added a chart rack where the door had been. The chart plotter is not going anywhere soon but neither are the charts.
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Old 18-03-2007, 16:53   #4
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Charts!

Having found errors on the paper charts and the electronic charts, I'm pretty nervous about completely trusting both of them (especially finding sections of new charts with datum from 1920s for the US coast.) It doesn't really matter whether it is a paper chart or an electronic chart; if the data isn't reasonably recent, it's the same data.

Both electronic and paper charts are great for dreaming and fantasizing, planning, and implementing a cruise. I sometimes worry that I let them get between me and the experience of sailing; I trust them when picking out where I hope to anchor, rather than puttering about and finding the right spot based on the conditions I find, which saves me time but means I won't be looking so closely at the many possible places to drop the hook. But the safety and convenience easily over-ride that whiny little voice.

But I have to admit that stacks and rolls of charts have a smell/look/sound/feel that just seems more "right".

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Old 07-08-2007, 09:51   #5
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I was on a tin can back in the 60's as well, JohnL.

http://i102.photobucket.com/albums/m...oo64/DD776.jpg

DD-776 USS JAMES C. OWENS

I have some great memories, just as you do. I was CIC Officer, so I was always looking at charts, worrying that our inventory was up to date and ready to take us where we were going, etc.

We had this newfangled loran gadget back then (hardly ever worked), and mostly it was celestial navigation at sea.

Chartplotters, etc. are wonderful, but I will never go anywhere without a paper chart opened up.
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Old 07-08-2007, 12:25   #6
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Aloha Speedo,
I recognize the name "James C. Owens" but can't place where she was homeported. I was on "USS Carpenter (DD-825)" '63-'65 for my first tour as a deck ape. Did a WestPac on her and she was homeported at Pearl Harbor. Funny how those first memories of the Navy seem like good old times now but it certainly was no fun then. That was the start of a 30 year career for me.
Being the CIC Officer at that time could have been a navigation nightmare. I remember some of the differences of opinion between CIC and the bridge as to precisely where we were.
Kind Regards,
JohnL
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Old 07-08-2007, 15:42   #7
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I love paper charts, but have given up on them completely due to expense. I use only a laptop and 3 GPS units (including the one attached to the laptop).

I sure do miss the days of paper charts though. I like the fact that they don't take up power. They feel good... like reading a newspaper or book rather than a website. They allow you to see the whole chart at once without going blind. Very nice.

Having old charts and a wood stove is a dangerous combination though... watch out if you do!

I ended up using my Great Lakes charts for lighting the stove one day we were short on paper garbage.
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Old 07-08-2007, 18:14   #8
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It would be foolhardy and plain bad seamanship to sail anywhere relying on electronics only , without the appropriate paper charts.
brent
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Old 08-08-2007, 00:44   #9
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I use paper charts as my primary navigation tool. I have the chartplotter and computer program, and they are nice, but while outside of my home water I still plot a DR track on the chart and take bearings regularly.

Why? Because those techniques are skills. If you don't practice them they fade away. The less you do those kinds of things the more mistakes you make when you have to use them.

If I only daysailed in a limited body of water, the electronic charts might be the only thing I carry. But every voyaging sailboat is one lightening strike away from being totally electronic-less. The very thought of being in a remote place and not having charts or having the charts and not having the polished skills to use them, sends shivers up my spine.

I know that I can find my way home in dense fog with a chart, a compass, and a leadline if my gps, chartplotter, and radar pack it in. Can you? Are you sure? When was the last time you tried?

To anybody who complains about the cost of paper charts, I suggest that you should have thought of that BEFORE you spent the money on the electronic systems. If you really had to chose, you could have (and SHOULD have) bought a lot of charts for those dollars.

There are old sailors, and there are bold sailors, but there are no old, bold sailors.
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Old 08-08-2007, 06:36   #10
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Originally Posted by Louis Riel
It would be foolhardy and plain bad seamanship to sail anywhere relying on electronics only , without the appropriate paper charts.
brent
With the utmost respect...

Are you calling the US Navy and Merchant Marine Fleets "foolhardy?" Because they haven't used paper charts for years.

Only recreational sailors use them anymore.
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Old 08-08-2007, 06:55   #11
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Originally Posted by GreatKetch
...every voyaging sailboat is one lightening strike away from being totally electronic-less...
You mean, my chartplotter, radar, gps, depthsounder, autopilot, laptop NMEA networked system won't work?

There's food for thought.
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Old 08-08-2007, 07:42   #12
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FWIW, according to a colleague who's son is a presently deck officer in the US Navy, while electronic navigation is the rule, paper charts are still maintained as a back-up, paper plots are maintained over light-table chart-plotters; and, deck officers are still required to be able to navigate and pilot a ship with Sextants, stop-watch's and compass bearings. At the point at which one can maintain an electronic suite aboard a yacht as well as the Navy can aboard its ships, one can abandon paper charts entirely. Until then, not having paper charts verges on willful negligence.

Frankly, IMHO it is the advent of cheap electronic navigation systems--GPS, Chart-plotters et al--that have allowed an entire generation of simpletons to take to the water, putting themselves, their rescuers (frequently) and many of the rest of us at risk by their ignorance. While the GPS has its merits, the "rigors" of celestial and piloting once served the duel functions of navigation and discrimination. If one cannot afford the proper equipment, should one not question whether one can afford to play the game at all?

Don't think you can afford paper charts? Go by any marine consignment store--such as Nautical Trader--and the piles of paper charts will overwhelm you. Find what you need, usually for about $1.25 each, and sit down with a print-out of the Notice to Mariners and correct these as necessary.

(U.S. COAST GUARD LOCAL NOTICES TO MARINERS
and other maritime related information are available via a one-way
listserver at: LNM List Server Registration - U.S. Coast Guard Navigation Center )


svHyLyte!
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Old 08-08-2007, 08:36   #13
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Maybe it's a question of semantics.

Are we talking about paper charts a *primary* navigation or are we talking about paper charts as *backup*?

Of course I have paper charts, sight bearing compass, dividers and all those fun toys as backup to my 3 GPS units. Would love to need a sextant, but finances keep me from voyaging that far from a paycheck.

I did mean that not many ships (Navy, Merchant Marine) use paper as *primary* and should have been more clear.
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Old 08-08-2007, 12:51   #14
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Originally Posted by svHyLyte
Don't think you can afford paper charts? Go by any marine consignment store--such as Nautical Trader--and the piles of paper charts will overwhelm you. Find what you need, usually for about $1.25 each, and sit down with a print-out of the Notice to Mariners and correct these as necessary.

(U.S. COAST GUARD LOCAL NOTICES TO MARINERS
and other maritime related information are available via a one-way
listserver at: LNM List Server Registration - U.S. Coast Guard Navigation Center )


svHyLyte!
Do you know whether it's possible to buy Imray-Iolaire charts (Eastern Caribbean) and Wavey Line Publishing charts (Turks & Caicos) cheaply as well? Seems like they always command a premium, if they are in good shape.
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Old 08-08-2007, 13:03   #15
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Aloha JohnL. The Owens was homeported in Charleston, South Carolina, but we did a WestPac starting in 67. We stopped at Pearl on the way, of course, and maybe that's where I heard of the Carpenter. I got out in early 68 and the trip home from the Tongkin Gulf was interesting, to say the least!

Yes, CIC Officer was a mentally demanding assignment. No matter what we did, the Captain and XO were rarely satisfied. Fortunately, my last skipper was a good guy, so taking the Owens half way around the world, into a combat zone, was actually somewhat enjoyable.

You are absolutely right... looking back on those days, it certainly seems like more fun than it was at the time.

Regards, Al.
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