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A few nights ago while enjoying sundowners, we pulled out the old-fashioned chart book, dividers and tide tables to plan an upcoming cruise. That’s right—no smart phone, GPS or tablet needed. When it comes to passage planning, I’m a creature of comfort who sticks to what I know best.
As technology continues its stranglehold on nearly every facet of our lives—sailing and otherwise—there is a lot to be said for the time-honored tradition of passage planning with paper charts. Don’t get me wrong—I do see the merits of having the convenience and accuracy of technology, but whether setting sail for a weekend or month, the excitement and ritual of planning on paper can never be replaced with an app or chartplotter. I have met many a sailor who would disagree, saying “Charts are a waste of money and space,” or “I have chartplotting software on my laptop, a chartplotter in my cockpit and a navigation app on my iPad.”
That’s all well and good, but when planning a passage or romp through the islands, nothing is better suited than paper. The full view you get with a laid-out chart allows you to take accurate measurements, consider alternate routes and make contingency plans if things go pear shaped when you get out there. So next time you sit down to passage plan, give those dusty charts a second chance—you won’t be disappointed.
Enjoy this week’s Cruising Compass!