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Maine Navigation

A fair amount of time was spent on practical navigation and trip planning. Toward these ends we engaged in a number of activities.

One was simply landmark navigating the waterways near the camp. Along with the Kennebec, there are several smaller rivers and tributaries streaming through the rocks to the sea, resulting in numerous islands and bay and headlands, and requiring various day markers and buoys. So, with a chart, we ought to have been able to easily find our way around on a simple trip.

With a chart. This cowgirl’s problem was that she lost her chart case on a previous training event, and and the “water resistant” charts she had printed may as well have been on newsprint. They were shredded under the bungies within minutes of contact with the water, and completely unusable after the fourth re-folding.

Luckily one of the coaches loaned her a chart – which was promptly washed away in surf.

In any event, on a separate exercise, we learned to use our compasses, taking bearings, putting “red in the shed’, determining our position from various bearings, and so on. Having read up on these skills it was exciting to practice them, finally, in an environment that offered up the full range: markers, buoys, landmarks, magnetic variation.

We had an indoor lesson as well. Now, no longer learning how to determine where we were, we’d learn to determine where we wanted to go. Here’s a chart, here’s a topo map, here’s an ordnance survey, oh and here are some photocopies of a pilot book. Now, plot a course around Anglesey, or something. We all managed to, but I have to say course plotting by committee is vexing.

From it all, I obtained a more robust understanding of how to use a compass. Plotting courses was something I felt familiar with, but the work in the field was something I haven’t had to contend with to date.

Published in 2015 Backpaddle British Canoeing Kayaking Leadership Sea

One Comment

  1. Richard Weinberg Richard Weinberg

    NOAA now has online free PDF charts, and they are pretty good.

    If you are planning a trip, I suggest printing the desired chart yourself on a color printer, and then go to a store and laminate it yourself. It works pretty good, but note that the charts will sink, as I saw with annoyance. My solution was to tape a small piece of foam on a corner of the chart.

    Hope you are planning fun kayak trips for this summer.

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