It’s been a while since I took pen in hand to write here – Ha! No pen, No handwriting! It’s all on the keyboard or in my head. Today’s subject will be maps, or for nautical types “Charts”. Around central Maryland the local lakes and rivers are not covered by many maps or charts, though two local watershed lakes do have maps put out by the WSSC, the water supply agency for Montgomery County MD. On those lakes my Garmin 60CSx handheld GPS works fine, but then I’m not going far.
When I head out to the Chesapeake Bay, or it’s many tributaries I find that some of the charts put out by the NOAA Office of Coast Survey do come in handy. The scale isn’t the best for a 2-4 hour kayak day trip, but the navigational markers, and beacons come in handy. I also can judge what the sea state might be by seeing how far the prevailing wind has to kick up some waves. But the full size charts can be quit large and difficult to handle in a kayak.
I’ve found two sources of smaller maps, first: myChart published by Hempenius Publishing. as the name suggests these charts are Pocket Sized (if you have the right size pocket) The one I have in front of me measures 4.5 x 6.5 and opens to 18 x 13 and printed on both sides with annotations about the creeks and bays covered by the map. It is printed on a heavy water resistant ‘paper’. One downside ot these charts is that I can only find a small selection in one local kayak shop in Annapolis, but other yacht supply stores may carry a better selection, The second downside is that they cost in the neighborhood of $10 each, but they should last for an entire season, or longer if cared for.
Another source of maps is BookletChart™ , These are charts that can be printed at home, so the cost is only for the paper and the ink. Start the the above link and select your area from Atlantic Coast, Gulf Coast, Pacific Coast, Alaska, or Great Lakes. Then you are presented with a long list of charts by Chart number, scale and Title. It may be a bit confusing at first, but keep trying, or select “Catalog” and you are presented with a map of maps. Once you find the chart set you are interested in, download it (you may want to come back up use it again and again), or view it directly in Adobe reader. You could then print out the entire set, or only select the small area you are interested in. My experience so far is that what I want to see happens to be on a corner of the ’tiles’ so I have to print out 4 pages. I haven’t looked recently, and my supply is now empty, but I found some water resistant paper at REI a few years ago, I need to find more. The downside to these charts is the need for an internet connection and a printer. But by planning a few days in advance I find I can have all the charts I think I may need ready when I head out, And I carry them in a 1-gallon Freezer Zip Lock baggie. Besides the Charts themselves the Booklet Chart contains a few pages of notes about the area covered. You only need to print what you need. These are the Charts I’ve been using so far this summer when I’ve been in the Bay.
Keep the wet side down.