an extract from How to navigate any coastline by Katy Stickland/ / Rachael Sprot
1. Coast type
Think about where you are planning on cruising and what sort of coastline you are likely to be sailing near. It’s good to be mindful of the likely challenges you might face before you get there.
Is finding a spot to anchor going to be difficult? Will it be helpful to brush up on your eyeball navigation skills?
Always look at the coastline and consider what that means for the seabed beneath. Usually a steep-sided coastline will mean deep water even up close.
A long shallow slope towards the sea will mean the same underwater. Check if this working hypothesis is backed up by your charts.
3. Consider possible changes
Charts are only as good as the information upon which they are based. If you are planning to sail in an area dominated by sand banks then the chances are these will frequently move, particularly in stormy weather.
If you are far off the beaten track then the charts may be based on old data so should be taken as a guide.
4. Be aware of zoom
The ability to zoom in for more detail on a digital chart is great for looking in detail at specific hazards, but often what looks like a safe distance on the screen can be uncomfortably close when you are up on deck in the real world.
The great thing about paper charts is that they allow for easy annotation. Marking up known hazards or shifting sandbanks allows you to personalise your data.
This will help keep it in mind when you glance at the charts and for future cruising.
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