A Custom Chart for Daysailing
This page was last updated on 5 May 2009.

Our new sailing grounds at the top of Penobscot Bay were imperfect, sadly. 

We could put up with the scenery, the interesting and pleasing sailing conditions, the lack of boat traffic, and the deep waters that limited the lobster pots there.  But what was unacceptable was the fact that we needed two charts just to go daysailing:  13309 (Penobscot River) to start, and then, if we went far enough, 13305 (Penobscot Bay). 

I know, I know.  I'm outraged too, but don't get to upset yet; your Congressman probably has more important issues with which to deal, not that I don't appreciate your willingness to write on my behalf.

I still use paper charts; the correct chart is always in the cockpit even though I have a rudimentary 2001-era LCD chartplotter.  I just believe in having the real chart on hand; plus, I love charts.    As a result, physically changing charts from time to time is par for the course as one moves along the coast in any direction. 

In this case, however, our local waters in and around Buck's Harbor featured a hidden gremlin:  the harbor is located near the boundary of two charts, and within only a few miles south of the harbor, near Pickering Island, one requires another chart to continue.  Since the islands south of Pickering Island were well within normal daysailing range, as were other nearby waters that weren't on the chart containing Buck's Harbor, I found that during our first season in these waters I'd often need to pull out another chart so I could go that extra 1/2 mile...or else I wouldn't get the chart and I'd feel uncomfortable, or simply turn the boat in a different direction, even though in general the waters were deep.  But I don't like to sail without a chart of the waters at hand.  It just seems smart.

Neuroses aside, the two charts in question also happened to be quite large, and covered areas far more vast than we normally needed for a single daysail.  And since the most-used waters were naturally displayed right at the edges of these charts, it was harder to hold the chart flat in the cockpit, since I roll charts for storage and create a sort of scroll when I unwrap them to view.  But I digress.

With all these utter inconveniences in mind, I briefly considered selling the boat entirely, but soon decided that was too drastic.  Instead, I decided to make up my own little chart to satisfy my daysailing whims.  It was time to replace the charts I had anyway, so I took the two old charts in question and cut out sections that covered the grounds into which we might reasonably expect to venture during a daysail, or even on a weekend jaunt.  Fortunately, the two charts happened to be at the same scale, so it would be possible to conjoin the two.

Next, I needed something to which to secure the cut chart pieces.  It needed to be strong and waterproof (or at least as water resistant as chart paper); an old chart would have worked, but stupidly I'd balled up and disposed of the cutoffs of the charts from which I'd just cut my little sections.  Browsing the shop, I found a roll of Tyvek housewrap, which seemed an ideal choice:  incredibly tough, waterproof, yet supple enough to roll like a chart.  Perfect.

With spray adhesive, I mounted the two chart sections on the Tyvek, taking care to line up the joint as accurately as possible.  To make this easier, I'd chosen to cut one of the charts along a line of latitude, making a ready reference point for alignment; a nearby longitude line provided the other.

Once the sections were secured, I cleanly cut the new chart out of the Tyvek sheet, creating a custom chart of convenient size and covering just the area I needed it to.  Yes, I cut off all the lat/long reference marks from the sides of the charts.  I'll never plot on my new chart--it's for visual reference only. The real charts are still on board.

It's a lot of writing for a little project of even less consequence.



Glissando, Pearson  Triton #381

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