“I don’t know where we are going, but we are on our way!”
—Alfalfa (The Little Rascals) on his Soapbox Derby cart
As we prepared to leave the Abacos and go out over the depths [12,000+ feet deep] of the Atlantic Ocean to Eleuthera, I thought about Christopher Columbus & figured I’d help you regarding your next navigational purchase. As they are still arguing in the Bahamas over which island can take credit for Columbus’ first landfall, why should I worry? Navigation has come a long way in the last 600 years.
Mike Morrow, Mike Galati and the rest of the electronics superstars at Galati, where I work, can put the most incredible electronics packages on our new Vikings, Grand Banks, Tiaras, Cruisers, and Maritimos. These plug n’ play electronic miracles can take you anywhere or keep you stationary as long as you like. It is mind boggling what Furuno, Garmin, Raymarine and the others have created. At every boat show there are booths of new equipment enticing us to believe that we must have it. Don’t give in, at least not yet. You will miss out if you do.
“What the hell are you talking about, Chilberg? With that new stuff one can traverse Terra del Fuego in a blizzard, navigate Nantucket in a pea soup fog or slide across the Gulf Stream without a thought or worry.” Yes, that’s the problem. You’ll never appreciate what you have. Here is where you need to start.
Tell Mr. Garmin and Mr. Furuno: “Forget it. I’ll wait for next year’s electronics model with even newer bells and whistles. Just get me the boat.” Instead, get some out dated charts that Columbus used and borrow Jack Sparrow’s compass from Pirates of the Caribbean.
Then depart from Lake Worth for West End in the Bahamas. This will be so healthy, as you drip with sweat wondering if you’ll miss the Bahamas all together. It will clean out your pores and give you the skin of a twenty year old. Next you will feel your blood pressure spike to 200 over 95 and your face will turn that seaman’s hue of red as panic sets in at the thought of running out of fuel 1500 miles west of the Azores. Now your arteries are as clear as if you got a dozen shunts installed in your heart.
Wow, don’t you feel better already?
Now when you return from the Bahamas you can be just like Columbus. “Hey Chris, how was your cruise?” You reply “Oh it was terrific. The beaches were beautiful and the water was gin clear.” Then they ask “Well great, where did you go?” To which you say, “hell if I know. I headed east out of Lake Worth then sailed around some uncharted islands for a while. The sun was more accurate than my compass. After wandering around lots of islands, I went back west until I hit Florida. But actually I ended up in North Carolina, damn Gulf Stream, so I went south for a few weeks until I found Lake Worth again.”
Now that is how you start cruising!
Then you go back to Mike and Mike at Galati and ask for a Loran A or Loran C and charts with Loran Lines. The lines that cross are nearly parallel in the Bahamas and you’ll never know where you are again, but you do have electronics now! Retrace your steps, and remember to say hi to everyone in North Carolina. If they can’t find a Loran, then get a sextant. On my first foray into the world of Joshua Slocum [google him] with a sextant, I was taking sightings off Ensenada, Mexico on my way to Cabo San Lucas in 1974. I proudly told my father what our coordinates were. He looked them up, and with a twinkle in his eyes said, “Joe, that is great. We are making good time. According to you, we are off the north side of Panama!” Either way, you are now ready for a GPS.
Slow down; you don’t get a chart plotter. You only get the one that gives you coordinates. That way by the time you figure out where you are on the chart, your wife is calling SeaTow to get you off the sandbar. This allows you to learn to study paper charts under pressure and practice calling SeaTow! Next you go back to Galati and ask for a small 4” Chartplotter. This way the only way to read it is to zoom in so far you can’t see the next marker. Again, call SeaTow.
Now you are finally ready to let Mike and Mike work their magic for you. They will install a GPS with a screen so big you can watch the Super Bowl on it. You will also be able to attach it to your autopilot, radar, fuel gauges, depth finder, and USA Today. Preloaded charts automatically update and tell you when your next dentist appointment is. AIS will tell you that a freighter is 500 miles off your stern and will run you over next Wednesday. Also don’t forget to add WeatherX. We have this gem on our Garmin 4212. We can get weather forecasts all over America and the Bahamas. When Hurricane Sandy blew through, I saw 24-foot waves off Jamaica and later 32-foot waves off Eleuthera. We stayed in Marathon a few more days, thank you.
Now you can appreciate what Mike and Mike are giving you. It is like driving a horse drawn carriage for a few years before you move up to your Bentley! You now appreciate the Bentley and you will appreciate the marvels of Mike and Mike’s GPS installed on your yacht.
Sorry, gotta go now … where’s my sextant? See you in Eleuthera … and we’ll both know where the hell we are!