Since 1978 I have been fortunate to sail wooden boats. In 2006 I set out to find a Drascombe Longboat Cruiser for single-handed expedition sailing. This is the continuing story of how it came to be, our adventures, notes on the maritime world and other things I don't want to forget...

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Finding My Way

I have had a life-long interest in navigation. I have proud memories of winning the orienteering award at a Boy Scout camp jamboree in North Carolina. They gave out small compasses, a set of coordinates, distances to travel and judged on where you ended up. I loved it.

When I started sailing in the late 70s I read all I could find on how to understand charts, dead reckon, triangulate and obtain all the skills one needed to get somewhere safely on the water. It proved in practice to be a challenge at times but my interest kept me at it. The parallel rules and the dividers come out less frequently now; the radio direction finder with its spinning top magnet is just part of old stories. They are replaced by small gadgets invisibly linked to satellites far from me and my destinations.

Did you have one of these on your boat? Do you like your handheld GPS better?

Maps and charts are, to me, quite fascinating. While curating in Maryland I had the privilege of designing and overseeing the production of the exhibition Charting the Chesapeake 1590-1990. It contained scores of original charts from the Morrison Collection. It is now permanently housed in the Maryland Hall of Records. Two years ago I was again fortunate to design and produce the current map and chart exhibit Five Centuries of Our Coast for the St. Augustine Historical Society. Many of the charts can be seen here.

Charting the Chesapeake, first installation, Calvert Marine Museum, 1990

More recently I finished reading On the Map by Simon Garfield. I highly recommend it for he wittingly demonstrates through maps how history was and continues to be shaped by politics, greed, self expression and technology. Hopefully in paperback soon.

So, I'm off to find a haircut in Richmond. My first here. Does anyone have a map?

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