I am a grandmother paddling alone over 2,500 miles from Maine to Guatemala. Along the way I will be:
- telling the story of the children who live in the Guatemala City garbage dump community
- honoring their entrepreneurial mothers
- talking about the success of the Safe Passage model school and
- raising funds for additional grades for the school.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Paddle Day 7: Solving Navigation Problems

Hilleberg tent is a comfy home on Trott Island
This day provided some nice learning opportunities with navigation.

The tide was dropping as I left my two nights of camping on Trott.  I had a nice small current as I headed to Wells, ME.  One thing I had learned, from email from a Rotarian in Wells, was to use the harbormasters.  On previous expeditions I was in the wilds and not pulling into unknown harbors.  From my Maptech Cruising Guides I learned that Wells Harbor is one of the trickiest harbors to enter in Maine.  So I called up the harbormaster, and received wonderful detailed instructions on the best way to enter to minimize the surf breaking over the sandbar at the harbor entrance.  They even offered to bring out a boat to pick me up and bring me through.  What service!

Fortunately it was a clear day, so it was easy to navigate using my chart and compass.  Except... the compass was acting odd.  I had lots of time to ponder the problem as I paddled along noticing the discrepancy between the heading I expected from looking at the chart and landmarks along the coast was quite different from the compass reading.  Aha!! I realized the problem.  The compass was almost directly over the big dry box that holds my two huge power bricks and spare batteries.  That was probably the problem.  I should have remembered to check the compass location in advance like I do on my solo Arctic expeditions.

The charts I have for this area are not very detailed, so I was not overly confident about the location of Wells Harbor.   But I had the Garmin mapping GPS to use to give me an exact read on my location and the harbor location...until the batteries ran out.  I have spare batteries in my day hatch, but changing them when on the water with salt water all around is not my favorite activity.  I've had lots of experience with navigational electronics failing due to salt water or low batteries, so I don't rely on them, and always have paper charts on deck.

This time I just listened for the bell buoy to locate Wells Harbor.  It turned out to be a very low surf day, so there were only one or two moments of excitement on entering the harbor, and paddling against the current to the town dock.  The harbormaster was disappointed I hadn't called him to bring me in.  They have a web cam and lots of folks were watching me enter.  Then everyone wanted their picture taken with me.  My Rotarian hosts invited me for a great lunch at a new restaurant right at the dock.  I wasn't sure if a smelly wetsuit would satisfy the dress-code.  They did seat us in a far corner.   But then kept bringing over folks to meet me.  Another first - restaurant dining in a wetsuit while signing autographs.

At the end of the day I realized that the Maptech Chartbooks probably had more detailed maps of this section of the coast, and asked my husband to mail them to me in Portsmouth.

Navigational learnings: Move the compass away from large batteries!  Don't save weight by not bringing the best charts!  Check the batteries in navigational electronics every day!  And the best one, use the friendly harbormasters!

Paddle Day: 7                                                     Date: July 20, 2014
Start: Trott  Island                                               End: Wells
Distance: 9.02 miles                                           Total distance: 65.02
Max speed: 5.1 mph                                           Moving ave.: ? mph
Kayak storage: Wells Rotary Club                     Hosts: Wells Rotary Club

1 comment:

  1. Dear Deb, greetings from rainy Costa Rica! I just recently discover you and your expedition online and I’m guessing I’ll become your partner kayaker (from a little distance away). My name is Esteban, born and raised in Costa Rica and big time kayak lover. Your idea of paddling long distances for such a cause really have inspired me to continue pursuing some dreams of my own that pretty much are going the same way as yours!
    I’m starting the planning stage of my first official solo trip and would love to get some advice from the pros (you!). My e-mail is pizotedetierra@yahoo.com and if you don’t mind I’ll like to share some ideas with you and find out what you think about them!
    Best regards to you and your project and remember: for best results…water daily! :-)

    Esteban Ericksen