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Plan The Perfect Sailboat Cruise

Mar 17, 2008
Sailboat living is for the entire family. And the most popular of all family boating sports is cruising. This may range anywhere from a few hours' trip to a week or more.

When cruising, the size of your boat has nothing to do with the amount of fun you and your family can have. Even small open prams have a world of possibilities for young fellows who don't mind roughing it a bit. Many teenagers have cruised for hundreds of miles along sheltered waterways, sleeping under a cockpit tent and cooking their chow on the beach.

However, less ambitious cruises in one-designers can be just as much fun, especially with a craft that's light enough for trailer carrying. With an outfit such as this, you can drive to your favorite cruising area, launch the boat, and spend as much time as you like aboard.

When your week-end or vacation is almost over, it's a simple matter to put the boat on the trailer and take it back home or moor it locally until you get away again. By doing your cruising in installments like this, you can extend your range and visit places that would normally be inaccessible.

Piloting Your Sailboat

Whether you are going out for a short cruise or for weeks, you must be able to pilot or navigate your craft toward your destination. To help you in this task, nautical charts of the area where you are sailing are almost a "must." These are available from United States Coast and Geodetic Survey Office, Washington 25, D. C, or from one of its local offices, or at some fishing tackle, boat, and map stores.

On a typical chart, every little indentation and point is clearly marked. Each reef, rock, or other obstruction is marked. On shore, the contours of hills and such landmarks as church steeples, factory smokestacks, towers, and water tanks are clearly shown for a distance of a mile or so from the waterfront. Each buoy and light is clearly marked in its exact location, and alongside it are its number and type.

Dangerous and restricted areas are clearly indicated, and any notes of caution should be observed. The charts give you the exact depth of water, usually at mean low tide, in feet or sometimes in fathoms.

You will also find a gridwork of vertical and horizontal lines over the surface of the chart. The vertical lines are the meridians of longitude, and the horizontal lines are the parallels of latitude. These lines run true north and south and true east and west. The scale of latitude indicated along the vertical edges of the chart can be used as a scale of distance in miles, as well as the scale of miles indicated near the title block.

One minute of latitude equals one nautical mile. The horizontal scale (longitude) can't be used to measure distance, as it won't give an accurate reading, except at the equator, because of the way the charts are made.

In addition, compass roses appear at intervals over the chart. The outer rose is aligned with the north and south, east and west grid-work of the chart. This compass rose is. used for measuring and laying off a course and bearings referring to true north. Every sailboat that is going to be used for cruising should be equipped with a good marine compass.

It's a good idea to purchase your charts early in the season. Spend a few evenings going over them carefully you'll be entertained as well as being educated. Then, when you go out in your sailboat, take them with you and check the various buoys, landmarks, and lights. In a short time you'll become as proficient at piloting as if you had been born and raised on local waters, and you'll be able to pilot; your craft with absolute safety and confidence.

You and your family will enjoy a wonderful cruise, if you are well-prepared
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