Somehow I'm not too surprised at one of the newsbites that came in earlier today. It seems that the results of a survey conducted recently by the Alliance for Safe Navigation has discovered that most of us are terrible at keeping our charts up to date. The survey found that 64% of the respondents are not concerned enough about their navigational aids to make needed updates.
Further the survey disclosed that 79% of boaters fail to track US Coast Guard updates as found in regionally avaliable Notice to Mariners documents.
As I think of some of the areas I've cruised here in the US, today's revelations are particularly scary to me.
I'm thinking about the Outer Banks here. Lots of moving sandbars and super shallow water. The Florida Keys? Same thing. Were I live in New England we don't have as many sandbars, but we have some really big rocks, and by the way they don't move much if somebody hits them with their boat. The rock usually wins that encounter. I just came back from a cruise in the San Juan Islands in Washington state. More big rocks.
The bottom line here is that one of the fears I talked about in a recent interview Soundings Magazine did with me seems to be totally supported by this survey. The fear I expressed was that too many boaters today rely way too much on their electronics to tell them everything. But remember folks this stuff is only as good as the latest update for the electronic charts. Even then, things go on in between updates that you need to be aware of. Aids to navigation move, fishing gear gets relocated, sandbars shift location... all nice to know items. How can you find out? Its easy, simply go to the USCG Navigation web site and download the latest Notice to Mariners before you head out on your next trip. The web address: http://www.navcen.uscg.gov/ Do it now, before you have to make friends with your local SeaTow or Boat US salvage operator....