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Tripppin In The Bahamas – Technology Is Overrated

December 31, 2012

A continuation from my earlier post, http://wp.me/pKtoE-aG.

b bank map
Notice the pole is missing from the channel entrance and both sides are marked with a + meaning rocks

West End was a welcome sight, but I knew that we had our work cut out for us by navigating the shallow waters. Lane and I were not new to coastal navigation, but we’d never been to the Bahamas before. I’d read every book, blog, story and napkin with any type of navigation advice on it, and I knew this would be tough. We overshot the entrance to the Bahama Bank by a mile or so due to the storm and the Gulf Stream pushing us north. I looked at the GPS and to my chagrin it wasn’t much help as the software was a few years out of date. Nothing like having $12k dollars of GPS equipment rendered useless because my dumbass didn’t spend $100 on software. I wanted to punch myself in the face… don’t worry, I didn’t. We did what any smart person would have done. We went slow and pulled out the binoculars.

bahama bank

Yes, here we are with three GPS screens, a heap of technology and we’re using $44 binoculars from Bass Pro Shop. The markers weren’t present where they should have been, and nothing seemed to line up. Couple that with the amazingly clear water of the Bahamas and you’re in a constant state of an early-onset heart attack thinking you’re in 2 feet of water. It was then that I resorted to the books. That’s right; in all of my worrying and planning I managed to buy the one single critical piece of technology this entire trip now rested on. Yes, I pulled out a book, but not just any book. It was more like a Bible for those looking to get to the Abacos by boat. The Cruising Guide to Abaco has long been hailed as a “must have” for people like us trying to make the run to the islands. I managed to pick up a copy on Amazon before we’d left, and it proved to be more valuable than any piece of equipment we purchased.

After reading a few of the pages we came to realize that we aren’t seeing markers because they are no longer there. The hurricanes of years past had long sense taken out any markers that we could have used to navigate the shallow shoals. Freaking perfect! We made it, and now we’re going to run the damn boat up on some rocks because we’re incompetent.

Keep in mind that this trip was made in a boat that has more technology than most people’s homes, and Lane and I were fully versed in the methods of navigating by GPS, a compass and even stars. But this was something all together different. We’d never been in unfamiliar waters with a book and a compass to help us navigate the remaining 5 hours of the trip. But guess who had? My Dad. He doodled around a bit, came back, took a look at the book and said, “we’ll use dead reckoning to get us there”. Lane and I looked at him like we’d just seen a ghost. The thought that he honestly expected us to use an eight-trillion year old method of navigation to get us to the Abacos was crazy. The only problem is that we didn’t have a better idea, and we had to get to the house before dark or we were going to be in serious trouble. We backed away from West End a few miles to get our bearings and headed for what we thought was the entrance to the channel. Keep in mind that 20 feet to either side were rocks that sat in less than two feet of water. Due to the water clarity and the time of day you couldn’t really tell where deep water started or stopped. We were heading in with blind faith, and a compass heading.

What’s left of a well-worn Abaco Guide book
abaco book

You can find the next part of the journey here, http://wp.me/pKtoE-b6.

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