Virtual Buddy Boat

In the course of our cruising on Brilliant Star, we have “buddy boated” twice. Once some ICW newbies wanted help with the trickier parts of the ICW between Brunswick, GA and St Augustine, FL. The second time, a boat had had a chart plotter screen failure and asked if we could be their pathfinder from Great Sale Cay to Spanish Cay by the southern route. The skipper found his iPad completely unacceptable for serious navigation.

So you might infer that buddy boating is something we don’t much care for, but in reality all cruising guides are a form of collective buddy boating. Someone has been there and done that – and in some cases suffered the slings and arrows so the rest of us might not have to.

This morning while checking out some long used navigation software* which I had relegated to planning only because the computer it is on is only viewable below decks, I had an epiphany (I know, wrong liturgical season). This software displays online satellite imagery calibrated as charts. I set the track length for AIS targets to long enough to be a real hairball on screen and long enough to show me the precise path a 52 foot sailboat had used to enter Hope Town via the doglegged deep water route at high tide. “Eureka,” the G[r]eek part of my brain exclaimed! This is an unmarked route among shallow coral heads and reefs where one follows a series of imagined/visualized ranges to reach the buoyed part of the channel.hoptwn2

I laid a set of waypoints down along this boat’s track and, Bingo, I had a real, up to date, virtual buddy boat ahead of us for tracking along this route. Will we use the waypoints as such? No, we’ll just use them to cross-check those ranges…

But now I’m wondering about the route east of Lubber’s Quarters…

*OziExplorer is a constantly developed product by Des Newman of Australia. I started using it ages ago and find it meets our needs in more ways than I imagined. More on that in a day or so.

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