By: Captain Bill Jennings
It can be very difficult for boaters to follow most verbal directions to a shoreline location. Directions that seem simple enough can leave you searching in vain for a structure that matches the information you were given. We've all been told, "You can't miss it. Our cottage is the brown one just past Lookout Island." To avoid giving directions that involve a marathon search, here is a simple trick to develop an easy and accurate statement as to how visitors can easily find their way by boat to the destination you want to give them.
1) Open a nautical chart on which your cottage or destination is located.
2) Identify a specific object or marker buoy that is shown on the chart, directly offshore from your cottage. The closer, the better.
3) Using a hand compass, note the magnetic heading from the chosen object or marker buoy on the chart directly to your cottage.
4) Write a brief description of your cottage or destination that includes at least one identifying feature.
5) Save this description to supply simple directions to other boaters who may be coming to your cottage or destination.
Here is an example of how your directions should read:
"From marker #93 on the north side of 'Two Tree Island', follow a magnetic compass heading of 47 degrees, and this heading will take you directly to our blue cottage with red trim."
With these directions, a first time visitor can boat to an easily recognizable spot on their chart or GPS, then turn onto the magnetic heading provided, to end up at the desired location.
This procedure comes with added benefits. It gives boaters an additional good reason to carry a compass on their boat and it can also help you find your own cottage at night or in a fog.