It’s been said that once we learn to ride a two-wheeled bicycle we always remember how to ride. Granted aging or an injury may impact our balance. For the most part, though, we push off with one foot, press down on the opposing pedal, and with both hands on the handle bars swish on down the road. Depending on the bicycle we may need a refresher on how the gearing and brakes work. Likewise, my return to chart reading this evening needed a review.   

           For some of you that might seem trite. For me, approaching age 71, I questioned my memory. It has been four years since I last read a chart. At that time, I was embarking on a familiar coastal course. Respecting my crew I relied on my them to compare the paper chart with the GPS. It was at least five years ago when I set a new course for a safe harbor I had never been to before.  

            With this self-proclaimed vote of confidence, I refreshed my plotting skills by setting a course from Ft.  Lauderdale to St. Lucie Inlet and then one to West End. There is no doubt, now, that charting courses for places far and wide will be a cinch.  So it is, than, that in 20 days Sass Sea and I will head for the boat yard to restore her to the structurally sound vessel she once was. 

Now, in addition to knowing longitude and latitude I need to pay more attention to soundings. My previous shallow draft multihulls needed 2.5 feet below the keel. Sass Sea, my CSY 33, needs 6 feet of water to stay afloat. 

Reminding myself of the bicycle riding adage provided confidence as I plotted the first course for my recently purchased CSY 33. I reminded myself of plotting a course from Cape Canaveral to Sandy Hook, New Jersey. With the help of my crew, Maryanne, we than navigated our way to Bermuda. A year or so later I figured out how to sail throughout the Bahamas and on to the Dominican Republic.

“Hell,” the voice inside my head blurted out, “if I could chart those courses and get back on a bicycle, I will do an even better job sailing on to foreign ports.”