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Practical Chart Prep and Trip Planning: Casco Bay and Marblehead

NSPN Calendar
Dan Foster

Event details

Two of NSPN's most popular annual trips are the Jewell Island (Casco Bay) camping trip in mid-May, and the Solstice paddle out of Marblehead in late June. Each location offers multiple destinations and activities, so there's always a trip option depending on your skill level, preferences for distance, and that day's tide and wind direction.

Having a well-prepared nautical chart and an equally well-prepared plan for your trip are key skills every sea kayaker should develop. These two locations in particular (Casco Bay and Marblehead) are full of destinations that NSPN paddlers return to over and over again, and it makes sense to invest some time getting to know them and getting them set up to suit your paddling needs.

Join us at REI in Reading on Saturday, May 11, from 2-6PM (with social dinner at a restaurant or a nearby park to follow) for an interactive, hands-on afternoon of chart prep, chart reading skills, and planning some actual trips based on the upcoming Jewell and Solstice paddles. If you're attending the Jewell camping trip, you and your fellow paddlers can go over the exact route you'll take to Jewell the following week, and sketch out a few proposals for possible excursions from the island. If you're not going to Jewell, you can work on plans for a paddle in Casco Bay or out of Marblehead, or simply go through the planning process to learn more about these two paddling destinations.

Paddlers at every level are invited to attend, and newer members are especially welcome. Even if you never intend to lead or navigate on an NSPN trip, you'll come away with a marked-up chart that you can follow along with, and you'll get a better understanding of the factors that go into choosing a particular route on any given day. More experienced navigators are invited to help with the chart prep work, to contribute to the development of route plans based on weather and tide, and to help answer questions about the upcoming paddles.


You are required to bring: pen, paper, and a chart of Casco Bay and/or a chart of Marblehead and Salem Sound. (Contact me at least a week before the workshop if you need help getting a chart)

Bring the following optional goodies if you have them:

 - various colored pens, pencils, highlighters

 - something with a long, straight edge for drawing straight magnetic north lines on your chart. (ruler, yardstick, scrap aluminum bar, etc)

 - something to measure angles (protractor, hiking compass, small craft nav aid)

 - MITA guidebook (for locating Casco Bay destinations)


There will be some homework (initial map prep you can do at home) so we can dive into chart reading, final chart prep, and trip planning.

You can click the Attending button on the Calendar posting to let others know you'll be there, but I'd also very much appreciate an RSVP reply in the Trips forum posting with the following info: 

- Which chart will you bring (or need)?

 - Are you going to Jewell this year? (if so, where are you launching from and on what day?)

 - Are you thinking about going to the Solstice paddle in late June?

 - Joining us afterwards for dinner and more social trip planning? (prefer outdoors or restaurant?)


Link to Trips forum for RSVP: 



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