When the charts don’t work!

Sailing in the Anambas is beautiful…but a little difficult sometimes. Our electronic charts were out to a dangerous level, so the only way we could get into anchorages was with the help of good old Google Earth and the sailor’s most basic equipment: your eyes.

But once you get in among the bommies, shelves and drop-offs charts, aren’t really much use. The only hope you have of finding a safe place is to have someone up high spotting through polarised sunglasses while the other person steers. We usually take it in turns. We have anchored along the coral-fringed western side of the Red Sea from Egypt, through Sudan and Eritrea as well as among the thousand miles of bommie-strewn tiny dots in the Maldives. During our trip south through the Red Sea in 2010 Jamie cached Google Earth images of all the likely places we planned to anchor. By using the images and eye-balling the pathways we were able to get deep inside the narrow ‘marsas’ which drive into the desert there. In Pendjalin, one of the northernmost groups of the Anambas, we had the sun behind us, but with the shadows and ripples on the water we were seeing no more than about 5 metres in front of us. It was odd and disconcerting.

SY Esper’s B&G system uses Navionics, and we have the app versions on our phones. But in the Anambas we used Navionics only for the broader picture, and when we were clear of the islands. This is because it is out longitudinally by a few hundred meters meaning east to west is dangerously wrong. We informed them of this, and hope that changes have been made. Once closer to shore we used GPS with Ovital maps, as well as the Offline Maps app with ESRI map data. The latter is excellent because it allowed us to whack up the contrast to see the reefs clearly, and makes it easier than Ovital to read in blistering sunlight. We have an iPad which we don’t use often, but after leaving the Anambas and finding some decent kind of internet I downloaded iSailor which seemed very good.

The episode on our sailing channel where we discovered Ladan, an uncharted town, is a great example of what we mean. You can see the whole video by clicking the image below:


🗺 3°19’42.5″N 106°18’23.5″E

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