Now that the Great Lakes sailing season has come to an end, we've been spending some time geocaching as a family. If you don't know what geocaching is, read on. If you do know what geocaching is, read on to find out how it's useful for sailors.
Geocaching is quite simply a world-wide treasure hunt using a handheld GPS unit to located treasures (caches) that random people have placed in hidden locations all over the earth. You simply log in to the geocaching website and find the coordinates for caches that are near your location or near a location you plan to visit. Then you plug the coordinates into your GPS and away you go! The GPS will only get you so close. You'll need the inquisitive mind of a child to find many of the treasures. Sometimes they are buried, sometimes they're in a tree, sometimes they're disguised. Most are held in watertight containers and have a logbook. The general rule is that you should leave something better than you take from the container.
On one of our geocaching excursions this fall to Pickeral Lake Park we saw a possum playing possum in its' den, bats in bat boxes high in the trees, and many trees that have fallen prey to the local beavers! We've found that geocaching provides us with many benefits: family time outdoors, hikes to new locations, and fine tuning of our GPS and route finding skills. Bonding, fitness and navigational competence are all great assets for the crew of a sailing vessel!