Off-season Charting

As I sit down and gaze at the nautical charts, GPS maps, and guide books for various ports I am warmed by thoughts of exploration for the summer of 2010.  Even though my body is in our home office on this cold January day, my spirit is sailing throughout the blue waters of northern Lake Michigan.  Who says you've got to head south to get to the islands?  We've got North and South Manitou, North and South Fox, Beaver, Garden, Hog, High, Gull, Washington, St. Martin, Horseshoe, Poverty, Summer, St. Helena and Mackinac Islands all plugged into the waypoint list on our GPS.  It's a special feeling for an islomaniac (one who has an irresistible attraction to islands) to know that s/v Island Bound will be living up to her name in the near future.

We've found a couple of websites that have been very useful in the charting/planning stages of our Lake Michigan cruise. 

1) OpenCPN - Awesome free software to convert your laptop into a GPS chartplotter.

2) NOAA Nautical Charts - Great for desktop cruising, planning and some printing.

3) NOAA BookletCharts for the Great Lakes - Excellent for printing your own charts in 8.5" x 11" booklet format.

4) Lake Michigan Waypoints - Perfect for updating your GPS with common waypoints while at home.

5) Distances Between Lake Michigan Ports - Nice, quick tool from gosail.com

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