But there is no replacement for having detailed, precise information on what's ahead of you in the water.
Yet dragging out an armload of charts to find your way for the next trip is not just inconvenient and time-consuming, but darn hard to pack with you.
MapTech, the computer mapping folks who have given us a wealth of digital mapping tools, have put more information on boaters hands.
This year MapTech released a complete set of U.S. Boating Chart, including detailed navigational maps on just about every stretch of U.S. waters deep enough to wet a sponge.
I've been playing with a sample copy, touring SE Alaska on my PC. And have been darn impressed.
The digital package loads easily on your PC, without extra software and allows you to both search and print maps in as much or little detail as you like.
I printed a half dozen maps in a few minutes, both zooming in and out of the
While the software includes a disclaimer that the charts should not be used for navigation purposes, we found them highly accurate for local waters.
And while we will spend most of our time on Southeast Alaska waters, it's certainly nice to be able to take a digital, virtual tour anywhere in the U.S., which this software allows you to do.
For more information go online at www.maptech.com.