Friday, December 18, 2009

GPS As A Verb

It was the dis-connect between my charts and what I could see around me while paddling on Georgian Bay a couple of years ago that finally pushed me to buy a GPS unit. A year later, I bravely headed out once again on Georgian Bay, this time from Honey Harbour. Within a half hour I was lost once again! How could this happen, especially now I was equipped with both charts AND a GPS unit?

The fact of the matter was that I wasn't using the GPS enough to really learn - and remember - how the thing worked. Once out on the water, I found myself scrambling to recall which button did what and how to apply it to my situation. I realised that I needed to find an interesting way to practice using the device so that these situations didn't recur, but what?

Accidentally discovering a 'geocache' this past summer in Newfoundland has proven to be my key. Eager to learn more about what I had found, I joined the geocache internet site and, as I've reported on other posts, am now a geocache addict. In the process, most of the mysteries of using a GPS device have now disappeared. I feel much more comfortable and confident using it while paddling. In fact, I can't wait to head somewhere warm this winter to begin geocaching and exploring while kayaking in ernest.


jemswillam's Blog said...

I dont like the GPS device which is
used in this picture, it is very old
and has limited features and even it
doesnt have wifi option.
Mio Navman M300

Silbs said...

Good points, and they apply to all equipment and techniques. Don't practice it, especially in conditions and it won't be there when you need it. Let us know where somewhere warm turns out to be.

SandyBottom said...

I remember once during a WaterTribe challenge calling my husband very late one evening and telling him I was sure I was lost. Neither my predicted location on the chart nor the location shown on the GPS was correct. He kept telling me “to trust the GPS”.

Another challenger once told me that he and his partner (in a double) couldn’t believe how one night they too were questioning their location, they couldn’t believe that both their 2 compasses and their GPS could all have all broken at the same time :)

Michael said...

Good comments! I don't get lost anymore using my GPS, but I know places where it simply doesn't work. For example, I have yet to locate a geocache in a nearby village because the GPS will not work there in spite of repeated attempts. Very odd. I can only assume the place is harbouring some Klingons or other off-worlders.

Bursledon Blogger said...

good post - practice makes perfect, but even after all these years I still only use the GPS as well as chart compass. Recently we were out in rough conditions fortunately in an area we know very very well - good job because none of us had our glasses and couldn't read the display!!

Lee said...

Little game I play is trying to guess my excact distance traveled (to the meter)with my amount of paddle strokes, then confirm with the GPS when I think I have reached 100m etc. The skill comes in handy navigating in thick fog with a compass,knowing your strokes per 100m allows you to be pretty bang on with a compass...not to mention the GPS will have issues with fog sometimes.

Makes for a good game during long boring open water crossings!