Sailing the Seven Seas

PatiCat Voyage 440 at anchorA couple of years ago we took a sabbatical and sailed our catamaran PatiCat from the US to Bermuda, down through the Caribbean islands, back through the Bahamas, and finally back to the US. This was the realization of a life-long dream. While on the trip, we documented our journey through a web site with lots of photos and stories. I had generated some maps showing various parts of our passages, but I always felt it was an inadequate way to demonstrate where we were. That remained true until Google Earth came out.


Track of Sailing passage in catamaran and anchorages in Caribbean and Bahamas and Bermuda in Google EarthAlthough we had GPS and electronic charts for navigation, I regretfully did not have a direct interface to my onboard computers to record our exact paths. So, for the past several weeks I have been spending a little time each day recreating our passages and anchorages using our logs, journals, and Google Earth Plus. (Notice to Mariners: do NOT use my data for navigation purposes as it is only approximate and not based on navigational charts – just satellite photos). It’s still not a completed work (I haven’t finished the passages on the way back), but its close enough for sharing.
Once you’ve loaded my Google Earth PatiCat file , you will see that each passage is a different color (only a few of the passages are multiple day passages – like out to Bermuda). The interesting thing about this work is that I have created links and information for the anchorages to web pages at our PatiCat web site, which describe our visit there or even interesting details about the anchorages and what to do nearby. So, in effect, its like a Google Earth cruiser’s guide for the areas we sailed in the Caribbean, Bahamas, and Bermuda. It is deceptive how much information is here (for example, zoom in on Beaufort, NC to see how we left the fuel dock and transited the waterways to the sea. I would love to hear from other sailors who are using Google Earth, or from anyone who thinks this is interesting.
You can visit our PatiCat web site at: www.paticat.com to read the whole story. We sold the boat a few months after we returned in order to return to normal life. My wife and I plan to buy a new boat in a few years (after the kids move out) and do a circumnavigation. Next time we will use Google Earth (or its successor) to more accurately document our trip. We may still not cover seven seas, but it will still be another adventure!
Footnote: the long purple line from Cape Town is when our boat was delivered from South Africa to the BVIs (I hired a delivery captain for this and chose not to go with him even though it only took 31 days – which is fast for a sailboat that used practically no motor time during a passage of 5700 nautical miles).

About Frank Taylor

Frank Taylor started the Google Earth Blog in July, 2005 shortly after Google Earth was released. He worked in 3D graphics for many years and was very impressed with this exciting product. Frank left in 2009 to circumnavigate the earth by sailboat as part of the Tahina Expedition.



Comments

  1. You’ve done a great job.
    It will take me weeks to explore the Carribean
    thanks to you and Google Earth.
    All we need now is for someone to come up with
    a plug-in, so we can use a GPS simulator for
    passage planning etc.
    Excellent!

  2. Thanks for the nice words Bill. It has certainly been a lot of work, but a labor of love. Our sailing adventures were some of the best experiences of my life. And I long for the sea again.
    You could easily use Google Earth already to do basic deep blue-water passage planning. But, I would still encourage the use of real navigation software and authentic charts for actual navigation planning. And, I would suggest something like Visual Passage Planner for passage planning with electronic pilot charts/weather data.
    I think as more cruisers put their favorite anchorages into Google Earth, sailors will find a lot more interesting places more quickly than ever before.

  3. I agree about the need for proper navigational charts, although as you know
    all navigational charts can be overlayed precisely on Google Earth.
    I’ve just found a utility at http://web.295.ca/gpz550/OziToGoogleEarth/
    which converts OziExplorer tracks and waypoints to KMZ files.
    This means you can plan your trip using navigational charts in OziExplorer
    to take account of navigational objects like rocks, buoys, depths etc.
    or other things that get in the way of boats and then convert the tracks
    accurately to Google Earth.
    Then replay in glorious 3d.

  4. This is a fantastic job youve done, well done!
    Allthough a frequent visitor to the Caribbean, have not had the pleasure of sailing round it, but your GE chart and accompanying web page for PatiCat certainly brings it all together, keep upt the good work (allthough think pleasure is a better word than work!)

  5. Hi Frank, this is really awesome, good job and thanks for the info. Take care
    Sid and Manuela in and on Paradise

  6. Great job, I can’t wait untl I get to see it all with my own eyes.
    Matt
    S/V Vagans

  7. Very impressive.
    You did exactly what I was dreaming of.
    Maybe the day comes when the children are older…
    A bit envious
    Volker

  8. Normand Chevrier says:

    This is a fantastic work. We did a similar trip with my family in the mid 70. You give us idea to redo the trip form our departure point Lac St-Jean, QC Canada to the Bahamas and return. It will be a nice present for the children who remenber and the one to young who did not remember.(Child age 5y, 3 and 11 months)
    Excellent idea,
    Thank

  9. SailBlogs.com also has a feed with quite a few blogging sailors as well. The google earth feed shows the current position of their boat along with a quick link to their latest blog entry. Google earth is great for sailors!

  10. Thanks for turning me on to this wonderful tool.
    I found that Garmin can save GPS tracks as GPX files and Google Earth can read those directly. Hence I’ve been able to load all of my tracks for the past couple of years into Google Earth files (KMZ).
    Now I’m going to link the anchorages/marinas along my routes to my log as they exist on my current web pages and I should have a very nice feature for people who have downloaded Google Earth.
    Thanks again.
    Fair Winds (or Clean Fuel)

  11. You did a awesome job, thanks for sharing this great info with us. God bless you, keep it up the good work.

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