With less then 17 days before we start our expedition, the lads are busy preparing, including poring over our custom life size topo-chart! Since it’s over 8 feet long we can visualize every bay and cove for the entire expedition on a single map, which is pretty neat. Kiwi, a cartographer when not paddling has merged both topos, and relevant nautical chart info including depth soundings, and bathymetric contours onto a single map (kind of a Doctor Jekyll & Mr. Hyde map, sea vs. land!).
The topographic info really helps us select good campsites and prepares us for landing, and pre-planning- identifying good emergency take-outs and optimal beach survey locations. The depth soundings, and underwater contours usually only found on nautical charts give us much needed info on the shape and depth of the ocean floor – shallow depressions tell us the mighty Pacific swell could be cresting and breaking often several miles from shore on shallow reefs, and these may be areas we want to avoid.
Other info on our custom map include satellite data showing kelp bed clusters – these areas usually indicate calmer non-breaking swells, and kayakers can take a break and plan to paddle along the edge of kelp beds and skirt around headlands. Perhaps the most important information plotted on our maps for our project, are the scientific patterns of shoreline drift, shown as arrows on our map pointing in the direction of prevailing drift. Some of the beaches will scatter and dump debris from both clockwise and counter clockwise directions, and these hot spots or divergent zones are also marked, and mark ideal locations for our tsunami debris surveys.
In addition to our old school hard copy life size map, we are bringing along a digital geo-referenced PDF version of the map on two ipads. This allows us to zoom into the map, and record points, photos, and notes where our surveys were undertaken, using the Avenza pdf app for ipad. With a GPS app we can also collect our track, and waypoints and know our latitude and longitude immediately. Despite already paddling a good deal of this coastline before, we are still literally drooling over the map, and can’t wait to push off from shore and explore this untouched roadless coast. No excuses now for getting lost!