BACK in 1992, local boating celebrity Ken Brown teamed up with his cartographer friend George Daniels to create the Beacon to Beacon Directory, a convenient street directory-style book containing boating maps to navigate the many waterways of southeast Queensland.
The famous ‘pink line’ was a unique feature introduced to these boating maps to quickly show a skipper on which side of a beacon to pass – invaluable information, particularly when new to an area or when the direction of ‘port’ is unclear.
After several editions of the Beacon to Beacon Directory were published, the senior cartographer retired and Maritime Safety Queensland took over the publication due to its popularity with the boating public.
And now after almost 24 years, the Beacon to Beacon remains a best seller, partly due to its book format that makes it convenient for watercraft without large chart tables.
The latest Beacon to Beacon Guides contain 132 charts ranging from Yeppoon near Rockhampton south to Tweed Heads.
Apart from navigation marks, the guides also show depth contours, anchorages, marine national parks and go-slow zones, boat ramps and major road names, restricted speed zones, mangrove areas, sandbanks, reefs, sunken wrecks and bridge clearance heights.
Designated coastal bars are indicated on the maps, and in these locations it is compulsory to wear a lifejacket when crossing the bar in an open boat less than 4.8m in length.
The flash rhythm of lit navigation marks are indicated next to each lit mark, using abbreviations such as Fl R 2.5s (meaning flashing red every 2.5 seconds).
This is essential information to the skipper when boating at night, especially when approaching a cluster of marks and the next mark needs to be identified as quickly as possible.
Every map also shows the contact details of the nearest volunteer marine rescue organisation, including hours of operation, telephone number and marine radio frequencies monitored in the 27MHz, VHF and MF/HF bands.
A scale bar showing nautical miles and kilometres on the maps makes fuel consumption calculations or trip duration estimations easy. Latitudes and longitudes are on every map, allowing you to cross reference your GPS position straight onto the charts.
Some may argue with the advent of GPS chartplotters and mobile phone navigation software that paper charts aren’t required nowadays. Mobile phones aren’t designed to get wet, their screens aren’t sunlight viewable and their batteries go flat quickly, especially in areas of poor coverage.
And many boaties drop their phones overboard or have them become unworkable due to water damage.
GPS chartplotters are great tools to have on board, however their charts are only as good as the last time you upgraded them on the SD card. And it only takes an electrical fault, water ingress, a loose wire, flat battery, corroded connector or blown fuse to render your GPS chartplotter useless and your vessel placed in potential danger. An up-to-date paper chart and liquid-damped compass are virtually failsafe navigation tools.
Another advantage of paper charts such as the Beacon to Beacon Guides is you can plan your next fishing adventure or the route for your next cruise from the coffee table in the comfort of your own home.
This avoids the need to sit in your trailer boat on the driveway or make a trip down to your marina berth, staring at a GPS chartplotter or electronic device for hours on end.
Spiral-bound hardcopies of the guides in a plastic sleeve can be bought at marinas, chandleries and bait and tackle shops in southeast Queensland, as well as some interstate chart shops and marinas.
To find your nearest retailer, email email@example.com or phone 07 5577 1516.