The Bad Elf Goes Fishing

by john July 09, 2011 2 Comments

[caption id="attachment_2065" align="alignright" width="150" caption="New England Morning Fog"][/caption]

We took Navimatics Charts & Tides, a WiFi iPad, and our Bad Elf GPS out fishing in Long Island Sound. Whether you compare it to peanut butter or pea soup, the fog we faced that morning was daunting though not unusual for a New England morning. We were at the dock at 5:30AM, iPad and Bad Elf GPS in hand, to make a typical run out to the Race, a shallower area of Long Island Sound where the currents are particularly strong and the fish love to feed. The boat we were fishing from is a 33 foot Grady White with plenty of electronics, so we had a baseline to compare our trial run with Navimatics Charts & Tides East Coast Edition. The night before the trip, I registered at Active Captain and downloaded their database of marine landmarks and points of interest to augment the Charts & Tides data by using the preferences setting that allowed me to link the account within the Charts & Tides app. This was pretty convenient, since selecting an icon on the map would pop up a list of data relevant to that point of interest and allow me to drill down to get more details.
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As we were working our way through the fog and the Niantic River to more open waters, I selected a waypoint at Bartlett's Reef and set the course on my iPad. We compared our heading, speed, and depth with what the shipboard equipment was reading and the readings were nearly identical. We couldn't focus solely on reading the iPad, because the fog was thick and our radar was telling us that there were several other boats within range. We were not at all sure that every other boat had the same equipment and on more than one occasion, boats popped out of the fog at speed and surprised everyone involved at least a little bit. Nonetheless, we made our way through Bartlett's and out to the Race, which was relatively calm.

[caption id="attachment_2082" align="alignright" width="150" caption="The Sea Birds"][/caption]

While we made our way out there, I checked out the tides information and found the sinusoidal wave immensely satisfying as a representation of the tide levels throughout the day. I confess to being one of those engineers that actually enjoyed ordinary and partial differential equations and even Laplace and Fourier transforms. The simplicity and clarity of the high and low tides shown in these charts was comfortable and intuitive.  We heard a flock of sea birds dive bombing somewhere out in the fog and moved slowly toward the sounds, finally seeing them appear through the mist. With the number and activity of the birds, we were pretty certain that we would be reeling in some bluefish or striped bass in a matter of minutes.  But for animals with such small brains, those fish managed to make us look stupid for the next two hours. We tried a variety of lures while casting and ultimately threw out a trolling line with an umbrella rig once the birds had moved beyond our ability to track them in the thick fog.

To the Race and Back

As we made our way back to the docks, the fog was burning off and the sun was peaking through. This gave us a chance to reflect on the morning's fishless outing. This wasn't the first time we'd gone fishing and come back without catching anything. But the trip was rewarding, because we had a chance to give Charts & Tides a trial run on the WiFi iPad with our Bad Elf GPS plugged in for the duration. As the chart below shows, we had a very interesting course as we tried to hook something that morning. I think we'll need to try once again.

"Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after."

Henry David Thoreau



2 Responses

Scott Stiens
Scott Stiens

July 11, 2011

This is awsome, I have the same intended use, but have iNavX installed for my boating charts. I will load the tools you used and try those also.

Rick B.
Rick B.

July 20, 2011


Next time you use Charts & Tides I’d be interested to know how it works if you enable speech on the iPad. I have a colleague that has blindness and loves to sail. He is always looking for navigation stuff for sailing without sight.

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