I’m reading a great book called Westward Bound in the Schooner Yankee by Irving and Exy Johnson about their round-the-world sail in 1934 and have been trying to follow them on detailed maps. At the moment they have just left the Admiralty Islands which are part of Papua New Guinea. Since they discovered a number of new islands, I was trying to find them on a map. In the age of Google Earth and StreetView, you’d think hydrographic charts or even simple maps, even for Papua New Guinea, would be readily available. Nope.
This brings up something I have noticed recently: Google searches seem to be less relevant than they used to be. Granted, I could try another search engine, but part of me wonders if it is simply that the Internet is 99% crap. I can’t find something interesting – and potentially useful – like a nautical chart or detailed map but there are thousands of sites hawking male enhancement pills and dietary supplements.
To get back to the specific problem for a moment, all the government hydrographic offices I ran across made it clear that any maps you download from them were insufficient for navigation (predictably, the US – supposed champion of libertarianism – actually has a federal regulation, i.e. law, dealing with this). But how hard would it be to provide online, printable navigational charts or software for handling them (I’m sure many skippers have computers onboard these days)? Maybe the reason I’m partially a luddite is that I’ve come to realize a lot of the technology out there is simply crap. So much for the information age.