Keep in mind that Jon's an old guy, well relatively speaking, so he's a bit nostalgic, which is not a bad thing. I love lots of old things, old cars, old buildings, and I play music for lots of older people. Hell, I'm old! (Almost forgot.) Like Jon, I have a pile of paper charts, none which have been used in decades, and I guess someday I'll sell the boat and pass them on to the boat's next owner.
One of the things I've recently investigated was the plotting of the ICW on the charts, both paper and electronic. You see, I have a great friend who is somewhat like Jon, a person that loves the old school form of navigation, even while in Chesapeake Bay. This past Saturday, we sailed down the bay from Havre de Grace, MD, he in his Morgan 321 and I in my Morgan Out Island 33. This is the same person that sailed back to the bay with me in March when I returned home from Marathon, FL, a guy that constantly was looking at the paper charts and telling me "You're going to come up to red number 2 in about 10 miles." "Yeah, I know, I can see it on the GPS/Plotter." (grumble) "I just don't trust those damned things, though. Paper charts are more accurate. What happens if that thing stops working?" "Then, I'll turn on the backup GPS/Plotter." "Well, what if that one doesn't work either?" "I guess I'll turn on the handheld GPS/Plotter."
At one point, somewhere in southern Virginia and parts of North Carolina, the GPS clearly showed that our position would have been 100 or more feet outside the waterway and aground, which obviously wasn't true. So, what was wrong? Was it the GPS/Plotter, the charts, both? A call to an old friend in Washington, DC provided me with the answer. The problem is that when the charts were created, the same charts that were scanned into the GPS/Plotter, the ICW didn't exist. Sure, it was on the charts, but many of those dredged ditches between creeks and rivers were not yet in place. Therefore, what is on the charts, and in the GPS, is the proposed locations of those ditches - not the actual locations. Now, the GPS/Plotter's accuracy is +/- 9-feet - it knows exactly where you are at any given time and displays that location perfectly. The problem, then, is obvious, the charts. Whoops!
Keep in mind that we've been the best of friends for several years, but during the trip up the ICW there were times when I wanted to put him ashore and give him money for a bus ticket home. My charts didn't have a wrinkle when I left Marathon, but by the time I got home they looked like they had been through a shredder. The entire time we were under sail he always had either the main sheet or a jib sheet in his hand. When I said "Hey Wayne, why don't you just cleat the sheet off?" His reply was always, "Well, Gar, you gotta be ready for anything that comes up."
On our Saturday and Sunday trip, he didn't turn on his GPS/Plotter, he didn't turn on the VHF, and his cell phone was somewhere buried in a duffel bag in the cabin and he couldn't hear it ringing. Consequently, there were times when he was inside the no-boat zone of Aberdeen Proving Grounds, times when he touched bottom before he realized that he was not where he thought he was, and I had to sail over to him to inform him that there was a nasty thundershower bearing down on us from the southeast.
I guess my point is, those electronic gadgets, IMO, are the best thing since sliced bread. Paper charts are now, merely a backup system for the GPS/Plotter.