What is a BoatTrail?

A BoatTrail is my answer to the biggest question ever encountered while fishing, kayaking, birding, sightseeing, or just generally exploring the wonderful coastal waterways of Florida: “How do I drive my boat from the boat ramp to my destination without hitting a rock, sandbar, oyster bar, wrecked ship, or any other obstruction that is not shown on a NOAA nautical chart or USGS topographic map.”

Even with years of boating experience in coastal waterways, it is always frightening to power a boat up to speed only to discover that you are not sure of the correct boat channel or if the correct way around the next island is to the right or to the left.  A BoatTrail, if I have done my work properly, provides every detail necessary to safely pass through even the shallowest and most confined watery passages.

In addition, digital data that can easily be loaded and displayed on a GPS receiver or laptop computer are available for every BoatTrail.  Load the BoatTrail GPS track file (boattrail.gpx) into a GPS receiver and a boater can follow the best route through a difficult section.  Print the map or chart file of a BoatTrail (boattrail.jpg) and have a handy reference document that is often more useful than staring at the small display of the GPS receiver.  Using a laptop, open the Google Earth file of a BoatTrail (boattrail.kml) and view the best route overlaid on a satellite photo.

But a BoatTrail and the detailed information it provides is never better than the observations made by the boater while on the water.  If the BoatTrail description does not mention a large sunken ship in the middle of the channel, please ignore that description if a ship is indeed sighted.  The digital data downloaded from the website are updated regularly but storms and ship wrecks occur everyday that could force a change of route.

Currently, the Wetsocks team is working to survey and document the best BoatTrails on the Nature Coast of Florida between the Weeki Wachee and the Withlac0ochee Rivers.  Look at the posts in the BoatTrails category to see what has been completed.

Leave a Reply