Jimmy Cornell Talks About His Ocean Atlas
Jimmy Cornell answers our questions about his latest publication--Cornell's Ocean Atlas: Pilot Charts for All Oceans of the World.
CW: Is the Atlas the first publication a sailor should look at when planning a voyage? Or, to put it another way, are there questions that need to be answered before checking for wind, current, and other weather patterns?
J.C.: It’s not necessarily the first, although those who intend to leave on an offshore passage at some point in the future will need to buy the Atlas in any case, so they might as well buy it sooner, as it’s definitely a very useful tool and also a pleasant way to while away an evening tracing out the hypothetical route of some future voyage.
CW: What other sources of information would you find helpful when planning an offshore passage?
J.C.: This question is best answered by this extract from my forthcoming book World Voyage Planner: “For most sailors, every voyage starts with a dream, but between the fulfilment of that dream and the reality of the voyage itself lies a period of preparation during which working on a well-thought-out plan is of utmost importance.
The first planning stage is a period of research and gathering all information that may be relevant to the voyage, such as consulting cruising guides and nautical publications of relevance to the chosen route, reading books, reports, or blogs written by other sailors who’ve completed a voyage along a similar route, familiarizing yourself with weather conditions and tropical-storm seasons, researching the Internet for reports on the countries to be visited, and finding out about any specific formalities, permits, and official requirements of which you should be aware, gathering information on any high-risk areas that ought to be avoided, be it because of military conflict, political instability, the threat to personal safety, or piracy.”
CW: Based on your analysis, what areas of the globe have been most affected by changing weather patterns?
J.C.: The most obvious changes seem to have occurred in the polar areas of the planet, with a shrinking icecap in Greenland, the opening of the Northwest Passage, and the retreat of glaciers in places from Alaska to southern Chile. I myself have noticed dramatic changes between my two visits to Antarctica. But there are changes occurring also in temperate and tropical areas of the world; the more active hurricane seasons in the North Atlantic (such as in 2010) and devastating floods in some areas while others suffered from equally devastating droughts are some examples that may show that Mother Nature is trying to tell us something.
CW: What’s one trick, or rather, piece of know-how that you could share with readers for when they sit down to use your Atlas?
J.C.: Start by reading the introduction and the first pages, as they summarize all the fundamental information that the reader ought to know about global weather conditions. It’s only after you’ve studied those pages that the rest of the Atlas not only makes real sense but also will give you the confidence that no matter how ambitious your plans may be, they’re certainly doable. The main aim of both this Atlas and its companion volume, World Voyage Planner, is not only to help sailors plan a voyage to anywhere in the world but also to show that voyage planning isn’t rocket science but a simple and highly enjoyable endeavour.
Jimmy Cornell will present offshore cruising seminars at Strictly Sail boat shows scheduled for the winter of 2012 in Chicago and Miami. Find out more here.