The Magic of Maps

Lizard to Straight Point

Last week, during my travels in the blogosphere I stumbled upon a beautiful concept; using a map as a journal. The idea is the brainchild of Linda Fairbairn from Journey Jottings,  who have a gorgeous range of map journals, an exquisite collection of Australian travel stationary on which you can “jot your journey”. Linda’s love of maps got me thinking about how important maps and charts are to travellers, explorers and adventurers, not just as a means of finding our way, but also of finding our way back, through our memories.

It also reminded me of a special chart I have under my bed that I have been meaning to get framed for a long time but have never quite got around to. A few years ago we caught up with some friends of Chris’ parents who were restoring an old wooden sailing boat at Palm Beach. It was a labour of a love and a very long work in progress. We were invited aboard one day to have a look around below decks. Amongst cedar shavings, old newspapers, oily rags and spare parts yet to be installed, I came across a well used nautical chart. The sailor in me prompted a closer look. I was really surprised to discover it was the very stretch of coastline on which I grew up and first learned to sail, back in Cornwall in the UK; Lizard to Straight Point. Lizard Point is renowned for its role as a start or finish line in countless transatlantic sailing speed records and the adjacent coastline on both sides is notoriously treacherous at times. The countless shipwrecks marked on the chart bear testament to this.

Admiralty Chart L(D1) 442

Waypoint from way back

 It turned out that the chart had been used by Peter in his round the world sailing adventures back in the 1970s. He must have used hundreds of charts on this trip so what were the chances that the only one on board charted waters that were  so familiar to me? It still had the navigation work penciled in, including marked waypoints and browned moisture marks.  It really struck me that maps and charts can connect strangers in a unique way. Peter and I had not met until this point but were now able to have a chat about the beautiful coastline and our experiences of it. We would never both be in that same place at the same time yet we’d both been there. All seasoned travellers who swap trip notes can relate to this, yet the map or chart somehow enriches that shared experience that little bit more. Peter gave me the chart to take away, a nice reminder of home.  

I think framed maps and charts make beautiful artwork, even more so if they have a personal story to tell. They are also a daily reminder of our often latent adventurous spirit and provide the ever present  seed for your next adventure.

Lat and Long

Falmouth Bay

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  1. SOOOO true Charlie, i have 2 admiralty charts on the walls in my lounge – one of my home coast in the UK and one of the central coast (my home coast currently). I love them both equally as they represent such different parts of my life. My parents and brothers have also always had various maps on the walls around their homes – but for admiralty charts you just have to have very big walls to put them up!

  2. You have put it so eloquently!
    Maps are amazing 😉
    They have a unique ability to snapshot entire landscapes on a single sheet and so convey such a wealth of info and imagery in the form of mental mirages!
    And then they throw down the gauntlet, constantly reminding/challenging me to step out into the unknown… Yet having taken the plunge offer the comforting reassurance that you still know where you are! :)

  3. […] yacht Uteikah II. It was on this yacht that I came across the nautical chart that inspired my post “The Magic of Maps”. She has been owned by a friend of the family for the last thirty years or so and has just undergone […]

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