7. I incorporate a legend or key every few pages. You can adapt this to your own needs, but this is the one I use.
W-water, F-facilities, A-camping, G - groceries, S-showers, R- ramp, L-laundry
D - Diner,grill, RA - road access Facilities, of course, are restrooms. Here is a sample of a day from one such trip plan.
24 RA South Island Ferry Ramp to Hagley Ramp 17mi
Go E to Winyah River and turn NW. If a foul current, consider looping around S
end of Western Channel Island and going up Winyah Bay shallows.
W - Belle Island Marina (843)546-8491, L33.30688 Lo79.29065. (mile 4.8)
Entrance to Sampit River and Georgetown, SC, harbor facilities. Two stealth
spots either side of river mouth on Winyah. Inside, Morgan Park and East
Bay Park ramp at L33.35659 Lo79.28021, (mile 8)
Hazzard Marine (843)527-3625, L33.36108 Lo79.27964
The Boat Shed (843)546-4423, L33.36181 Lo79.28002.
Harbor Walk Marina (843)546-4250, L33.36388 Lo79.28173.
G - Groceries from above marinas, roughly a mile. Walk NE 2 blocks to
Highmarket St., and turn L. Cross N Fraser St. (Rts. 17/521) Piggly Wiggly
(843)527-4841, in 2nd block at Lynch St., or 1620 Highmarket St.
R - Turn S in Sampit River toward S. Fraser St., Rt. 17 bridge, and just on S side of
bridge is large ramp at L33.35729 Lo79.29522. (mile 9.2)
G - From ramp parking lot to Food Lion (843)546-0972. Walk S. on S.Fraser St. to
2234 S. Fraser. Is 1 mile from here or 2 1/4mi from Johnson’s campground.
A-F-S-W - Johnson Marina & Campground, (843)545-8633 at L33.35534
Lo79.32064. A bit further S on Sampit, and may be a bit pricey. (mile 10.9)
R-W - Leaving Georgetown, Winyah becomes Waccamaw River, and continuing
up E side of Waccamaw leads to Hagley ramp at L33.43633 Lo79.18227. (mile
16.3 not counting any detour into Georgetown.) This would be a stop only.
6/10mi further is a ramp & marina with limited space & no info.
25 Lay Day
Okay, it is day 24, and you are working off of chart 25, which in this case happens to be an ICW chartbook. RA tells us that this would be a good contact or rendevous point, because there is road access at any of the stops. The day’s run will be 17 miles from point to point. You know the current is strong in Winyah River, and you notice from the chart that if the current is ebbing, you can get out of most of it by ducking around the south end of Western Channel Island and running the inside of the curve and the shallows. If you need to stop, the first stop is 4.8 miles away at a marina.
This is where Google Earth proves itself to be the paddler’s best tool for planning. You click on Tools, Ruler, and Path. Click at your departure point, and click point to point to follow the contour of your proposed track. If you wish to follow, go to L33.25077N Lo79.26930W, which you will find in the canal south of Georgetown, SC. Going E, you will exit the canal at Mile 0.9. Looking for any possible stopping places, scour the shores of both the river and island. (This is where you can add greatly to the information in an official guide. A published guide can only list sites that have been approved by the land owners and the waterway managers. There are a lot of potential stealth sites you can find on your own to supplement the guide.) We see that the shore appears to be all mud until we reach Belle Island Marina at Mile 4.8. If the wind is strong out of the north and there is a foul current, we can look at the plan and see that our next possible stop is 3.2 miles further with two possible stealth camping spots. If the conditions are bad enough, we can weigh hanging out at the marina until the current turns, or slog uphill for another 3.2 miles. This answers the third method of mileage measuring mention in paragraph 3 above. Continuing along our route, we mark and retrieve the lat-long of every facility, ramp, sandy shore or spoil island, etc., to meet our needs. In this way, it only takes a glance to see where our next possible stop would be, what we could expect to find there, and how much further we need to go to get there.
In Georgetown Harbor, you’ve maked the position, name and phone number of every facility, and location of ramps, campgrounds, and grocery stores. Since this is day 24, you know tomorrow is a planned lay day, and with all facilities and things of historical interest, you’d be hard pressed to find a better place for a day ashore. On the other hand, if you’re fully provisioned, and you’d rather avoid the expense and crowds in Georgetown, plus pick up a few extra miles, a quick glance at the plan would show (not shown in the example) that if you continued another 5 or 7 miles, you’d have your choice of either of two quiet marinas.
Two caveats are best mentioned here. For grocery stores, go on Google (or whatever browser) home page, and click on maps. In the search field, type “grocery stores near Georgetown, SC.” Markers will come up for every store that has food, but search them closely, as some will offer nothing but ice cream cones, or wine and cheese, or be a convenience store with nothing but junk food. A look at the map will easily show where the grocery is, how to get there, and using the Google path again, you can see how far away they are. You can use the same method for finding canoe/kayak outfitters, West Marine stores, or the post office.
The second caveat has to do with Google Earth. Things don’t look the same from the cockpit of your kayak or canoe as they do from a satellite 370 miles in space. What appears to be open water may be strangled with deadfall. What appears to be clear ground may indeed by impenetrable 10-12 foot-tall reeds. A nice sandy-looking landing may indeed be thigh-deep mud. Otherwise, a beautiful stealth camp spot may have been invisible to the satellite due to obscuring tree stands. Seeking and saving the position for as many favorible spots gives more options, and the chance of a nearby alternative for the occasional surprise. In spite of the occasional surprise (or disappointment), Google Earth is a fabulout tool to explore and use to your greatest benefit.
There you have it. No one style or design fits every application, but there should be a lot of ideas here to choose from, and once you explore these, you may dig deeper and come up with other ideas. You can use what you like, and ignore what you don’t. If you have other useful ideas, please share.