Aids to Navigation (ATONS) are an important part of safe boating. They help prevent grounding, collisions, dangerous speed, risk to swimmers and many other situations. They are invaluable for navigation in reduced visibility conditions, particularly at night and in fog.
ATONS are positioned purposefully and accurately, to reduce risk of incidents. ATONS are precisely shown on both paper and electronic (GPS) charts. We depend on them being where they are marked. For safety, ATONS must be surveyed regularly and replaced or repositioned as needed by USCG, US Army COE or other agencies. These surveys are part of the civic service component of USPS, known as the Cooperative Charting Program (CCP).
ATON Files On Local Lakes For Your GPS
To be used for their intended purpose, skippers must know where they are. It is surprising to see how many ATONS are off station following storms, badly damaged by collisions, faded or missing entirely. To be able to rely on ATONS, you need either a current nautical chart or a GPS chart. Many GPS charts of inland lakes (such as Garmin LakeVu) do not have ATONS marked. Users have to upload them from a separate file prepared and maintained by volunteers.
Our Lake Hartwell Boating Club website offers ATON location files free to download:
- Lake Hartwell (EasyGPS, Garmin Mapsource)
- Lake Murray (EasyGPS)
- Lake Russell (Garmin Mapsource)
The files are formatted for EasyGPS desktop software(.gpx) and for Garmin Mapsource desktop software (.gdb). Free EasyGPS software (for Microsoft Windows) can be downloaded at www.easygps.com. The software can be used to transfer waypoints, routes and tracks back and forth between the PC with almost any make or model GPS. Links between GPS units and computers may be by microSD card, wi-fi, or USB cable, depending on the unit. There are wi-fi apps for Apple and Android as well.
Note that Lake Hartwell Boating Club℠ makes no guarantee to the accuracy of ATON location files. Please use with caution and always refer to the most current chart of any location you plan to visit.
Helping With Far-Off Surveys
USPS Cooperative Charting volunteer surveyors can exchange survey tracks and routes files with each other for improved efficiency when surveying. USPS members planning a far-off cruise can receive files from a local squadron on their itinerary to help with surveys on their cruise.
Cooperative Charting On Lake Hartwell
February is here, and this month is one of our two assigned months for surveying the navigational aids on Lake Hartwell. LHBC is seeking volunteers to help in carrying out this important survey responsibility.
The lake is divided up into eight zones. If you would like to assist a skipper as an observer or guest, to help or learn the ropes for future surveys on your own, why not volunteer for an Observer/Guest spot? Send in a Contact form indicating your interest.