“Where are you” is a common question you hear on the VHF radio most any day in Puget Sound. Sometimes the answer is a bit humorous such as “Puget Sound you idiot” or “A great fishing spot.”
But sometimes the answer can be heart breaking when someone is in great distress and does not know where they are. Not all boats carry a GPS or charts.
I have put together a test for you Local Knowledge Experts to test yourself. The test is based on a copy of the Coast Guard Coxswain Local Knowledge and Chart Exam. Last year a friend send me a list of the 162 points and some of the other Local Knowledge that a Coxswain needs to know before being trusted in command of a Sector Puget Sound Coast Guard Vessel.
How hard is the exam? Lets ignore for the moment the 600++ page Crew and Coxswain Manual and other training and just look at the “Where Are You?” part.
There are 12 charts of the area you need to know the numbers and areas of coverage as well as be familiar with all of the charts.
Then there is “The Chart.” On the wall is a chart, 162 points have the names of local marine points blocked out and replaced with a number. The candidate stands in front of the chart and the examiner calls out a name every 10 seconds, the number for the location must be called out in that 10 second window, this continues until 100 points have been called out (just under 17 minutes. Passing for “The Chart” is 90%, the rest of the exam requires 100% to pass.
I have taken the list of points and replaced them with numbers on the chart linked below. My apology in that there is one location that I have never been able to find. The list of points and the answer key are also below. A legal note here – the numbers are ones that I have chosen and any relationship to any Coast Guard key is purely by accident, so don’t call the Coast Guard and tell then you are “West of Chart Point 016” and expect them to know where you are. Not all points in the area are shown and the requirements might have changed since my friend saw the list of points. But this gives you and idea of how much the members of the Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound need to know to help them protect the public.
“The Chart” and Questions are below in PDF format (AOR = Area of Responsibility):
Well “Master of Puget Sound Local Knowledge” do you really know where your are?
Might make a heck of a trivia contest for a Bar or Party.
If you have trouble reading the chart (there are a lot of numbers) and don’t have a large printer most any Copy or Office Supply store can print a 24 inch by 36 inch black and white copy for a few dollars.
Other articles you might find useful:
Puget Sound Area Marine Training Charts:
Selected Puget Sound Charts with prominent marine points highlighted. Use as a training aid to learn the area or to find points on a chart quicker. Three charts from Shilshole to Lake Washington.
Thanks for you interest in boating safety and good luck with the exam.
– c / m –
This is awesome! Would you mind making one for the San Juans/Gulf Islands/North Sound as well? I crew mostly in the north Sound but fairly sporadically and always need to brush up on my local knowledge.
I started on one for the San Juan’s and had trouble getting the scales and charts to blend together. But I get into the San Juan’s also from time to time – so let me think a bit about ones for that area.
I didn’t count them up, but it looks like many if not most, of the locations are within a box cornered by Kingston, Bremerton, Fauntleroy and Edmonds. Is this a reflection on where the Coast Guard gets the most calls? Would that be a function of population?
Regarding the San Juans, I’ve noticed that visitors to the islands tend to use different descriptions than the locals. Neck Point on Shaw Island is a good example. Locals seem to think it’s the point east of the listing on the chart. Yesterday I traveled within 50 yards of Argyle Reef but I’d bet that most people don’t know where that is because nobody hits it.
Contrast that to Shirttail Reef, seems like everybody knows the approximate location because somebody is always running aground on it.
Thanks for the ‘study guide’. I’ll try to keep that in mind the next time I talk to the Coasties.
I don’t know how or who did the original chart or how the points were chosen. I expect that most of the people down at the base know more than just the points on this chart.
I have another chart Seattle to Bremerton # 18449 that I made and it has 149 points on it. So one of the problems with any list of points for an area is how much detail do you go into. I called in a position report to Station Bellingham and the point around the corner from Anacordes I gave was too fine and I had to pick a bigger landmark. When talking with friends about places and there will be the Duh moment and a bigger of different point needs to be called out and the “Duh” point referenced to the new point that the person recognizes.
You are also correct on the “real” names of some points.
Thanks for dropping by.
Sorry to be a purist, but that is what an education in geography and marine navigation gets you. Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound includes more than “Puget Sound”, which is a body of water running south from Possession Point to the Tacoma Narrows. The Sector chart includes Saratoga Passage, Hood Canal, Admiralty Inlet, Sinclair Inlet, Port Orchard(Not to be confused with the town of the same name), Budd inlet and a host of others I forget.