I knew we were in for some heavy editorial sledding when I read this passage: ". . . . thence northeasterly in a straight line passing through Marshy Point, at the junction of Dundee Creek and Saltpeter Creek, to the intersection of the center line of Reardon Inlet with Gunpowder River, except such variations as may be necessary to exclude any and all parts of the point of land on the westerly side of Gunpowder River about one mile south of Oliver Point; thence northerly. . . ." That is a part—a small part, mind you—of part a of paragraph 1 of section 334.140 of chapter 2 of title 33 of the Code of Federal Regulations (33 CFR), which defines the boundaries of the restricted waters around Aberdeen Proving Grounds.
First of all, don’t you just love the word thence? I do. How has such a useful word fallen out of favor? I hereby resolve to make it part of my vocabulary.
Second, and more to the point, you’ll be happy to know that we decided, humanely, to spare you as much of that gobbledygook as possible in this issue’s guide to the Bay’s restricted and prohibited areas [see "Don’t Go There," page 26]. Far better, we thought, to give you what we craved ourselves: a fairly simple, visual, color-coded overview, something that gives the whole picture at a glance. Well, three glances; it’s a big Bay.
As we hacked our way into the word jungle that is 33 CFR, we were relieved to find that the undergrowth was not as thick elsewhere as it had been in and around Aberdeen Proving Ground. Perhaps because Aberdeen dates back to World War I (really), it is the only Chesapeake section that does not use latitude and longitude coordinates to outline the restricted area in question. It even refers the reader to Coast and Geodetic Chart No. 1226, which, you may or may not know, is the long-gone predecessor of NOAA chart 12273.
Mind you, it’s no picnic tracing lines from one lat-long coordinate to the next, to the next, to the next, to the next—as we did in many cases, to confirm to our own satisfaction what the charts show, often faintly and microscopically. But, electronic chart programs being what they are nowadays, lat-long coordinates are a darn sight easier to work with than "thence northwesterly in a straight line through Brier Point to a point in Seneca Creek where this line intersects a straight line which passes through," etc., etc.
My hero in all this is Beth Walsh, our talented and resourceful editorial designer, who turned a crazy quilt of taped-together and yellow-highlighted paper charts into the neat and colorful six pages you see in this issue. And she did so with nary a complaint. When this issue is done, I shall thank Beth heartily.
Thence on to the next issue. Boy, I like that word.
Tim Sayles, Editor