As an avid traveler, I love looking at maps. And as a sailor for roughly half a century, I love looking at nautical charts even more.

So I hope my bosses will forgive the time I spent this afternoon absorbed in the new water trail maps — not quite charts, but more than maps — of the tidal Delaware River.

They show where I could launch a small boat — if only I had one. Maybe at the Frankford Arsenal, at river mile 106.

And where I could dock a small boat — if only I had one. Maybe after riding the outgoing tide south, I could pull up at Fort Mifflin, mile 91.4, and check that out, eat a picnic lunch, let the tide change and ride the incoming tide back north.

Oh, but there are so many other options to explore the 56 miles of river — and nearly 40 points of interest — between Trenton and Marcus Hook. These guides show it all, even the location of tide gauges, for power-boaters, sailors and even kayakers.

Don't forget, of course, to check out the safety information as well. The swift-running Delaware and its cargo ships, in particular, are not to be treated casually.

The guides were created by the Pennsylvania Environmental Council after nearly two years of research and working with boaters, safety agencies and others.

Created in partnership with the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, the idea is for them to support the city-wide effort to increase recreational activity on the Delaware.

"With nearly 2,000 miles of rivers mapped throughout Pennsylvania, we are pleased to announce the river in our backyard is now part of that group," Patrick Starr, senior vice president of PEC's southeast region, said in a prepared statement. "The water quality of the Delaware River has significantly improved and it is now an excellent resource for a variety of activities, and our hope is that mapping the river will educate people about the opportunities available and encourage increased recreational activity on the water."

Maps are available through the Pennsylvania Environmental Council, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission and at some area retailers. But you can also download them direct from  www.tidaltrail.org.

And, okay, so maybe winter isn't the best time to do all this river stuff unless you have significant gear. But who says it's too soon to start planning for spring?