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Old 15-02-2015, 12:18   #346
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Re: Are paper charts a dinosaur?

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Originally Posted by Adelie View Post
Well there's lost and then there is LOST.

The first has a vague idea of where they're at, a glimmer of what direction the nearest appropriate safe harbor is and maybe a bit of backup equipment they used to know how to use.

Then there's the folks that have no idea where they might be, no backup charts, don't have any backup equipment and wouldn't have any clue how to use it if they did because they have never done manual navigation.
You have that right on the money. No point in having paper if you might be on Mars for all you know.
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Old 18-02-2015, 07:50   #347
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Re: Are paper charts a dinosaur?

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Seems the advocates of eliminating paper are ignoring that some sailors are interested in escaping technology, if only briefly.

I enjoy learning and practicing techniques using compass, charts, divider, and even sextant of earlier times simply out of curiosity.

JimK
I was watching Master and Commander again last night, and amused at the scene where he had all of the junior officers lined up, and teaching them how to take sun sightings with their sextants.

I wonder how many younger sailors, have watched that movie and wondered what the heck those funny looking things they were all looking through were.

I admit I was trying to learn how navigate with a sextant when I saw my first Magellen GPS for sale for an affordable price ($150) in the late 1990's. I quit right after buying it.

But, I still enjoy looking at paper charts and always have them on board for everywhere I go.
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Old 18-02-2015, 08:13   #348
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Re: Are paper charts a dinosaur?

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I was watching Master and Commander again last night, and amused at the scene where he had all of the junior officers lined up, and teaching them how to take sun sightings with their sextants.

I wonder how many younger sailors, have watched that movie and wondered what the heck those funny looking things they were all looking through were.

I admit I was trying to learn how navigate with a sextant when I saw my first Magellen GPS for sale for an affordable price ($150) in the late 1990's. I quit right after buying it.

But, I still enjoy looking at paper charts and always have them on board for everywhere I go.
Celestial navigation is a fairly esoteric art which was not used all that much in recreational sailing even before GPS.

I think that it is a big mistake people make these days to think that the only alternative to satellite navigation is celestial.

In fact for coastal sailing celestial nav is useless. The main techniques, still useful (essential?) skills to have today, were triangulation using three-point fixes on coastal landmarks, and following depth contour lines. Dead reckoning when out of sight of land. These techniques work extremely well -- you don't need either GPS or celestial to navigate very well in typical coastal situations, so long as you have some kind of chart.

I'm not denigrating celestial; it's a magnificent art, but it's a specialized technique which is really only needed for passages which take you out of sight of land for multiple days at a time. Failure to perceive the specialized nature of celestial navigation leads to forgetting about the more important (for the typical sailor) traditional navigation skills, which I think is unfortunate.
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Old 18-02-2015, 08:18   #349
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Re: Are paper charts a dinosaur?

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Originally Posted by jkindredpdx View Post
Seems the advocates of eliminating paper are ignoring that some sailors are interested in escaping technology, if only briefly.

I enjoy learning and practicing techniques using compass, charts, divider, and even sextant of earlier times simply out of curiosity.




JimK
Why use that new fangled sextant? Real traditionalist whittle an astrolab out of drift wood with a knife chipped from beach stones.

You can do a lot of things the "traditional" way but there is usually a good reason they are no longer used.
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Old 18-02-2015, 08:25   #350
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Re: Are paper charts a dinosaur?

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To me, it' like asking, "With communications devices making it so easy to communicate with someone electronically, is there ever any reason to go actually talk to them face to face?"



(And, I do expect the answers to vary on this question).
I'll bite. With video calling and the proliferation of conference calls, we are closing in on the point where it's nice but completely unneccessary to meet face to face.

20-30yrs ago when it was voice only and you couldn't see body language or share documents, there was value in face to face meetings.

Now I think we are still 10-15yrs from complete elimination of face to face the bulk of that delay is waiting for the dinosaurs to retire. There will be some hickups and funny stories along the way but once we get over it, you will see the change in the same way paper charts are on the way out.
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Old 18-02-2015, 08:37   #351
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Re: Are paper charts a dinosaur?

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In fact for coastal sailing celestial nav is useless. The main techniques, still useful (essential?) skills to have today, were triangulation using three-point fixes on coastal landmarks, and following depth contour lines. Dead reckoning when out of sight of land. These techniques work extremely well -- you don't need either GPS or celestial to navigate very well in typical coastal situations, so long as you have some kind of chart.

.
And electronic charts work as well or better for coastal navigation. The presumption that electronic charts allow you to ignore sound navigation techniques is a false arguement.

A fool with paper charts is just as lost (maybe worse) and my recollection of days before widespread use of chart plotters has a suprising number of lost boats. As a kid on Lake St. Clair, Michigan (the north end is a delta with a series of bays and channels), it was amazing how many boats with perfectly good charts would pull up where we were anchored out fishing to ask which channel they were on. The modern world hasn't cornered the market on fools.

If I'm in a complicated area, I'm still regularly checking the position by taking bearings on landmarks, depths, etc... I do often just eyeball the bearing and distance to landmarks but if that matches the GPS position reasonably well, I'm good with that. If the GPS goes out, most chart plotters have the option to do dead reckoning for you.
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Old 18-02-2015, 08:52   #352
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Re: Are paper charts a dinosaur?

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In fact for coastal sailing celestial nav is useless. The main techniques, still useful (essential?) skills to have today, were triangulation using three-point fixes on coastal landmarks, and following depth contour lines.
I still do it like that. When I want to enter an anchorage I'll look at the map, and decide on a strategy on how I'm going to enter it. Either following a contour, or looking for a useful alignment. I will not just steer a little yacht symbol on a screen.
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Old 18-02-2015, 08:52   #353
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Re: Are paper charts a dinosaur?

The sextant can also be used for coastal navigation. Not for celestial navigation, but for measuring the angles from point to point to determine distance from shore etc... Bowditch is still a handy book to keep aboard to help working out these different equations.
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Old 18-02-2015, 08:54   #354
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Re: Are paper charts a dinosaur?

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The sextant can also be used for coastal navigation. Not for celestial navigation, but for measuring the angles from point to point to determine distance from shore etc... Bowditch is still a handy book to keep aboard to help working out these different equations.
Indeed. Note that I said celestial navigation -- not "use of a sextant".
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Old 18-02-2015, 08:55   #355
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Re: Are paper charts a dinosaur?

Yessir, I did indeed, I just wanted to point out that the sextant has other uses besides holding the charts down during coastal voyages.
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Old 18-02-2015, 08:57   #356
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Re: Are paper charts a dinosaur?

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I'll bite. With video calling and the proliferation of conference calls, we are closing in on the point where it's nice but completely unneccessary to meet face to face.

20-30yrs ago when it was voice only and you couldn't see body language or share documents, there was value in face to face meetings.

Now I think we are still 10-15yrs from complete elimination of face to face the bulk of that delay is waiting for the dinosaurs to retire. There will be some hickups and funny stories along the way but once we get over it, you will see the change in the same way paper charts are on the way out.
Hey, I only had to watch my 14 year old daughter, and her 14 year old cousin texting each other for hours while sitting next to each other in the car to realize the truth of which you speak. (and watching the younger agents try and interrogate someone face to face).

I do picture the Coast Guard needing to be expanded as people become more and more reliant on electronic devices, though.
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Old 18-02-2015, 09:05   #357
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Re: Are paper charts a dinosaur?

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And electronic charts work as well or better for coastal navigation. The presumption that electronic charts allow you to ignore sound navigation techniques is a false arguement.

A fool with paper charts is just as lost (maybe worse) and my recollection of days before widespread use of chart plotters has a suprising number of lost boats. As a kid on Lake St. Clair, Michigan (the north end is a delta with a series of bays and channels), it was amazing how many boats with perfectly good charts would pull up where we were anchored out fishing to ask which channel they were on. The modern world hasn't cornered the market on fools.

If I'm in a complicated area, I'm still regularly checking the position by taking bearings on landmarks, depths, etc... I do often just eyeball the bearing and distance to landmarks but if that matches the GPS position reasonably well, I'm good with that. If the GPS goes out, most chart plotters have the option to do dead reckoning for you.
I was not commenting on paper vs. electronic in that particular post, which is why I specifically said "some kind of" chart.

I also did not say that electronic charting "allows you to ignore sound navigation techniques." However, now that you mention it, I do think it is fairly obvious that electronic chart plotting is so efficient that it does, actually, cause even people with good navigation skills to neglect other techniques. And allows people with almost no navigational skills at all to navigate successfully. But that's not saying anything bad about electronic plotting; on the contrary, I think that is a statement about how powerful and useful it is.

I will never forget the first time I ever used a chart plotter (as oppose to a plain GPS receiver). I was in SW Florida and was totally enthralled by how you could see your exact position on an actual chart at a glance and in an instant, instead of plotting it yourself. It was simply unbelievable. We were trying to get through Redfish Pass, which is a tricky spot with shoals all around, which had always been a challenge. I was so excited that I could just "drive the dot" through the pass, using the plotter screen, that i forgot to look at the buoys (!). Since the electronic chart had been published, a hurricane had moved the channel, which should not have been a problem, since the new path was very well marked with buoys. Unless you don't look at them .

I don't need to tell the rest of the story; you can well imagine. A falling tide and Tow Boat US were involved

It was a fantastic lesson; one of those truly useful mistakes, even if it was not apparent at the time


Electronic plotting, like very many truly useful things, does make us lazy. It's something you have to fight.
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Old 18-02-2015, 09:09   #358
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Re: Are paper charts a dinosaur?

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If the GPS goes out, most chart plotters have the option to do dead reckoning for you.
And, if the chartplotter "goes out"? Seems a rather unlikely scenario, to have a failure of your GPS input independent of the plotter, no?

I know, I know... there's always an iPhone, or something, to fall back on...

;-)
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Old 18-02-2015, 09:14   #359
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Re: Are paper charts a dinosaur?

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Yessir, I did indeed, I just wanted to point out that the sextant has other uses besides holding the charts down during coastal voyages.
I have a scale in my binocs which also do that, albeit with much less precision than a sextant.

I confess, however, that I have never used this technique much, even before plotters. I always used the radar for that, which is another fantastic navigational tool, even if almost no one uses it for navigation anymore.

This is thread drift, but another fantastic use for radar is for anchor watch. Who else does this? Set up a guard zone to warn you about other vessels swinging into you, or drifting or swinging too close to some object. Can be fantastically useful. It was irreplaceable with any other technique one week when I was holed up in Ushant during a long gale, anchored out in deep water next to a French Doane cutter with 100 meters of chain out. I don't usually worry about swinging into other boats, but obviously a 75 meter long steel ship swings differently to her anchor than we do. The normal anchor watch alarm tells you nothing about other vessels swinging into you.
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Old 18-02-2015, 09:17   #360
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Re: Are paper charts a dinosaur?

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And, if the chartplotter "goes out"? Seems a rather unlikely scenario, to have a failure of your GPS input independent of the plotter, no?

I know, I know... there's always an iPhone, or something, to fall back on...

;-)
Actually...we use a laptop with USB GPS as our primary chart plotter. We ran into that exact problem. The GPS puck went bad but the chart plotter still worked perfectly fine. We continued on dead reckoning while we pulled out a spare.

If you have a single chartplotter, you point is well taken and 10-15yrs ago that was the norm. In todays world, we have 2 laptops, 2 tablets, 2 smart phones plus an old handheld GPS. That's 7 sources and we aren't even at the high end of technophiles. I thought this point was covered a while back on the thread. A single point of failure is a bad thing.
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