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Old 04-05-2016, 18:29   #31
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Re: Death by GPS

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Originally Posted by robert sailor View Post
Ok I'm not a young guy anymore and when I started sailing offshore it was all celestial navigation and basic navigation. We'll along came GPS and we no longer navigate, we sort of play video games so the art of old time navigation is pretty much dead. I'm quite happy to give it a proper burial, it's never been easier and I don't miss the old way of doing things for a single minute. Yes if needed I could be back in the celestial saddle again after some brush ups on sight reductions but it's unlikely to happen. I love the new ways of getting around.
My experience and feelings exactly. Just in case I will take the old Plath along cruising but don't expect I'll need to break it out.
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Old 04-05-2016, 18:41   #32
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Re: Death by GPS

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Originally Posted by AnglaisInHull View Post
If you know you should be going roughly East and your GPS points North, you might check the details. If you don't know what the words "East" and "North" mean (I've hiked with people like that) you won't.
Some years back (before I had a GPS nav system in my car) I got a letter from the state DOT telling me I had to stop by an emissions testing station, to have my emissions tested.

The closest testing station was about 30 miles away on a county road in an area with which I was unfamiliar. But I knew the county road and the street number. So I got on a county road than ran in the right direction and drove I intersected with the county road on which was the testing station.

I had no idea whether I needed to turn north or south, or whether I needed to drive two miles or 10, but I was on the right road, all I needed to know was the street number where I was. So I pulled into a small strip mall.

Unfortunately, none of the businesses had their street numbers posted, so I went into a video rental place, to ask.

There was a young kid at the counter, and a younger kid holding a skateboard talking to him. I asked the clerk what was the street number of the building. He didn't know, and asked me why I wanted to know.

I explained my circumstances, and that I simply needed to know whether I needed to turn north or south. At which point the kid with the skateboard pointed out the front window, directly at the setting sun, and said "that's south."




I was entirely unable to comprehend the mental processes that could have lead to such a conclusion.

I mean, yes, it's easy enough to lose track of the cardinal directions when you're inside a building. Or even when you're in a downtown area where you only occasionally see the sky. Or when there's cloud cover, and you can't see the sun. Or at night, when the city lights are hiding the stars.

But to point straight at the setting setting sun, bright orange, on the horizon, in a clear sky, and conclude "that's south"?

I still don't know how to respond.
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Old 04-05-2016, 19:08   #33
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Re: Death by GPS

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Originally Posted by gamayun View Post
I needed GPS even back when I used to print out maps and still got lost. Not everyone has either learned that skill or have the ability to train themselves, but that's exactly what the article is getting at: is the ability to navigate learned or is it innate?
I used to buy maps or print maps to navigate when traveling on business but found a major problem on a trip to SF. Had several meetings with various companies from Palo Alto to Ft Mason and maps to all the stops. Problem was I couldn't read the maps while I was driving and couldn't even find anywhere to pull over for for five minutes to to read a map. Ever notice there's nowhere in San Francisco to stop a car or park? In this situation I think GPS is the best tool for the job.

On the other hand, in other situations basic navigation skills can really help. I was driving home late one night from the Jacksonville airport. About 60 miles from home I had to detour due to a wreck blocking the main road. Had no map and no GPS since I knew the route and didn't anticipate this little glitch.

I did know home was more or less SW from where I was so I went to the next exit and headed in that direction. The roads were not straight at all and I would occasionally reach an intersection (small country roads so no signs) and not be sure which way to go. Fortunately it was a clear night so I would get out, find the north star and keep heading south or west. Finally got close enough that I found a familiar road and was home free. Crude form of celestial paid off.
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Old 04-05-2016, 19:16   #34
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pirate Re: Death by GPS

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Originally Posted by skipmac View Post
I used to buy maps or print maps to navigate when traveling on business but found a major problem on a trip to SF. Had several meetings with various companies from Palo Alto to Ft Mason and maps to all the stops. Problem was I couldn't read the maps while I was driving and couldn't even find anywhere to pull over for for five minutes to to read a map. Ever notice there's nowhere in San Francisco to stop a car or park? In this situation I think GPS is the best tool for the job..
I cheat..
I check my route on the map the night before and jot down things like..
Join M25 turn right
Left onto M1
turn off A45... etc. etc..
Do it on Post-It notes and stick on the dash and change after each arrival for the next stop.
If I've been once before.. the routes in my head
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Old 04-05-2016, 19:24   #35
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Re: Death by GPS

Driving or sailing, we enjoy traditional maps. I don't like boating with my nose in a chartplotter. We like to pore over maps beforehand and get a sense of the way we're going. I took coastal nav and I like to sail with that in mind - look for landmarks and bouys, look for transits, monitor the depth, etc etc. We have a couple of GPS handhelds, but they're plan B if we're in doubt of our whereabouts.

So far I refuse to have a GPS in the car, telling me what to do and when. Nope. Of course GPS position and maps are as close as our cellphones, so again we have a plan B if necessary.
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Old 04-05-2016, 19:29   #36
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Re: Death by GPS

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Originally Posted by boatman61 View Post
I cheat..
I check my route on the map the night before and jot down things like..
Join M25 turn right
Left onto M1
turn off A45... etc. etc..
Do it on Post-It notes and stick on the dash and change after each arrival for the next stop.
If I've been once before.. the routes in my head
Good idea and that would work in most situations but I was kind of adjusting the schedule on the fly and wasn't sure before I got there the order of the stops. Also would be a problem navigating around Boston where they don't believe in street signs . I was trying to get to a hotel from Logan airport and had a map AND written directions with turns and streets laid out. Got on a street and drove almost five miles without seeing a street sign on a single cross street. I knew what street I was on but had no clue where on that street. Finally stopped and called the hotel, told them where I was and was only a mile away but the guy at the hotel basically said you can't get there from here, told me to wait and he would meet me so I could follow him back.
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Old 04-05-2016, 21:22   #37
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Re: Death by GPS

GPS is a tool, let me qualify my experience here:

I am a trucker, I haul a lot of very big heavy expensive stuff:



Every trip I take I put my route into a GPS, I very painstakingly plan that route with the mapping software on my computer then I follow it exactly.

Because of this I am able to do my job with a degree of efficiency not possible with out the technology.

Often times the equipment I move leaves me weighing upwards of 140,000 lbs, and I have to permit the loads as they are well over the 80,000 lbs normally allowed, as well often these loads are over the legal width and height.

If I do not follow my route exactly I could hit bridges or go over a bridge not rated for my weight and it could collapse.

Because I have learned to use GPS as a tool, and I have learned how to program it, it performs near flawlessly for me.

On the other hand there are people who punch in an address and go, and then you see a story on the news about a semi truck that got stuck on a goat trail up in the mountains because their GPS said to go that way and they blindly followed with out question.

Even in the story you posted, they were unfamiliar with the unit and had never used it before, that is why they got in trouble. If they had taken the time to learn how to use the device and how to program it and they had double checked the route, they would not have wound up in the situation they had.

It is all about knowing your equipment, put to sea never having used a chart or a compass, let alone a sextant, you will be just as lost.
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Old 04-05-2016, 21:47   #38
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Re: Death by GPS

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Originally Posted by AnglaisInHull View Post
Only time I had trouble was in Australia, where I constantly had East and West backwards. Something to do with the sun being in the wrong part of the sky.
I had the same sort of issue when we first sailed south of the equator... still do at times, despite having been here for nearly 30 years.

i call it "southern Hemisphere dyslexia", and it can be damn confusing!

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Old 04-05-2016, 22:23   #39
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Re: Death by GPS

Had to.

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Old 04-05-2016, 22:42   #40
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Re: Death by GPS

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Originally Posted by Jsta_Rebel View Post
I personally don't believe people driving with GPS are loosing their power of reasoning.

In the Boatie world, an old sailor told me something about totally relying on GPS during circumnavigation and not needing charts or understanding celestial navigation . His worse were; " People solely relying on GPS and not using charts or plotting / checking course are stupid because they overlook one little thing. A diode.. Yes .. in totally relying on your GPS, you are allowing yourself to be a diode away from desaster" I have found this to be true time and time again. If you're on this board Capt Gary Goodlander, thanks for the tip..
Never heard of redundancy? I think most of us have at least one backup GPS system if not several backups in case the backup fails.
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Old 04-05-2016, 22:45   #41
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Re: Death by GPS

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Originally Posted by adoxograph View Post
Never heard of redundancy? I think most of us have at least one backup GPS system if not several backups in case the backup fails.
If you program the wrong waypoint into several GPS's that is even better....
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Old 04-05-2016, 22:58   #42
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Re: Death by GPS

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If you program the wrong waypoint into several GPS's that is even better....
Easy done. I plan my route on the PC and copy it to all devices.

I once took friends of my kids out on the boat overnight. Amazingly reading a map, pointing out constellations or roughly tell what direction we were going just by looking at their watch and the sun was not in their skill set. (As an astronomer/astrophysicist I'm always a bit saddened how we as a species lose the ability to read the sky.)

However they knew how to use Facebook and whatever else I don't use on my phone.
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Old 05-05-2016, 00:09   #43
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Re: Death by GPS

Death by GPS, maybe not. How about computer assisted groundings, though? Failure to maintain a sense of where you are/should be on a voyage will lead to over-dependence on chartplotters, for sure. It's seductive to look at the chartplotter, it makes you think you know exactly where you are, and keeps your attention on itself like a TV. Whereas, sailing, there's plenty to look at and look out for, and especially paying attention to the clouds and winds.

Just sayin. "Mackerel skies and mare's tails
means tall ships wear short sails."

As we lose the mnemonics, we lose the old wisdom with them.

I agree with adaxograph in that if we entertain our kids with TV at night, instead of taking night walks in forests and high places and look at the sky and learn what it can tell us, pretty soon only very special people will know how to do anything at all for themselves, because the children shall have spent their learning hours entertaining themselves with "fluff", rather than learning skills. Learning skills is fun for kids, they all know the buttons to push, but what other survival skills do they have?



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Old 05-05-2016, 00:22   #44
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Re: Death by GPS

the rules /must keep a proper watch,thats it.I all ways have paper charts on board but must admit GPS chart plotter has made things so mush more layed back using GPS (tides ,currents etc.) Iv found most groundings are caused by skippers putting there way points on a point ,rock and not a mile or two away. Your eyes are still the best instrument on board.
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Old 05-05-2016, 01:00   #45
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Re: Death by GPS

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...But, still, the article talks about people driving into lakes because the GPS told them there was a road there. Maybe people drove into lakes before GPS and we never heard about it?
True story. I used to dive in the Baltimore Aquarium every other week and in the evenings would commute through DC traffic on the beltway to Arlington, VA. I wanted to avoid traffic this one time, so I settled on a route heading approximately northwest along the Potomac River and figured it would eventually lead across the other side and I'd turn south and get home. It would be a nice way to see the country side, too. Every so often, I'd set the GPS to get a fix on where I was at, but it kept telling me to "make the next legal U-turn". Eventually, it found me a route that I followed till it became a small, two lane road, which then turned into a dirt road next to the river. No problem, right? I can't get lost if the Potomac is right there! It told me to take the next turn onto Whites Ferry Road. It's very dark by now and I am saying to myself where is "Whites Ferry Road" not really registering the "ferry" part as I turn and see that I am heading down a slope directly toward the water. I could barely see it in the dark with black asphalt, and there was no one parked for the ferry yet. If I had been going fast, I could easily see how someone could have driven right into the water. Needless to say, it took a much longer time getting home that night and I decided to suffer the traffic on the Beltway from then on. But, it certainly was a memorable adventure
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