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Old 23-12-2012, 12:25   #1
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Distinct Activities: Shackled by a Common Name?

I have been puzzling over the absence of discussion of navigation on this forum. Even the navigation forum is largely a discussion of the purchase and troubleshooting of electronic equipment and software, as the subheading implies.

It occurs to me that it's possible this situation reflects how history played out: the mass transition from 'navigation by sailor' to 'navigation by black box' happened by several increments.
Perhaps as a result the new activity was not seen as distinctly different in nature and in attributes. I find it telling, for instance, that it did not get a new name.

In the case of the timeline linking painting and photography, a pairing which seems to me to have certain evident similarities (as well as, like any analogy, obvious limitations), there was a single, obvious innovative leap, and the new activity was given a new name.

The old activity of painting persists, with a more limited role, but is not devalued or discounted. Nobody would queue for hours to look at a photo of the Mona Lisa.

It's hard to imagine an internet forum where painting and photography were bundled under the heading "image-making"...
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Old 23-12-2012, 12:43   #2
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re: Distinct Activities: Shackled by a Common Name?

Captain Cook started it with Navigation By Clock.

The previous methods of navigation are now not valued like the Mona Lisa but seen for what they are: obsolete, irrelevant, unsafe. Thats the same as the paper nav you are misnaming as Nav by Sailor. Its irrelevant, Unsafe, obsolete, inacurate and should be shoved where the sun dont shine. And thats no where near the Mona Lisa.
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Old 23-12-2012, 12:50   #3
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re: Distinct Activities: Shackled by a Common Name?

Talking of Captain Cook and the first use of the Chronometer, the Astronomer Royal was dead set against the new fangled technology and used all his power to disallow its use for thrity years.
Think of all the men that died at sea during those thirty years.
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Old 23-12-2012, 14:26   #4
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re: Distinct Activities: Shackled by a Common Name?

That's because most sailors today do not navigate. Actually, I think, most do not sail either.

For is getting delivered, most of the way under power, and by an AP, sailing? navigating? or none?

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Old 23-12-2012, 14:34   #5
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Re: Distinct activities: shackled by a common name?

Surely, Mark, you should call it Navigation by Sextant?

Harrison's chronometer was pitted against lunar tables for a time and there were a lot of politics involved. The Astronomer Royal pushed lunar tables because they were compiled by his government department. Imagine a public service bureaucrat doing that?

Lunar tables (when they were finally compiled after 19 years of observations from Greenwich) were considered time consuming in terms of the mathematical calculations but accurate. The chronometer involved quicker calculations but exposed the navigators to an unknown time error.

It was a huge topic on CF in the late 1700s. Use the search function or check the old parchments in the CF basement filing drawers.


There are plenty of us here, Andrew, that still play around with our sextants, but we are a minority.

1. Some people insist on having paper charts onboard because they don't trust the reliability of their electrical or electronic systems (due to potential water ingress, charging failure, battery failure etc). Fine.

2. Other don't trust the infallibility of their GPS UNITS (water ingress, battery failure, etc) so they carry 7 back-up GPS units in Faraday cages and waterproof Ziploc bags. Fine.

3. Others don't trust the infallibility of the GPS satellite SYSTEM (due to potential solar flares, war, hackers) and they carry a sextant. Fine.

4. Others just enjoy the mental / spiritual / mathematical process of using a sextant and linking the navigation process with the celestial bodies while also linking themselves with century's of traditional navigators. Fine.

The last group is akin to those who love varnish on the exterior of a boat. Tradition over function.

What navigation topics would YOU like to discuss, Andrew?
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Old 23-12-2012, 14:36   #6
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Re: Distinct Activities: Shackled by a Common Name?

Passage planning and navigation is a big part of sailing for me. But then, I sail in the English Channel with huge tides, strong tidal streams, tidal gates, and so forth -- you can't sail even in familiar places without passage planning. I enjoy it, and the nav table is my favorite place on the boat:

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I think most people just sail around where their boats are kept -- they've been everywhere a million times before and so all they have to do is punch in the waypoints and away they go, and nothing at all wrong with that. It's just a factor of different cruising grounds, different destinations, I think.
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Old 23-12-2012, 14:38   #7
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Re: Distinct Activities: Shackled by a Common Name?

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My favorite place.
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Old 23-12-2012, 14:43   #8
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Re: Distinct Activities: Shackled by a Common Name?

Whenever I am doing a delivery with owners onboard I pull the fuse on the GPS and then watch them panic. Good start for a class on dead reckoning.
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Old 23-12-2012, 15:05   #9
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Re: Distinct Activities: Shackled by a Common Name?

Quote:
Thats the same as the paper nav you are misnaming as Nav by Sailor. Its irrelevant, Unsafe, obsolete, inacurate and should be shoved where the sun dont shine.
Feeling trollish? I've heard that a good dose of castor oil helps.

What I really think is missing is what I call seat of the pants navigation skills. The more you use and rely on instrumentation the more you lose your sense of the surrounding environment and what it means. We read about it here all the time. The boat that sails off into a bad forecast because they plan on steering around something. The folks who crash into something while on autopilot. The many people it seems who sail all night long relying on the radar alarm and the instruments, instead of keeping a real watch. It has been drilled into our heads to "trust the instruments," to the point that people do not trust their own instincts and in fact have lost their own instincts.
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Old 23-12-2012, 15:15   #10
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pirate Re: Distinct Activities: Shackled by a Common Name?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
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My favorite place.
1/2 way between Southampton and Cherbourg...?
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Old 23-12-2012, 15:30   #11
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Re: Distinct Activities: Shackled by a Common Name?

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Originally Posted by MarkJ View Post
Captain Cook started it with Navigation By Clock.

The previous methods of navigation are now not valued like the Mona Lisa but seen for what they are: obsolete, irrelevant, unsafe. Thats the same as the paper nav you are misnaming as Nav by Sailor. Its irrelevant, Unsafe, obsolete, inacurate and should be shoved where the sun dont shine. And thats no where near the Mona Lisa.
I think there may be a problem with your internet connection, or the website has been hacked. It's clear that the post you are reading has no similarity what I posted.

In case anyone else has the same problem, and is seeing some sort of luddite rant with my name appended:

I am not talking specifically about "paper nav". My comments relate equally to other methods which do not rely on paper, but where the sailor does the navigating. A waka arrived at Easter Island recently, having departed on that leg from Manureva but originally NZ as I recall, using traditional navigation methods which do not involve paper.

Lots of coastal pilotage techniques which are relevant in these times also do not rely on paper (or a sextant), such as distance off by doubling the angle on the bow, which uses onboard technology such as compass and log but requires only mental arithmetic to deliver an answer.

Similarly a chart plotter can be used in lieu of a paper chart for "navigation by sailor" (say for plotting a hand-bearing fix; I wasn't thinking specifically about celestial navigation), so once again "navigation by paper" is not, I think, a helpful substitute.

And I am not attacking "navigation by others", just pointing out that it's as different from "navigation by sailor" as photography is from painting.

Photography is neither better nor worse than painting: it is a different way of achieving a superficially similar result.

And it seems to me that each pairing shares some advantages and some vulnerabilities.
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Old 23-12-2012, 18:55   #12
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Re: Distinct Activities: Shackled by a Common Name?

Here in Puget Sound, when you're lost at sea, the answer is always "go east."

I think I'm one of those folks who doesn't really need to navigate, because everything is line-of-sight, and when you're ready to go home, you look for the forest of masts at the marina.

But I practice, against the day I hope will come when I leave Puget Sound.
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Old 23-12-2012, 19:07   #13
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Re: Distinct Activities: Shackled by a Common Name?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jammer Six View Post
Here in Puget Sound, when you're lost at sea, the answer is always "go east."

I think I'm one of those folks who doesn't really need to navigate, because everything is line-of-sight, and when you're ready to go home, you look for the forest of masts at the marina.

But I practice, against the day I hope will come when I leave Puget Sound.
Ahh... my friend, I would class you as a true navigator as you are using some of the finest navigational tools available; the Mk 1 eyeball, the active brain and the sense to use them when and as required

And the knowledge of their limitations which allows you to then move unhindered by convention to other suitable tools that will suit your needs when Puget Sound dips below the horizon in your wake.
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Old 23-12-2012, 19:52   #14
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Re: Distinct Activities: Shackled by a Common Name?

I don't really understand what this thread is about

Isn't navigation just figuring out how to get from where you are to were you what to go?

Does it matter how you do this as long you get there?

PS - I don't blame chartplotter and autopilots for boats hitting stuff. I blame the people piloting the boat for that. Do you think the same people using paper charts and dead reckonng instead would have somehow not hit the "whatever"?
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Old 23-12-2012, 20:03   #15
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Re: Distinct Activities: Shackled by a Common Name?

If the luddites here want any respect from me they should set to sea with no charts whatsoever. Just a belief that the earth is round, a compass, and a man in the crows nest. Now that was navigating. Everything from paper charts to chart plotters is for sissies. End of thread.
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