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Old 03-10-2010, 11:01   #16
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Originally Posted by ActiveCaptain View Post
....Those are the current and next generation of boaters.
Heaven help us...another generation of clueless button pushers :-)

Wonder if a close lightning strike or a nuclear EMF event could possibly shake their faith?


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Old 03-10-2010, 11:13   #17
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I think most of us that have done any serious cruising out of the ICW, Bahamas route will agree that we don't leave home without our paper charts. Many of us have come from the paper chart only generation to the newest electronics and understand that a prudent skipper will carry both. I think most will agree that no one source of navigation should be relied on but if you only have one source available for whatever reason, an accurate compass and good set of charts will get you home safely. In the end, the newest electronic gadgets, plotters and computers are toys to make navigation more convenient and eliminate the needs for any skills. Yes we have a computer running at the lower steering station and a plotter on the flybridge. But we refer to the paper charts before the days journey begins for planning and frequently during the day while under way, whether in the ICW or offshore in the Caribbean or going through a reef off the coast of Mexico, where by the way, most of the electronic gadgets are pretty worthless. We don't all limit our cruising to the ICW. Chuck

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Old 03-10-2010, 11:18   #18
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With todays reliability in electronics, my faith in them has improved a lot but I would never leave on a coastal passage let alone cross an ocean without paper charts, my trusty Plath', reduction tables and a reliable time piece. I'm just old fashioned, I guess. When I sat for my Mates ticket in Canada back in the 60's, we had to demonstrate our ability with a sextant. My first attempt put our position somewhere north of Calgary, Alberta but after rechecking the tables and my math, I figured out where we were and managed to pass. There is no sense in carrying nav aids, if you can't use them. Always a good idea to have a back up in the event of a catastrophic failure. My 2 cents worth... Capt Phil
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Old 03-10-2010, 11:24   #19
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Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
There is much material in the archives.

I could probably summarize:

1. Marine electronics are very reliable. Hardly anyone has any deep distrust of them.

6. Few people are able to use sextants any more.
1. Funny within my circle of friends that sail, mostly techy/nerd types, chart plotters are generally considered somewhere between a convenience and a toy, mostly towards the convenience end. Though they might use the plotter daily, they would take a full set of charts with them if going offshore. While the above statement about deep distrust may be true, I am not seeing the corrollary, deep trust, either.

6. I wonder about sextant use. While very few people may use them, I think there are a lot of people still sailing who have used them in the past and could very quickly pick up the knack again if needed. I think this will change over time as people who started before GPS and had to use sextants drop out of cruising more and more.

Something to keep in mind is that one really big solar event, or another couple of Chinese anti-satellite missile tests which puts a lot more space junk in orbit and GPS will start to become spotty. Or worse than either of those China and India, China and the US, India and Pakistan, China and Russia, whatever pairing you like start shooting at each other and decide to take out the GPS constellation to achieve a tactical advantage.

It's true I am something of a pessimist.
A house is but a boat so poorly built and so firmly run aground no one would think to try and refloat it.
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Old 03-10-2010, 14:56   #20
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Originally Posted by JustThinking View Post
Forgive my ignorance: Anyone still using "paper charts"??
No. They are antiquated technology and imho unsafe to be used in navigation.

I have the ability to use them - but not a sextant, but do not. I think the only paper charts on board here line the kitchen cupboards.

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Old 03-10-2010, 15:27   #21
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Yes and no. I gave all my "Not a chart" charts away. A hundred pounds of out-of-date paper.

That said, with all the lightning strikes around here, and the inherent unreliability of everything electrical, I've been making paper charts for the longer passages. Not so much for the distant landfall, but for preventing unexpected landfalls on the way there in these waters.

So for simple routes I make a hand sketch of the pertinent details. It's a great way to familiarize myself with the hazards. For more complicated routes I take the Mac downtown to print out a selection of images along the way. Cheap, and always up-to-date since I have a chart subscription.

If there's a Space War that takes out the GPS system you will be better off drifting at sea away from the rioting masses. Far more likely is some on-board electronic failure. At sea I'd head for a known safe shore, there's many around. I'd choose Tahiti rather than say the Tuamotus, for example. Around here, if I got lost, if dead-reckoning became unreliable, I'd anchor, littered with islands and reefs, I'd anchor at the first reasonable place and wait for someone with more knowledge to show up, or just make mid-day hops when visibility is perfect until I can orient myself with my printed charts. A sextant is nearly useless for finding your way among small islands and reefs.
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Old 03-10-2010, 16:09   #22
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Like I said...'just old fashioned, I guess." But I'm still on the right side of the grass so I guess it worked for me over the years! Capt Phil
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Old 03-10-2010, 16:32   #23
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I use them for "the big picture" and do maintain a plot offshore, but for the type of coastal cruising in a region we are quite familiar with the gps chart plotters, especially the hand held one in the cockpit is all we really need.
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Old 03-10-2010, 16:46   #24
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Since you asked, and I'm sure many people will disagree:

Paper charts and proper maritime navigation techniques result in a more active and attentive watch. Search on this forum for the amount of people who have been rammed by guys staring at laptops; two come to mind right off the top of my head.

So yes, I use paper charts and hand navigation tools. It honestly freaks me out that people plow the oceans not knowing how to do basic techniques like doubling the angle on the bow, etc.

I know that plenty of crews (including skippers far more accomplished than myself) use electronic navigation safely but overall I think it's one more aspect of letting unskilled and unprepared owners move boats around.

For fixes you'd be a fool not to use GPS receivers as a primary, regardless of having a sextant onboard.

Seriously, how many people know how to adjust for variation/deviation or leeward motion to construct a DR? There is a reason that a USCG licensed captain needs to know chart navigation and it's not because of nostalgia. When the chips are down not being extremely proficient with manual navigation can get you dead and it promotes poor seamanship. Why have someone on the bow in the fog when you can just sit in the cockpit staring at the radar?
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Old 03-10-2010, 16:58   #25
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Of course I use paper charts. I am fortunate that my design of boat means I can have a full size chart fully open on the saloon table, a glance from the helm and indeed when I am on auto and sitting at the table its right in front of me. Still have a plotter and indeed a laptop with nav software.

But I usually look at the chart and the compass first and the plotter second - rather than the other way around.

I use a Car GPS - a lot - but I dont believe it if it disagrees with my eyes, current reaility - indeed I saw a roadworks sign the other day flashing in 1 metre high letters saying - "changed conditions - follow signs not GPS"
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Old 03-10-2010, 17:14   #26
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I have paper Charts and use them all the time.... along with my very basic H/H Magellan GPS which I've had for 10yrs now...
All I want is a position twice a day on crossings... if Coastal its eyeball the Coastline and Chart as I go...
Have used Plotters on other folks boats when doing deliveries but do not like them at all... or trust them all that much.
On the last trip the Cobra Plotter had us 1 mile inland when we were actually a quarter of a mile from shore as we headed up the channel to the Marmara....
Nope... give me paper charts any day
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Old 03-10-2010, 17:40   #27
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I have paper charts for any destination I'll make, and when I'm near land I use them in conjunction with my electronic charts.

I've been burned by both electronic and paper charts in the past. Get the best set of paper you can, and they show 100' deep water, then you look off to port and there's a cluster of jagged rocks sticking up a hundred yards off the beam (depth finder doesn't seem to mind their presence too much, either). Generally my issues with electronics have to do with access/dependability, not so much a problem of accuracy.
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Old 03-10-2010, 17:40   #28
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i sail with only paper charts.
there's a couple reasons. to save money(if you need to buy paper backups regardless...), the fact that i feel way more at home with things i can see and touch rather than electronics (yea, we use a leadline sometimes and a knot stick), and i just have a healthy distrust of technology in general.

i have a GPS to get fixes with, and ill use it to set waypoints (reallllly helpful when sailing in the fog up north...), but our navigation is done with paper charts. i've sailed the puget sound, whole east coast of the US, through the bahamas, and the dominican republic this way. so yea, just stating that it can be done and people still do it. even in 2010!
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Old 03-10-2010, 18:01   #29
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At sea I'd head for a known safe shore, there's many around. I'd choose Tahiti rather than say the Tuamotus, for example.
Sailing to Tahiti would, I believe, qualify as an open ocean crossing. Some day I hope to sail to Tahiti, but I have sailed away from it twice, most recently a couple of years ago doublehanding a 30' boat to Seattle. Same with Hawaii. So I can say, with some competence, that it is a %&@# big ocean out there and the land masses are a very small percentage of that area. You have to know where you are and where you are going - charts and GPS or sextant with timepiece. The electronic charts are great, I use them when I can, but I did loose all electric systems on a doublehanded delivery from Hawaii to SF and the only back-up on board was a back-packers little hiking GPS on AAA batteries, which did work for the once-a-day position check, and a reasonably good idea of where the Farallon Islands were so they could be the waypoint. Happily, there were no navigational hazards to note on the way. Never get in THAT situation again so I carry the paper charts and a sextant.
My impression from sailing away from them is that even the highest islands are visible at most from 50 miles or so, darn easy to miss (particularly if your radar doesn't work)... and there is nothing beyond them for a thousand miles... and those "back-up" islands are relatively small...

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Old 03-10-2010, 18:34   #30
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I still use nautical paper charts, sextant, nautical almanac, and logarithm tables for navigation. I will casually admit that I also use GPS plotting for those days when the sun doesn't shine (which is often where I am), and when entering an unfamiliar anchorage at night or in fog.

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