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Old 30-06-2015, 05:07   #1
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Modern GPS technology.

Hi every one .. New here and this is my first ever question.

Just a quick question for you all, I am hoping for you best advise so that I don’t lose my conference and my dream of big boat ownership, but have no one to ask this question to … My question is I feel very confident on all aspects of learning to sail, and boat handling and docking and boat management and ownership skills.
We are wanting to buy a new Fountaine Pajot 44 foot catamaran.

Problem is, No matter how hard I try to get my head around learning to navigate without using a modern GPS chart plotter I just can’t get the hang of navigating without the aid of modern GPS chart plotters

I never will be able to learn it .. I hate maths and was never good at it nor can I get my head around learning to use a compass properly to use with paper charts and I feel embarrassed if I was to do a navigation course and fail that corse .. However I do feel confident using modern GPS plotters and setting a corse and navigating with modern aids I can read chats and have an understanding of them.

I have easily navigated inland water ways on small power boats confidently in the past using chart plotter and depth sounders and just plane local knowledge to get me around the inland waterways and running aground was never a problem in a small boat ( not that i did ) … My question to you all is can I still buy the boat of my dreams and navigate the world just using the boasts modern GPS chart potter to survive and navigate waters safely and at night sometimes using depth sounders with depth alarms and using forward underwater scan technology to see whats ahead underwater and plan old common sense to navigate around the world? and trust all this stuff solely without ever being able to learn to navigate the old fashion way.

I am worried that maybe I should not be buying such a large boat all because I can not ever learn to navigate the old fashion way … What are your thoughts on my concerns? Am i over concerned and not need to worry because the modern technology will do what I can’t or should be able to do as the captain of our boat.

In your option should I be staying clear of the big boats and just play with the little boats … am I over panicked here or what, I would hate to not be able to buy the boat of our dreams all because we can’t navigate without modern technology, If I can be confidently assured that I have no need for panic and that I can trust my modern technology instruments I will feel much happier buying our very expensive boat and keeping my family and friends safe and alive …

Sorry about the dumb question but this is the one that has got to me the most over many years and has ruined my boat buying dream in the past all because I got scared of navigating the old fashion way ....

Any advise would be great and do any of you sailors out there sail there boats the same way I am intending with just relying on modern technology without not really no how to sail there boats and read there charts with out a GPS.

Has modern advancements made it possible to navigate using and trusting the very latest mod con's ...

Ok be kind this is my first post ever so thanks all for reading ..
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Old 30-06-2015, 05:18   #2
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Re: Modern GPS technology.

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, ajay.
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Old 30-06-2015, 06:01   #3
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Re: Modern GPS technology.

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Originally Posted by ajay21 View Post
I never will be able to learn it...
As long as you keep telling yourself that, you're right. You won't.

In truth, though, anyone can learn simple navigation. It's not that hard. It doesn't take any complicated math. If you can figure out how to pay your bill at McDonalds then you know all the math that you need for basic navigation.

All you really need to do is quit telling yourself that you can't, and try.

Good luck.
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Old 30-06-2015, 06:16   #4
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Re: Modern GPS technology.

We have seven gps based chart plotters on board that we use for 95 percent of our navigation. Both of us know how to read and use a paper chart but rarely do so. Buy the boat... you'll be fine. At least you're aware of your shortcomings. There are thousands out enjoying boat ownership who aren't aware of theirs.
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Old 30-06-2015, 06:20   #5
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Re: Modern GPS technology.

It isn't that complicated. Not trying to be rude or smart but asking sincerely, are you able to do basic math: adding subtracting, multiplying and dividing?

If yes, then you can do the basic navigation with a chart. Typical problem, I want to go from here to there. Measure the distance on a chart and it's 24 miles. You know your boat will go at 6 kts. How long to get there? 24 miles divided by 6 kts equals 4 hours. Most other navigation problems are no more complicated than that.

Have you ever asked a friend to demonstrate the process? Using a compass is even easier.

But to answer your question, I'm certain that there are thousands of people boating that cannot navigate with a chart. Problem some that don't even know how to use a chart plotter. Sure you could try to buy a big boat and go cruising without any ability to use a compass or navigate but I think the odds of you having a serious problem would be fairly high. Plus what would you do if the chart plotter died? Could you navigate with a small, hand held unit?
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Old 30-06-2015, 17:20   #6
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Re: Modern GPS technology.

Well thanks everyone for your response, you have made it sound possible to navigate the blue waters, Yes I can learn the basics of navigation but was afraid that if the boats was to lose all electronics out in the open water how would I tell others and myself that I was a floating duck out in open water and where my exact position was.

I did plan on having back-up hand held GPS .. basically I am learning here without the aid of this modern technology their would millions of less boat ownership owners circumnavigating the world .. Well Thank-God we all have GPS chart plotters as millions of boat owners would all be stuck on land with little to do ... I was just more concern with how accurate are GPS chart plotters can we solely use them and trust that we won't hit a reef, I recon you would have to be very unlucky to hit a reef using modern electronic aids but thats my biggest fear of boat ownership.

Has anyone ever been way of course using modern electronic aids can we trust the very latest modern electronic aids on the market today without running aground have they become more accurate?.. I will be crazy not to attend a navigation course but am afraid that I might not be perfect at calculating which direction to add wind and current and tide to work out exactly where my boat position will be should all my modern stuff fail.

As for navigating with modern GPS I am sure we wife included will learn the basics of getting from A to B ..

Thank-you to all for your responses on how you all navigate and how you do it ..
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Old 30-06-2015, 17:33   #7
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Re: Modern GPS technology.

However you navigate, you need some independent backup system. I first went to sea 60 years ago. In that time, I have never been on a vessel that didn't have an electrical/electronic failure at some time. That includes the US Navy.
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Old 30-06-2015, 19:07   #8
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Re: Modern GPS technology.

The last time I used a paper chart was 1999. And I never will again.

You will never need old fashioned navigation and you already have a backup with your smartphone. It will have a GPS in it and you can download free plotters, free charts for the USA and cheap charts for the rest of the world.

GPS has opened up the whole world to the mathematically challenged so relish it!

Mark
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Old 30-06-2015, 19:30   #9
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Re: Modern GPS technology.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ajay21 View Post
I did plan on having back-up hand held GPS .. basically I am learning here without the aid of this modern technology their would millions of less boat ownership owners circumnavigating the world .. Well Thank-God we all have GPS chart plotters as millions of boat owners would all be stuck on land with little to do ... I was just more concern with how accurate are GPS chart plotters can we solely use them and trust that we won't hit a reef, I recon you would have to be very unlucky to hit a reef using modern electronic aids but thats my biggest fear of boat ownership.

Has anyone ever been way of course using modern electronic aids can we trust the very latest modern electronic aids on the market today without running aground have they become more accurate?..
GPSs and chart plotters are accurate in that they tell you exactly where you are with reference to the WGS84 Geoid.

The original paper charts that the displays are based on is not necessarily accurate and may have large (like hundreds of meters) offsets in some areas as well as not showing all reefs/bommies/rocks.

I suspect that more people hit reefs through relying on their electronic charts than do so from not relying on them. The latter are more careful about using depth sounders and the Mk1 eyeball to get around in areas that they are not thoroughly familiar with.
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Old 30-06-2015, 23:40   #10
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Re: Modern GPS technology.

Paper charts are rarely up to date and can have much less navigation and ancillary information than an updated electronic chart. The key to electronics is redundancy and not being tied to the same power supply. Currently we have 7 devices that have GPS and chartplotters on them, but use the Garmin for primary course management and the iPad to cross check as we near port.
However, make sure you check each section at different zoom levels as some reefs actually disappear when you zoom out. A good example of this occurred during the latest Volvo Ocean Race.
If you plan to do coastal cruising, a good pilot guide is a must. BT W I reckon you can expect accuracy of less than 10 meters to actual with a GPS chartplotter
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Old 01-07-2015, 06:25   #11
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Re: Modern GPS technology.

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You will never need old fashioned navigation...
I would politely disagree. Every time you look up from your chartplotter, scan the horizon, and make mental estimates of how far away is that point of land?, how long until I get close?, what is that other boat doing?, when should I turn in order to get into that channel?...

Every time you do any of these things, you are using "old fashioned navigation." My guess would be, Mark, that you use old fashioned navigation at least as much as you do your GPS. You just don't think of it as "navigation" anymore, because it all happens almost sub-consciously. But it is, still, "navigation," of the very oldest kind.
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Old 01-07-2015, 06:38   #12
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Re: Modern GPS technology.

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Originally Posted by denverd0n View Post
I would politely disagree. Every time you look up from your chartplotter, see what is out there, and make mental estimates of how far away is that point of land?, how long until I get close?, what is that other boat doing?, when should I turn in order to get into that channel?...

Every time you do any of these things, you are using "old fashioned navigation." My guess would be, Mark, that you use old fashioned navigation at least as much as you do your GPS. You just don't think of it as "navigation" anymore, because it all happens almost sub-consciously. But it is, still, "navigation," of the very oldest kind.
I'd call that pilotage, rather than navigation ( apart from "what is that other boat doing" - which is neither).
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Old 29-07-2015, 04:55   #13
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Re: Modern GPS technology.

GPS is great but you really need to keep your wits about you. The problem isn't with GPS but with the charts. The chart grids don't always match the GPS grids, or have been mismatched and often charts are simply be incorrect or out of date. Your marine GPS is only as good as the underlying charts.

I think you really, really need to have basic coastal navigation and piloting skills to stay safe. GPS makes us all safer but there are times it doesn't quite put you in the right spot and you need to be able to recognize those times.

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Old 29-07-2015, 06:16   #14
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Re: Modern GPS technology.

Electronics are the way to go!! back when I started sailing only ships had sat-nav Yes you used basic navigation when in sight of land but at the speed of a sailboat a few hours after leaving your last buoy of somewhat known position you were getting lost only a good navigator knew by how much! there was a LOT of guessing and doing things that were unsafe, like approaching a low coast to find a land mark to get another fix it was a full time PITA enjoy the electronics
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Old 29-07-2015, 09:27   #15
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Re: Modern GPS technology.

Navigation has forever changed, well in fact hardly anybody actually navigates anymore if we use the old standards. We all now use the GPS and electronic charts that anyone that can use their breath to fog a cold mirror can use to get where they are going in a more precise way than any of us so called navigators could ever do in the past.
Its now child's play and certainly the number one reason there are so many cruisers out there today compared with past days when you had to actually know something to get where you were going.
As Mark said he hasn't looked at a paper chart in 15 years. You know in some schools writing is no longer taught as everyone today grows up using a keyboard!!
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