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Old 23-09-2016, 14:54   #61
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Re: Nobody really needs to know how to navigate anymore, do they?

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So your solution to all the GPS' on board getting fried is to place a watch in a faraday cage? Why not just put a spare GPS in there with the watch?



Even if you assume that all the GPS sattelites could go down at the same time making a fix impossible, it would still tell you the time.

So instead of realizing that in the interest of brevity I was limiting the topic of my post to protection of timepieces which is what Ingrid and I were discussing you assume I am too stupid to realize that a host of other useful electronics could be protected in an ammo box?

No I don't believe that, I think it was a rhetorical device to discredit my idea by discrediting me.

Timekeeping in a GPS is only going to be good for several days, a week or so at most. GPSs maintain very good time by regularly downloading corrections to their onboard clock from the satellites. Unless your GPS has a function that lets you shut off the receiver you can never let the clock run to see what the error rate is.


A house is but a boat so poorly built and so firmly run aground you would never try to refloat it.
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Old 23-09-2016, 15:16   #62
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Re: Nobody really needs to know how to navigate anymore, do they?

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This is a subject that bothered the U.S. Navy for years. 18 years ago the stopped teaching sextant navigation. Nothing like having warships that don't know where they are! If it makes sense to them, then it makes sense to me. I deliver boats and I use everything available to insure that I know where I am. The owners and their insurance companies also like the idea.
They have recently reversed that position and the Navy is resuming the teaching of Celestial and Sextant Navigation. I applaud that decision. We should be very careful before throwing away knowledge and ability that was built over centuries. The formula for concrete was lost for centuries due to inattention. It is also immensely more satisfying to fetch up where you desire based on your own effort and skill, rather than punching in waypoints in a device.
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Old 23-09-2016, 15:36   #63
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Re: Nobody really needs to know how to navigate anymore, do they?

Short and sweet. Those who know nothing about basic navigation, have no charts aboard and rely solely on electronics for navigation while circumnavigating or passage making are a diode away from disaster.
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Old 23-09-2016, 16:42   #64
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Re: Nobody really needs to know how to navigate anymore, do they?

Some of the posts here confuse navigation with piloting. A chart plotter is an aid to both, but a substitution for neither.

If you "drive the chart plotter" rather than developing and using good piloting skills, you are likely to run aground, and arguably deserve to. And "likely" becomes "almost certainly" when you sail away from North American coastal waters.

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Old 23-09-2016, 17:50   #65
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Re: Nobody really needs to know how to navigate anymore, do they?

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They have recently reversed that position and the Navy is resuming the teaching of Celestial and Sextant Navigation. I applaud that decision. We should be very careful before throwing away knowledge and ability that was built over centuries. The formula for concrete was lost for centuries due to inattention. It is also immensely more satisfying to fetch up where you desire based on your own effort and skill, rather than punching in waypoints in a device.
The US Navy though has to be able to conduct operations in the event of all out war including the intentional destruction of hundreds of GPS sattelites. If there is a war involving the US, Europe, Russia, China, and Japan all shooting each other sattelites down I frankly will have other things on my mind.
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Old 23-09-2016, 18:02   #66
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Re: Nobody really needs to know how to navigate anymore, do they?

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The US Navy though has to be able to conduct operations in the event of all out war including the intentional destruction of hundreds of GPS sattelites. If there is a war involving the US, Europe, Russia, China, and Japan all shooting each other sattelites down I frankly will have other things on my mind.

If you are in the middle of the Tuamotus when such a war happens then navigating your way out won't erase other concerns but will certainly trump them.

Heck even being in the middle of the Pacific would have navigation at least tie for biggest concern.


A house is but a boat so poorly built and so firmly run aground you would never try to refloat it.
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Old 23-09-2016, 18:13   #67
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Re: Nobody really needs to know how to navigate anymore, do they?

if a lightening strike took out both my handhelds I'd be toast as well - not too worried about your position if you're fried to a crisp. The whole 'what if gps stops working' argument is bs - you'll be sitting on deck taking a sunsight when you get hit by a crashing jumbojet...
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Old 23-09-2016, 18:25   #68
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Re: Nobody really needs to know how to navigate anymore, do they?

Very interesting thread. I am eager to fully learn celestial navigation even though I've had a chartplotter and backup handheld GPS on my boat for 10 years. I purchased two books and consumed them to the level of understanding I could without beginning to take sights and making reductions. I am waiting until I can afford a proper sextant rather than a less accurate plastic one.

I've always valued the concept and practice of self reliance. Being able to plot your position fairly accurately anywhere on the earth with just a watch/chronometer, sight table/equation book and sextant certainly qualifies. I can understand that coastal and local cruisers wouldn't bother with celestial but I consider it an essential backup if you plan to cross oceans.

Sure, gps is great and mostly reliable but there is obviously a good reason the navy revived their celestial navigation courses.
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Old 23-09-2016, 18:40   #69
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Re: Nobody really needs to know how to navigate anymore, do they?

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Nobody really needs to know how to navigate anymore, do they?

I mean, everyone will always have GPS...

Solar, Space, and Geomagnetic Weather, Part VI: Solar-Earth DefCon Levels
I could not think of anything more terrifying than knowing all the boats sharing the water with me were being navigated by people with sextants, watches and paper charts....
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Old 23-09-2016, 18:47   #70
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Re: Nobody really needs to know how to navigate anymore, do they?

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Very interesting thread. I am eager to fully learn celestial navigation even though I've had a chartplotter and backup handheld GPS on my boat for 10 years. I purchased two books and consumed them to the level of understanding I could without beginning to take sights and making reductions. I am waiting until I can afford a proper sextant rather than a less accurate plastic one.

I've always valued the concept and practice of self reliance. Being able to plot your position fairly accurately anywhere on the earth with just a watch/chronometer, sight table/equation book and sextant certainly qualifies. I can understand that coastal and local cruisers wouldn't bother with celestial but I consider it an essential backup if you plan to cross oceans.

Sure, gps is great and mostly reliable but there is obviously a good reason the navy revived their celestial navigation courses.
For backup - a cheap mark 3 is more than sufficient. Noon sight isn't advanced navigation and I think all the conceivable GPS failures during passage basically means you're going to contingency mode and will not be needing much more than latitude to make to the nearest safe harbor to make repairs or wait out WWIII.
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Old 23-09-2016, 19:13   #71
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Re: Nobody really needs to know how to navigate anymore, do they?

What? This whole thread and no one has mentioned the virtues of being well-versed in the Polynesian ways?
Personally I'm with you Sailorchic, I ALWAYS stop and ask for directions.
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Old 23-09-2016, 20:23   #72
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Re: Nobody really needs to know how to navigate anymore, do they?

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Short and sweet. Those who know nothing about basic navigation, have no charts aboard and rely solely on electronics for navigation while circumnavigating or passage making are a diode away from disaster.
Most people have smartphones, iPads, hand held GPSs that will all get you home in an emergency. As an aside I have been using screenshots from Google Earth to plan entry into obscure anchorages in the Greek Islands. Can plan where to drop your anchor right down to a specific patch of sand. A lot of the islands don't have much detail on the charts (Paper or Electronic)
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Old 23-09-2016, 21:43   #73
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Re: Nobody really needs to know how to navigate anymore, do they?

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Of course they do. What happens when you're 500 mi offshore and your vessel is struck by lightning? All back up GPS are dead. Pull out the sextant and tables and you're back in business for the navigation.

Getting struck by lightning is pretty rare, but one is pretty vulnerable. Just imagine without all your electronics the jobs you'd have to do. For instance, many modern engines have a computer that tells it when it's okay to start. So in that case, you either need a way to bypass that, or you're w/o an engine. Also autopilot, so you're hand steering now, unless you have a windvane. One could hope you carry Letcher's book about self steering for sail boats, some good ideas in there.

Yes, electronics are pretty reliable, but they are also vulnerable to water intrusion and to lightning.

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Don't know how rare it is getting hit by lighting. I had a direct hit and that was scary!!!!!! Also know somebody who has been hit three times!!
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Old 23-09-2016, 23:13   #74
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Re: Nobody really needs to know how to navigate anymore, do they?

I thought GPS was an aid to navigation... So presumably it is an instrument wth which you navigate
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Old 23-09-2016, 23:21   #75
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Re: Nobody really needs to know how to navigate anymore, do they?

So a good sailor plans for the worst and hopes for the best. Redundancy in systems improves safety at sea and requires planning and experience (with something failing) I can paper chart navigate but don't do it often. When cruising I have boat chart plotter, handheld GPS, and Navionics on my phone with ample battery chargers and charger packs with me. Also have charts and tools. Full disclosure, I haven't crossed an ocean. After all that... yes, you need to be able to navigate with charts well enough to get where you are going without GPS. IMO
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