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Old 23-09-2016, 23:30   #76
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Re: Nobody really needs to know how to navigate anymore, do they?

it's a good practice out of sight of land to turn off the electronics and stay on course using compass / watching the angles of the swells, chop etc / pick out a star in relation to your course / steer on that until it disappears, find another one / I do get growled at when the sleep timer goes off and the first mate who likes the gadgets has to boot it all back up again / she doesn't like having a star pointed out and being told to keep the chop slightly on the starboard side
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Old 24-09-2016, 02:07   #77
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Re: Nobody really needs to know how to navigate anymore, do they?

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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!!
We got hit last year. Took most of our electronics but only one of our 11 GPS and chart plotting instruments on board. Did you know that your compass can go off by 90 degrees after getting struck by lightning? Yeah, those pesky ferrous metals on your boat become magnetized. Like our 7 feet of backup steering pipe that is stored under the compass to be used when we snap a steering cable.

I'm more worried about our autopilot being taken out. Wish we could add a wind vane, instead we will add several backups.

I'm in the "not likely to lose all our GPS or chartplotters" category but also - "it would be nice to at least KNOW celestial navigation and keep a plot of your relative position". We do not carry full charts on board but we do keep guides and books that we can reference which have at least the basic charts needed for the areas we sail.
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Old 24-09-2016, 02:26   #78
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Re: Nobody really needs to know how to navigate anymore, do they?

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. . . Your boat sinking is less likely than loss of GPS but odds are you have a liferaft. If so it looks to me like you are willing to spend money to partially address the potential sinking of your boat but are unwilling to spend the time and effort to learn the skills that would completely alleviate the loss of GPS...
Loss of GPS, or rather satellite position data (GPS is no longer the only game in town) doesn't frighten me linking sinking does. How can you compare? I have a lot of different sources of satellite position data, some of which can receive the Russian GLONASS constellation, the European Galileo one, and the Chinese whatever it's called. One of these devices is kept in a metal box which would survive a lightning strike.

But if somehow all of these failed, while I was far out to sea, how would this be a problem comparable to your boat sinking? Just carry on with dead reckoning until you get within sight of the coast, and then simple visual pilotage after that. I presume a lightning strike would take out my compasses and HBCs, so anything which prevents getting satellite position data will likewise prevent doing three point fixes, but so what? Just pick your way in, watching the water for signs of shoaling and looking for transits and buoyage. Heave to and wait for daylight, of course, if it's dark.

For those of us who started out sailing with no instruments or nav gear other than a compass, this is not a terrifying prospect. People went to sea for thousands of years before even a compass was invented.


I actually have a sextant and wind-up ship's chronometer on board, but I'm ashamed to say that I haven't actually yet learned to use it. But I don't think celestial nav is of any use at all in an emergency satellite outage situation. Celestial nav is not fast or precise enough to use for coastal pilotage, and out at sea, you don't really need to know your position any more precisely, than you can get from DR, in an emergency situation.
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Old 24-09-2016, 04:15   #79
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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?
Nope......Ignorance is Bliss!
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Old 24-09-2016, 05:39   #80
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Re: Nobody really needs to know how to navigate anymore, do they?

Coming up the West Coast of NZ we got zapped, and all electronics died including a big impresive chart plotter and a hand held GPS plugged in on charge. We sailed toward an offshore gas flare, then kept it behind us until sighting a lighthouse shortly before dawn. Very interesting, it was.

If we had been right out in the blue we would have been in trouble, and I don't think I'll ever rely on GPS again.

Our local Ocean Yachtmaster course still teaches Celestial Nav, I think.
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Old 24-09-2016, 06:09   #81
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Re: Nobody really needs to know how to navigate anymore, do they?

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. . . If we had been right out in the blue we would have been in trouble, and I don't think I'll ever rely on GPS again.. .
If you decide to learn celestial, I think that's great!

But why would you have "been in trouble", offshore, without it? Do you know how to do dead reckoning? It's dead easy -- in fact you could surely figure it out on your own and on the spot, if you needed it, and didn't happen to have learned it.

Just go in the general right direction until you find land, then stop and ask directions. Precision is really not required.


One thing which seems strange to me (and probably a lot of other sailors who have been going to sea since before GPS) is this panic about being offshore without precise position data. Why do you need it?

Much more important is using and being comfortable with your compass. Much more alarming than the loss of celestial navigation skills, is neglect of the compass. Before GPS, few sailors knew celestial, but everyone used the compass. I even remember reading a thread where a lot of cruisers were proposing to, or had already, removed their compasses altogether. If GPS disappears, just carry on the same compass heading, and keep a DR log, and you'll get there, just like mariners did for thousands of years.
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Old 24-09-2016, 06:15   #82
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Re: Nobody really needs to know how to navigate anymore, do they?

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Ahhhh Electronic Navigation.....One Diode away from Disaster.....
Cute but pointless. "Disaster" is your boat explodes and sinks. Or hits a ship and sinks. "Disaster" is you have a heart attack in the middle of the ocean and die.

The "one diode" (you probably wouldn't know one if you saw one) thing is merely a situation and you deal with it. If you have a compass and know where you are, you should be able to figure out which way to head to land. Maybe not where you intended to go, but safe, dry land where you can arrange to get your equipment replaced.

If you don't think you could deal with this situation, an RV might be a better choice for you.
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Old 24-09-2016, 06:54   #83
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Re: Nobody really needs to know how to navigate anymore, do they?

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Here's one example of when relying on gps doesn't work, so it's best to have multiple skills:

Last season at 2am in the morning off Bonifacio, France, we were hit by a white squall while navigating using a chartplotter (ipad). When I realized I was unable to make headway into the gale and was only 1/2 mile off a reef in total darkness and white out... The chartplotter did me absolutely no good. I'd forgotten to look down at my compass before I came about and became hopelessly lost for the longest 2-3 minutes of my life.

Never again. From now on, I'll always remember to look down at the compass before coming about.
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Old 24-09-2016, 06:56   #84
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Re: Nobody really needs to know how to navigate anymore, do they?

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Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
If you decide to learn celestial, I think that's great!

But why would you have "been in trouble", offshore, without it? Do you know how to do dead reckoning? It's dead easy -- in fact you could surely figure it out on your own and on the spot, if you needed it, and didn't happen to have learned it.

Just go in the general right direction until you find land, then stop and ask directions. Precision is really not required.


One thing which seems strange to me (and probably a lot of other sailors who have been going to sea since before GPS) is this panic about being offshore without precise position data. Why do you need it?

Much more important is using and being comfortable with your compass. Much more alarming than the loss of celestial navigation skills, is neglect of the compass. Before GPS, few sailors knew celestial, but everyone used the compass. I even remember reading a thread where a lot of cruisers were proposing to, or had already, removed their compasses altogether. If GPS disappears, just carry on the same compass heading, and keep a DR log, and you'll get there, just like mariners did for thousands of years.
No argument from me on that Dockhead, but as you well know..... their is quite a bit more to it than that, if you wish to avoid unnecessary danger.

From your Assumed Position:

Are you being set dramatically one way or another?

Does that make the line of Charted Reefs on your Port or Starboard or dead ahead?

Has your compass been damaged?

What is your speed made good?

Out of sight of land, there are navigational techniques to answer those questions and to confirm the errors in your remaining equipment.....

But that takes study and practice to be able to navigate with confidence.
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Old 24-09-2016, 07:11   #85
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Re: Nobody really needs to know how to navigate anymore, do they?

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I actually have a sextant and wind-up ship's chronometer on board, but I'm ashamed to say that I haven't actually yet learned to use it. But I don't think celestial nav is of any use at all in an emergency satellite outage situation. Celestial nav is not fast or precise enough to use for coastal pilotage, and out at sea, you don't really need to know your position any more precisely, than you can get from DR, in an emergency situation.
Actually, if in practice one can take a series of shots and reduce them in perhaps 10 minutes. At sea unless close to hazards that is pretty fast. If close to hazards less than 10 minutes, you aren't going to take sights anyway.

As already pointed out that with a good worksheet and proper tables, it is just adding and subtracting. I like the HO211 Ageton Tables. It is a small 30 pg booklet and of course the nautical almanac.

As far as DR, unless it is done right and you have diligently applied current and leeway, you can find yourself in trouble none the less. All systems tie together. I admit, I use GPS, but verify that it is working the old fashioned way. It is just one tool in a big bag of tricks.
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Old 24-09-2016, 07:28   #86
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Re: Nobody really needs to know how to navigate anymore, do they?

Quote: "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...."

Whyever not? What , precisely, is it you'd be afraid of? I'm sure it couldn't be collision. Wouldn't the requirement to keep lookout take care of that :-)?

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Old 24-09-2016, 08:13   #87
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Re: Nobody really needs to know how to navigate anymore, do they?

Yesterday, I was refreshing my understanding of the astro triangle, the values and their recalculation, to arrive at an astro LOP.

Does anyone remember if our ability to re-use an old almanac every 4 years is limitless or bound?

That a skill is no longer REQUIRED does not mean it is no longer practiced. Think of walking. Walking is no longer required, and most of us just grow obese and go everywhere in a car. But there are quite few who simply find pleasure in walking in the park and climbing a mountain.

You cannot climb a mountain if you are obese from child and never been for a walk.

The same applies to navigation. You cannot just get a paper and pencil and calculate the values if all your life you have been reliant on gps, usb and pcb.

I am still not certain with that old almanac. Will compare the values later today.

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Old 24-09-2016, 08:24   #88
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Re: Nobody really needs to know how to navigate anymore, do they?

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No argument from me on that Dockhead, but as you well know..... their is quite a bit more to it than that, if you wish to avoid unnecessary danger.

From your Assumed Position:

Are you being set dramatically one way or another?

Does that make the line of Charted Reefs on your Port or Starboard or dead ahead?

Has your compass been damaged?

What is your speed made good?

Out of sight of land, there are navigational techniques to answer those questions and to confirm the errors in your remaining equipment.....

But that takes study and practice to be able to navigate with confidence.
Yes, of course, there is a lot more to it, than in my simplified example.

If you want to do real navigation, then you'll need at least a working compass and some kind of log. But DR IS real navigation, and it is so simple that most intelligent people could figure it out without being taught.

There are very, very few hazards out of sight of land, which you can't see and avoid in decent viz, and the simplified way would work in all but a very small number of cases. The "simplified way" meaning just sail in the right general direction until you see land, then stand off and sail along the coast until you see a harbor. Follow other vessels in; avoid hazards by visual watchkeeping and follow the buoyage when you reach it. Watch the water for signs of shoaling. Heave to and wait if you don't have decent viz. Use your radio if it works. This is very basic seamanship not really requiring great skill of any kind. Will be a very familiar, and not frightening, situation to anyone who's been offshore in a dinghy with nothing but a compass.


People used to sailing coastal and always with chart plotter have an instinctive fear of not having precise position data, which I don't think is a rational fear.


In any case, this is an almost purely hypothetical discussion. If you put a GNSS receiver in a cookie tin somewhere where it can't be fried by lightning, one which is capable of receiving different constellations, then there is almost no conceivable situation when you would be without satellite position data, short of WWIII where all GNSS systems have been taken down at once.
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Old 24-09-2016, 09:08   #89
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Re: Nobody really needs to know how to navigate anymore, do they?

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. .
.

But why would you have "been in trouble", offshore, without it? Do you know how to do dead reckoning? It's dead easy -- in fact you could surely figure it out on your own and on the spot, if you needed it, and didn't happen to have It . . . .

Much more important is using and being comfortable with your compass. Much more alarming than the loss of celestial navigation skills, is neglect of the compass. Before GPS, few sailors knew celestial, but everyone used the compass. I even remember reading a thread where a lot of cruisers were proposing to, or had already, removed their compasses altogether . . . .

I think you are being rather optimistic thinking that most people could figure out DR on their own, especially if they don't any previous exposure even in passing. And that's the way it's becoming, most people that know it rarely do it which means that the folks that don't know it don't even see it in passing and may not even be aware of it as a skill


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 24-09-2016, 09:22   #90
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Re: Nobody really needs to know how to navigate anymore, do they?

As a QM in the USN pre GPS, I agree on a lot of points made. 1. Good DR track is a lot more than just this direction, this speed for this time. Set and drift inputs are not cut and dry. That being said we would DR for days in the Indian Ocean when there was no horizon, no land in radar range and starfield was no good. 2. LORAN A was O.K. but LORAN C was great. Omega not good at all. Big box in charthouse is all it was. 3. Chronometer were in sets of 3, so if one went bad you knew which one. And they can be restarted with a good spin of the gambles (don't ask me how I know). 4. GPS is a wonderful thing, but not the only way to find out where you are. Celestial takes practice to be good. Options are a good thing, and will help you get a good nights sleep. All said a hard copy of Bowditch or Dutton is something every boat offshore should have. A ton of info for all kinds seagoing situations Reading can be like CFRs in some areas but not bad in others. I hope no one gets hit by lightning, but have a backup plan.

Question, if hit by lightning is it like EMP or will unconnected devices be O.K.

O.K. old man's memories rant over.

P.S. USS LaSalle (med and IO)and USS Ortolan (Halifax to Bahamas)

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