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Old 17-02-2009, 01:57   #31
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Originally Posted by Tempest245 View Post
The problem we have here in the USA in changing the terminology, at the moment, is that the USCG and the Major US sailing certification associations are still using the " traditional" formats ( charts) tools ( dividers, hand held compasses etc ) and navigation terminoloy in their course materials and testing.
We obviously see this the same way, and have had the same experiences. I put it a bit differently. The way I view this is that the older tradition (tradition = customary set of procedures and definitions) contains much valuable wisdom that works just fine when using electronic navigation tools. The GPS receiver merely buries the same formulae out of sight inside its computer, doing the calculations automatically using the same logic used by prior generations of navigators. The problem, as I see it, is that because there was no common terminology when GPS came along, some "new" terms came along for concepts that already had sound lexicon in the "old" tradition, leading to the mess we're in today.

Originally Posted by Tempest245 View Post
Both USCG and ASA navigation testing takes place using paper charts. The fundamentals of navigation haven't changed, the tools have changed; and yes there is some terminology that has arisen with those tools. At the moment, those terms have not been incorporated into the testing.
The way I see it, there is no need for new terms, merely clarification and standardization of what people seem to want to call old terms, allowing us to merge the new with the old, to create a "new tradition" in navigation. I see nothing wrong with teaching the basics of navigation using paper charts prior to teaching electronic navigation, but we need to ensure that the terms we teach in that introductory phase work with the electronic tools.

[Rabbit hole: When Saint Hillaire introduced the intercept method of sight reduction in CN in the late 1800s, they called it the "new navigation", and many railed against it for decades. When tables were later introduced to simplify CN sight reduction, there were captains who railed against them and forced learners to use logarithms. Here we go again.]

Originally Posted by Tempest245 View Post
Having learned the most recent "old" ways I have found no difficulty in transferring that knowledge to the current new technology using existing terminology. The changes you suggest will eventually have to take place at the level of the Certifying authorities. That will probably take some time. In the meantime, I have to teach the course provided.
Exactly my experience, too. And I share your conclusion: Getting consensus on this is a fine example of herding cats, and may well be impossible. I too teach the courses I am provided, but wish for standardization. The IMO, IHO and other recognized authorites have standards for everything else at sea, but not this basic navigation terminology. I wonder why that is? Too many cats? Too much cherishing one's own terminology? Anyone know?

The line between two waypoints is not a course line (path through the water), it is a track line (path over the ground) -- the Intended Track. This is neither new, nor dusty old outdated thinking: it is grounded in sound old principles, and applies today more than yesterday. I draw that Intended Track on the computer while plannng a route, and then at sea I work out the course that allows me to follow that track as the boat icon moves along on the chartplotter. To do that, as others have described here, I use a variety of chartplotter-assisted intuitive procedures (commonly) or manual or chartplotter-assisted calculations (more rarely). If I have to adjust the route at sea, I draw a new Intended Track and work out a new Course To Steer. It makes things so clean and simple to see it this way, opening up the power of electronic chartplotting for variety of other navigation tasks. And, it gives a cruiser tools for both paper-chart and electronic charting.

This thread is giving me much food for thought. After it runs a while, I'll post an anonymized summary of the points folks have made.

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Old 18-02-2009, 20:32   #32
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Try to keep in mind...

What some people think of as the 'traditional' terms are merely the terms which have survived. I have a collection of sailing glossaries dating back to the early 1800s, exclusively the english language ones, and even within these the terms such as course, track, set, and drift change their meanings and were far from the only terms used for these specific concepts.

People like Mark who pick up a tool that doesn't require thought or understanding have always been around, and always will be around. And they'll use whatever jargon they find handy to talk about what they think they're doing, muddying up the waters for professionals and specialists who want to use their jargon with precision. And they are right to do so - except when they are talking to a professional or a specialist.

The difference between the amateurs and the professional may very well be that a professional can be accurate and precise. Which means you're likely doomed in your campaign to improve jargon use, ClearSea: the proles (like me) cannot do so consistently.


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