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Thread: When Cruising was Simple

  1. #71
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    Default Re: When Cruising was Simple

    I guess I can't just sit idly by trolling this thread while this discussion is happening. Navigation is one of my personal passions.

    Take this, or leave it, from an old Soldier with 18 years time in service- If you can't navigate by associating landmarks you see on the terrain with a drawings on a piece of paper and a compass that tells you where north is, you probably ought to stay home. In the Army we still teach land navigation. In fact, you must pass a land navigation test at several of our professional military education schools in order to get promoted to the next rank. WITHOUT a gps. You get sent home(not promoted) if you cheat. Even though we have phones with a gps, even though all of our vehicles have GPS enabled digital maps with SATCOM linkup to show us where we are with a 10 digit grid, if you can't navigate with a map and compass then you don't understand enough about navigation to use the digital tools effectively. Oh and by the way, don't depend on the phone gps ap's to navigate. Many is the time we have had to launch a search party for the Lieutenant that decided to depend on his phone to get him through the land navigation course.

    Now when it comes to sea navigation, I will be the first to admit that I am somewhat very nervous about it (i am a beginner sailor currently building a trimaran). I was in Navy JROTC in high school and learned how to navigate with charts, compass rose, parallel bars, dead reckoning, and a sextant doing sun shots. But that was 30 years ago. However, I think since I have done a 1.5 km dead reckon through the briars, swamps, and 3 canopy forest of southern Louisiana and came out within 25 meters of my target, I could probably figure it out.

    But, what do you use for landmarks at sea? Buoys? Light houses? Or is it all sun shots or star shots? How do you know your speed to do dead reckoning? How do you do it at sea with no landmarks?

    I guess you guys need to point me at a good book to learn from?
    “If everybody is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking.”
    “You’re never beaten until you admit it.”
    - General George Smith Patton

  2. #72
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    Default Re: When Cruising was Simple

    I carry GPS on my boat.....Actually a hand held one for emergency and an older bulkhead mounted one. I also have a phone.
    It is useful sometimes to see how fast I am going, so that I can update my guestimation database when looking at the bubbles in the wake to estimate speed. Sometimes I'll check my tacking angle.
    For coastal navigation I'll use my eyes looking at the islands and estimating my position. I know the waters hereabouts pretty well, but I have a pretty good collection of coastal charts, and can scan the horizon and locate myself very reliably. A few times over the years I have been caught in the fog. That is when I really use the GPS, and very glad for having it. yes I could have found my way in, but the gizmo really made it easier.
    Deepsea...I have navigated for perhaps 100,000 nm using a sextant.....I loved it
    I strongly recommend everyone (small vessels) develop some skills of the old seat of the pants eyeball navigation. The GPS is so easily available and cheap today that I'd really question the smarts of someone who refuses to carry at least an emergency backup GPS. I'd also question the smarts of anyone that goes out on the water with no ability to find their way without a GPS.
    Last edited by gilberj; 01-29-2021 at 12:18 AM.

  3. #73
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    Default Re: When Cruising was Simple

    Don't know how common the Yeoman navigator is in the US? And a bit passée now with plotters so cheap and small. But it combines paper charts and GPS rather well.
    The chart is indexed to the 'table', a 50x60 plastic sheet that can be on top, or under your chart table. There is puck with buttons, screen and reticule. One moves the puck about on the chart and it gives you position or bearing/distance to a position, indicated by four LEDs around the reticule and the screen. You shuffle the puck about until all four light up, there you are. Move it to the end of the breakwater and it tells you bearing and how far. Keeps ones mental picture in gear. Up to 99 charts can be indexed to the memory.
    I picked a used one up and am looking forward to using it this spring.

    My best effort on the pre-GPS era was 5 days out of sight of land with a hand compass, trailed log and a school atlas in the Med. Just as I was getting a bit concerned, the island I was aiming for loomed out of the morning mist, right on the nose..

  4. #74
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    Default Re: When Cruising was Simple

    What people tend to forget is that "back in the day" you really did not have options. Want ice, you have to carry it from shore. Want light and heat, you have to learn how to operate and maintain those oil lamps and kerosene burners. Etc., etc.
    Today we have options, nobody is mandating refrigeration, propane, complicated electrics and electronics, etc. One can choose to operate at whatever level of skill and comfort you wish. If you are afraid you can't repair the diesel injection pump at sea, the Atomic4 is availble new, and you can tickle the carburator and points on a regular basis.
    As for navigation, what can I say, I know precious few recreational boaters that are able to do lunar distance by hand, but plenty who worry about lightning taking out their GPS. It's interesting that they never worry about the same lightning taking out their electronic clock and reducing them to latitude only.
    Fact is cruising was never simpler and more affordable then now, there is a ton of boats for little money, equipment is cheap, and information is everywhere. Plus, we have a ton of options to choose from to suit our level of comfort.

  5. #75
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    Default Re: When Cruising was Simple

    That last line Rumars...It's not simpler than ever, it is EASIER than ever.

  6. #76
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    Default Re: When Cruising was Simple

    Quote Originally Posted by Lee.007 View Post
    I guess I can't just sit idly by trolling this thread while this discussion is happening. Navigation is one of my personal passions.

    Take this, or leave it, from an old Soldier with 18 years time in service- If you can't navigate by associating landmarks you see on the terrain with a drawings on a piece of paper and a compass that tells you where north is, you probably ought to stay home...
    While I appreciate that sentiment, and share it to some degree for the kind of sailing I do, in my experience, it's fairly uncommon to have to deal with tidal currents in a military land navigation course... Pretty rare for extreme fog, too.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lee.007 View Post
    I guess you guys need to point me at a good book to learn from?
    David Burch, Emergency Navigation and Fundamentals of Kayak Navigation are good.

    Leonard Eyges, The Practical Pilot: Navigation by Eye, Intuition, and Common Sense was recommended earlier in this thread. Seems good so far.

    Land navigation and terrain association can be a huge advantage in small boat piloting, no doubt, using similar low-tech skills and tools (e.g. instead of an accurate pace count, a good sense of boat speed in various conditions).

    At sea with no landmarks, a knotted rope and some math can help determine boat speed, and you've got a compass, right?

    Tom
    You don't have to be prepared as long as you're willing to suffer the consequences.

    www.tompamperin.com

  7. #77
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    Default Re: When Cruising was Simple

    For me it's a social snobbery. Even though don't consider myself a snob.

    I just liked the old days when there was a decent bar to getting to the desired cruising grounds.

  8. #78
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    Default Re: When Cruising was Simple

    Amen to that. And when you got there, there was a decent bar...

  9. #79
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    Default Re: When Cruising was Simple

    I keep a paper plot as well. My GPS is just a little hand-held. It's not very good at large-scale planning and evaluating. Large paper charts allow you to formulate a larger picture of where you can get to, when, and co-relate with the forecast.

  10. #80
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    Default Re: When Cruising was Simple

    But, what do you use for landmarks at sea? Buoys? Light houses? Or is it all sun shots or star shots? How do you know your speed to do dead reckoning? How do you do it at sea with no landmarks?
    Yes--buoys, lights, etc.

    Don't need a sextant for coastal navigation. Know where you started from and keep track of where you are as you proceed. How?

    Speed/time/ distance equations ( some basic math formulas).

    Depth soundings

    Compass

    Sounds( bells, whistles)

    Lights

    Try Chapmans Piloting and Seamanship for a comprehensive reference book.

    Kevin
    Last edited by Breakaway; 01-30-2021 at 11:40 AM.
    There are two kinds of boaters: those who have run aground, and those who lie about it.

  11. #81
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    Default Re: When Cruising was Simple

    Quote Originally Posted by willin woodworks View Post
    Amen to that. And when you got there, there was a decent bar...
    Skulduggery Cafe...One of my fave places.





  12. #82
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    Default Re: When Cruising was Simple

    Quote Originally Posted by Breakaway View Post
    Don't need a sextant for coastal navigation.
    True. Particularly in small open boats, instruments tend to be impractical. The ones I could see myself using?

    Compass (obviously)
    kamal (in theory, but I've never felt I needed it--can be a handy way to measure heights and angles)
    hands/fingers/body parts pre-calibrated to enable ballpark guesses at angles and distances
    the Nav-Aid Ben posted earlier--this seems like it would be really useful, and practical.

    Other than that? Not much. Eyeball, experience, and informed guessing.

    Tom
    You don't have to be prepared as long as you're willing to suffer the consequences.

    www.tompamperin.com

  13. #83
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    Default Re: When Cruising was Simple

    I haven't done much cruising, small boat or otherwise, but lots of racing longshore, lakes and rivers. One of my basic go-to tools is my hand bearing compass...either hockey-puck type or the cheap pistol grip ones (what I have). I've seen some that have an indexed mount so you can use it as a fixed compass with lubberline or remove it for taking bearings, but I've not tried one.

  14. #84
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    Default Re: When Cruising was Simple

    Quote Originally Posted by WI-Tom View Post

    At sea with no landmarks, a knotted rope and some math can help determine boat speed, and you've got a compass, right?

    Tom
    Yes indeed, I do have a compass. Several in fact. Most are lensatic handheld compasses. I assume they are just as good for the sea, as long as I don't drop them over board. I also have a good Garmin Handheld GPS. I don't turn it on when I am in the wild unless I get really turned around in order to save the batteries. Sometimes I will turn it on just to confirm I am right for bragging rights with my fellow Soldiers.

    I have seen some articles on the internet about a chip log tossed behind your boat to determine speed at sea. Has anyone on here done this and how accurate is it?

    Also, I have looked at some sextants on amazon, but the advertisements say that the aluminum ones are only accurate to 1 nautical mile, and the plastic ones are only accurate to 5 nautical miles. I guess that is ok if your target is an island that is 1 to 5 miles wide, you are bound to hit it within your margin of error. But you certainly won't find any buried pirate treasure with it. I am in training mode right now with building my small kayak sailing trimaran, but when I retire I plan to get a moderate sailing cruiser and go see the world. Well, at least some of the Caribbean anyway. Any recommendations on good sextants that don't cost a war pension? Of course, the value of safety can't be priced, but you know what I mean.
    “If everybody is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking.”
    “You’re never beaten until you admit it.”
    - General George Smith Patton

  15. #85
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    Default Re: When Cruising was Simple

    Plastic Davis is all I ever had..still do in a box somewhere aboard. I hope to never pull it out again.
    The error is noted and compensated for each use. It can vary hour to hour.
    I used to feel that one fix a day within 10 miles was doing pretty good.
    "Chatnav" ,calling ships on the VHF for a position ,was common practice in the 70's.

  16. #86
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    Default Re: When Cruising was Simple

    Unless you're planning on crossings I'm thinking a sextant is a great toy, but pretty much useless for actual navigation. When I did Pac Cup with a bunch of friends they decided to try getting a good position with a sextant just for grins and got within a mile or two, but that was pretty much it. And these guys were all ex-Navy with a pretty good idea of how to manage it. 'Course, they were a bunch of submariners so it wasn't exactly something they practiced daily

  17. #87
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    Default Re: When Cruising was Simple

    My point was that before GPS and SatNav, cruisers who didn't have the learning capacity to figure out celestial/astro nav didn't get to go to places that there were no magenta lines o the chart.

    Snobbery.....definitely, and not my usual stance. Life was a lot better in those days.

  18. #88
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    Default Re: When Cruising was Simple

    Quote Originally Posted by Lee.007 View Post
    Also, I have looked at some sextants on amazon, but the advertisements say that the aluminum ones are only accurate to 1 nautical mile, and the plastic ones are only accurate to 5 nautical miles. I guess that is ok if your target is an island that is 1 to 5 miles wide, you are bound to hit it within your margin of error. But you certainly won't find any buried pirate treasure with it. I am in training mode right now with building my small kayak sailing trimaran, but when I retire I plan to get a moderate sailing cruiser and go see the world. Well, at least some of the Caribbean anyway. Any recommendations on good sextants that don't cost a war pension? Of course, the value of safety can't be priced, but you know what I mean.
    There is instrument accuracy and practical accuracy. From a small boat on waves it's hard to get better then 1 mile, regardless of what you use. Fortunately, on a small boat, the horizon is 3-5 miles, so it does not really matter. Once you see land you revert to piloting anyway.
    I recommend buying a davies mk 3, it's 40$ from celestaire at the moment, and you can learn all the basics with it, plus use it for coastal techniques from the kayak. In the meantime you can wait for a good metal sextant to appear cheap on ebay or craigslist.

  19. #89
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    Default Re: When Cruising was Simple

    Quote Originally Posted by Hwyl View Post
    Snobbery.....definitely, and not my usual stance. Life was a lot better in those days.

    Not sure I would call that snobbery... Pride? But definitely justifiable pride from your accomplishments. I believe there are those that enjoy spending their life in a safer zone, and that's ok, to each his own. There are those of us who want a more intense sense of satisfaction from our adventure, so we tend to push the envelope. Sometimes we get in over our heads, but we never regret living life to the fullest, no matter what your capacity for risk assumption is. I have climbed mountains in the Smokies and the Blue Ridge, that many people scoff at the effort it requires and say I am crazy for doing such things. But they didn't get to enjoy the view!
    “If everybody is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking.”
    “You’re never beaten until you admit it.”
    - General George Smith Patton

  20. #90
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    Default Re: When Cruising was Simple

    You need to start out in the simplest possible way to understand the process. Lots of folks learn a cook book process without thoroughly understanding what's behind it.

    Start out with two books:

    Hewitt Schlereth's "Latitude and Longitude.by the Noon Sight." Mine is copyright 1982, so the 30 year almanac of the sun therein is a bit outdated. No matter. This book provides excellent explanations and diagrams of the simplest to understand process and calculation method.

    When you understand this, dig up a copy of Arthur Piver's "Noon Position." My copy is 31 pages, and copyright 1962
    The half dozen tables in that will be "good enough" for you. It's an excellent little book.that summarizes all that you"ve learned and.understood from Schlereth. Also you can think about Piver sailing all over the world with his surplus aircraft bubble sextant. Of course, Piver disappeared, but that's interesting too.

    The cheapest Davis plastic sextant is all you need too, why spend a thousansd bucks on a.aextant, because you'll never be.actually navigating with a sextant anyway.

    Get.this simplest stuff under your belt first then if you"re still interested move on to more advanced methods.

    Good luck! It can be pretty dull stuff to get a handle on. and even when you get comfortable with it, you tend to forget it.

  21. #91
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    Default Re: When Cruising was Simple

    Quote Originally Posted by wizbang 13 View Post
    Skulduggery Cafe...One of my fave places.




    I hope Scott turns a blind eye to these.
    I've had to copy them.
    ​In a world full of wonders, man invented boredom.

  22. #92
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    Default Re: When Cruising was Simple

    So do I…..(just don't tell him they are there……..)

  23. #93
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    Default Re: When Cruising was Simple

    Quote Originally Posted by skuthorp View Post
    So do I…..(just don't tell him they are there……..)
    Hope they stay (& wizz not kicked for posting) But why the price increase? Is inflation that bad out there?

  24. #94
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    Default Re: When Cruising was Simple

    oh geeze, I had not even thought of that. I think it says "tucked" anyway.
    Price increase is funny, may be different size beverages.I dunno . An EC dollar is only 37 cents american.
    I think the 5 dollar price was a promo/celebration.
    This is the bar where I posted the flyer for my mannequin on the door...seeking new position.

  25. #95
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    Default Re: When Cruising was Simple

    I've got an article in Good Old boat . I think it's April 2005 on simplifying the shower. Works great if you have 12 volt power and a tea kettle. I think I have it somewhere , If I can find it I'll put it up here. I don't think you can find it on line. Dave

  26. #96
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    Default Re: When Cruising was Simple

    I notice that one of the earlier posters to this thread was Mike Erkkinen, waxing about the simplicity aboard his H28 Holiday. When I got Holiday, Mike had installed a neat wireless package of depth, wind, and speed indicators, a bunch more electric lights and gear., and an antique GPS chart plotter . All this stuff is definitely nice, but unreliable, depending on the cleanliness of the bottom and the user’s technical skills. So for fair-weather coastal navigation, I have been relying mostly on a 40-year-old-chart-book, and my iPhone (with an $8 app called iSailGPS). Courses laid out on paper, position marked on the chart every hour or so, and constantly checking against visual ATONS and land features.

    The one day I really used Mike‘'s old GPS unit, was a pea-soup passage from Isle au Haut to Carver’s Harbor (no moorings available), lunch at Green’s I, then on to a pretty little anchorage hole in the Muscle Ridge Islands - all with visibility near zero, chilly and dank. Of course we woke the next day to the clarity of a perfect Maine summer morning. I am still a bit surprised at my...foolhardiness? But it worked out, the only fast powerboat we heard that day presumably had his radar on...

    My wife, while justifiably terrified at the time, now has complete confidence in my navigation skills

  27. #97
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    Default Re: When Cruising was Simple

    DeathandGlory.jpegsome of you will recognise this..
    She still exists lives about 15 miles from me..
    Just an amateur bodging away..

  28. #98
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    Default Re: When Cruising was Simple

    We just cannot be simple anymore in most places because of rules ,regulations and gentrification.

  29. #99
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    Default Re: When Cruising was Simple

    The Death & Glories must be getting on a bit, in years... Good to see they are still out there.

    (I have always wondered, how John and Roger got on, in the war?)

  30. #100
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    Default Re: When Cruising was Simple

    How can anyone overlook the classic simplicity of the Atkin Retreat?
    http://www.atkinboatplans.com/Misc/Retreat.html

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