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post #6 of Old 01-26-2002
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USPS Courses--Issues

Several years ago when my wife and I were taking the Chapman School''s "Offshore Sailing" course, the skipper/instructor told us a little story...or set of stories as the case may be.

This guy was popping back and forth from Stuart FL to the Bahamas fairly regularly as part of teaching the course. He mentioned that every few months or so, he''s have a radio coversation that went something like:

<SOME BOAT OVER VHF - call her "GPS Queen"> "Eastbound white sailboat in the Gulf Stream, this is GPS Queen"

SHADY LADY - "This is Shady Lady"
GPS QUEEN - "Where are you headed?"
SHADY LADY - "Port Lucaya, Bahamas"
GPS QUEEN - "Can we follow you in?"

Inevitably, someone would drop the handheld GPS overboard, run out of AA batteries or in some way screw the sattelite nav system. Then, having no clue about Dead Reckoning, and not having maintained a DR course on a paper chart, they''d have no clue where they were.

Moral of the story - every hour during the passage we made a DR note on the chart. We''d check them against the GPS periodically, but if we lost the GPS we still would have made port just fine.

So, even though GPS navigation is getting pretty simple and almost any fool can figure it out in fifteen minutes you can still get into trouble if you don''t learn the "archaic & anachronistic" fundamentals.

I still want to learn how to do Celestial Navigation, just for the perverse fun of it...
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