Celestial Navigation? Forget it!
I agree with you on most points with the whole thing about using sextants and CN. Especially if you are doing Coastal Cruising. But if I was going world cruising I think I would have a Sextant, a book on its use with calculation #''s and maybe a brief course before I go out on that long cruise. But you are right, the odds of needing it are slim. BUT you never know and what if something happens to all your GPS''s or Batteries or The Satelites...(I know.,...unlikely). But it would be nice to have a fall back, especially if your boat took a roll and flooded everything in the boat and the GPS''s failed. Don''t think this can never happen, because on a nasty day navigating home my Garmin 48 "bit the dust" (Of course it was a nasty, foggy and rainy day....those are the days when you really need it) So I had to "Dead Reckon" the rest of the way home, which wasn''t too much of a problem.
But that is the whole point. My fear is that too many boaters are going out there with no knowledge at all of navigation. Some don''t even have charts, all the have is chartplotters and use the thing like a AAA roadmap. Now I am not putting down electronics or chartplotters...I LOVE THEM. I have a full color Raytheon RL70CRC and it greatly enhances my sailing pleasure and lessens the stress. But you know what. If I lost all my electronics I could home fine with just my charts and the compass, even in nasty weather. Yeah, it would be a pain, especially relative to what I do now, but I could do it.
But how many people can do that. Even though electronics are wonderful they are not infallible and maybe *that* is why Liza Copeland wrote that it was dangerous to "rely solely on electronic navigation." A skipper should be able to verify what the electronics "say" to what the eyes are telling you, he should constantly be able have that "warm & fuzzy" feeling that what he see''s electronically matches what he actually see''s and if they don''t match up he should figure out why.
True story. July 3rd, 2000 sailing from Long Island Sound to NY Harbor to see the OP Sails Tall Ships Parade. I had my GPS on and it was sometimes giving me readings of 1/2 mile off. It was easy to see because I was 40 yards off of the "Stepping Stones Light" but that is NOT what the GPS said. It was easy to see that my GPS was giving readings outside of the "normal". I had come to learn that because of all the Navy Ships that will be in the Harbour and I think the President the next day, that the government was inducing errors into the GPS. It wasn''t a problem for me, because I was able to "see" where I was going. But what about those boaters that are relying exclusively on electronics to get them where they are going. There is a good chance once in a while that its going to be off and that will put them in a lot of trouble....BTW even with WAAS, the government can induce errors.
So remember sextants are not always needed for boaters but some OTHER NON_ELECTRONIC means of navigating and the skills required are necessary. (Coastal Navigation, Dead Reckoning in cases of limited visibilty, etc?)