Lotís of good stuff here today. Itís great to hear from more experienced sailors and I actually like it when someone disagrees with my ideas. It makes me re-think my position. I am still convinced that small and simple is the way to go. However, I do realize that our way is not for everyone. Most wives, for example, demand a greater degree of creature comforts than mine and will almost always demand a larger closet and bathroom. Laura, bless her soul, is true shellback, having crossed the equator in a square rigged ship and is in her glory changing headsails on the foredeck in a rising gale, or climbing the ratlines to reef topsails. (Personally Iíd be happy if I never again see wind above 25 knots)
As the man said, we each have to make our own decisions. I have watched a lot of cruisers passing through Hawaii over the years and have come to several conclusions based on my observations and experience. For example, Iíd rather spend my time in port washing down a cheeseburger with a pint of cold draft beer at the pub than fixing the refrigerator I installed so I could have cold beer and fresh meat at sea. At sea I drink red wine or whiskey, neat (Actually I donít drink at sea at all but you see my point). We have no refrigerator and see no need for one. ďHow do you keep the mayonnaise?Ē you may ask. We donít use it. I wonít go into a long dissertation on the subject here. Suffice it to say that we have been living, and eating, quite well for a good many years without a fridge. Donít be so shocked. Few people had refrigerators until the 1940s.
Donít get me wrong. Iím not suggesting that my way is the only way, or the right way, just one of several ways. And, as someone else said here, Iím no Luddite. We use GPS for primary navigation, plan our route and watch movies on our laptop. Our next planned purchase for the boat is an ipod compatible stereo so we can eliminate the 400 CDs we carry in a binder (The old stereo quit on us while crossing the Pacific anyway, eating my favorite Beach Boys CD in the process).
Valiente, there are a couple of seeming contradictions in your post. Concerning my comment about needing a mechanical log or other manual means of determining boat speed for maintaining a DR position you said:
The GPSes do this quite well, and we keep hourly logs from which we derive set and drift, etc. DR positions are customarily kept and then compared with bearings taken from the shore (when it's visible) or against GPS reports. I plan to add celestial-derived positioning into the mix in order to add another element this summer.
Further down the page you say:
GPS is a great way to *confirm* a position...but it too, can be off: I've seen with my own eyes a significant correction to a GPS display even while it was reporting a good contact with four satellites. Briefly, my boat was doing 130 knots SOG, until I learned I was four miles SSW of where I'd been seconds before! Thanks to pilotage, I knew that the GPS system itself was "having a moment", (I had two GPSes on, and they both went briefly mental) which is why I like to have as many sources of information as possible, like following a 10 fathom contour line, for instance.
OK. You like using a sextant but, remember, we didnít get a good enough look at the sun to get a sight for over a month on our crossing.
Replying to my comment about maintaining a written deck log you wrote:
I keep a dual log of positional and maintenance information. I only know a few people on Lake Ontario who even keep a log at all, but it's how I determine oil change intervals, weather states, total sailing days, etc.
I differentiate between the deck log and the maintenance log, butwhat I'm talking about here is a record of your position plots, be they by DR, Observation or GPS. My point was the need for position determined by two or more separate means, belt and suspenders, and comparing the relative accuracy of the positions determined by various methods so you are aware of the accuracy you are achieving. As far as not keeping a log on the lake, even one as big as Ontario, we didnít keep a deck log while island hopping in home waters either, other than to keep track of engine time, fuel consumption etc. but, I submit that when one is out of sight of land for a month it is a different kettle of fish altogether. Position derived from compass, chronometer and log and recorded in the logbook as the DR position is an independent back up for your GPS and/or celestial derived position.
But again, thatís just my preference. You have a lot of time for that sort of thing at sea and I enjoy the process. (I might add that I agree with your observations on celestial. Itís just that on a boat the size of a Vega in all but a flat calm sea it is nearly impossible to get a decent sight.)
On the subject of logbooks: we use a day planner zipper binder with tabs dividing the engine log, provisioning lists, stowage plan, expense record, position log and daily journal. It has pockets and inserts to hold our passports, vessel documentation, Veterinarians health certificate for the cat, Yacht Club membership cards, Coast Guard inspection certificate etc. You will really impress the Coasties if you whip out the book that has everything organized at your fingertips. The inspection, if they bother to inspect at all after seeing that you have your act together, will go a lot more smoothly. When they ask if you have flares, for example, just flip to the page where you have recorded the purchase and expiration dates and tell them. What could have been an ugly experience ended up nothing more that them standing on the dock filling out the form and me sitting on the boat with my logbook.
Good point about the barometer BTW. Essential equipment for offshore, in my opinion, but, like everything else, only if you know how to use it. Laura got quite good at forecasting the weather using the barometer, thermometer and watching the clouds. Then again, you may have a weather fax or satellite internet connection but whatís the fun in that eh?
We enjoy being self reliant. We enjoy learning how sailors crossed the oceans in the 18th 19th and early 20th centuries and trying out their methods in our own voyaging. The old ways still work, are challenging and, for us, fun. But letís not be foolish about it. We carry a set of signal flags for fun. Not as a substitute for a VHF.
Malie ka kai.