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Old 02-11-2010
IslanderGuy IslanderGuy is offline
S/V Lilo, Islander 32
 
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Personally I think the most important fact with both systems is understanding that they are not 100% accurate all the time. Use it for a reference, but look around as well. I have seem so many people blast by an unmarked under water rock with just feet to spare because the GPS "says" they won't hit it. If you KNOW your CN is 1/2 mile off, you will look out for visual signs of where you actually are, slow down if needed, and give yourself plenty of extra room. Same for GPS in my opinion. If you understand that a GPS can be off for various reasons (Solar flares, obstructed antenna, typical variance, charts not quite aligned with GPS data exactly, etc) and actually watch where you are and allow for variances, you will be much better off.

In this technical age, it is so easy to rely heavily on things that we believe are precise to the point of doing really dangerous things. 10M could get some people I know in HUGE trouble, but the CN navigator knows his readings are not precise, and takes measures to compensate.

Personally I use a basic GPS with latt long only, and paper charts 'cause it's what I have. Only thing wrong withchart plotters in my opinion is the price tag (to many other projects ahead of that) and people who stare at the screen only and never look up to see if it is correct.

We sail inland mostly at this point, so I use a lot of visual references from land and markers. We have a sextant and are learning to use it, mostly because it's intriguing and somewhat as a backup to electrical systems. We do plan on keeping at least a minimal GPS system on board too, but I like the knowledge that when we do get out on a long trip, if the electronics take a dive for whatever reason, we will still be able to make landfall where we want to.

Of course, I could blow up the electronics AND drop the sextant over the side. Then I guess we will be back to the REALLY old style of navigation, head west or east and figure we'll hit land eventually
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S/V Lilo
1964 Islander 32
Saint Helens, OR
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